What kind of habits do you have—consciously or even subconsciously? Maybe you’ve bitten your fingernails since you were young, and now you do it without thinking. Or maybe when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your kids, peanut butter is always the first layer and then jelly goes on top. Or how about when you fill up your gas tank—do you always stop when it’s half full, maybe a quarter of a tank left, or do you wait until the light goes on?
If you study sheep, you’ll quickly see why Jesus equated us to them so many times in His teaching. For one, they’re stubborn in nature. Once they learn a habit or understand how to do something a certain way, it’s almost impossible to direct them in another way. But even in their determination, they need a shepherd, and they are not always discriminatory on whether that shepherd is good or bad.
We can be stubborn in nature, too, can’t we? We’ve always done something a certain way, shopped at the same grocery store, taken the same route to work, and rotated through the same set of meals. So, when someone tries to tell us about this new grocery store—even if it offers healthier foods and cheaper prices, we just smile politely, knowing full well we won’t deviate from our typical store. Or when our spouse tries out a new dish for dinner even though Tuesdays are always taco night, the family revolts.
We can also be convinced to follow anyone or anything, right? We’ve never tried on a pair of LuLaRoe leggings, but everyone’s doing it, so we buy a pair in a mad rush on Facebook one night. Or a celebrity we admire spilled their new diet plan, so we also got on board and buy everything we need at the grocery store the next day.
But it’s not through our habits or the people and things we follow that we find the freedom we’re looking for. It’s only through putting our faith and trust in Jesus and following His habits and commands where we experience liberation from sin, regret, and past mistakes. Today, before we listen to the voices of others and before we fall into our normal patterns of doing life, let’s tune in to the true Shepherd—because only then will we find a rich and satisfying life.
1. Like sheep, how are you stubborn in nature? And how have you been convinced to follow anyone or anything in the past?
2. Reflect on John 10:9—“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” What is one takeaway for you from the reading today?
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
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! 2 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. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”