May 30 - Good Shepherd

Thursday, May 30, 2013

John 10:1-18

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.

Create an image in your mind of a pen filled with sheep near a cluster of homes; maybe off a courtyard. It would be surrounded by a stone wall and probably would have thorny briars on top of it.  More than one family would keep their sheep within the pen at night for protection and a hired hand would be there to guard the locked gate so that thieves couldn't steal any of the sheep.

Even though, there were several flocks of sheep contained within this pen, when a shepherd entered and began calling, only those sheep who knew his voice would follow; the rest would wait for their own leader.  But, this shepherd had given names to his own sheep as well, and he knew them well enough to call them by name.  Where he led, his sheep followed.  They recognized his voice as he talked to them; calling them, leading them.  There is a relationship between the shepherd and his sheep.  They trust him to protect them, to lead them where there will be food and water and they are at peace when in his presence.

This relationship was well known to the people of Israel and they would have been able to visualize the images Jesus asked them to see.

We are the sheep.  Not only do we see Jesus as the Shepherd, we also recognize that he is the one who stands at the gate, protecting those he cares for from thieves and robbers.