Christ a Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,” John 10:11.
METAPHOR PARALLEL
A Shepherd is chosen and appointed to take care of the sheep, being a man skilful in doing that work and business. Jesus Christ is chosen of God and appointed to take the care and charge of the Church, and very capable to undertake that blessed work.
A Shepherd knows his sheep, he knows their number, and knows them particularly from sheep that are none of his, and one from another. “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine,” John 10:14. He take special notice of every particular saint, he knew Moses by name. He knows their wants, their sufferings, their weaknesses, their sicknesses, and whatever service they do for his holy Name-sake.
A Shepherd marks his sheep, whereby they are distinguished from others. The Lord Jesus hath set his own image upon his people. The mark which they always bear upon them, is, holiness, meekness, obedience, by which they are distinguished from the world. “Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry,” Ezekiel 9:4. Christ’s sheep are sealed in their foreheads and hands, 1. For distinction. 2. Secrecy. 3. Security.
A Shepherd feeds his sheep, he leads them to green pastures, and springs of water: “should not the shepherds feed the flocks,” Ezekiel 34:2. Christ “shall feed his flock like a shepherd,” Isaiah 40:11, Psalms 23:1, John 10:3; his great care is to put them into good and fat pastures, and lead them by the still waters, Isaiah 49:10. He gives them good doctrine, Jeremiah 3:15, “which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
A Shepherd preserves his flock. He takes care they do not feed in unwholesome pastures, and defends them from enemies. The Lord Jesus, to preserve his Church, doth often charge and caution them to beware of, and avoid all pernicious and evil doctrine, false teachers, etc. And he continually defends them from sin, Satan and all other enemies.
A Shepherd hath a fold for his sheep, whither he brings them for their better security, and his own profit. The Lord Jesus hath his Church for his fold, whiter he brings his elect for their better security, and his own glory. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” Acts 2:47. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen,” Ephesians 3:21.
A Shepherd keeps his sheep together, suffers them not to stray and straggle abroad lest they should be lost. The Lord Jesus frequently assembles his people together, and will not allow any to straggle abroad, or be like lambs in large places: “but exhorting one another,” Hebrews 10:25.
A Shepherd, if any of his sheep be set upon by dogs or wolves, will venture his life for them, to defend and rescue them from those beasts of prey; as David for a lamb, fought with a lion and a bear, 1 Samuel 17:36-37. Christ laid down his life for his sheep, exposed himself to great sorrows and miseries for their sakes, and engaged with the cruelest of enemies, who sought to make a prey of, and devour his flock, which all the malice of wicked men, who “lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men,” cannot accomplish. Jeremiah 5:26.
A Shepherd is very tender of his flock, will not over-drive them, takes special care of the lambs, and those that are weak and feeble, Genesis 33:13. Christ is exceeding tender of weak and feeble Christians. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young,” Isaiah 40:11.  “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees,” Isaiah 35:3.
If a Shepherd has lost one sheep, or one lamb is gone astray, he will seek it, and when he hath found it, he brings it home with abundance of joy, saying to his neighbours,    “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost,” Luke 15:6. Christ, the good Shepherd, came to seek and save that which was lost; his great design is to bring home sinners, and such as have gone astray, as David, Peter, and other saints have done. When he finds them mourning for their sins, how is he pleased! He takes up the lost sheep upon his shoulder, as it were, carries it upon the power of his grace and love into the sheep-fold with joy, Luke 15.
A Shepherd heals the diseases of the sheep. “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,” Ezekiel 34:4. Christ binds up the broken-hearted, restores sight to the blind, and sets at liberty them that are bruised; he pours in oil and wine into the sinner’s wounds. “I will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick,” Ezekiel 34:16.
A Shepherd judges between sheep and sheep, between fat and lean ones; and if any push the weak, and hurt or wrong his fellow, or would thrust and shoulder him out of the fold, the shepherd takes notice of it, and accordingly orders such who do the wrong. Christ judges between member and member, between one saint and another. And if any oppress and injure his fellow Christian, or if the rich wrong the poor, or the strong the weak, and retain their right, or would jostle them out of the church, Christ takes special notice of it, and will reward them accordingly; “I will destroy the fat and the strong,” Ezekiel 34:16. “the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them,” Mark 10:42. “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth,” 3 John 1:9-10. “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done,” Colossians 3:25.
The Shepherd watches over his sheep, because of the dangers that might otherwise befall them in the night: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” Luke 2:8. Christ continually keeps a strict watch over his people, his eye is never off them. In this night of darkness, how happy are we, that the good shepherd hath his eye upon, and watches his threatened flock, since so many Roman wolves are abroad!
Shepherds are to give an account of their sheep, to see that none are lacking. Christ gives the Father an account of all his sheep: “I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition,” John 17:12.
A Shepherd washes his sheep (in convenient places) from all filth and soil, which they are subject to contract. Christ hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Revelation 1:5. It is his blood that “cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9.
A Shepherd delights much to see his  sheep and lambs thrive. Christ is wonderfully pleased to see his people grow in grace, and in the fruits of the Spirit: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples,” John 15:8.
A Shepherd, if he sees one or more of his sheep are infected with any distemper, so that they may endanger the rest, he separates such from the flock. Christ, if he sees any evil, infected, and corrupted members in the church, that may endanger the rest, he gives command to purge them out, or separate them from the church, by the righteous censure thereof, 1 Corinthians 5, Titus 3:10.
A Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Christ will make a plain decision at the last day. He will separate the godly from the wicked, as a Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, Matthew 25:32.
A Shepherd leads his flock to some sweet shady place, where he makes them rest at noon, when the sun shines hot. Christ hath the like care of his flock; he is “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isaiah 32:2, by his gracious promises, and protection in the day of persecution.
METAPHOR DISPARITY
Other Shepherds are generally hirelings; they keep other men’s sheep, and not their own. Christ’s cheep are all his own by creation; his by free donation of the Father; his by election: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” John 15:16. They are his by purchase or redemption; he bought them with the price of his own blood.
All other Shepherds are no more than men, and generally poor, and of a mean race or descent. This Shepherd is the Son of God; never was there such a Shepherd in the Church before, nor ever shall arise after him: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” Philippians 2:6.
Other Shepherds may fail in skill or care, or may want power to help and save their sheep from danger, when the lion or wolf cometh. Christ is called the Wisdom of God, and the power of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24. His bowels, covenant, and faithfulness, will not suffer him to forget or neglect his flock. He is able to drive away all the beasts of prey, with his voice can make the fiercest lion tremble; he can make the devils fly, and restrain the wrath of man, and powers of darkness, at his pleasure.
Others are Shepherds of a few sheep, or a few particular flocks. Christ if the great Shepherd of the sheep. He is called Great, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 5:4. 1. In respect of his Person. 2. In respect of his power. 3. Great, in respect of the flocks he hath the charge and care of. He is the universal Shepherd; it is false of the pope, but true of Christ. All the sheep of flocks that live, or ever lived, were and are his. 4. Great, in respect of the pastures he hath to accommodate his sheep. The world is his, and the fulness thereof. 5. Great in respect of the many inferior Shepherds that are under him, that must be accountable to him.
Other Shepherds are but sheep themselves; nay, and if his, they cannot have greater dignity conferred upon them. Christ is the Shepherd of shepherds. The patriarchs, prophets, and apostles themselves, and all ministers of the Gospel, are Christ’s sheep, and under his charge and keeping.
Other Shepherds may lose their sheep; they may be diseased, rot, and perish, and they cannot help them. Christ will lose none of his sheep. He is able to cure all their diseases, and to keep them from perishing, Psalms 103:3. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” John 10:27-28.

INFERENCES

  1. If Christ be the Shepherd of his sheep, if he hath the care and charge of all the faithful people of God; this informs us, that they shall not cannot be at any time without a Shepherd: for Christ is not short-lived, or subject to death, as other Shepherds are: “seeing he ever liveth,” Hebrews 7:25.
  2. Believers may say with David, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” Psalms 23:1.
  3. Let other Shepherds remember they are but Christ’s servants, Christ’s deputies, and must be accountable to him, the chief shepherd, when he appeareth.
  4. We may infer from hence, that the state and condition of such men is sad, that worry, and make a spoil of the righteous; they are Christ’s lambs they thus grievously abuse, and make slaughter of.
  5. Follow this Shepherd in his doctrine, in his example.
  6. Examine yourselves, whether you be his sheep, or no: his sheep know his voice from the voice of strangers.
  7. Take heed you do not straggle from the fold, and refuse the guidance and conduct of this Shepherd.
  8. Enquire where this Shepherd feeds his flock, and where he makes them rest at noon, Song of Solomon 1:7.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna,” Revelation 2:17.

Christ, and the graces of Christ, are called Manna. Manna means to prepare, because it was food prepared from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness.

TYPE PARALLEL
Manna was a strange and mysterious thing at first to the Israelites, they knew not what it was, Exodus 16:15. Jesus Christ is the wonder of men and angels; and when he came in this world, yea, to his own, they knew him not, 1 Timothy 3:16, John 1:11-12.
Manna was food prepared from heaven. Christ had a body prepared of the Father, that he might be food for believers, Hebrews 10:5.
Manna came down or descended from heaven. Christ is the true bread, or manna from heaven, John 6:35.
Manna was white. It was a pure, fair, and bright thing. Christ is described without sin, Revelation 1, 1 Peter 2:22.
Manna was round in form and figure. Christ, respecting his Divinity, is infinite, perfect, and entire, no beginning, no end.
Manna was a gift, it was given to Israel freely; it cost them nothing. Christ is called a gift, the choicest gift that ever God bestowed, given freely for the life of the world, John 4:10.
Manna was given to all, to the poor, as well as to the rich; none were forbidden to partake thereof. Christ is sent to all, to Jews and Gentiles, to the small as well as the great, to the poor as well as the rich; none are excluded.
Manna was pleasant, it had all the taste and relish of sweetness in it. Whatsoever is pleasant, sweet, and delicious in a spiritual sense, is found in Christ; his word is sweet as honey, or the honey-comb: “O taste and see that the LORD is good,” Psalms 34:8.
Manna did nourish well, and was given in great plenty. Christ is very sufficient and plentiful, there is in him enough to nourish and feed all. What soul is there but may be filled to the full, if he comes to Christ?
Manna was to be bruised in a mill, that so it might become more useful for food. Christ, that he might be food for our souls, was bruised: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him,” Isaiah 53:10.
Manna was given equally to all the Israelites; they had all a certain measure, not one more than another, were all fellow-commoners; every man had his part, his omer. All believers have their equal share in Christ, a whole Christ is given to every saint; they have all one portion, one husband, one kingdom and crown, that fadeth not away.
Manna was a small and little thing unto the eye, like to a coriander seed. Christ was little, low, and contemptible in the eyes of the world, of no reputation, Philippians 2:7.
Manna came down with the dew, it was covered or hid as it were the dew. Christ came down with the dew of the Spirit, being baptized or covered therewith, hence called, as some conceive, hidden Manna, Revelation 2:17.
Manna was not given to the Israelites, whilst they were in Egypt. Christ, who is the true Manna, is not given to unbelievers, that remain in bondage and slavery, under the power of sin and Satan.
Manna fell round about the camp of Israel, and in no other place. Christ is conversant within the limits of his Church. The graces of the Spirit fall upon mount Hermon; “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion,” Psalms 133:3. There God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man,” Revelation 1:13.
Manna was given to Israel in the wilderness: it was their only food, whilst they remained in that desert state. Christ, and the blessings of Christ, are given to us, who are in the desert or wilderness of this world. We have no other food for our souls, but are to live upon Christ by faith, so long as we are in this howling wilderness.
It was gathered daily, except on the sabbath, then there was none to be found. Those that would have Christ, must seek him in the time God hath appointed. In the day of the glorious rest of sabbath, that remains to the people of God, there will be no Christ, no Manna for sinners.
They went out of their tents to gather it. We must go out of the old man, and sensual rests, and love of this world, if we would participate of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
If manna was kept or received otherwise than God ordained and appointed, it stank, and bred worms. The sacrament of the Lord’s supper, or any other institutions of Christ, made use of, or received in other manner than Christ hath ordained and appointed, it stinks in the nostrils of God, and is abhorred by good men.
Manna ceased when Israel came into Canaan. Living by faith, and our being fed by ordinances, will cease when we come to heaven.
Manna was only given to the Israelites. Christ, and the Bread of life, is only given to believers.
Those that would receive the benefit of Manna, were to eat it. Those that receive the saving benefit by Christ, must receive and eat him spiritually by faith.
Manna came very seasonably to Israel, they had else starved. Christ was promised seasonably, and came seasonably into the world, in the very nick of time. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly,”   Romans 5:6. We had perished else forever.
Manna was to be kept, and put in a golden pot before the Lord, to remain in the holiest forever. Christ is glorified in heaven, in his human nature, at the right-hand of God, and abides there forever for the faithful, Hebrews 9:24.
Manna was loathed by the evil murmurers on whom the wrath of God fell, they esteemed it light bread. Jesus Christ, in his word, ordinances, and administrations, is loathed by carnal and ungodly men; yea, and many account Christ’s good word light bread.
In the day before the sabbath, in the night, Manna fell abundantly, that so they might gather it on that day, to provide food for the sabbath. Christ now before the last day, the beginning of the true eternal sabbath, is more fully revealed, that so poor saints might be provided for before the everlasting rest, and end of times come, Revelation 14:6.
TYPE DISPARITY
The Manna was food for the outward man, for the body only. Christ is food for the soul.
Manna was eaten by many that were wicked, though of the national church of the Jews. Christ is not food for, nor received by any, but those who are truly godly, and Israelites indeed. “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. John 6:56-57.
Manna did corrupt and putrefy. Christ, the true Manna, can never corrupt, but abideth forever.
Manna was only found at some certain times, it melted away when the sun rose. Christ is ever the same, and always to be found by those that seek him aright, both in prosperity and adversity, to his elect.
Those that did eat of Manna in the wilderness are dead, they perished. Those that eat of spiritual Manna shall never die. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life,” John 5:24. “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die,” John 6:50.
The Manna that was reserved in the holiest, was spoiled, and did perish. But our heavenly Manna abides still in the holy place.
Benjamin Keech

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 4:27

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.