What does it mean to be a shepherd? A shepherd leads the flock. He takes care of the flock. He protects the flock and never steers them wrong. He will never let them go astray and if they wander off he will bring them back and rescue them from any bad situation. He is always there for his sheep. In the Bible, a shepherd is not only one who takes care of his sheep, but is also a leader and a teacher. Jesus is all those things and so much more.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”
Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
A true leader, a true shepherd puts his sheep first. Jesus warns of the the false teachers or leaders that are more concerned with themselves. Jesus is the true shepherd. He will never leave you or forsake you. He sacrificed Himself that we may be saved. And He will never let us go.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
A shepherd will lead and his sheep will follow. How do you know if you are a follower of Christ? You listen to His words. You obey His commands. You pick up your cross and follow Him. As we mentioned yesterday, there is only one way to salvation. Jesus is the door. Those who try to find any other way will not find it. Those who teach any other way are not shepherds. They are thieves and robbers. Robbers of your salvation. But, as a believer, we can discern false teachings and always turn to Christ. Jesus always looks after His own and will not let them go astray. He will seek those who go astray and bring them back.
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
A good shepherd will always guide his sheep. As he teaches and trains, he shows them the best way. When they succeed or when those that go astray come back, he rejoices. It is so cool to know that when we are saved, when we follow Jesus Christ, He rejoices! Not only does He rejoice, but all of heaven rejoices with Him! And He doesn’t stop there. He will guide us the rest of our life. He gives us the Holy Spirit. He will teach us and guide us and help us to grow throughout our lives. Praise God!
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.