One of the most famous – if not the famous verse of scripture in Christendom is Psalm 23 which opens with the statement, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” This text has gained so much popularity because of the intensity of the declarations which were carefully constructed by the psalmist in his prayer. But in this article I am much interested in the opening statement. I would however relate this scripture to the fourteen year service of the patriarch Jacob for his desired bride – Rachel.
Jacob’s service for Rachel recorded in Genesis chapter 29 reveals the ministry of Christ. How do I mean? The name Rachel means Ewe, that is, a female sheep. Jacob himself was a shepherd. Adam Clarke commenting on Genesis 25:27 states that “…dwelling in tents-subsisting by breeding and tending cattle…” This is however true because Esau was deep in the forest when Rebekah instructed Jacob saying “Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats…” (Gen. 27:9) If Esau was in charge of the flock he wouldn’t have sublimed into the forest. Again Jacob had enough experience about sheep such that he offered good shepherding advice to some herdsmen in Haran (Gen. 29:4-7). Moreover he served Laban as a shepherd (Gen. 29:15-30).
Jacob – the shepherd had to serve fourteen years for Rachel – the sheep. This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He (Jesus) – the Shepherd had to condescend into humanness to serve (for) humanity – the sheep. Many people have been quick to judge Jacob but have not thought of the entire work of our Saviour. Jesus came to serve the Father for us, in that He said “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) And He surely served throughout His life on earth through preaching, teaching, healing and above all giving His life as a propitiation offering for our (the sheep) sake.
Jesus is not just any kind of shepherd, He is extraordinary. He so much esteemed the life of the sheep to the point of dying a cursed criminal’s death on the Cross at Calvary. Just as Jacob offered himself for his bride Christ also offered Himself for us so we can become His bride.
Let me re-echo that Rachel means “Ewe” – a female sheep. This could not be a coincidence because women having wombs possess the ability of “fruitfulness and multiplication”. God’s curse upon mankind (Gen. 3) placed an injunction upon fruitfulness and productivity for which reason mankind became “barren” towards God. The relationship with God which brings about the fruitfulness and productivity was cut. The great Shepherd came to serve the Father by ministering. His ministration and death has repaired and restored our broken relationship with God. Glory to God in the highest that mankind has been once again released to manifest to the satisfaction of the grave expectation of creation.
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By S. E. Entsua-Mensah. ©2014 Christ for Humanity Outreach
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