Read John 10
Now we come to some of the most insightful words of the New Testament.
I am the Good Shepherd.
The Scribes and Pharisees were to have been the shepherds of Israel, but they didn’t have the right stuff. They were like the hired hand that put in his 8 hours, collected his pay, and drank it all away.
The Pharisees liked their status but never comprehended service or sacrifice. It was all about the rules and they had been in charge of the rules for some time. Suffering was not in their repertoire.
In stark contrast to the hypocritical religious leaders of the day, Jesus went so far as to say:
I lay down my life for my sheep.
No Pharisee or Sadducee or Scribe or other religious leader had ever said anything like that. They liked to give orders and throw their penalty flags and have the best seats wherever they went. The Pharisees were the opposite of what we are called to be.
There is status and there is commitment. The Pharisees knew status. Jesus put forth commitment. Who commits their life to their calling up to the point of freely giving it? Only the true shepherd would risk his life for his flock.
While Jesus gave the Pharisees more than they could handle; he also gives us preview to the fulfillment of his mission. There came a time for him to lay his life down and for him to take it up again. Here’s the short version: Death and resurrection to follow.
He has come to fulfill all law and prophecy about himself and then die for our sins as an unblemished Lamb. But he tells those who hear his voice, those who have ears to hear, that is not the end of the story. There is more on resurrection and life in the next chapter.
Just to give us something to chew on, Jesus noted that he has sheep not of this flock. We most often think of this being us, those not born by blood as children of Abraham. Paul would use the term grafted in, we being the wild branch in this equation.
Jesus was more direct than Paul. We know and listen to his voice. We are one flock. He is our shepherd.
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.
Why do we know the voice of Jesus?
He is our Shepherd. If he is not Lord, Redeemer, Savior, and Shepherd, then whose voice are you obeying? If he is not your shepherd, all voices sound reasonable and compelling.
Most of the time I don’t like being compared to a sheep. When the kids sing the monkeys in the jungle say thank you Lord, I can relate; but who wants to be compared to a sheep.
The shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. In that perspective, it’s good to be a part of the flock. Think to the man after God’s own heart and what he did as a shepherd.
Consider the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 to find the 1 that is lost. OK, I could handle being part of that flock.
When Jesus is your shepherd. It’s good to be a sheep.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
When the Lord is your shepherd, it’s good to be a sheep, for he is the Good Shepherd. He lays down his life for his sheep.
When Jesus said, as much as I have loved you, so you must love one another, remember, that he lay down his life for his sheep. Hear his voice. Learn from him. Obey his commands.
Know the voice of the Good Shepherd.