By Gladys McElmore
Reading these Scriptures in several translations may be helpful as we strive to gain greater understanding of the work of Jesus Christ. Instead of addressing the Pharisees situation directly, Jesus used figurative language to establish who is the shepherd. He lets us know what the shepherd does and who has access to the sheepfold. We definitely know who the shepherd is when the gatekeeper allows Him access to the sheep.
As these verses are read, let us focus our attention on the sheep’s recognition of and response to the shepherd. Why is the relationship so conducive to positive fruit-bearing between the sheep and a stranger? The sheep and shepherd know each other. The good shepherd enters through the gate, lays down his life for the sheep and they know his voice!
Jesus assures us that anyone who sneaks over the wall of the sheepfold, rather than go through the gate must surely be a robber and a thief. The good shepherd cannot be substituted with a hired hand that has no interest. He is hired to be paid and is not expected to show interest in those he serves. The sheep may be abandoned by a hired hand because they are not his. He is not the shepherd. What is the possible danger for his sheep? So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters the flock. Can the wolf be Satan in disguise? In our time, and with our present life styles, it may be to our advantage to make a personal list of known wolves. Once again, who is the wolf?
Jesus used these illustrations to explain that He is the way, the door, the gate and the truth for us to be saved. The good shepherd is known by His sheep always. They know His voice and they will follow Him wherever He goes because green pastures will be found. Who are the other sheep which are not of the fold? Jesus, the good shepherd, will bring them also and there shall be one fold of sheep and one shepherd. They too will hear His voice. Jesus compares His knowledge of the good sheep to God knowing Him and His knowing God. Jesus uses the image of the good shepherd’s willingness to die for His sheep to describe His own death.
The word is Jesus’ voice and as we study and strive to remain faithful, His word is our guide to Christian living habits. We want to belong to His flock. To hear His voice and to heed its warnings, which will sustain our faithfulness during negative wolf attacks. Let us stay with the right flock as we follow the teachings of the good shepherd.
Jesus’ death was His best sacrifice of love for us, the sheep. There is no greater expression of love between God and Jesus who extend that love to us His followers! Jesus was not a victim in death, but freely chose to lay down His life for us! To Jesus the Pharisees endangered the flock, but they did not see this. Their behavior to the blind man, who could not see from birth, was doubtful of the power of Jesus Christ as the true shepherd. Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath and this upset the Pharisees. This miracle caused much division of opinions among them. Read John chapter 9 for more details of the blind beggar who obeyed and believed Jesus and received his sight before the Pharisees who questioned him.
Can we be blessed while we are spiritually blind? After the blind man gained his sight, he did not recognize Jesus, the good shepherd (John 9:35-41)! Jesus explained Himself, identified Himself and received this new convert as a believer. The Pharisees again questioned Jesus by asking if they too were blind. Jesus replied, “You remain guilty, because you claim you can see.” We as Christians today must remember that Jesus is our shepherd and that He will not leave the sheep when the wolf approaches!
Finally let us remember these words of Jesus before, during and after a wolf attack, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Let us always thank God for such a Savior!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolkís Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va