The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
1. The shepherd is an image pervasive throughout the Bible. It is an image of God, of prophets and kings, of Jesus and of those who are called to leadership within the church. Has this image of the shepherd being meaningful for your life? What are its limitations? When it is most comforting or inspiring?
2. One scholar has noted that in Christian art, the image of the shepherd virtually disappeared around the fourth century, at the time that Christianity shifted from being a persecuted minority religion to being a religion of power and prestige. What about the image of the shepherd do you suppose might have made it disappear when Christian’s rose to power?