God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep

20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

Okay, I know that I may be reaching hear, but Matthew 7:20-22 is the verse that came to mind when I was reading this morning for today’s post out of John 10. The passage above has to do with true and false disciples. Imitations should not be anything new to us. We see them in the form of perfume, shoes, purses, cars and even cloning is being pursued. Regardless, we know that people often try to pass the imitation off as the real thing. Again, my personal belief is that what Jesus said in Matthew 7 is the same implication in John 10 where Jesus was differentiating between Himself, the Good Shepherd, and the Pharisees, the hired hand and supposed leaders of the day. Jesus was also differentiating between those who know him and those who do not. In Matthew 7, Jesus said you would know them by their fruit. Here in John 10, one fruit of knowing Jesus is the ability to hear and respond to his voice (3-5) whereas the imitation sheep will not know, hear and respond to His voice.  Jesus lays out characteristics of God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep.

John 10

 “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.

First in verse 3, we see God’s sheep listen to his voice. Again, Jesus is contrasting His sheep against the imitation sheep, those who claim to know God but do not exhibit the characteristics of true sheep. God’s sheep listen to His voice and imitation sheep don’t. Maybe I am misreading the text, but it appears to me that Jesus is Isn’t it ironic the first widely reported cloned complex organism was a sheep, Dolly. I am just saying – uhhhmmmm.

Jesus says that He calls His own sheep by name and He leads them out. When you call someone by name, it shows that you personally know them. Jesus was saying that my sheep are precious and personal to me. They know me because I know them by name. I am excited that Jesus knows me by name. I am even more excited that Jesus says He leads His sheep. Leading connotes a care and a known destination for the sheep. Sheep are led to a pasture to eat and away from danger. I am not sure what circumstances or events that you may be facing now, but I am facing a change of direction vocationally. It is so comforting and peaceful to know that Jesus is leading me to pastures to feed me and away from danger. He is taking me to the place that is best for me. As my Shepherd, He is committed to doing what is best for me as He is for all who are His sheep.

In John 9, Jesus brought out His own sheep from the fold of sheep in Jerusalem. The Pharisees were not His sheep. Jesus was clear in saying that they did not know Him. He was also deliberate in showing the progression of how the blind man whom He healed came to know Him. He brought out His sheep, the blind man, from among many others. The Pharisees thought in their hearts that they really knew God, but Jesus tells them they are mistaken. When God’s Shepherd calls the sheep, He goes on ahead of them as God has always done. God tells us so in Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” As I was leaving my job, some teachers gave me a sign that reads, “Don’t be afraid of tomorrow; God is always there. God will not lead us to where He is not and where He can deliver us.

Standing on God’s Word helps the sheep know His voice. When sheep heard their shepherd, they knew his voice. To illustrate that, I once read that in the common sheepfolds of ancient times, the shepherd merely gave his distinctive call and his sheep came out from the others, following him out of the sheepfold. Sheep are experts at discerning their shepherd’s voice. Listen to this commentary about a shepherd and his sheep who knew his voice. “During World War I, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.” Do you know when you are being carried off by thieves and robbers? Do you know when the shepherd calls you to return to Him? Each day, sin assails us. Sin wants to carry us off, but the Spirit of God calls to us to avoid that sin. We must hear and know His voice to avoid that trespass. More than that, Jesus was speaking of calling His sheep from this world to follow Him and escape a life riddled and entrapped by sin.

Jesus says a true sheep will never follow a stranger. In fact, Jesus says, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. This is a spiritual stranger danger. How many times do we cry stranger danger when enticed by our sinful desires? Jesus is referring to following false teachers whom the Pharisees represented. Jesus was saying to them that my disciples will never follow you because they know my voice and they know that you are a stranger.

There is so much more in this passage about God’s Shepherd and God’s Sheep. I wanted to whet our appetites regarding the great position we are in. Remember, God’s Shepherd always goes before us as he leads us in loving care to the places that are ripe for our next stage of development. I know that God is leading me to the place that will bring Him the greatest glory and my greatest good for this next phase of my life. I am one of God’s Sheep because I have trusted in God’s Shepherd, Jesus Christ, for my salvation. Where are you? More importantly, are you one of God’s Sheep?


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