The Good Shepherd
There is a song I sing to my daughter every time I rock her to sleep. She fell in love with it after we watched a movie called “Heaven Is For Real”. The song is “Come Thou Fount”. I have been singing it to her for as long as I can remember. Several artists have covered the song, including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and King’s Kaleidoscope.
Today, as we sat in our rocking chair, Zivah wrapped in a blanket and nestled into my arms (read: laying across my entire body - she is almost two!), I was singing the words to this incredible song when The Creator of the universe, YHVH, blessed me with the understanding of it. I cried tears of joy and disbelief.
Here are the lyrics to “Come Thou Fount”, which was written in 1758 (WOW! I had NO IDEA it was that old!) by Robert Robinson:
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I’ll raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my feeble heart to Thee.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,”
Long I cried to be made pure;
“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Work in me Thy double cure.”
Above, in bold, are the words I was singing as YHVH revealed to me the gracious truth of the good shepherd. In chapter ten of the book of John, Yeshua (admittingly transliterated as “Jesus”) shares the parable of the good shepherd.
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
7 So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
He describes the shepherd as one who enters the fold of the sheep “through the door”, meaning properly and rightfully as the owner. Furthermore, this is a shepherd who calls his sheep BY NAME. Because the sheep know his voice, they will follow Him wherever he goes.
Yeshua then claims to be both the door to the sheep and the good shepherd in verses 7-18. He also explains there are more sheep he must gather that are not in “this fold”, in which he refers to those with whom he was speaking. He claims he knows his own "sheep" and his own "sheep" know him. He explains that they will hear his voice, and will become ONE flock with ONE shepherd. He even says, "…I lay down My life for the sheep."
Not only does Yeshua explain that there are lost sheep he must gather and join to his fold, He also warns his sheep! He teaches “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In verse twelve, Yeshua explains a hired hand, one who is not a shepherd nor the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees! Notice he says, “the sheep”, not “his sheep”! The wolf then snatches the sheep and scatters them. Yeshua warns that hired hands are not concerned about the sheep when danger (the wolf) comes.
Danger brings me back to the verse I was singing to Zivah as she slept peacefully in my arms:
Yeshua sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of Yehovah;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
YHVH opened my eyes to the very real truth of the parable of the good shepherd as I sang this verse today. I wept tears of gratitude and joy. Yeshua, the good shepherd, sought me when I was a stranger to all the ways of The LORD, as I was wandering from the fold of YHVH, LOST. He, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood, laying down his life for the joy that was set before him; for me.
He did exactly what he said he would do.
He laid down his life for his sheep.
I imagine this is why, in chapter three of the book of Matthew, YHVH said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." following Yeshua’s immersion.
In verse 18 of the tenth chapter of John, Yeshua clearly says that he received the commandment (or instruction) to lay down his life and take it back up again from his Father. Of course his Father, YHVH, is well-pleased! All parents are well-pleased when their child does exactly what they were asked to do.
"But He answered and said,"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
I was a lost sheep of the house of Israel.
I did not know who I was.
I did not know where to go.
Thankfully, my shepherd is THE good shepherd. His name is Yeshua. He is my messiah. He never gave up looking for me. He searched until he found me where I was. His teachings restored my life. I have returned to the torah. I am living with a faith unlike anything I have ever known. YHVH gives me wisdom and understanding beyond my wildest dreams.
I am so grateful.
If you are lost, there is a good shepherd who is feverishly looking for you.
If you have wandered away from the fold, there is one who came here, as instructed by YHVH, The Creator of the universe, with the purpose to find you.