If you spend much time in the Old Testament, you will soon come to realize the important role sheep played in the sacrificial system. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly the Israelites would make animal sacrifices. God told them, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). These sacrifices had to be offered over and over again until,… Well, we’ll get to that. What does the Bible mean when it says ‘I am the Good Shepherd?
We all remember the story of the Passover when the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorframe, and the lives of the firstborn sons of Israel were spared.
We can remember the story of Abraham and Isaac where God provided a ram in the thicket in exchange for Isaac’s life.
Each of these stories involve the death of the sheep. But an astonishing thing happened in the New Testament. Instead of the sheep being sacrificed, the Shepherd came as “the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The Good Shepherd took on the role of the sheep and offered Himself as the ultimate, final sacrifice. “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12).
And Jesus continues to act as our Good Shepherd. You need only read the very familiar Psalm 23 to get a broad picture of what He does for us day by day throughout our lives.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord