He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom. And shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11 KJV
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. Isaiah 40:11 NASB
Among the many pictures which the prophet Isaiah affords us in his writings is that of the Lord Jesus as a Shepherd.
This Shepherd is marked by …
He can distinguish the needs of the lambs, the ewes, and the young. He does not drive the flock but knows how to wisely lead it and sustain it. He knows how to deal with a Peter and turn him into a fearless apostle. He can take Sons of Thunder and make John the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” He knows every nature and every need. There is individual care under the tutelage of this Shepherd.
He is marked by skill in His ability to meet the need of each. He is able to feed the flock; He can carry the lambs and cherish as well as nourish. He is able to lead at the right pace those who are young in the faith. He does not stampede them or hinder them. His discerning eye recognizes those who need to be carried until they are able to walk. There is no one in the flock Who escapes His eye or His care.
He is the Shepherd Who feeds the flock. The initial charge which God made against the shepherds of the nation in Ezekiel 34 is that they fed themselves and not the flock (v 2). This Shepherd, Who is also the Bread of Life, feeds to the full all who pasture in His field. There is something for every age group as they gather around Him. The stronger rams will find nourish in abundance at His feet. The ewes and the young find food suited to their appetites and taste. He does not allow any to go hungry. The devil is able to entertain and amuse; but only the Shepherd is able to satisfy.
He can carry and support His people. The Shepherd of Psalm 23 not only leads, feeds, and restores, but He supports those who pass through the valley of the shadow of death. He is there in every trial, when facing every foe, and at the end of life’s road. “Thou art with me” was the confident expression of the Psalmist.
Every shepherd should take character from the ultimate Shepherd. Every believer can take comfort from Him, as well. What endears Him to us most of all is that He is the Shepherd Who gave His life for us.
While we think of John’s Gospel when we consider the Lord Jesus as a Shepherd, the Gospel of Matthew introduces Him as the Shepherd-ruler (Matt 2:6). Look for other indications throughout Matthew suggesting the Lord Jesus as a Shepherd. Since O. T. kings were viewed as Shepherds of the nation (Eze 34), is it surprising that Matthew would view the Lord Jesus in this manner?