But then he continued on using the same scenario: a flock of sheep, a shepherd, and a sheep pen. And he tells us: “I am the good shepherd.”
Sheep are put into a pen at night for their protection. Thieves will try to steal them. Predators will try to kill and eat them. Only the shepherd stands between them and those dangers.
Sometimes, someone is hired to watch the flock, so the shepherd can sleep. And in those cases, if a lion or a bear attacks the flock, this hired person has no motivation to defend the flock. On the other hand, the shepherd is motivated to take on a lion or a bear.
The shepherd knows his sheep. He speaks to them. They follow. He protects them. He provides for them. He places them in situations that bring the best to them.
This parable can be applied to our relationship to Jesus in many ways.
- Those who follow Jesus are like sheep. Sheep’s herding instinct is strong enough that they will follow one another right over the edge of the cliff. We all know people who get with the wrong people, and them into all sorts of trouble.
- Jesus loves all people. His heart is to gather all people to himself, and lead them – toward the completion of their design, toward greater joy and fulfillment. And, for those who give him their allegiance, he is actively pursuing this goal.
- Jesus demonstrates he is supremely trustworthy of our faith, when he died to re-establish a relationship with people. He honors his promises, he relationship with people, and his Father’s purposes – to gather a people to be his new family.
- Sheep learn to follow the shepherd. We can learn to follow Jesus. We can hear his voice; we can discern it from all the other voices; we can successfully follow the path that he is leading us on.
- Jesus’ purpose is to create a family, build it strong in love, to love, and to increase it. Scripture says that all peoples, all languages, and all the ends of the earth will be represented in his family. Our purpose is to embrace Jesus’ purpose.