Devotional for Friday, July 14, 2017 with Jim Lucas, pastor of Grace Point Church of the Nazarene – Lebanon, PA.
In John 10:1-18 Jesus is relaying to the Pharisees and others in the crowd about the fact that He is the good shepherd to the sheep. Now, if you aren’t aware, or need reminding, sheep are not the brightest animal on the block. In fact they are defenseless! They have no fangs or claws. They can’t bite you and they truly can’t outrun you. And have you ever seen a sheep used as a mascot for a sports team?? woohoo! here comes sheep wooley! NOT!! The sheep is least able to take care of himself. Sheep are dumb is the best way to say it! Hey sheep Lucas, roll over. Play dead! It’s hilarious just to think about.
Each shepherd in Jesus’ day would most likely care for 20, or 50 or at the most 100 sheep. They would know his voice and follow him. Kind of like a pet of today following its master. And like every healthy relationship, there is something for both Shepherd and sheep to do. Let’s take a look.
The Shepherd’s role is defined with precision by Jesus here in John 10. Let’s break it down. The Shepherd 1) is the gatekeeper (v2;9) 2) calls his own sheep; he knows them by name ((3); He leads them not only in the pen but out of it for grazing, water, etc (v3); 4) is the way to salvation (v9); brings life to the full (v10); 5) lays down his life for the sheep (11); 6) owns the sheep (v12); 7) cares for the sheep (v13) and 8) is the shepherd of ALL the sheep of all ‘sheep pens’ (from all nations) (v16). That is quite the dossier! And when I look at that list, I am so glad that God is my Shepherd.
So, what is my part as the sheep, because we are talking about a relationship here? 1) to know the voice of my Shepherd. Any other voice I don’t follow-goes to voice recognition. (v4,5) 2) I follow the Shepherd (v4) because I don’t know the way, nor sometimes the reason I’m going the way I am!!! 3) recognize the shepherd is guarding the gate, so I can come in and go out, and find pasture. I’ll be in a safe place! (v9); 4) live and trust the care of the shepherd so that I’m kept safe from thieves and robbers, and ‘hired hands’ who care nothing for me. (v7-10); 5) to know the Shepherd (v14) because He knows me. There is a tight relationship. I have NO DOUBT who my Shepherd is because I know His voice, His training, His rod, His staff. I’m comforted, cared for, protected, loved, appreciated, and never abandoned. He will hold me when I’m sick; will care for my wounds and bring healing to me, will guard over me from the enemy who would want to come and steal and destroy. My God is my Shepherd.
When Jesus says He knows the sheep, the Greek word for ‘know’ is ginosko, to know experientially and was used as a Jewish idiom for physical intimacy. Jesus knows us, everything good and bad, and still He desires for us to know Him, because He loves us so much. It is a relationship of love. The word ‘Good’ means beautiful and valuable; full of virtue. He is a beautiful, virtuous, righteous and valuable Shepherd. Would you follow Him as I will? He’s saying to us today, “come, follow me.”