I had been slated to play the piano for church today since the beginning of the year, and I had been practicing a beautiful song called “Shepherd of Love”, by John W. Peterson (words below). Then the music director asked me if I would play a Christmas song, but I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed that I told him I didn’t think I could handle changing what I had planned to play. He said that was okay.
So, in thinking about how I could tie the song I had already been practicing to the Christmas/Advent theme, the following thoughts came to mind:
The prophet Isaiah wrote so many centuries ago:
“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
That’s talking about Jesus; He’s the Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep of His pasture.
The Good Shepherd came down from Heaven as a baby in a manger to live among humankind and to die as a sacrifice for our sins so we could be forgiven. He is Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel, God with us. The Good Shepherd took on human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
I wonder; should we be surprised, then, that the first to visit Him in the stable that night were shepherds?
Wait, shepherds worshipping the Good Shepherd? He who loved them and would one day give His life for the sheep?
I had never thought of that before.
Well, I played and sang the song and have been thinking this evening; what can I infer from the above thought?
The shepherds, who led and guided their flocks, worshiped the One who would lead them and guide them in paths of righteousness.
They worshiped the One who would protect them and provide for their every need.
They worshiped the One who would lead them to safe and delicious pasture, who would speak to them the guiding Words of God, on which they could meditate day and night, knowing that He would never steer them wrong.
They worshiped the One who would lead them to peaceful waters to drink and rest, the One who would, Himself, be their Peace.
They worshiped the One who would comfort and restore their souls, who would be with them in the valley of the shadow of death, who would fight off the enemy, sacrificing his safety for the safety of the sheep.
They worshiped the One who would heal their hurts and rescue them when they went astray.
These shepherds came from the same fields around Bethlehem where another shepherd who became king had meditated on God. I can’t imagine them not having heard the words that King David had penned in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want….” Did they understand that this baby was that same Shepherd? Perhaps not.
But He was.
And that Good Shepherd born in Bethlehem and worshiped by shepherds from the surrounding fields, He is still my Good Shepherd today! And I am SO glad!
Shepherd of Love, by: John W. Peterson
“Shepherd of Love, You knew I had lost my way.
Shepherd of Love, You cared that I’d gone astray.
You sought and found me, placed around me strong arms that carried me home.
No foe can harm me or alarm me.
Never again will I roam.
Shepherd of Love,
Savior and Lord and Guide.
Shepherd of Love, forever I’ll stay by your side.”