“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way…” (from Isaiah 53:6)
In the midst of Isaiah’s inspired description of the Messiah, as the suffering Servant, we are met with a very important observation. It is really the reason behind why Jesus had to come and suffer in our place. It is the simply stated: “Each of us has turned to his own way.”
To illustrate his point, the prophet draws upon a picture that would be quite obvious to middle eastern people (unfortunately, not so obvious to us!). It is the picture of sheep.
As we have talked about, previously, sheep are not known as the brightest of animals. They are quite prone to wandering off, placing themselves in great peril, quite oblivious to the dangers all around them. Given this natural trait, it is necessary for sheep to have a shepherd – someone that knows the sheep, knows the territory, and who is committed to nurturing and protecting the sheep (mostly from themselves).
The shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep – to guide them to the healthiest grass, the best water, and the safest areas for grazing. Without the shepherd, the sheep would be quickly lost – and, most likely, a participant in the whole circle-of-life thing. Sheep cannot fend for themselves – but they have every tendency to want to do so.
It is fascinating (and illuminating) that, in the Scriptures, God often refers to us people as sheep. The main reason for this is that He made us so that He could lead us. God has a shepherd’s heart for us. In fact, when He came to walk among us, He identified Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
Jesus knew that all of us are prone to try and set our own course (not really knowing anything about where we are going) and to “turn to (our) own way.” This usually leaves us with more of a mess, than a success. Most of our own ways lead us to dead ends… or much worse.
It is quite telling that when Jesus showed up to gather us to Himself, Scripture informs us that “when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
Jesus could have concluded… “Stupid humans. Why bother. I certainly don’t want to lay down My life for creatures this ignorant.” But He adopted a different stance: He looked upon us with compassion. He saw we were confused and helpless. And He decided to BE our Shepherd. He stated plainly: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” It is what good shepherds do.
Everything Jesus did for us was to secure our place as one of His flock. He has committed Himself to Shepherd us into all that is best for us. Our part is to realize that we are so prone to wondering (and to seek what we want) that we often fail just to simply let Him lead us. He knows where He is going. He is committed to taking us there. He is going with us. There is nothing we face that He cannot handle.
And where we are going is where we really the way we wanted to go, all along.
Prayer Focus: God, thank You being my good Shepherd and for leading me in the way You want me to go each and every day.