The Shepherd & the Sheep

I love that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. A shepherd is such a perfect way to describe who he is to us. It gives us a window into God’s character. In John 10:1-21, Jesus tells the Pharisees the parable of the Good Shepherd.  

“I alone am the Good Shepherd, and I know those whose hearts are mine, for they recognize me and know me,  just as my Father knows my heart and I know my Father’s heart. I am ready to give my life for the sheep.” - John 10:14-15

First I think it’s important to understand the parallels in this passage. Jesus says that He is a mirror image of the Good Shepherd that he is describing, and Jesus is a mirror image of God. So when I’m describing the character of the shepherd, I’m also talking about the character of Jesus and ultimately God. God is so kind to give us Jesus. He is God in human form, so we can understand Him better. God got on our level to make sure we understand his character.

“But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in. And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice.” - John 10:2-4

The sheep know their shepherd, they recognize his voice, and they follow him. Jesus says the sheep will run away from a stranger and not follow him because they know it is a voice of a stranger. How beautiful that is. It’s a mirror image of what our life with God is like. We belong to God, He has made us part of His flock; therefore we recognize His voice. He created us with the ability to know our creator and know His voice.

I love that. We were created to know God. You innately know the voice of God. He has been speaking to you your whole life. You are not the exception to the rule.

God is trustworthy. The sheep follow their shepherd without hesitation. They have pure, untainted trust in the shepherd. They will follow him wherever he goes because they know that the shepherd has good intentions. The shepherd knows what’s best for his sheep and will not lead them astray.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” - John 10:10-11

The image of a shepherd shows us the sacrificial love that God has for us.  John 10:11 says that the good shepherd will sacrifice his life for his sheep. God made the ultimate sacrifice by sending his son to die for our sins. God is not in the business of giving up on us. He was willing to sacrifice his son in order to have a right relationship with us. So He’s not giving up on you now.

When I read that passage, it makes me feel safe. Part of the shepherd’s job is to make sure that his sheep are safe and the thief does not harm his sheep. He is even willing to lay down his life for his sheep. God will keep us safe. He is our protector. He does not want any harm to come to His own. It’s super comforting to know that the creator of the universe is on our side.

“If a man owns a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders away and is lost, won’t he leave the ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go out and thoroughly search for the one lost lamb? And if he finds his lost lamb, he rejoices over it, more than over the ninety-nine who are safe. Now you should understand that it is never the desire of your heavenly Father that a single one of these humble believers should be lost.” - Matthew 18:12-14

I know this isn’t part of the same parable, but I think it’s important to talk about. In all this talk about the shepherd protecting his flock and the sheep following him, it could be easy for you to think that you’re just part of a crowd. That the shepherd doesn’t notice you. But he does. God knows YOU. Individually. I love that in Matthew 18, Jesus is using the analogy of sheep again. If just one sheep wanders off, the shepherd will go after it and will rejoice when he finds the lost sheep.

So all these things that are true about God are true in your individual relationship with God. God sees you in his flock of sheep, and you are important to him. So here’s a list of characteristics about God that I see from this parable of the Good Shepherd. Even if you can’t fully believe these things about Him, try relating to Him as if He is these things anyway. Speak it until you believe it.
God is kind
He is good
He is trustworthy
He speaks to you, and you know His voice
He is gentle
He is a strong leader
He is protector
He is provider
He is our guide
He wants good things for us
He is comforter
He is safe
He is home

Author | Sam Forbes





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