"Savior, like a shepherd lead us; Much we need Your tender care. In Your pleasant pastures feed us, For our use Your fold prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours.
"You have promised to receive us, Poor and sinful though we be; You have mercy to relieve us, Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to You. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to You."
Our hymn is gentle and comforting. It speaks of "pleasant pastures" and "tender care." What could be disagreeable about such things? Yet in our fallen, sinful state, there is much here to which we might object. We like to think of ourselves as independent and take pride in being self-sufficient. We don't care for the idea of being "bought" or owned, and we may not want any tender care.
Called to repentance by the Word of God, we see ourselves more clearly. We admit that we do need our Shepherd's tender care. We have been "bought with a price," the precious blood of Jesus our Savior (1 Corinthians 6:20a). The Good Shepherd laid down His life to make us His own and, on the first Easter morning, took up His life again. Our crucified and risen Shepherd ascended to reign in glory at the Father's right hand. He is preparing a fold to welcome His flock into His eternal presence. Even now we enjoy the pleasant pastures of our Shepherd's tender care, fed and nourished by His Word and by His body and blood in His Holy Supper.
As our hymn reminds us, we are "poor and sinful." Even though we are loved and enjoy the Shepherd's care, we are still inclined to exercise our self-sufficient pride and wander from His pleasant pastures. We may find ourselves lost and in trouble. We know we need help, but we may have some doubts. After all, we did choose to wander. Are we sure that the Shepherd still wants us? The hymn assures us that the Shepherd has "promised to receive us." This welcome news echoes the invitation in God's Word: "Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" (Joel 2:13b). Jesus our Shepherd loves us and wants to keep us close to Himself. We repent of our sinful, wandering ways and He reaches out in mercy to relieve us, lifting away the burden of our sin and shame. By His mighty, gracious power, He cleanses us and sets us free to live in the safety of His pleasant pastures, surrounded by His love. If we should become forgetful, Scripture reminds us to return to the Shepherd. "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:7b-8a). Our hymn echoes that reminder, a call to keep the Shepherd in sight: "Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, early let us turn to You."
THE PRAYER: Jesus my Shepherd, keep me close in Your tender care. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us," which is number 711 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. What are some of the things a shepherd does to care for his flock?
2. Do you have a time in the day when you usually first pray to God?
3. Are there people in your life for whom you have the role of a shepherd?
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