11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:11-15, NIV)
Sheep are unique animals. Unlike most animals, they are pretty helpless, often relying upon their caretaker, a shepherd. They also have the ability to recognize their shepherd’s voice. In cities during the time of Jesus, many different flocks of sheep could be kept together in one pen during the night. Come morning each shepherd could call forth their sheep, and they would come! The sheep recognize the voice they are to follow.
Sheep know their shepherd’s voice. They do not listen to the commands of thieves and robbers. Jesus is our shepherd. We are to listen to His voice, not those who seek to lead us astray. Jesus is our shepherd. In His fourth I AM declaration, Jesus declares that He is the Good Shepherd.
A good shepherd is willing to risk his life to defend the flock. A good shepherd stays with his flock, guiding them to safety. And sheep trust their shepherd and will follow where he leads. A good shepherd knows his flock. He knows which sheep is injured and needs care. He knows when he is missing a sheep. Jesus is a good shepherd.
Jesus was also setting Himself apart from the other religious leaders of the day, the bad shepherds. The bad shepherds, many of the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day were more concerned about themselves and how others perceived them than actually caring for their flocks. Good shepherds endure harsh weather, insults, and even death to protect their flocks.
Jesus was not only willing to lay down His life for His sheep, He actually did it! Jesus died for His sheep, for us. His death was for our benefit. Through His death, we can be saved. He only lets in those who listen to His voice and are willing to follow Him.
So what does this mean for us? Jesus laid down His life for us. What do you do for Him? Do you listen? Do you follow?
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