If you have spent much time reading the bible you will see references to sheep and shepherds everywhere. One of the most famous Psalms starts “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1),
Sheep were a source of livelihood throughout bible times and were also used extensively in the sacrificial systems of the temple. Shepherds were the first group to receive the good news of the birth of Jesus and one of Israel’s greatest leaders, King David, started out life as a shepherd boy.
Jesus declares Himself as the Good Shepherd twice, which comes just after calling Himself ‘The Door of the Sheep.’
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) and…
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” (John 10:14)
Jesus has already had a number of run-ins with the religious leaders of the day, such as the Pharisees, the self-proclaimed shepherds of Israel. But as we saw last week, Jesus said they have come to steal, kill and destroy. Rather than look after the sheep they weighed them down with unnecessary burdens and led them away from the safety of the truth.
To counteract their falsehood Jesus declares Himself as the GOOD shepherd in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11)
We see two important truths in our two verses today:
(1) The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
There was a huge difference between a good shepherd and a hireling who would run away at the slightest sign of trouble. As soon as he heard a wolf’s howl or encountered a big burly robber, a hireling would be on his bike. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for His sheep because He cared for us so much; He didn’t abandon us to our own devices but went all the way to the cross to save us.
(2) I know my own and my own know me.
It says also in this passage:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28).
It is Jesus who gives us eternal life and has called us to know Him. It is clear that if we know Him, He has us securely and will never let us go. The best way to know His voice is to spend time with Him. We do this by spending time in His presence, reading and meditating on His word, the bible. If you don’t do this you will not hear His voice and could wander into danger.
Do you know this good shepherd? Do you know His voice? If you’re not sure, the way is always open for you to come into the fold. Surrender your life into His arms now and let Him lead you. I have found Him to be very good and you can too.