The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘ This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of their flock?'”
God spoke to Ezekiel about the state of the shepherds in Israel – those who were in authority over the people of Israel. They were taking care of themselves and neglecting the people. They were not strengthening the weak, healing the sick, or binding up the injured. They did not look out for those who had strayed or were lost and without hope. (v.4) They ruled the people harshly and brutally so the people were scattered without a shepherd.
Jesus called Himself the Great Shepherd. He stands in sharp contrast to the shepherds of Israel. He looked at the crowd with compassion: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36) Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep and how a shepherd who has 100 sheep will leave the 99 in order to go and look for the one lost sheep. Jesus explains that His Father in heaven will do the same; He is not willing to lose any of His sheep. How comforting to know that as the sheep of God’s pasture, He will come and get us if we lose our way.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, laid His life down for His own sheep. (John 10:14) He made Himself nothing, humbled Himself, and became obedient to death. (Philippians 2) He searches for the lost, binds up the broken-hearted, and strengthens the weak. Unlike the shepherds in Israel, Jesus cares deeply for His sheep, even to the point of laying down His own life.
Are you in need of comfort? Turn to Jesus. He waits with open arms.
Heavenly Father, I have felt so alone, harassed and in need of comfort. I turn to you as my Shepherd, knowing that Your care will bring me back to a safe place in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen