November 1 is All Saints’ Day. It is a day for all believers in Jesus to remember that they are part of one, big flock – the Church. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He has gathered us together. He is bringing us home to Heaven. The path goes across the River Jordan – death – and He has made a safe way for us by His cross. He died and rose again to make that path, so that He could save us. We cross one at a time, having faith in Him, our Good Shepherd.
A Tale of Many Sheep
Once there was a Shepherd, who had a large flock of sheep. The Shepherd knew of a good place to bring His sheep, so He was leading them to it. A place where there would be plenty for all, where there would be no more wolves or thieves to attack the flock, where all would be safe. The challenge was that the good place was on the other side of a river, and the way across the river was narrow – only one sheep could cross at a time. As the flock waited by the river, some sheep would tend to wander. Others would see the river and get nervous. At times, it could be rather difficult for the sheep. So, the Shepherd would comfort the flock and call them back, calling to them, calming them. Day after day, His message is spoken to call and to comfort His flock.
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. –Psalm 23:4
The sheep remember the words of the Shepherd, and they repeat them to each other. When lamb is tending to stray they say, “Look across the river. Do you see all the sheep over there in the green pasture? Stay focused on getting across the river, don’t go off the path where the wolves wait. There is no other safe path across than the one the Shepherd brought us to. Stay here.”
When a ewe is nervous about her turn to cross the river, they help calm her, “Remember how He carried that big ram across? And how He rescued the little lambs that day, even though the River was raging? And remember how our sister Ewe was so calm as she had her turn, because she trusted the Shepherd? He will know what to do to help us, too. Look at all the sheep He has already saved! He is good at what He does, and He will get you safely there too.”
When some of the sheep get impatient with waiting, they say, “The Shepherd will get us over the river, each in our turn. Look at how many sheep are already over there, safe and sound! Remember that wooly ram who crossed over last month? He always helped encourage the lambs. Remember the old ewe who crossed last year? She always helped make sure the other ewes had enough to eat. Remember? Let’s not get impatient. Let’s follow their example and help make this time better for the other sheep who are waiting.”
All Saints’ Day
On All Saints Day, we remember that this flock has been crossing the river for a long time. Many countless sheep are already safely across. We see them on the other side. The Bible tells us about how He carried some saints across. We hear in the history of the flock how He carried other sheep across. We know in our own day and age plenty of sheep who had their turn to cross. They are safe and sound on the other side, and we take courage in that.
Sometimes it’s hard to wait. We see the crowd of sheep on the other side of the river and it helps us remember to be patient, to stay focused, for our Shepherd is hard at work. Sometimes we get nervous about crossing the river. We see the sheep on the other side and it reminds us that our Shepherd is really good at what He does. He got all of them across, surely He can get us across as well.
Praising the Shepherd
All Saints Day – it’s about praising and thanking the Shepherd who gets us safely across the river, rather than praising the sheep whom he carried across. But we do learn from the example set by some of the sheep while they were waiting to cross. When some of the sheep were waiting their turn while on our side of the river, they were bold and courageous, or were calm and peaceful. Some of them learned from the Shepherd to serve the other sheep who were waiting to cross and helped them. Some of the sheep helped teach and encourage others in the flock to look to the Good Shepherd and be peaceful. We learn from their example that we should do the same.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
We look across the river and see the green pastures and quiet waters on the other side. We remember the Shepherd is taking us to a good place. The other sheep are already enjoying it. We look forward to enjoying it too, when we are altogether again. Where there will be no wolves anymore. Just peace.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is risen from the dead, and He is bringing us home to Heaven. We will live forever with Him. The Holy Spirit has drawn us to faith in Jesus and He keeps us strong till the end. We hear the Shepherd’s voice in the Bible. We gather to hear His Word while we wait, and learn how to serve each other on this side of the River. While we wait He makes sure that we are well cared for. And at times we stop to remember those who are already across the river. We praise our Shepherd, for if He could bring them safely home, we know He will do so for us too.
Thanks be to God!