John 10 v1-6
Jesus said: I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away. 6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.
It may be a new chapter but his is not a new chapter of life. It is in the context of Jesus being interrogated: Who are you? Where are you from? Are you from God? Why are you here?
So Jesus tells a story. It wasn’t a story they were expecting to hear.
Was it going to be a story showing the power of who he was? A warrior leading the people into battle over the Roman Empire?
He confuses them though I’m not sure why.
The story is not of a powerful leader but of a caring and loving shepherd.
The Bible is full of a God who loves as a shepherd.
Joseph described God, “God who has been my shepherd all my life” (Genesis 48:15)
Isaiah prophesies, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (40:11)
And of course David says, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1)
So it isn’t strange in the slightest for Jesus to reveal who he is by giving a story regarding a shepherd and the sheep.
Of course there is more than loving and caring. There is the voice that is recognised. There is the leadership ability to lead them out. But the voice and the leadership is set in the context of being a shepherd.
This week I along with colleagues will be interviewing prospective ministers. If this was the only lesson to be learnt by them as they set off into their new chapter of life then they would certainly succeed in God.
In the years to come when sheep remember the shepherds that have been responsible for their life. They will perhaps have forgotten the many words spoken and the way they were led into new things. But they will never forget they were shepherded, they were cared for, they were loved.
Sheep never forget the cross.