"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." John 10:14
How does God want you to treat His children?
Key point: Sheep, like people, are prone to wander and hurt themselves and make bad choices; they must have good, nurturing shepherds to guide them. That is what our job is as a pastor! Jesus anoints people to be His leaders for His people. Why would a leader neglect or twist this call? The pastors and church leaders are responsible for their part of leadership to model as Jesus did as being a good shepherd.
How does God treat His children? With the love and care of a protector, comforter, and guide. Jesus is described as a Shepherd. This is one of His most passionate and intimate illustrations, portraying His people as sheep and He as the Good Shepherd. He is also the Gatekeeper who watches over us, calling us to follow His voice of instructions.
Our model, Jesus the Good Shepherd!
Jesus tells us that, I am the God Shepherd. Christ comes to us bringing the Gospel. He puts our concerns and needs before His. For our sins, He steadfastly obeyed the Father's Will, and He is the One who saves, leads, equips, and guides us--all things that we so desperately need. God is the Shepherd for His people, and His people are described as a flock that needs His leading and provision. It is our call to hear His voice and obey, as a good sheep does, in order to be fed and cared for so that we may grow in maturity and not be taken by predators (Gen. 48:15; 49:24; Psalm 23; 28:9; 77:20; 78:52, 71; 79:13; 80:1; 100:3; Isa. 40:11; 63:11; Jer. 23:1; 31:10; 34:11-16; Ezek. 34:6-16, 31; Hos. 6:6; Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31; John 10:1-8; 16:13-15; Rom. 10:7; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 7:17).
Two of the primary foundations of the Gospel Message are who Jesus is and what He did on the cross for us.
We have to trust in our Good Shepherd to lead us to the good pastures. We then point our people to Him. We are also to do our part with gratitude and diligence and not run away from His pen. We are called to be led by the Word and not by our pride or by false teachers, the thieves who would rob us of God's instructions and replace them with nonsense, the dangerous cliffs from which we could fall.
The key for the leader is to recognize His voice, trust in Him, and follow Him. As leaders we must be followers before we can lead, or who or what are we leading our people to? As usual, those who oppose Truth, the thieves and robbers of the day, objected to Jesus' words and called Him a demon. Others were comforted and reassured that Jesus was the Messiah.
This is so important for us today: Anyone who teaches falsely is a thief and robber; my true sheep will listen to me and not to them.
Those who come to me will be saved. There is so much false teaching. There are too many prideful leaders taking us astray. Jesus calls to us, His own, by name, with intimacy and care, and leads us to where we need to be. He gathers us together to be with one another for mutual support and protection and tells us to be careful and not follow bad shepherds who would hurt us.
Jesus gives us the real true Truth and is Truth! I tell you the truth/truly, truly. Meaning "I am" and "I have God's Truth."
This is not theoretical or relative truth or some idea manipulated by one's faulty reasoning based on the man's relativistic ideas, personal or political agendas. Jesus brings us real, effectual Truth. He is the only One who can lead us to God the Father (Num. 27:17; 2 Sam. 5:2; Matt. 5:18; John 3:1-15; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:1-8; 2 Tim. 2:15; James 1:18).
The people in Jesus' day who were in His presence were just as divided about Him as people are in our day, even with all of our resources and history. People are divided over who and what Jesus is. Some listen and put their faith in Him; others, by conceit and a refusal to be convicted, demonize Him and His Truth (Ex. 4:11; Psalm 146:8; John 7:20, 43; 9:16).
Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit enables a person to receive Christ and the Father sends them to Him. We in leadership are the product demonstrators. Yet, there are those who refuse Him and, therefore, are not in the Kingdom of God. They are so self-deluded by pride, they can't see beyond themselves to what disables their eyes and ears like sin, prejudice, and/or damage to emotions and thinking and conceit, all of which can easily be reversed in Christ. This is also a retort to those who refuse to listen to God and accept His most precious, undeserved gift. The Israelites heard God's voice when they obeyed Him, but went into apostasy and judgment when they refused. (Ex. 33:12-17; Isa. 43:1; John 3:3-7; 16:13-15; Rom. 5:4-5; 8:14, 26-27; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 4:6).
Who we are? My sheep. This is a metaphor for Christians and the Church, people whose faith is in Jesus Christ. This is a call to trust and obey. Even though there are many churches and denominations, there is ultimately only one Flock, one Christ, the Body of Christ, and One Shepherd, Jesus Christ!
Sheep were used for sacrifice. This is also a depiction of our need to sacrifice our will, our mindsets, our hurts, and our fears over to Christ. Sheep also produced essential goods in an agrarian culture like wool for clothes, especially when it was cold. There was no better material. There was also the milk that was made into cheese, a necessary life sustaining food, and there was the meat (Psalm 23; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 8:36; 12:1-2; Acts 4:32; 1 Pet. 2:25; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Charge from the Father. Meaning our assurance, that we are doubly secure. The Supreme Omnipotence of God gently leads us to Christ and gives us the ultimate guarantee for spiritual safety and salvation. If God does not call you, you can't come, because you will not want to. This is also a warning to those pretenders who think they know God, but only use Him for their purposes of power and control, or people who teach falsely.
What we need to do: Listen to my voice/sheep listen.
This is a metaphor of God allowing us to hear and to come to Him; for, without His lead we would not be willing or able to be saved. In theology, this is called "elected grace." We are not forced; rather, we are inspired and given the ability to respond by the work of the Holy Spirit. Sheep have the uncanny ability to hear only their master and will only follow that one person. A multitude of sheep of different owners were, penned together, then (as today); each shepherd would call to the sheep, but only their sheep would respond. This is also a metaphor of hearing God's voice calling us by name, meaning of intimacy, true knowledge, and relationship. Additionally, this is a call to Christians to renew our faith with further dedication, confidence, and submission (Ex. 33:12-17; Isa. 43:1; John 16:13-15).
Jesus The Good Shepherd is how Christ came to us and how we are to serve.
Yet, what gets in the way of this? Our life of contentment is trapped between the walls of experience, the ceiling of things we desire, and the mire of our hurts, while we tend to ignore the door of the truth and real joy. For us to be in the safety of faith, we not only need to be in Christ, but we also have to obey Him. This is a result of our intimate relationship with Him. We know Him; He knows us, and we do what He says. We are concerned with what concerns Him, and we act accordingly. Like sheep, we can't lead ourselves or others without being forever lost and unfed. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; we are the sheep. The question is: Are you a sheep under His care or one that is out on the lam (pun intended) on the run. If so where do your people run too, who and why? (1 Sam. 17:34-36; John 2:19; 3:14; 6:51)?
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/