Based on Biblical Text: John 10:1-3 (KJV)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out
The shepherd is appointed by the master to be in charge of the sheep. The shepherd owns the sheep. He knows and leads the sheep. We may never have raised livestock, but we understand the shepherd-sheep relationship in this parable. We understand there is a shepherd, and there is some sheep. We have an understanding of this concept of shepherding, at least at the forefront. We easily ascertain that in this comparison to our relationship with God, we are God’s sheep. We belong to Him, because He made us. Consequently, He knows us and desires to lead us.
It is not necessary for us to be farmers to understand that even animals cannot really be counted on to follow without compensation or reward. In other words there is a motivation for following. The fact is we follow in expectation. We expect something for our loyalty. In fact, loyalty is built on expectation. No one follows a leader who does not promise to deliver.
We must be aware that there are, of course, good shepherds and bad shepherds. We are encouraged to listen for the voice of the good shepherd. What is it about this Jesus that we recognize? What is it in this voice that draws us to Jesus?
The Good Shepherd owns His sheep. Notice that when Jesus spoke this parable, He used the pronoun of personal possession. Jesus says, “his own sheep.” A good shepherd takes responsibility for that which he possesses. Jesus is saying that, by virtue of creation and redemption, all the sheep are His. There is a unique relationship between shepherd and sheep that trains the sheep to know His voice. If two flocks became co-mingled, the shepherds simply separated their sheep by calling out to them.
If Jesus is our Good Shepherd, there is a surrendering that must take place. Jesus’ desire is that His sheep will know His voice, and become His in the truest and deepest sense. His concern is that sheep become His by surrendering their heart and life to His claims. However, Jesus warns that we have to enter in by His Door. We have to reach out and willfully turn the knob, open the Door and step in. When we do, we can proclaim like David, “The Lord is my Shepherd”. If we are indeed the property of the Divine Shepherd, then He knows our name and address. He is ready to meet our need as it arises.
If Jesus owns us, then He knows us! Jesus says “I know My sheep, and am known of mine.” The truth of the matter is being known by Him, and knowing Him, implies far more than just knowing His voice. It implies that we are in a participatory relationship with Him. We are one with Him. We can say, “Jesus and I are one,” just as Jesus said, “My Father and I are one.”
The Father knew all about His Only Begotten Son. Perfect knowledge existed between Father and Son. And perfect knowledge exists between Shepherd and sheep. If Jesus knows us, then we bear the mark of Divine ownership. He recognizes us, and just as importantly, the other sheep will recognize us too!
Traditionally shepherds knew all the particulars of each of their sheep. They knew their history, their defects, their temper, and their tastes. In fact, the shepherd generally named sheep according to their particular characteristics. In the same manner, Jesus knows us! He knows our history. Jesus knows whether or not we have changed since we came into His flock. Jesus knows our defects. He is fully aware of the sins that doth so easily beset us, that need His divine intervention. He knows our temperament. Jesus knows whether we are willing to let go of our will and allow His will to take over.
Finally, Jesus knows our tastes. He is fully cognizant of what will entice us, what will draw us closer to Him. When Jesus says He knows us, He is not just saying that He can distinguish us from the multitude. The word know in this context is clearly much more profound. After all just about anyone is able to tell us apart by general characteristic to include, hair color, skin tone, voice inflection, eye color etc. Jesus wants us to understand that He knows what others cannot know. He knows our entire being, and can perfectly discern all there is to know about us. The truth of the matter is Jesus has a comprehensive and perfect knowledge of each of His sheep. Nothing can be hid from Him. David knew this when he said, “There is not a word on our tongue, but Thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether.”
The Good Shepherd leads His sheep. We will not grasp the full meaning of this parable merely looking at it from a western interpretation of the art of herding. Viewing from this angle we will see a shepherd following behind his sheep, driving, prodding and urging them forward. We are encouraged rather to understand that the shepherd led his sheep. The shepherd used his voice to get them to follow him.
Jesus warns that other shepherds may call the sheep by name. In fact, Satan knows our name but if we know the Good Shepherd, we will not be fooled by imitation. That is why Jesus said, “He goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” There’s no prodding or pushing necessary. It is a willful surrender to a shepherd whom the sheep trust with their lives.