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that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Through the blood of the everlasting covenant he became the Great Shepherd of the sheep; and this reminds us of his precious word, " The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” It was not an office easily obtained by our blessed Redeemer. It cost him his life of suffering; it cost him his death of atonement; it cost him all that he had covenanted to do and to bear, as he endured the life by which he purchased to himself the blessed office of being the Great Shepherd to the lost sheep of the human family. It reminds us, brethren, of the great value that Christ set upon his lost ones, and of the unchangeable character of the holy law of God, that when even the Son of God would become the shepherd of lost and ruined sheep, he must become the son of man, take our sins upon him, take our punishment upon him, bear our sins in his own body on the tree, and that through the everlasting covenant which was made between God the Father and God the Son before the world was,—the Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. Here we have, indeed, a blessed view presented to us of that character which our Saviour was acquiring for himself on earth. He must seal it with his blood before he became the Great Shepherd of the sheep. “He came to seek and to saye that which was lost;' and he could not be the great shepherd to the sheep until he laid down his life's blood as the purchase of that much desired office. Thus we have presented to our view the incarnate Shepherd : nothing the less God because he had become man, and nothing the less man because he was united with God. Here we return again to the revelation of the shepherd care that we find in the Old Testament; and we find an accuracy of meaning, a propriety of word, a depth of truth, a fulness of sympathy. a unity of suffering, a tenderness of human compassion, that these words could not bear if we did not see in them God incarnate. If we return to Isaiah, and hear him saying, “He gathereth the lambs with his arms,” do we not bring the light of the Gospel to bear upon that passage, and see the Great Shepherd of the flock with the little one in his arms, greatly displeased with those who would keep them from him, saying, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And if we find the Psalmist saying, “ The Lord is my shepherd,” the Christian psalmist can find the New Testament version of these words, “ The Lord Jesus is my shepherd : I shall not want.” If the believer under the Old Testament dispensation could say, “Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth ;” and if the prophet, under the same dispensation, could see but only in vision the form of man sitting between the cherubim, the Christian believer can give incarnate truth to that which was but a distant vision to the Jewish people ; and as be lifts
eyes of his faith, and the heart of his love, to the heaven of God's holiness, there he can see the Shepherd of Israel, not a man in vision, but a man in reality, the Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.
This brings us to consider the work of the Shepherd. His work, as he prepared himself to be the shepherd of the sheep, is not part of his work, except as preparatory indeed. We are not to forget the wormwood and the gall; we are not to forget the life of suffering, and the
death of pain; when we think of the character of the Shepherd of the sheep. We are not to look at him in his glory, and overlook his wounded hands, pierced side, and transfixed feet. When the apostle looked up into heaven, he saw the Lamb as it had been slain ; and when he heard the thanksgiving of heaven, it was
Worthy the Lamb that was slain, to receive honour, and power, and wisdom, and glory, and blessing.” But that was the preparatory work which belonged to the shepherd, but not the work of the shepherd. His work as a shepherd is that which he is now performing, as sitting between the cherubim. He is the Great Shepherd of Israel! The thought that this parable presents to us is what our blessed Saviour is now doing, as seeking that which was lost; as being now the shepherd who sends his under-shepherds throughout the whole world, that they may gather his sheep from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south. It is of that work of Christ's office, as shepherd, that the apostle Peter says, in the 2nd to the 4th verses of the 5th chapter of the 1st Epistle of Peter, “Feed the flock of God that is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
If we would see the work of Christ, as the Great Shepherd, we must see the work of the under-shepherds. As showing, then, the work of our blessed Redeemer, we turn to the 34th chapter of the prophet Ezekiel, and you will there see his part of the shepherd's work. It is but the image of the perfect work of the Great Shepherd of Israel ; and we see in the deficiencies and the neglect of men, who were but unfaithful shepherds, what is the real work of the true and faithful Shepherd of the sheep in the 2nd to the 4th verses.
The prophet says, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel ; prophesy and say unto them, thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds : woe be to the shepherds of Israel, that do feed themselves. Should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, `and
with the wool; ye kill them that are fed, but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick; neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have
ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” Here, therefore, we see in contrast what is the work of the good shepherd : to feed the flock, and to bring them to the pastures of Divine truth, and to the food of Divine grace; and if he find a diseased member of his flock, he strengthens that which was diseased; if he find a sick member of his flock, he heals the sick; if he find the broken in heart and spirit, he binds up that which was broken ; if he find the wanderer, he brings him back to the ways of truth and holiness; if there be the lost, he seeks that which was lost ; if there be need of government, it is not with force and cruelty, but with tenderness, and kindness, and care, that he will thus rule and govern them with a blessed hand. Here is that blessed work of Christ, the Good Shepherd, for which he receives the Spirit, and for which he was willing to bow down his head and die, that he might be able to say, as we have again in the 61st chapter of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God
is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound : to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, and to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Here is, indeed, a blessed work of the Good Shepherd, by which he can speak peace to the troubled heart; by which, with one touch of his heavenly hand, he can heal the diseases of our corrupted frame, by which he can lift up the soul that is bowed down, and give the oil of joy for the bruisings of human mourning; and in the fulness of blessings that is in him, who is thus our good shepherd, enables the believer to say as the old psalmist did, I shall not want, for the Lord is my shepherd ; he maketh me to lie down in green pas, tures, and there he provides a fold, and in providing the fold procures me refreshment; he leadeth me beside the still waters, and in the calmness of those waters the troubled spirit may find peace, and the agitated soul may find its calmness. He leadeth me beside the still waters ; he restoreth my soul, leading me in the paths of righteousness, restoring me from the errors of youth, from the wandering of sin, from the wretchedness of a burdened conscience, restoring me to paths of righteousness, and being with me, so that in the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for there will be the companion that can make all peace. In the presence of danger