John 10:1-18 NIV “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
I think that this is one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture that our loving God ever gave us. There are many other Scriptures within God’s Word that uses this same analogy about God being our shepherd but this particular group of Scriptures covers such a wide range of Biblical truths and most importantly, it establishes and conveys the relational aspect that we have with our Saviour.
Sheep aren’t known for being the most intelligent creatures within the animal kingdom and I can readily identify with that. What we think we know and what we really know are often not one and the same. As children of God’s flock, we depend and rely on our Shepherd, He literally does lead us and guide us and protect us and feed us and keep us save from those who would see us perish. I especially like the verse where it says that we know Him and we know His voice. The relationship we have with the Shepherd and the relationship He has with us is profound and when entered into, melts our hearts. That’s what coming to know our Shepherd does, changes us, changes our minds and hearts and teaches us that we can with good reason, depend and trust our Shepherd.
How does one put into words what this relationship means? How does one convey the majesty and wonder of our Creator who gave His life for us so that we would be His? How does one convey the absolute beauty and wonder of this reality? We love Him and He loves us. That’s the long and the short of it, and I don’t care about the negative connotations that some who have never experienced being loved and guided by the Good Shepherd sometimes say, about us being blind sheep. I gladly wear that badge, because I have come to know Him and nothing, absolutely nothing, can change that reality.
The other day it struck me that the fact that we have God’s Word so readily available today is something not to be taken lightly. There are periods within Christian history when God’s Word hadn’t been all put together in one book like it is today. There are periods within Christian history when God’s Word as we know it today was not readily available and the sheep didn’t have the opportunity to read it in their own language. There are periods within Christian history when the sheep were kept away from God’s Word because it was deemed appropriate that others who were more “learned” would give us their selected scriptures and then they would explain it to us. Take the time to study how the Scriptures that we call the Bible came to be in the early Church. Take the time to study why and how the Reformation came about and how it changed so much that we enjoy today. Many of God’s sheep in the past didn’t have God’s Word like we have today. Cherish it, value it, feed on it.
A couple of days ago I was chatting with Bill Sweeney via email. If you don’t know Bill, click on the link on his name. When we were chatting, my mind was reminded of some of the mental pictures that I feel like I’ve already seen, such as Jesus in His Glory in Heaven. Scenes like when all within Heaven will acknowledge Jesus for who He is and what He did. I mentioned this to Bill and he said that he feels like he’s been there, the mental picture that he has experienced is so real. I and many other sheep from Jesus’ flock know exactly what he means. How do you put that mental picture into words? I wouldn’t even try but I feel like I’ve already seen it too. That’s what God’s Holy Spirit does, He shows us Jesus in ways that our normal minds can’t even think of.
I am one of God’s flock. I don’t have to know all of the answers to all of the questions. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to know, it’s just that my sheep mind isn’t quite up to par with God’s yet. Some day I will understand but in the interim …… I will trust Him, I will depend on Him, I will listen to Him and I will try real hard to obey Him. I love Him and He loves me. He is my Shepherd, I am His sheep. Therein lies the beauty of our relationship with the Lord.
Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!