“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (ESV)
My wife’s family all hail from a little town in West Virginia. If you were to use a parable or analogy using coal or mining, everyone there would understand you.
Growing up in Southern California, surfing terms or analogies would be understood by a large audience.
In Texas, you can talk about cattle or oil and be understood.
Although sheep and shepherds might sound a bit foreign to us, the role sheep played in Jewish history rendered this analogy in John 10 tailor-made for Jesus’ audience.
In the story of Job, we are told Job had 14,000 sheep.
When dedicating the Temple, Solomon sacrificed 120,000 sheep.
David and Moses, were both shepherds.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah all drew analogies from sheep and shepherds.
In 1 Samuel 17 when David offered to fight Goliath, Saul said to David:
“You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father.
And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth.
And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:33-37 (ESV)
David was uniquely equipped to battle the enemy of the Lord because he understood what it meant to be a shepherd.
But more importantly David believed in the Lord – The Lord was his shepherd (Psalm 23).
Jesus in John 10, describes Himself as the Good Shepherd.
He gives us a few lessons of what it means to be part of the Flock of Jesus.
We should know His voice – we should have an intimate spirit filled relationship with Jesus.
Jesus is the gatekeeper to the flock, we enter His grace and mercy as fellow travelers with other believers.
Jesus protects us from the dangers we face – false doctrines, the enemy and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Jesus laid down his life for us, making the ultimate sacrifice that we might have life everlasting.
Sheep follow the shepherd.
As Americans, we tend to drive ourselves and others.
But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, doesn’t stand behind us and drive us.
He leads. Jesus paid it all – He paved the way.
We travel the Way, the narrow path He paved.
He is the Good Shepherd.
Until next time – keep reading!
Sources and excerpts used for this blog: Jon Courson’s New Testament Application Commentary, ESV Bible