I feel I probably won’t do this chapter justice as I was outside most of today splitting wood. Our wood racks were about empty and since our wood stove is our only source of heat, I thought today would be a great day to get chopping. 😉 But boy am I now very tired and sore.
In Chapter 10, I want to focus on the teaching of Christ being the good shepherd. For people, like the Jews, who have experience raising sheep, this teaching is very powerful and potent. Essentially, Jesus is contrasting himself to the religious leaders of the day. I was hoping to make a chart, but I am not technologically savvy. and though I made a nice one on paper, I don’t know how to do the same thing in email.
I don’t know if others know this or not, but shepherds did in fact lie in the opening of the sheep enclosure. They would watch the sheep go in and out. This way they could inspect individual sheep for cuts, sores, and recognize problems. There were times when several flocks had to be kept together in one enclosure and each shepherd would have a call for their own sheep. The sheep would recognize the call and voice of their shepherd and go to him when it was time to separate out. If you have never researcjed sheep folds or ancient sheep enclosures, it is a fascinating study. It has actually been shown that if a person used another shepherd’s call, the sheep would ignore it, because they did not recognize the voice.
The good shepherd knows the sheep. The good shepherd calls the sheep by name. He leads the sheep. He provides safety and nourishment to his sheep. He lays his life down for the sheep. There is a relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. There is a bond and a trust.
The alternative, is a hired hand, in it for the money, but having no vested interest in the sheep. At the first sign of trouble, the hired hand vanishes.
Jesus is drawing the distinction between a life of giving and serving verses a life of taking. The first cares more about the interests of the flock. The second cares about his own interests.
When I read this, I have to remind myself that I have 20-20 hindsight and can more easily understand what Jesus meant when He said that He is the door and that entering through Him leads to salvation. There is only one door. There are not many doors. There is one way in.
I find it interesting to see Jesus’ emphasis in verse 16 on their being only one flock and one shepherd. Hearing His voice is essential. It can get confusing having all these various denominations. If it weren’t so sad, it seems almost comical that we have so many “flavors of Christianity” available to us to choose from these days. The yellow pages are full of choices. Yet Jesus is clear that there is one flock, led by one shepherd. His flock follows His voice. It doesn’t matter what the voices of our parents said, or the voices of our Sunday school teachers, or the voices of…….. It is only His voice that matters. His flock will follow His voice.
v.18 supports the idea I expressed about why Jesus hid when they were previously going to stone Him. Here we read that Jesus lays down His life for us. No one could take it from Him. They wanted to take His life when it was not yet His time.
I think it is also important to consider from this passage how this extrapolates out to those who shepherd the God’s flock today In other words, what does this mean for the religious leaders, the pastors and ministers keeping watch over the sheep today? What are they supposed to be like?
I apologize if this is disjointed. I’m having a hard time staying away and it is about to become the next day…….Feb 19, 2016