I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:14)
Among the various images of Jesus Christ depicted in the Bible, Jesus as the good Shepherd is the one that I have loved most since my childhood. Hymns that describe the stories and the relationships of the good Shepherd and His sheep are also my favorite.
The first hymn that comes to my mind would be “His Sheep Am I”. During my stressful years of work life, this hymn often soothed my soul and helped me transition from a busy and stressful weekday of a mundane life into Sabbath rest. As His sheep, He brought me to lie down in green pastures and led me beside the still waters. My soul was restored by His Spirit and the Word. I was set free from the bondage and stress from work when I came to church to worship Him on the Sabbath.
“The Lord’s My Shepherd” is a classic hymn from Psalm 23, which gives us assurance that the Lord is our Shepherd. He will guide and protect us with His “rod and staff”. He knows where the “meadow grass” and “quiet streams” that will restore us are. When we follow Him, our Shepherd, closely and obediently, He will lead us to these places and also to our heavenly home.
“Jesus Is Our Shepherd” is another lovely hymn that gives us much comfort and courage. As the lyrics state, “Jesus is our Shepherd, wiping every tear, folded in His bosom, what have we to fear?”
Perhaps the most profound hymn for me is “The Ninety and Nine”. This hymn reminds me that I was once lost, but my Lord, the good Shepherd, found me and brought me back to His sheepfold. Who are the lost sheep? We may think they are those who sin, have a weak faith, or don’t come to church regularly. In general it may be true. However, we cannot judge someone as a lost sheep by church attendance alone. How about those problem churches mentioned in the book of Revelation? For example, the church in Ephesus who lost her first love, the church in Sardis who was alive yet was dead in God’s eyes, or the church in Laodicea who had lukewarm faith? Were they lost sheep?
If you feel far from God, do not despair. He is searching for you too. Jesus, our good Shepherd, cares for each lost sheep. He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever one of His children is found and brought into His kingdom. May we all stay in His sheepfold, follow Him, and listen to His voice.