The Good-to-Great Shepherd

One can't see that title and not think of Jesus as the shepherd of Psalm 23. The point of the beloved Psalm is his provision, "I shall not want." I shall not want for daily provision, I shall not want for rest, I shall not want for protection from my enemies. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

But this is not his title in Hebrews 13:20. The title is also specific. He is not the Good Shepherd, He is the Great Shepherd.

The Great Shepherd
So why is his title the Great Shepherd? The answer is in the text."Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant . . ." The Great Shepherd is the perfect title for Christ because in the resurrection Christ provides everything the book of Hebrews describes.

The writer takes pains to describe that in his death he was our atoning sacrifice (9:12). And, after he arose, he not only became the priest who makes a way into the holy place (9:23, 24) but the one who keeps that access open (9:25, 26). He makes a way, and he keeps the way open! He is the way-maker and he is the Way: he is the access and the accessibility. The one who granted us access stands as a permanent way into the holy. In the resurrection, Jesus is the great shepherd.

Peace on earth was not won in a manger. It was won on a cross. Therefore, the shepherding nature of Christ has as much to do with a tomb in Jerusalem as it does with a manger in Bethlehem.

That's the truth that guts heaven of its angels to come to earth. That's what makes soldier-angels talk to shepherds about peace. And this is what the shepherds were to go see. The Great Shepherd who would make peace with His blood.

Merry Christmas—and all praise to Jesus, the Great Shepherd!

12/15/2011 5:00:00 AM
Steven Smith
About Steven Smith
Steven W. Smith is a preacher and author who is attempting to die in the pulpit and call a generation to do the same. He is the Dean of the College, and Professor of Communication, at the College at Southwestern. Follow him on Twitter.