Michael Zarling writes blog posts that are consistently uplifting. We share another of his blogs below. Because of our space constraints, we have abridged his post. Read the entire post at Bread for Beggars.
This imagery is why I love this illustration of Don’t be Afraid by willustration. Four snarling wolves surround Jesus. They are ready to tear into Jesus to get at the helpless lamb in his arm.
But Jesus is having none of it.
A tenacious shepherd
Jesus is tenacious. He is going to defend that lamb with his very life.
He swings his Shepherd’s staff. He will not let the wolves get close to the lamb. Despite the snarling wolves, there is no safer place that lamb could be then in the arms of his Good Shepherd.
So many illustrations, paintings, and stained glass windows beautifully portray Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The scene is calm, peaceful and idyllic. There are green pastures and quiet waters. The lambs and sheep are in the pasture. Jesus is holding a lamb in his arms or carrying a sheep over his shoulders.
None of those pictures portray the ferocity of our spiritual predators like this illustration of Don’t be Afraid.
A committed shepherd
This is what the artist wrote about his artwork: “Jesus is my Savior! ‘Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves,’ Matthew 10:16. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ The Book of Hebrews 13:5. If you really think that you don’t need Him, you think you can survive this world by yourself … well, think again!”
Our Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep (John 10:11). He walked through the dark valley of death (Psalm 23:4). He stands between his lambs and sheep and the lion and his wolves. He has silenced the lion’s roar. He has muted the wolves’ howl. Our enemies are out there ready to attack us. But with our Good Shepherd between us and them – they are nothing more than a kitten and his puppies. They are nothing to be afraid of!
Jesus is our guarding and guiding Good Shepherd. He is committed to getting us safely home. This is what that will look like:
These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are in front of the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never be hungry or thirsty ever again. The sun will never beat upon them, nor will any scorching heat, for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:14-17).
A faithful shepherd
Hold onto this promise: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
Those nail-scarred hands of Jesus hold your life in a way that you cannot. Your hold on this life is tenuous. A doctor’s visit, divorce papers, car accident, school shooting, flood, fire, disease – there are so many things that can cause us to break our grip so easily. One day, you will lose your grip on your home, your family, on your very life.
But Jesus does not.
Jesus holds your life wholly and entirely. You are a sheep in his hands. He will not let you go. Not until he is ready to set you down gently and safely in the green pastures of his heavenly paradise (Psalm 23:2).
A loving shepherd
You see, it’s not your grip on Jesus that is important. It is his grip on you. Jesus gripped you in his arms at your baptism. He places his divine food right into your mouth with his sacramental meal of body and blood. He speaks into your ear in his holy Word. He has made you a sheep in his flock.
You see, sheep don’t make the flock. Shepherds do. Sheep are in a flock, but it is the shepherd who gathers them. And you have all been gathered together by the Good Shepherd. You have been gathered forever.
By the grace of God, your Good Shepherd has placed his nail-scarred hands around you. No trial or temptation, no cancer or car accident, no divorce or demon can harm you. Your Good Shepherd stands between you and your enemies. Nothing can snatch you out of Jesus’ hands.