“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” (Luke 22:7)
“It was just before the Passover feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” (John 13:1)
Today marks the last full day of Jesus on this earth…Maundy Thursday. It is the day that Jesus sent the disciples into the city to prepare the upper room for the evening meal. It was the beginning of the Passover celebration commemorating Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. It was on this night that Jewish families would gather around the Seder meal to remember the night when salvation came for those who were covered by the blood of the Passover lamb.
For Jesus and His disciples it would be more than just another Passover. It was the Passover that the first Passover was pointing to and Jesus was the fulfillment of what every Passover represented. He came to be the Passover lamb for everyone. This was God coming to us to provide the Lamb…to be the Lamb.
The Scripture tells us that this was God showing us the “full extent of His love”. What does that look like? It is a loving Shepherd who took a towel and washed the feet of His sheep. It is the good Shepherd who would lay down His life for His sheep. It is love.
The Good Shepherd loves His sheep. Therefore, He takes care of them. He doesn’t just own sheep and hire someone to watch them for Him…He does it Himself. He meets their needs. He makes them to lie down. He leads. He restores. He guides. He is with you to calm your fears. He comforts you. He prepares a table for you. He anoints. He is pleased to be your Shepherd. He gives you a place to dwell…forever.
I hope you didn’t miss it. This Psalm is about God’s great love for us. It is not about our work or effort in obtaining favor in God’s eyes. It is about the God who created you and loves you and longs to show you the “full extent” of that love. Maybe that is why this Psalm has brought so much comfort for so many. It brings us back to the truth that God loves us and He will take care of us. All we have to do is come into the fold and trust Him.
This is the message of the cross. The Shepherd became a sheep and the Lamb of God went to the cross as the sacrifice for us. It is what we needed. Without His sacrifice on the cross we would be lost. We were in need of a Savior! So Jesus, our Good Shepherd, broke bread with His disciples, went to the Garden, and allowed Himself to be arrested. This was the work of God on your behalf.