The image of the shepherd has always been an important part of Jesus’ ministry. There are many phrases from Scripture we are familiar with: “I am the Good Shepherd”, “the shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”. Today we hear from Jeremiah that it is God our Father who wants one who will shepherd His people, not like the shepherds of old who cared more about themselves than the sheep, but one who will gather the sheep, look after them, and bring them all to the Father’s fold.
This is not the kind of shepherding we are familiar with in our country. We are more used to seeing the sheep dotted throughout the countryside, wandering around and feeding themselves, seemingly left to their own devices. Every now and then though, if we happened to be near the farm at the right time, we can see a long string of sheep, with the farmer in the front (obviously not walking as in Jesus’ day, but on a quadbike), sheep dogs acting as the rear guard keeping an eye on strays, and one cannot help but be reminded, “I call my sheep, they listen to my voice and they follow me”.
Jesus, seeing the need of the people, took the initiative to look after them, even though his plan was to spend some quiet time with his disciples. Let us have an open heart and keen eyes to see the needs of others too, and like Jesus, be willing to leave our own plans aside and allow God’s plan to bear fruit.
Rev Francis Poon