Jesus, The Shepherd King

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Jesus is more than the Good Shepherd; He is, in fact, the Shepherd King.

The Shepherd King

The Hebrew letter Aleph was used to symbolize one of the names of God, and in this case, it was El. Before the letter was called Aleph, it was actually called El or Al, so it was literally the name God. El was commonly used in the Middle East for a god’s name, but El is different because it’s formed by the 2 letters Aleph and Lamed. When the Israelites decided to make a golden calf and worship it, they turned away from the One true God and worshiped the symbol instead of His name. That’s because Aleph in pictograph form is a Bull. How many times can the church get distracted by the symbols and trappings of power and authority instead of focussing on Him? Gifts, ministry, miracles, signs, and wonders can be sought so much that God is left behind. This is why people can start carrying too great of a burden when they pursue self-worth in ministry. They live out an erroneous belief that the more they do, the more they feel they’ll be looked up to by others, therefore they feel better about themselves, but the truth is, others around them are so busy building their own little kingdoms that they do not even notice. The end result is like a pack of rats in a maze chasing whatever dream will make them feel good, instead of putting Jesus at the center and walking under His yoke which is light.

Resting in the Shepherd

When we remember that our burdens can be carried by Jesus and we give Him the place of authority in our lives, we can break away from the rat race. Then, we’ll have rest and peace as we follow our loving Shepherd. No longer do we seek fulfilment in the approval of others. Instead, we know we are loved and accepted by God in Christ, and we seek to build His kingdom, not ours. We seek to bring the lost sheep into His fold just as Jesus did. We enjoy His love in our lives and seek to share it with those in need so they can be set free from their burdens. Aleph the Bull symbolises the crown of a king because of the horns and Lamed is a shepherd’s crook, so together, they symbolize Jesus’ authority. The chief, father figure, or patriarch in a family was seen as the person with the strongest authority, and modern symbolism has carried these over into the crown, representing the oxen horns and the sceptre, and representing the shepherd staff of kings and queens.

Jesus our Shepherd

When Jesus used the symbolism of the Good Shepherd, it would have been very familiar to those listening, because God is described as a Shepherd on many occasions, including the most familiar psalm of all; the 23rd Psalm where it says, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). A shepherd implies the authority to lead and strength to protect. Jesus embodies both of these qualities, so when you face a decision and don’t know which way to turn, remember that Jesus is your Shepherd. You are promised wisdom, and in fact, you already have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), so take a deep breath and relax; remember you do not have to fear or to be stuck in a maze of confusion. You can know the path to take because Jesus is your Shepherd and He will guide you. Just look at His life and ask, what would He do in a similar situation? Read the bible for principles to follow, seek advice from a wise friend, and ask His Spirit to guide you and you’ll have peace.

The Compassionate Shepherd

We know the Good Shepherd is full of compassion at it says when Jesus “went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). He still looks at you and others today with great compassion. When you cry out wondering why your loved one has died, He cries with you, just like He cried with compassion for the friends and family of Lazarus. When you fail or even deliberately let Him down, He looks at you with eyes of love and mercy and seeks to restore your heart as He did with Peter after He denied Jesus three times. When you are feeling weak, He draws alongside to remind you that He has given you His Spirit to empower you and to make you strong.

He Leads the Way

Taking up your cross dailyJesus is not like many modern shepherds of today who drive the sheep from behind. Instead, He is the One Who has gone before us to prepare the way (John 14). He is the way to God (John 6:44) and went back to heaven to prepare a place for us who believe in Him, and as our High Priest, he prays for us, so whatever situation you face, remember that Jesus has gone through it already, and He goes before you and is for you. He took it all to the cross so that you can know that whatever burden you’re facing, it has already been carried by Jesus. He calls us to follow Him as we see Him revealed in Scripture. As He showed love and acceptance to all people, we called to do the same. Even when Jesus was reviled, He did not retaliate (1 Pet 2:23). We are called to do the same. As He resisted the temptation of the enemy by using the Word of God, so too are we are to use the strength of God’s Word when facing temptation.

The Sacrificial Shepherd

By becoming the Lamb of God, Jesus was sacrificed in our place to receive all the judgement for all of our sins. When He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30), the work was complete, meaning there is nothing to be added to it by our self-effort. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus spoke about a Shepherd who went out to search for one lost sheep, leaving behind the other 99. He pursued that sheep and carried it home in His arms. He loved that sheep and valued it highly enough to pursue it. The story is written down in the same chapter as that of the Prodigal Son who left home and spent his entire inheritance on wild living, but even so, He was gladly and lovingly received by his father. Read Luke 15:11-32 and see the love of God taught in living color, so even when you wander off and turn away in disobedience, your compassionate shepherd still loves you. He pursues you with His love and longs to carry the wayward children in His powerful arms. He was willing to die for you on the cross, so don’t ever think He’ll abandon you (Heb 13:5).

Conclusion

The Shepherd King or Good Shepherd is the one who will sit on the throne of David. He is The Son of David, the expected One, and He comes to set His people free from their yoke of bondage. He is the One with authority over us, yet He is a gentle and never forces His way into our lives. He is the One Who told the believers in Revelation 3:20 that He stands at the door, knocking and waiting for them to open the doors of their hearts and let Him come in and fellowship with them. If Jesus is your Savior, is He also your Shepherd King? Are you enjoying your fellowship and relationship with Him? Is He given the place He deserves as King of your life? Are you following His lead or are you just winging it through life, looking for whatever makes you happy? Today, put your trust in the Shepherd King, Jesus. If you have just read this and realized that Jesus has not been the center of your life, and you’ve not given Him the proper place as your Shepherd King, remember that He loves you. Today, if you hear His voice, take a moment and receive His love (2 Cor 6:2). Decide today to soak in His presence and to enjoy His friendship and fellowship…the fellowship of the great Shepherd King.

About the Author

Carol Elliott became a Christian in her teens and attended the Irish Baptist College. The author is in her late fifties, is married, and has two grown children.  Mrs. Elliott presently attends Exchange Church in Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Here is some related reading for you: Why Did Jesus Say On The Cross That God Had Forsaken Him

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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