The Good Shepherd
When magi from the East showed up in Jerusalem looking for the newborn king, it created quite a stir. Because their already was a king - and he was a homicidal maniac. He didn't like the idea of a competitor, and so, with the purpose of finding him to kill him, he asked the Jewish scholars to discover where this king was to be born.
The answer was a bit of a surprise - the baby would be born in Bethlehem. As the scribes related in Matthew 2:6:
'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel'.
Jesus would be the ruler who would shepherd God's people. This places Jesus in constrast to the current political leaders (Caesar, Herod) - he would be a leader who would only do good. And it also places Jesus in contrast with the spiritual shepherds who prioritised political stability (the priests) or ceremonial legal observance (the Pharisees).
At a time of political darkness in many places on the earth, its important to remember that the kingdom of God is not accomplished at the ballot box. This doesn't mean politics is unimportant; it means that Christians should be distraught in the short term about who wins elections.
It also means that we should continually look to Jesus, the good Shepherd. Jesus himself went out of his way to remind us about his role as shepherd. This is what he teaches in John 10:
- The Shepherd Calls The Sheep
John 10:3: The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
- The Shepherd Leads the Shee
John 10:4: When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
- The Shepherd Knows the Sheep
John 10:14-15: 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
- The Shepherd Lays Down His Life For The Sheep
John 10:11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
- The Shepherd Has Other Sheep
John 10:16: I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
- Jesus is the Good Shepherd
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
That's quite a list of benefits we get through the Shepherding of Jesus. Especially notice the last point: Jesus came to give us abundant life.
Abundant life is found only in God, who is the source of ultimate life. Following Jesus - submitting to his lordship and responding to his shepherding - will bring us into fulness of life.
Our tendency is to be led by other leaders, to look to other voices - other shepherds. Jesus calls us back to himself so he can lead us into our destiny.