Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:9-11 ESV
[Jesus said:]“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:11, 14-16 ESV
In medieval Europe, a herald was a person who carried messages to and from the commanders of opposing armies. Heralds also announced and ran tournaments between knights. They would announce each contest between two knights and who the two men were who were fighting. The herald had to know all the noble houses in the area and be able to recognize the colors and the symbols they wore. Heralds had important jobs as messengers and as people who could quickly recognize and announce the champions who were taking the field in a tournament.
The prophet Isaiah called on the city of Jerusalem and its Mt. Zion to be a herald. The herald was supposed to announce that their God himself was coming to them to save them and to rule them as their king. This was wonderful news to people who were living in a time of trouble and hopelessness. They could look forward to a time when the Lord would come to them and help them. God would come to them as a mighty king, but also as a gentle shepherd who would care for them. He would carry the little lambs in his arms and be careful and gentle when leading the mother sheep.
God came to his people in Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Jesus came to his own people of Israel, but he also calls people from all around the world to be his people. Jesus loves and cares for us every day the way a good shepherd watches over his sheep, and Jesus showed his love by laying down his life for his sheep on the cross. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we have life forever with him. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us follow him every day, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Good Shepherd and our King. Amen.