Growing up in the hills of Pennsylvania, we would travel by car to my grandparent’s house every Sunday. Along to way one of my favorite highlights was seeing a hill with three crosses atop of it. Scattered on the grassy hill were sheep grazing. I was always drawn to how peaceful they looked. Though I attended church, I didn’t grasp the significance of this sight. Today it’s a beautiful picture of Jesus as our Good Shepherd who laid down his life for His sheep.
I’d like to share some passages from John 10:1-5 with you about the relationship Jesus has with His sheep. In this section Jesus is speaking to the 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 the 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 of his own, he goes 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.” The Pharisees hear this message from Jesus but don’t understand what it means.
Let’s break this passage down. A sheep pen or sheepfold was a place where the sheep could sleep at night . Each night this would be guarded and protected by the gatekeeper. In the morning the shepherd would come and call his sheep to himself. An interesting note, a sheep pen would be a good shelter for many flocks of sheep that belonged to a variety of shepherds. Though the sheep know the voice of their shepherd and follow only him.
So what is the meaning of this passage. Jesus did a wonderful job explaining it in verses 7-16. We know the shepherd as Jesus. Any other person besides Him is a robber or thief. The sheep are those who are believers in Jesus. Jesus is our Good Shepherd because he laid down his life for those who believe in Him. (John 10:17,18)
Jesus wanted to make it clear that there are false shepherds out there. “This was a powerful message to the Jewish religious leaders who considered themselves to be the true shepherds of God’s flock.”
Jesus is our true shepherd and we can know His voice. If you have His Word them you know what His voice sounds like. His voice is truthful yet filled with grace. His voice is strong yet gentle. His voice is hopeful and life giving. Take some time to listen and be still and listen to His voice today. Let His Words wash over you and fill you with the fullness of joy!