In Case You Missed It – God’s Sheep

sheep

John 10:11-18 NIV  “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 don’t know all that much about sheep but my understanding is that they are not the brightest of God’s creatures and I don’t have a real problem identifying with that. What I am beginning to understand is the role of the good shepherd and how beautiful that shepherd is. I depend upon my shepherd, He watches over me, guides me, teaches me, and saves me from what I am in myself, to who I am in Him. Jesus also tells us that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5 NIV). That is nothing as in NO THING. What does that mean? It means that in this life if you don’t have a relationship with Him here, there is nothing in this life that you can do to make yourself right with God, and because of this, you won’t have a relationship with Him in what follows after our physical death. Harsh words you say? Actually they’re not, whether you believe them or not, if in fact they are truth, which I believe they are, they are simply the truth that Jesus gave us.

King David wrote about the Lord being His shepherd, Jesus talks a lot about how He is the good shepherd and of course He also talks a lot about lost sheep. One of the most beautiful things that Jesus says is that He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. And really, when all is said and done, you can’t get anything better than that.

The world that we live in is complex and complicated, with almost unlimited distractions to grab our attention, as if we already didn’t have enough to try to figure out. The noise that surrounds us can be deafening, turning the vast majority of what we hear into a senseless background noise that actually delivers very little of what we are looking for, if in fact, we are looking for anything at all.

Sometimes we get so involved in what is going on around us that we don’t stop to consider what is happening within us or even worse, we never stop to actually listen or question ourselves. We know we are here but what are we doing and most importantly why are we doing it? Is the approach we have taken on living this life we have been given the right one, for ourselves and quite possibly, for those that we love? Have we misjudged or misunderstood not only that which we see around us but also that which we see within us, that being ourselves? Has what we have experienced changed who we thought we were or do we really know ourselves at all? These are big questions and there are a lot of different answers out there.

Some of the more educated thinking of our time says that this all just happened by itself, that there is no real reason, no purpose and no real accountability. That we’re really just cosmic dust that is here for a while and then gone. I’ve already admitted that I am not the brightest of the sheep but to me that just doesn’t make sense. I see too much order, design and beauty, seemingly impossible odds that defy common sense about the reality of life originating from non-living elements by itself, that questions how we are here in the first place, and yet, here we are. And then we have good and evil and most importantly, the reality of love, in all of it’s different varieties, some being more “loving” or giving than others. Because, we know, some “love”, only takes and that is a self centered love, a selfish love, an unbalanced love. Did the reality of the different kinds of love also just happen all by itself? We can explain what is “acceptable” or “not acceptable” within our societies by our changing social interactions but that still doesn’t address what we internally feel is truly right or wrong, where our conscience conflicts with the “accepted” norms. And why is true love the most valued of all our realities? Admittedly these are big questions that are not easy to answer.

Enter the shepherd and the sheep. Simple concepts yet profound implications. This good shepherd, who said He was God, gave His life for His sheep and says He will take up His life again, we’re talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is only one good shepherd that said He was God, that did this, only one, ever.

We’re talking about this good shepherd caring for His sheep, so much so that He willingly laid down His life for them. That is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, giving His life for us so that you and I who have faith and trust in Him and what He has done for us, might live eternally with God, in accordance with the command of the Father. 

We’re talking about The Good Shepherd knowing His sheep and the sheep knowing Him. The action verb there is “knowing”. We’re talking two way communication, two way acknowledgement. He is the shepherd, we are the sheep. He knows us and we know Him. We are under His charge, not He under us. And that is the kicker. Once a person comes to the realization that this is the only option God our Father presents to us, that Jesus is indeed His Son and the way, the truth and the life and that no man (or woman) can be accepted by God the Father unless one comes through faith and trust in the accomplished work of the Son’s death on the cross for us, everything else falls into place.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the Good News. This is what Christianity is all about. It’s not about how many good things you’ve done or how many bad things you’ve done. It’s not about how “good” a person you think you are. We’re talking about a HOLY and loving God that is consistently HOLY and good, without deviation, ever.

Isaiah 55:8 NIV “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

John 3:16 NIV  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the good shepherd and through the grace of God I am one of His many sheep.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 comments

  1. As I was translating Revelation 19:15 I came across something that really opened my eyes to the shepherd-staff idea. That is, the image of a shepherd usually includes a man holding a staff with which to guide the sheep (herding the sheep with his staff). In Scripture the verb form “to shepherd” is also used (Matt 2:6; Acts 20:28; 1Peter 5:2)—though sometimes (frustrating to me) translated in English versions as a noun instead (thereby losing its force).

    The word for “staff” is found in contexts sometimes not related to sheep (Matt 10:10/Mark 6:8; Heb 9:4). In Revelation 12:5 we find both words: a male child will shepherd with a staff of iron. This same imagery is found in 19:15: He will shepherd them with an iron staff. In other words, these passages retain the image of Jesus as shepherd (sheep-herder) using a “staff”, though transforming it. That is, we will all be ‘shepherded’ by Jesus one way or the other! Willingly or unwillingly.

    It seems to me that many English translations ‘over-translate’, thereby glossing over these important metaphors!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing this Craig. Without your insight I never would have known this. When I was just a kid I used to read and view what were called “Classic Comics” which were abbreviated representations of Classic Novels, with pictures. I often think that not knowing the original Koine Greek, too often presents the same “abbreviated” representation of the New Testament. Thank God for folks like you. Blessings!

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      • I do think one can get a pretty good representation by looking at a passage in a few different English versions. Take one or more ‘functional equivalence’ versions (word for word to the extent possible), such as NASB and ESV (and KJV), then compare with some ‘dynamic equivalence’ translations (idea for idea) like NIV, ISV, NLT. When I am translating–always a struggle because I’m far from proficient–I consult the various translations after I arrive at a working translation, using BibleHub. From that site, I’ve come to more and more appreciate the Holman Christian Standard Bible. And I note the HCSB uses “will shepherd” in Rev 19:15.

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      • Good to know Craig, I mostly use the NASB plus the Amplified Study Bible. Let me know what you think of that combo and if you still recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible, I will purchase a copy. Much thanks!

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      • Bruce,

        First, a quick correction is in order re my 11:02 AM. I meant ‘formal equivalence’ instead of ‘functional equivalence’. The latter is another name for ‘dynamic’. That out of the way, if you view this as a spectrum with one side formal (NASB, ESB, KJV) and the other dynamic (NIV, ISV, NLT), there are shades in the middle. HCSB strides the middle, though probably leaning more ‘formal’. But I think it compromises (which is unavoidable) very well.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that every new version must deviate from others by a certain percentage in order to claim copyright. This means sometimes synonyms must be substituted at places in order to not mimic another current English version.

        For these reasons, I might suggest three over two. In the NASB, e.g., the version translates a pronoun for a pronoun, which can get confusing when a LONG string of pronouns is in the text (not uncommon). The Amplified, of course, ‘amplifies’ the passages, offering additional verbiage to explain—but this sometimes requires a bit of interpretation at places where there may be scholarly disagreement. All that said, it may be good to use three, and your case merely adding the HCSB could work well.

        At the HCSB site they identify their hybrid approach: Translation Philosophy. As a bonus—and I JUST NOW saw this—it includes a handy chart (which is necessarily a bit subjective) of “Literal” vs. “Readable” translations (though it omits a number, such as ISV). And I see it has a continuum (spectrum), as well.

        Now, having seen their continuum, I will offer one MAJOR correction: The Message (MSG) is NOT a translation! It’s an admitted paraphrase. And a horrible one at that at points, sometimes even imposing occult language (in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ e.g.: “as above, so below”).

        One maxim to keep in mind: All translation necessarily involves a bit of interpretation. It’s unavoidable.

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      • Thank you Craig for taking the time to explain that to me. I wasn’t aware of the poor quality paraphrase of the Message either, so that is an added bonus. Sincerely appreciated. Blessings!

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      • I should add that The Message does sometimes have really good paraphrases. But I’d never recommend because of the occult language. Some of this will be so foreign to most Christians that they may just not notice or shake their head, puzzled at some of the strange wording.

        Though the following is a KJV-only site, it goes over some of the issues The Message:

        http://www.av1611.org/kjv/mess_bible.html

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  2. I grew up raising sheep. Sheep are naturally ignorant about how things work. If there is a hole in the fence they get out but can never find that hole to get back inside. They ignore an open gate unless it’s to get out, they must be driven back in. They are helpless and die easily. They need other sheep and a caretaker. I could go on. They are definitely not like goats which are way more self sufficient. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (and are truly clueless about it and don’t believe it until there is real trouble).

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    • Hi Gary, well the more I learn about myself, the more that I can identify with those sheep. Jesus obviously knew what He was talking about when He selected the sheep metaphor. Thanks for the info! Blessings.

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