God pictures His care for His people through the image of a Shepherd and his sheep. In Psalm 80:1 God is called the “Shepherd of Israel.” In John Chapter 9 Jesus has just healed a blind man. When the man who had been healed would not denounce Jesus he was kicked out of the synagogue.
The religious leaders left him to wander alone fending for himself, but he didn’t remain alone for very long. Jesus found him. The false-shepherds of Israel neglected the sheep. They were reckless and destructive.
But God hadn’t forgotten His people. He sent a Good Shepherd, a righteous loving and perfect Shepard to rescue and care for His sheep. Jesus is that Good Shepherd that God sent to care for His sheep.
Jesus Gathers His Sheep
John 10:1-6 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.”
If you have believed on Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are His sheep and you will never be forgotten. Others may cast you aside, but your Shepherd will come and gather you to Himself.
Jesus here highlights the relationship between the Shepherd and his sheep. The sheep are in a sheepfold. The only legitimate way to collect the sheep is through the gate.
- The Shepherd calls each sheep gently by name.
- Jesus knows each of His sheep personally.
- He is a personal Shepherd. He knows your strengths and your weaknesses.
- He knows if you’re an older sheep who walks a little slower. He knows if you’re younger sheep full of energy and enthusiasm.
- He knows when you need to rest and when you need to eat. He knows everything about you.
The Good Shepherd calls His sheep by name. He brings out those who are His own, those who have believed on Him. Jesus said in John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Jesus came and His sheep responded — their response is simple they hear, they believe, and they follow.
Now being called a sheep is not a compliment.
Sheep are not known for their intelligence. In fact, they are known for the opposite of intelligence. The reason they need a Shepherd is because they are dull and defenseless. They will wander off a cliff or into a gully. They have no natural means to defend themselves.
This image of the unitelligent sheep needing constant guiding and supervision, should help stem our pride in ourselves and in what we think we can do for ourselves. Even on our best days we are still helpless sheep desperately in need of a Shepherd.
Now, Jesus not only gathers His sheep…
Jesus Guards His Sheep
John 10:7-10 “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Jesus changes the metaphor slightly. He is not just a Shepherd He’s also the gate or the door for the sheep. The gate keeps out those who intend to harm the sheep. Jesus promises to guard and protect His sheep from those who desire to hurt them.
In chapter nine of John the religious leaders rejected a man because he publicly confessed his faith in Jesus. In response to this Jesus reminds them that God called those religious leaders wicked shepherds who would harm the sheep.
Now at this point, those listening to Jesus, might be thinking who can I trust then? And the answer to that question is simple – Jesus – the Good Shepherd. We can trust Him. We can come to Him.
Through Him you will find protection from the thieves and the robbers. When you enter the flock of the Good Shepherd, He will guard you, He will protect you.
Everything in our life must center on Jesus Christ. He is our Shepherd. He bids us to come through Him into the fold. He is the door and the door offers us protection.
The door offers peace, It offers us security from those who would attempt to turn us from following the Shepherd.
Entering the flock of God through Jesus Christ not only protects us from danger but it also protects us from hunger. Jesus wants to have life and to have it more abundantly.
He protects us wherever we go. Through Him we find the best pasture to feast on to our hearts content. Through Him we find the blessings of life and the joy that only comes through a personal relationship with Him.
The Christian life is not simply being saved from something we are also saved to something – we are saved to an abundant life in Jesus – the Good Shepherd.
We are not just protected from the distraction of sin. We are given the joy of walking with Jesus. Now Jesus does not promise us a troubled free life. What He does promise though, is joy that is bigger and lasts longer than our troubles.
So that even when we walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, we do not have to fear any evil. Even we feel like enemies are encamped around us Jesus will prepare a table for us in the presence of those enemies.
Christianity is about joy, about peace, about comfort, about security. God made us to enjoy Him, to trust Him and to have peace in this life through Him – not matter the circumstances.
If your life is about any thing other than Jesus Christ that thing will steal your joy. It will rob you of the delight God wants you to have in Jesus. If you pursue anything as ultimate in your life other than Jesus Christ it will fail, it will disappoint, it will be found lacking.
But in Jesus Christ, regardless of your circumstances, you can discover unshakable joy and an abundant life. Not at abundance of possessions or even an abundance of laughs but a life overflowing with joy in Jesus.
He promises the closer we walk with Him and the more intimately we follow Him the greater our joy will be. Jesus called us to feast at His table to rejoice in His presence.
Jesus is the gate; He is the door. Through Him we rest in the safety of the fold and rejoice in the sweetness of the field. Jesus the Good Shepherd lovingly gathers His sheep to Himself and then guards them from all danger.
Jesus Gives His Life for the Sheep
John 10:11-15 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
In one act we see most clearly the Shepherds care for the sheep. When the sheep are in imminent danger the Shepherd gives His life to save them – He lays down His life for the sheep.
Jesus is different from the religious leaders of His day, in many ways Jesus points to their relationship with the sheep and says in effect you’re simply hired hands. To them tending the sheep was a job, a way to make extra money.
A hired hand loves his life more than he loves the sheep. But Jesus is not a hired hand. These sheep are His and He loves them more than He loves His own life. That is why He lays down His life to protect His sheep.
Over and over again, Jesus promises to lay down His life for His sheep.
Jesus is the hero of the story when He sees the Wolf coming, He doesn’t run away. He steps in front of the sheep. He will not out allow anything to hurt or harm them.
No price is too great to pay for His sheep. No price is to great to pay – for the Good Shepherd loves His sheep, the Good Shepherd loves us.
Jesus came to take away our sin, He came to die for us, to pay sins penalty for us, so that we might have life and have it more abundantly through Him.
John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Jesus came to give us life, to give us eternal life. Jesus the Good Shepherd gave His life to protect His sheep from predators to protect His sheep from sin, to protect His sheep from judgment and from death.
Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
So where does His death leave us? Are we shepherdless? Not at all! Jesus death defeated sin and death in judgment because He did not stay dead. He arose!
Death could not defeat Him. Jesus continues to Shepherd His sheep. He is victorious! He is risen! He is a living glorious and victorious Shepherd!
If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, then what you need to do is simple – you need to follow Jesus. Don’t look elsewhere. Don’t wander away. Recognize that in Him we have everything we could ever need.
When we’re tired, He brings us to rest in green pastures. When we’re thirsty He leads us beside the still waters. When we’re uncertain He leads us on the paths of righteousness. When were afraid He comforts us with His presence.
Follow the Good Shepherd. As you follow Him goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life and on His timetable, He will lead you to His house where you will dwell with Him forever.