God has provided us a "great Shepherd"; One that excels all that went before Him. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen" (Heb 13:20-21). (the Shepherd of the sheep, the great). The idea of "great Shepherd" is not simply that Jesus does a good job of shepherding--although He certainly does. The root word here employed is used in a very wide application: exceedingly, great, high, large, loud, mighty, strong. This is not a casual word, but a strong one, depicting one with character, strength, and initiative--all of which are required in the salvation of humanity. Do not overlook that the "great Shepherd" is God's provision for "the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand" (Psa 95:7). His love and His grace constrained Him to make this provision. Praise be to our God for the "great Shepherd."

Brought back from the dead!

The "great Shepherd of the sheep" has been "brought again from the dead." He has returned from "the land of the enemy" (Jer 31:16), never before conquered by one entering into it. The dominant figure of all time is Jesus Christ. No other man has ever reached the full objective intended by God (Heb 2:8). But our vision must not stop with humanity. There is Another that must dominate our view. How appropriate that it is written, "But we do see Him Who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Heb 2:9, NASB). Jesus was "made a little lower than the angels" that He might die. But His death was not the end of the matter. It was not enough that Jesus died, He had to be brought back from the dead. He had to be a Shepherd that would pass through the valley Himself! Because of His triumphant death, He was "crowned with glory and honor," exalted to the highest place, and given a name above every name. At this point, note the marvelous message of the text. Jesus was "CROWNED with glory and honor" in order "that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for every man!" His death was made effective by His resurrection! Had Jesus not been "brought again from the dead," His death would not have had universal efficacy. But He was raised again, thereby making His death sufficient to pay the entire human debt. This is the thought captured in Paul's challenge to the enemies of God. "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Rom 9:34, NIV). Too frequently men are tempted to think of Christ's death in separation from His resurrection and intercession. When Jesus was "crowned with glory and honor" He was qualified to be our Shepherd. That crowning validated His death, making it sufficient to reconcile every son of Adam. This situation makes our Shepherd a "great Shepherd," because He has traversed the deepest valley, and walked in the greatest darkness. He descended as far as one can descend, and came back to lead us to God. A shepherd must know the terrain, lest he lead the sheep into a situation from which he cannot extricate them. Having "tasted death for every man," Jesus not only atoned for the sin of every man, He now leads us to God. He but requires our consent to do so -- and faith gives that joyful consent. We now live in the time of spiritual recovery. Having come back from the dead, Jesus now leads men from death to life, from hopelessness to hope, and from danger to safety. He is the "great Shepherd of the sheep."