The Work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd
The Word of God describes Jesus in several ways. As Jesus was born into this world, the declarations of His advent crowned him with many names foreshadowing all He would grow to become according to the will of God, "…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus as the man embodied these characteristics and invited all men to believe on His name. Those who did came to know him more intimately thru the "I am" statements of their Savior.
In one such account, Jesus tells the multitude, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Below is a scripture comparison of the work of Jesus as our good shepherd shown through the account of Ammon at the waters of Sebus in the Book of Mormon. As we contemplate all that Jesus is to us in our life, I pray this exploration of His role as our good shepherd will bring you an extra measure of comfort and joy this holiday season.
Left their kingdom
Ammon left the comfort and wealth of his kingdom to declare salvation to every creature (Mosiah 28:1-3,10)
Jesus left the glories of heaven to save the souls of mankind (Philippians 2:6-8, John 3:16, 1 Nephi 11:16-24)
Ammon, upon entering Lamanite territory, is rejected and bound to be judged (Alma 17:20)
Jesus likewise was rejected, bound and delivered to judgement (Mark 15:1)
Came to serve and employed as a shepherd
Ammon came to serve the people and was appointed over the sheep (Alma 17:25)
Christ also came as a servant (Matt. 20:28) and was divinely employed as the good shepherd (John 10:11)
On the third day
Ammon contended with the Lamanites and delivered the king's sheep once and for all. Consider all previous attempts failed before his appearing. (Alma 17:26)
Jesus resurrected, officially conquering sin and death, overcoming Satan's plan and opening the way for mankind to receive salvation. Having power to both lay His life down and take it up again (John 10:18) so that His sheep may never perish nor be plucked out of the Father's hand. (John 10:28, 1 Peter 2: 24-25)
The hireling and the shepherd
The king's other servants were crippled in the face of danger, fearing for their own lives over the care of the sheep (Alma 17:27-28). In Jesus' parable, the hireling flees and does not care for the sheep (John 10:12-13)
Contrast is found in the demeanor of Ammon who displayed no signs of retreat or fear but instead joy and determination to fight for the sheep. When needed most, he possessed a knowledge and confidence in God's power and plan (Alma 17:29). Jesus also, being the good shepherd came to rescue His sheep, who did not flee but because of His enduring love, He not only risked His life but laid it down so that they may obtain it more abundantly (John 10:10-11)
The sheep gathered
The king's sheep were scattered by the wickedness of the enemy (Alma 17:28) and the servants wept and were afflicted by the impossible task to reclaim them. Ammon encourages them, saying, "Be of good cheer," assuring them that if they go and search they will find them. They are successful only by following Ammon, who moved with swiftness to get out ahead of the wayward sheep (Alma 17:30-32).
The characteristics of Jesus are shown here through Ammon, as Jesus reveals He knows His sheep (John 10:14). In terms of salvation and obedience, no matter how wayward we are, there is nowhere we can go where Jesus cannot find us. Elsewhere Jesus describes His pursuit for the lost souls of men exactly as a shepherd in search of His lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7*, Matt 18:11-14)
*Exodus 28:9-12 – The high priest wore the name of Israel on His shoulders. Luke 15:5 – Jesus, as the good shepherd, upon finding us carries us upon His shoulders to restore us to the fold.
Deliverance at the water
After the sheep are gathered, they are brought immediately to the water. Knowing the enemy still lingered, consider why they did not simply return the sheep home. The sheep needed the water, and Ammon ensured their access and protection at the water of Sebus.
The word "Sebus" means "Gathering to receive payment or reward" (Armanian/Neo-Babylonian translation) and also "life from the sun" (Egyptian translation) — coincidence? I think not.
Through Jesus' death and resurrection, He contended with the enemy of our soul and secured the path of salvation to all who will come and drink the waters of life.
Types of Christ
Ammon slew with stones (Matt 21:44) and on whomever this stone (Jesus) shall fall shall be ground into powder.
Ammon slew the arms off those that were raised against him with a sword, and Jesus, being the word, removes Satan's power (John 1:14, Hebrews 4:12, Matt 4, 1 John 4:4)
After defeating the enemy and watering the sheep, Ammon safely returns the sheep to the king's pasture (Alma 17:39).
Jesus ensures His sheep find pasture (John 10:9).
Once a sheep, now a servant
What insight and encouragement can we personally gain from the perspective of a sheep?
- Although scattered by wickedness, the sheep always remained the king's sheep. We belong to God, and His effort to preserve us is continual.
- Ammon ran to head off the sheep (Alma 17:32). The previous verse says the sheep "fled many ways" (Alma 17:27). Jesus knows His sheep and where they go; we can never outrun the Lord. We may get ahead of ourselves in life, but we can never get ahead of God.
- How often do we need to drink from the waters of life? Salvation isn't an event; it's a process. You can visit often and drink freely.
What insight and encouragement can we personally gain from the perspective of a servant?
- Look at how perspective impacted the servants versus Ammon. Knowledge and trust in God trades despair, fear, and murmuring for joy, confidence, and strength.
- Ammon called the servants his brethren; Jesus likewise calls us His friends. We are partners with Him in this labor (John 15:15).
- We have a task to preform (gather the sheep and encircle the flock).
- Understand Jesus will fight our battles. With Him, all things are possible!
- Understand we must follow Jesus if we are to be successful. The servants followed Ammon and their circumstances changed for good.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.