Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Of shepherds and sheep

TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 10:1-18

TO CHEW ON: 'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…. I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep and am known by my own.'” John 10:11,14

I find few passages in the Bible more comforting than the shepherd and sheep ones. Of those, John 10 where Jesus describes Himself as the good shepherd ranks right up there with Psalm 23. Let’s look at this first half of John 10 to see what we can discover about our divine shepherd.

1. Jesus, our shepherd, has a legitimate claim to us (John 10:1-3). The flock’s real shepherd doesn’t need to sneak into the sheepfold to get access to the sheep or convince them to follow him. They are his possession. He can come through the door and relate openly to then. As our spiritual shepherd, Jesus bought the rights to us when He died and paid our ransom. He is our rightful owner. Of course it’s up to us to decide if we want Him to shepherd us, or not.

2. A good shepherd knows his sheep intimately, inside and out, and by name (John 10:3-5). The sheep recognize his voice and trust him enough to follow. This is how well Jesus knows us. He is trustworthy and we can follow Him with confidence.

3. Jesus calls himself the door of the sheep (John 10:7-9) I remember years ago a Sunday School teacher telling how a shepherd would station himself at the door of the sheepfold, place his staff across the entry, and watch/count as each sheep bounded over his staff, into the fold. Describing himself as the door is Jesus’ picturesque way of telling us, we come to God through Him; there is no other way (John 14:6).

4. Jesus has good intentions toward His sheep (John 10:10. He said: 'I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly'[abundantly: perissos = superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus over and above, more than enough profuse, over the ordinary, more than sufficient].

5. Jesus is a good shepherd (John 10:11-15) He says that several times, and we get the message: there are bad shepherds. Just before Jesus launched into this teaching, he was talking to the Pharisees. He called them blind leaders (John 9:39-41). Here He describes bad shepherds as hirelings. They lead because it’s their paid job. But when things get tough, they scatter and leave the sheep defenseless. The intention of some false shepherds is to actually steal, kill and destroy the sheep. Jesus is not like that. He has gone to the extent of giving His life for His sheep.

6. The shepherd and sheep share a deep and lasting relationship (John 10:14-15).
“As the Father knew the Son and loved him, so Christ knows his sheep, and has a watchful tender eye upon them. As the Son knew the Father, loved and obeyed Him, so believers know Christ.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary – Zondervan, 1961, p. 1564.

Is Jesus your shepherd? Do you recognize His voice? Do you obey – knowing that His intentions toward you are only good. Spend some time today thinking of Jesus as your shepherd and what kind of a sheep you are.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to follow you as a sheep follows the shepherd he loves and trusts. Help me to be a good shepherd to the people who look to me for leadership. Amen.

MORE: The Lord’s My Shepherd” (Stuart Townend version)

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