So much in this passage from John about Jesus the Good Shepherd:
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
God the father and God the son are partners in coming into our lives. We are called by name, in our baptism and become followers of Christ.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Just like we follow our parents, we follow Jesus because we know him and he knows us.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus is also the gate, the way in which we receive eternal life. The gate is the only way in.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
The responsibility of a shepherd in that day was not an easy one. He would have had to keep track of all his sheep, risk his life if danger came and rescue even one lost sheep. He truly cared for his flock. Jesus is our shepherd and we are his sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” – John 10:1 – 18
Our relationship with Jesus is like the shepherd’s relationship with his sheep. They are known by one another.
I never noticed this before, but I love the imagery and reminder that Jesus has other sheep. After all, Jesus died for ALL, but not all recognize His love for them. Yet, Jesus has the desire to bring all of his sheep to him, even those not within the gate.
Jesus chose to lay his life down for his sheep. He was not forced to, just like the shepherd could run away. But he chooses to sacrifice his own life for the sake of the sheep.
Thinking about the church I attended growing up, “Our Shepherd” and visiting churches like “Good Shepherd”, certainly puts into perspective what it truly means for Jesus to be my Shepherd.