Football and Shepherds

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

An intriguing element of English football is the team anthem sung by the fans at the start of each match. These songs range from the fun (“Glad All Over”) to the whimsical (“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”) to the surprising. “Psalm 23,” for instance, is the anthem of the club from West Bromwich Albion. The words of that psalm appear on the façade inside the team’s stadium, declaring to everyone who comes to watch the “West Brom Baggies” the care of the good, great, and chief Shepherd.

In Psalm 23, David made his timeless statement, “The Lord is my shepherd” (v. 1). Later, the gospel writer Matthew would tell us, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). And in John 10, Jesus declared His love and concern for the human “sheep” of His generation. “I am the good shepherd,” He said. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). Jesus’s compassion drove His interactions with the crowds, His responses to their needs, and, ultimately, His sacrifice on their (and our) behalf.

“The Lord is my shepherd” is far more than an ancient lyric or a clever slogan. It’s the confident statement of what it means to be known and loved by our great God—and what it means to be rescued by His Son.

In what ways have you seen God’s care for you? Who can you tell about Him today?

What a gift our Shepherd is to us, Father! Help us to respond to His voice—and draw nearer to You.

Read The Lord Is My Shepherd at discoveryseries.org/hp952.

INSIGHT

In literature, when a phrase is repeated at the beginning and end of a section, it’s called an inclusio. We see this in John 10:11–15: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11); “I lay down my life for the sheep” (v. 15). This inclusio provides an interesting picture of a shepherd.

When we think of a shepherd protecting his sheep, we may think of David’s statement about killing the lion and the bear who attacked the sheep (1 Samuel 17:34–36). But in today’s passage, instead of saying that the good shepherd defends the sheep against the wolf, the picture is more of offering Himself in place of the sheep. The good shepherd is one who is willing to sacrifice His life.

J. R. Hudberg

By |2019-07-10T13:16:16+00:00July 11th, 2019|