Jesus often used pictures and analogies when teaching about the Kingdom. We see this in John Chapter 10, as He taught using the picture of a shepherd with His sheep.
At this time, the Middle East was an agricultural society. Although usually each shepherd would care for His own flock individually, at times multiple flocks would be combined together in a larger pen. A watchman would be appointed to guard the sheep on behalf of the shepherds. When they returned for their flock, each shepherd would go in to the pen and call the sheep that belonged to him. The sheep would recognise the voice of their master and would leave the pen to follow him.
I witnessed this happening during a previous trip to Israel. I was on a bus tour and we had stopped for a rest break at a roadside cafe. I looked over a wall and saw an Israeli shepherd leading his sheep out of a sheep pen. He was calling them individually by their names, “Bella, Mary...” and they were following him!
We stopped at the same spot the next day, and I ran to the wall with my video camera ready, wanting to capture the beautiful scene. To my horror, the shepherd was not calling the sheep forward like before – he was hitting them with a big stick, driving them from behind. I asked the coach driver what on earth the shepherd was doing! He replied, “That’s not the shepherd, it’s the butcher and he’s just bought them!"
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He leads from ahead, calling us by name. The sheep recognise the Master’s voice, and when they obey and follow Him, they enjoy good pasture.
However, there’s an enemy who’s much like the butcher, driving the sheep from behind and hitting them. He came only to steal, kill and destroy.
The Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep, in order to save them from the enemy. Not only did He willingly lay His life down, He also took it up again – just as He said He would. A dead shepherd is no good for the sheep!
Do you yearn to hear the voice of the shepherd more clearly? Then live close to the Shepherd and choose to follow Him today.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I want to hear and recognise Your voice today. Would You come and speak to me by name, in ways that I can’t possibly misunderstand. Please help me to recognise Your voice, to follow You and to trust You as my Good Shepherd. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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