“The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd who calls them by name and leads them out…They will not follow a stranger, but will run away, for they do not know the voice of strangers…They follow the shepherd, for they know the shepherd’s voice.” Through the whole Bible we find stories about shepherds. The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 34 of his book compare the leaders of Israel with shepherds. Also, other leaders such as Cyrus king of Persia, were also called shepherds (Is. 44: 28). We can also say that Israel was shepherded by Moses and Aaron, Joshua, the judges, and then the kings.Their prophets and priests were also referred to as shepherds.
However, in the Old Testament Psalm 23 tells us about the Lord as The Shepherd of Israel. As shepherd the Lord leads, protect and provides for his flock Israel.
The New Testament continues with the same images and in today’s story Jesus is described as the good shepherd, a shepherd who gives his life for his sheep; a shepherd whos’ voice the sheep know. Maybe at this point you are asking the question, why the pastor is talking about shepherds on Mother’s Day? On this day is very common to hear scriptures like proverbs 31, about the noble woman who works hard all the days of her life and makes her husband feel confident.
I am talking about shepherds because I would like to compare mothers with shepherds. In the Old Testament we see God shepherding Israel thru different shepherds, Judges, prophets, and Kings. David is the king-shepherd of Israel for excellence. Then, when the time came, God himself took the form of a man and descended to be our shepherd; when the time came for him to go back to his Father, the good shepherd didn’t leave us alone, he left the Holy Spirit to guide us and to be our strength, and also our shepherd.
The same God who used different shepherds to guide Israel in her different stages has also used different shepherds to guide us in our different stages. God has used teachers, friends, pastors, godparents among others to shepherd us. However, the first shepherds God used to guide, provide, and protect us, were our mothers. The love of a mother is the closest thing to the love of God. A mother is the closest thing to the good shepherd also.
You see a shepherd cares for, provides protection, and goes on ahead. We can see that in Jesus. For example, when Jesus was arrested and the religious leaders came with soldiers, he was the one who faced them; when he was captured by the guards he said, “I am, leave these men alone.” The stories of the risen Christ that we have been reading these past Sundays are stories of a good shepherd. His flock was scared and ran away, they were facing danger, so he went to the roads and the hidden places where they were to look for them; Mary was crying, he came to her, and called her by her name and brought her comfort; Isn’t that also a characteristic of a mother.
As God used prophets to shepherd Israel, he uses mothers to shepherd his children not only in the first stage of our lives, but through all our life, a mother is always a mother.
As the shepherd in Psalm 23 leads the sheep to green pastures and prepare tables, God also uses our mothers to feed us. John 10 says that the sheep recognized the voice of the shepherd; the first voice a child recognizes is his or her mother’s voice, the first sign of protection comes from embrace of a mother when we were just born.
Another story we have in the Bible about the good shepherd is the story of the lost sheep,
Remember what the shepherd did when one sheep was missing? he left everything; he left the 99, and went to look for the lost sheep; he went thru the mountains, he faced many dangers, he walked a lot for one sheep. I know a lot of mothers willing to do the same for the sake of a child.
Jesus the good shepherd also said, “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” and he did so, he gave his life on the cross; I know that a mother is also a good shepherd who can lay down her life for a child.
I know I can go on and on comparing God’s love with the love of a mother, but there is one more characteristic I would like to share with you and is about the special knowledge mothers have, and that is also God shepherding us thru a mother. Jesus said I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him.
A mother knows their kids very well, she knows when a child is hiding something, she knows; when something is bothering us, she knows; She as the good shepherd knows her flock. Have you ever wondered where that special knowledge comes from, comes from God himself, it is part of the equipment God has provided every mother with so they can shepherd their children the same way God shepherds us.
Happy Mother’s Day and may God bless you and keep using you to be guide all your children.