Today’s Reading: John 10
Jesus is called Shepherd three times in the New Testament. And each time, a special adjective is put in front of the word to show His role in their lives.
In John 10:11, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, with the emphasis of laying down His life for the sheep.
In Hebrews 13:20, Jesus is called the Great Shepherd, with the emphasis on His resurrection and how He accomplishes His purposes through His sheep.
And in 1 Peter 5:4, He is called the Chief Shepherd, which stresses His second coming and His reward to the under-shepherds.
As the Good Shepherd, He dies for the sheep. As the Great Shepherd, He rises from the dead. As the Chief Shepherd, He returns to reward His people.
Today we’re studying the Good Shepherd. Before I tell you about the Good Shepherd, though, we have to realize our role as sheep. That is how the Bible describes all of us: “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way” (Isaiah 53:6, MSG).
Notice the emphasis on the word all. That means all of us are included, no one excluded. We are all sheep. While sheep is not a flattering term, it is appropriate.
Have you ever noticed that no colleges or universities use sheep as their mascot? They always choose something vicious, majestic, or strong. The Louisiana State University Tigers, University of Michigan Wolverines, or Kentucky Wildcats. No one uses sheep. Alabama Sheep, UCLA Sheep? Doesn’t even sound right. Why? Because of who sheep are.
Sheep are easily frightened; they are defenseless and they are highly dependent. They need guidance and protection. It may not be complimentary to be a sheep, but it is comforting to know we have a Good Shepherd, and that changes everything.
Listen to Jesus’ words: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
John 10 is about the relationship between the Good Shepherd and the needy sheep. Sheep have no chance unless they have a shepherd, and not just a shepherd but a Good Shepherd.
Always remember, we never graduate from being a sheep the older we get in Jesus. We always need the Shepherd. We always need Him!
The chief enemy of the sheep is the wolf. Sheep have no defense mechanism except for the shepherd. And here is what is so important: sheep are only as strong as the shepherd. If the shepherd fails, they fail.
The wolf scatters the sheep. Why? So he can isolate them away from the shepherd. If he can get them away from the shepherd, then he can devour them. He scatters, isolates, and then has the helpless, defenseless sheep to himself.
Here’s how Jesus put it:
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.
I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. (John 10:11-14, MSG)
Sheep are known by their shepherd. They are known in two ways: sheep know their name and they know the voice of their shepherd who calls it.
So as sheep, we have one job: stay close to the Shepherd and when we do, we are within ear shot of His voice. He is our protection. He is our provider.
An Australian man was arrested and charged with stealing a sheep. He adamantly denied the accusation, claiming it was one of his own that had been missing for days. When the case went to court, the judge heard the arguments but was unsure how to decide the matter. Finally, he asked that the sheep be brought into the courtroom. He ordered that the accuser go outside the room and call the animal. The sheep’s only response was to raise its head and look frightened. The judge then told the defendant to go to the courtyard and call the sheep. When the accused man did so, the sheep ran toward the door and that voice. He recognized the familiar sound of his master. “His sheep knows him,” the judge said and dismissed the case.
Our Shepherd calls us each day. Let’s follow His voice.