“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies . . .” (Psalm 23:5)
The shepherd goes ahead of the sheep anticipating their needs, but also making sure that where they go is safe and part of his plan for them. Otherwise, the sheep will wind up in places of danger.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He operates often out of sight to keep His people safe. This does not mean we will never face danger. However, unlike sheep, whatever we experience has purpose. In the battle for our faith, the Lord gives us what we need to minister to others. Peter is a good example. Just before the crucifixion, Jesus said to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32)
That Jesus prays for me is both humbling and overwhelming. Prayer is part of His plan that I be fed and cared for. One recorded prayer gives clues to His priorities. These quotes are from John 17. . .
Joy: “These things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
Protection: “The world has hated them . . . I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
Set apart by truth: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
A mission: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
His commitment to us: “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Unity: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Seeing Him: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Knowing Him: “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
And from Hebrews 7, more about His intercession and commitment . . .
Continual salvation: “He continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Once for all forgiveness: “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
In the old covenant, “the law appointed men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:24–28) And this is why I love the Shepherd . . . because He first loved me and will never stop caring for His sheep.