Psalm 23:5-6 - 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 forever.
Jesus often summoned people to faith with the simple call, "Follow Me." He said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19b). Some did not answer the call. The idolatry of greed kept a wealthy man from seeking true treasure as he turned away from Jesus' invitation, "Come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21b). The risen Savior foretold the way Peter would glorify God in death and called His disciple to leadership and martyr's faith with those same words, "Follow Me" (John 21:19b).
What does it mean to follow Jesus? This psalm of a shepherd offers insights—one sheep to another—about following. Sheep follow their shepherd, not knowing exactly where they are going, but understanding that they will be led to green pastures and refreshing still waters. The sheep trust their shepherd to keep them safe from predators. The sheep will be carefully counted and any wayward sheep will be found and rescued. Finally, the flock will follow to the security of the sheepfold, where the shepherd will lie down across the open door to keep watch through the night. To follow the shepherd is to lead a life of humility, trust, and security.
The Holy Spirit calls and enlightens us through the Gospel and sets us on the path of following Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus defeated the devil, the evil predator who wants to take us away from our Shepherd. Jesus feeds us in the green pastures of His Word and refreshes us with the living water of the Spirit of God. When we wander in sin, as we often do, our Shepherd calls us to repentance and forgives our sins. Finally, one day, we will live with Jesus in the safety of His eternal sheepfold. The apostle Peter, who would one day follow His Savior into death, wrote, "To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). Closely following Jesus' steps means that we may suffer; cross-bearing is part of following this Shepherd: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24b).
As we, in joy and humble trust, follow Jesus, what follows us? "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Our Shepherd's goodness and gentle care, His mercy and forgiveness, follow right along with us until finally we enter His eternal fold and "dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
WE PRAY: Jesus, my Shepherd, watch over me as I follow You in faith. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. How would any good shepherd care for his sheep? How does our Good Shepherd care for us?
2. What does it mean to you that God prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies?
3. What example has Jesus set for us to follow in how we are to live and love?
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