Not many of us here in the United States have Sheep Farmer printed across our business cards. But even if we did, modern technology has changed the way farm and ranch managers operate compared to ancient methods used back in biblical times.
So, when we read John 10, we attempt to draw a picture in our minds exactly what He’s talking about, imagining and wondering and trying to piece together the pieces with our imagination.
But when Jesus spoke these words, the crowd was extremely familiar with this occupation. They knew shepherds dedicated their entire lives—from sun up to sun down—to care for their flock. They were also aware that sheep were unsafe in the open hillside at night. So, every evening, their shepherd will lead them into a safe pen. But even then, it wasn’t like their job was done. They couldn’t take a break and head inside for dinner, Netflix, and a cozy mattress. They laid on the ground, slept by the entrance, and ensured their sheep were safe and sound from any predators or robbers.
Because of this intimacy and protection and care, these sheep were happy to follow their shepherd wherever he wanted to go. Jesus is the ultimate picture of a good Shepherd. He sacrificed voluntarily for His sheep and cares about them more than His own life.
There may be moments when we feel attacked by the enemy or unsafe in the world we live in. But for those of us who are Christ-followers and have already entered in His sheepfold, we don’t have to panic or fear the worst. Because surely, our Shepherd “keeps you from all harm and watches over your life” (Ps. 121:7). He has already laid down His life for us and ensures our victory. You can trust where He leads you!
- What attribute of a shepherd stands out most to you?
- Commit to memory 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.”
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.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. 20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” 21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”