May 15, 2011
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b)
Can you imagine a shepherd so cruel as to toss one of his sheep over the wall and out of the sheepfold? Jesus healed a man blind from birth. It happened on a Sabbath day. The Pharisees were so angry they excommunicated the man. They physically expelled him from the synagogue. Violently! This is the background to our text. In this teaching, Jesus reveals several wonderful truths about Himself.
I. The Lord Jesus is my Shepherd (vv. 1-3).
Other religious leaders are sheep stealers, “thieves and robbers.” Jesus is the Shepherd of the sheep. The sheep listen to His voice” (vv. 2-3). I listen to the voice of Jesus. Do you?
Gen. Robert E. Lee during the Civil War had a war horse named Traveller (spelled with two “Ls” in the old British manner). One day, the general rode the horse down to the river landing. He had a meeting on board a vessel there. While aboard the ship, something frightened the horse, and Traveller bolted and ran up the hill. Someone called the general who came out in time to see the horse crest the hill. In a moment he would disappear.
The general whistled sharply. Traveller stopped and turned his beautiful head to see where the familiar sound came from. A second shrill whistle from Gen. Lee and the faithful horse turned and trotted back to his master. Traveller knew the General’s voice and obeyed.
II. Jesus knows me by name (vv. 3b-4).
You and I are not faceless and nameless numbers in a great flock of sheep. Jesus knows us each one in a personal way. He leads us. We know Him and follow Him.
A traveler in Syria came to a well where three shepherds were watering their sheep. The stranger wondered how all the flocks herded together could ever be sorted out. After the shepherds visited over their snack lunch, one of them stepped up and said, “Men-ah,” which in Arabic means “Follow me.” The visitor was amazed to see about 40 of the sheep respond to the summons. The rest of the sheep went on drinking, grazing or resting and paid no attention. Then the second shepherd did the same and about 30 more sheep followed him out toward their grazing grounds.
The astonished traveler asked the third shepherd if his sheep would respond to his call. The shepherd shook his head in the negative. “I will try and see,” said the visitor. “Let me borrow your crook, and let me wind your turban around my head.” With that permission, he stepped up and cried, “Men-ah” Nothing! Again, “Men-ah.” Not a sheep stirred. “Will the sheep never follow a stranger?” He asked.
The shepherd answered, “Only when they are sick and then the silly sheep will follow anyone!”
III. Jesus is my way to life abundant and eternal (vv. 5-10).
In addition to the image of the shepherd, Jesus says, “I am the gate of the sheep.” The typical sheepfold in New Testament times was a stone-walled enclosure. The wall outside would be a thick border of thorns and briars to discourage wolves and jackals and two-legged intruders. One small opening in the enclosure would be guarded by the shepherd who counted the sheep in at night and out in the morning. Jesus said, “Whoever enters by Me shall be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (v. 8).
Most people who lived in the 20th century would be familiar with the trademark image of a black and white fox terrier giving full attention to the trumpet of an early recorder from a painting titled “His Master’s Voice.” The story is that the artist inherited from his brother the dog and the early phonograph. Also in the legacy were a number of recordings of his brother. Every time that voice was heard, the terrier gave it undivided attention. The artist committed the scene to canvas. An advertiser felt it said something about what was high fidelity for the time.
Perhaps today you hear the Master’s voice calling you by name. He invites you to be His sheep. He will love you, feed you and take care of you; and He never will throw you away.