One of the more popular paintings of Jesus depicts Him as a gentle shepherd, with a staff in His hand and sheep scattered on the green and lush hills behind Him.
It is easy for us to identify our Heavenly Shepherd. We look into the Bible and find Jesus everywhere. Accounts of His love and healing fill the sacred pages. And we call out to Him in prayer and He is with us in Spirit. We see Him reflected in our church, our friends and certainly in creation.
I have a plaque on a wall in my home which reads, “Jesus loves me…this I know. Jesus knows me…this I love.” In what way does the Divine Shepherd know us? The Bible tells us in John 10 that “he calls his own sheep by name” (vs. 3). What does His personal knowledge of His people mean?
By studying the shepherd of the Middle East during Jesus’ time we can have insight into the answer. This important person in the economy of that time paid such close attention to his sheep that he was aware of their every situation, both day and night, day in and day out.
The shepherd knew each fall each and every sheep had suffered, each tight spot they had encountered, and the exact spot of the scars each sheep carried on its body. He knew the circumstances leading to their getting caught in the brambles and how their coats got torn. He knew why a sheep was limping. In fact, a good shepherd could actually find the mother of a stray lamb in the dark just by listening to its cry and that of its mother!
Jesus knows each of his children in just such a way. He knows each time I have become caught in some tangle of life. He knows the scars I carry as a result. He knows each time I have fallen under a heavy load, trying circumstance, or temptation. He sees me limping as I come to Him for comfort and healing.
What comfort we can find in knowing our good Shepherd and Savior is watching us so closely that He can identify us even when all seems dark!
I am so thankful Christ tenderly cares for me each moment of the day and night. I am thankful for His watchfulness over me through all my trials and hurts and for bringing me back home when I have lost my way and wandered onto paths of trouble and pain. I am thankful that He knows me by my scars.
I am glad He is my good Shepherd and I am one of His sheep.
by Cindy Best
(photo by blumbaum at http://www.flickr.com/photos/blumblaum/4493856280/)