For a time, the Good Shepherd lived with us. For a time, Jesus walked among us and led us. “I am the good shepherd,” he told us. “I know my own, and my own know me” (John 10:14 NAS).
But despite the fact that Jesus lived among us, remember that he also told us this: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NAS). That is exactly what Jesus did; he laid down his life for us.
His death was not to be permanent, however. Jesus went on to say, “No one has taken [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:18 NAS).
Our Good Shepherd gave his life for us, but true to his word, Jesus took his life up again. Jesus rose from the dead and came out of the grave. After his resurrection, Jesus again was with his small flock of followers, but also once again, it was only for a time. As before, he did not stay. In fact, this time, after a mere forty days and much to the amazement of his flock, as the disciples looked on, their Good Shepherd suddenly ascended into the skies and disappeared into a cloud (Acts 1:9).
Since that day, Jesus has not yet returned to his flock. To this day, he still is not among us. But before he ascended into heaven, he again promised that he would return, just as he had promised to the disciples before he died.
Jesus said to the first disciples and to us, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you” (John 14:18 NAS).