I only needed to hear his calling, recognize the Shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep, and decide that I would follow.
Perhaps the best known passage about God as Shepherd comes from the well-known Psalm, Psalm 23. ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul…’ Life sometimes has its fair share of deserts, though, where refreshment is hard to come by, and the night can be cold, and lonely. Then, the second part of the Psalm, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…’ A rod and a staff used not for punishment; but to guide and direct.
The image of God as Shepherd took on deeper meaning in reference to Christ; from John 10:11, ‘I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…’ What does this mean for me? Different cultures and people groups have tried for millennium to make themselves acceptable to God through rituals, offerings, and deprivation of all sorts. But what man, or what I, could not do for my own soul was done by Christ. I do not have to fear punishment from God for all the ridiculous, hurtful, and wrong things I have done in this life. God lay upon Christ everything that would have kept me in separation from himself. Christ paid the cost of those things so that I wouldn’t have to. I only needed to hear his calling, recognize the Shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep, and decide that I would follow.