If you could be any animal, what would you be? Would you be an eagle or some kind of bird? Would you be a lion, tiger, a bear or some powerful predator? Or would you be a dolphin, whale or other aquatic animal? Why is it that no one ever says they want to be a sheep?
How about mascots? What were your school’s mascots? The mascots of the schools I attended were: the bulldogs, the hawks, the cougars and the Aggies. A domestic sheep is not the mascot of any sports team that I know of!
However, a sheep is the animal that God uses to describe us. I did some reading about sheep this week and there is nothing romantic or complimentary about sheep. They are stupid and stubborn.
Have you -ever seen a trained sheep? At the circus, come see the dancing elephants, funny monkeys and trained sheep? No way. They are also dirty; they easily wander off and are slow to learn from their mistakes. They are easily frightened and confused-known to plunge off cliffs in their fear and confusion. They are defenseless and dependent. They need guidance and protection. Would agree that a sheep perfectly describes us as humans?
An Aggie that lived in the Austin area had gotten sick of all the Aggie jokes ( I can relate.) One day he decided to wear a longhorn shirt, after buying a new shirt, he set out for a drive in the country where he came across a herd of sheep. He decided to stop and talk with the shepherd. After a few minutes of chitchat, he said I have a proposition – “If I could guess the total number of sheep can I have one?” The shepherd agreed but was absolutely shocked when he guessed correctly – 382. He kept his promise and allowed the Aggie to pick one out to take home. After the Aggie picked out his sheep and put it in his truck, the shepherd said he had a proposition for him, If I can guess your real school, can I have my dog back?
Throughout the Bible the Lord calls us sheep. In fact, the words sheep and shepherd are used over 500 times in the bible making it major topic! Though it may not be complimentary to be called a sheep because we too are dirty, defenseless, dependent and dumb, I hope you find it comforting today to know we have a good shepherd.
One of the most powerful images that Jesus uses to describe himself is of “The Good Shepherd” Jesus as our shepherd conveys the idea of being taken care of , being kept safe and being guided through life.
And that’s what this week’s post is all about. As we continue our journey through the Gospel of John, we’ve arrived at John Chapter 10. And in this chapter we’ll learn that Jesus calls himself our Good Shepherd. As we study these verses together we’ll learn exactly what that means.
One more thing, this was written only to those who are connected to the flock. It was written for those here who have made the Lord Jesus Christ their shepherd. I know that we have some people who are checking out Christianity. You are testing the waters and may be contemplating a faith decision. Pay close attention because what we are going to talk about can, and will, happen once you establish a personal connection with the Good Shepherd.
The first truth about Jesus our shepherd is that
Jesus Calls Me
1 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 the gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
In Christ’s day, sheep were kept two ways. The first way was in cities and villages. Usually there was a large holding corral where shepherds would bring their flocks to secure them at night – it was a public pen able to hold several flocks under the care of a porter whose duty was to guard the gate during the night and to admit the shepherds in the AM. The shepherds would walk into the pen, call their sheep and the sheep would respond to the voice of their shepherd who would lead them out to pasture.
The second way was how a shepherd would tend his sheep in the country. A shepherd would herd his sheep into a low walled enclosure of piled rocks with a small opening. At night, since there was no gate, just an opening, the shepherd would lie across the opening to keep the sheep in and the wild animals out – he would literally become the door. Jesus refers to both of these in this text.
To see sheep coming to their shepherd’s voice watch this:
My dad raises cattle and he says, “these cows put you through college.” When we would go out to check on them and feed them some bales of hay or range cubes, dad had a special call “whooooooo!” or something like that, you see I can’t do the same call, but when his cows heard his call they came running. They know the call of the one who feeds them and cares for them. The same is true with sheep. When the cows had a baby calf, the calves would just follow their mothers to the call until they learn to hear the call for themselves. Some of you may have followed your parents to church or to a relationship with Jesus until the day you heard His voice for yourselves. This is what happened with me when I was 11 years old. I heard Jesus calling me and I came to him. Some of you may not have had the privilege of growing up in a home where you parents took you to church or told you about Jesus but you heard the voice of Jesus too. Some of you here today still have not responded and you need to.
Jesus still speaks to us today. We can hear His voice. I have never heard the audible voice of God. Years ago I didn’t hear God audible say, “Darrell, go start church.” I have never heard God speak like that. But as I pray I listen and God speaks to my spirit so that I hear and know what I should do. He speaks through the Bible. He speaks through Christian friends. He speaks through private worship and public worship. He speaks through events. And as believers we have got to stay sensitive to God’s voice.
In the next post we will see that Jesus not only calls us he also leads us and protects us.