The prophet Isaiah was used by God to supply more information to us about the coming Good Shepherd:
10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him. Isaiah 40:10 NKJV
The Good Shepherd will have both a strong hand and a ruling arm, but it is His reward of salvation and His work of healing the sick and dying a sacrificial death on the cross for us that would highlight His first coming – the work of a humble Shepherd King.
Messiah’s strong hand and ruling arm will become more apparent when Christ returns the second time to reign over the whole earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem. But just as two mountains lined up behind one another on a distant horizon can appear to be only one, these two distinct events appeared to be unified in the distant prophetic vision of Isaiah.
When Jesus came to earth the first time, His activities were focused on spreading the good news of the kingdom of God, and testifying to His kingship by performing countless miracles of physical healing and freedom from demonic oppression. During His entire ministry here, He was also walking the road to the cross. On this cross He was to bear our sins and shame and to grant us eternal life, as shown by His miraculous resurrection as first born from the dead.
Jesus told His disciples that His Father is always working, and that He, too, must be working and about His Father’s business. It is a 24 hour a day job to care for and watch over all the people and souls in the universe.
But God also wants us to join Him in His work.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
God has a job for us to do, specifically created and prepared for us using our own unique skills and abilities. It will likely involve loving and serving others to help draw them towards His kingdom. We may get tired, but will renew our energy and get our direction through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we do find our place of service, it will not often be overwhelming or too demanding. If that is the case, it may not the final place where He wants us to be – it may be a training experience. His work will often energize us and we will enjoy it, but not always.
Jesus’ work involved going to the cross, something we ourselves could never do. But He did tell us to pick up our own cross and to follow Him. It will be labor, and there will be difficult times, but the burden will not be too much for us. As Jesus told all who would hear:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
So if God wants to use us to help shepherd His flock, what type of work might this be?
There may be moments when we will be with someone going through a crisis, to help them through. Other times we will share or teach something from the word of God to plant or water spiritual seeds. We may feed the hungry, visit the sick or give an ear and heart to someone in prison who wants to walk a different and better path. All along the way, we pray for direction, guidance and those around us.
In our most satisfying moments in life, we will be fulfilling our role as the hands and feet of Christ. May He help us to live that way today.
Lord, guide us by Your Holy Spirit to help us to join You in the work of a spiritual shepherd. Show us where we are to go and where we are to stay, in service to You and others. We want to do the very things You have planned for us to do from the beginning of time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.