By Robert Halsey Pine
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:1-18 NRSV).
Jesus had just previously talked about the “thief and the bandit” who enter the sheepfold not by the gate but climb in by another way. The sheep that know their shepherd will not be fooled and follow the thief. Jesus is challenging the Pharisees here, for they are claiming that He does not represent the church. Jesus is saying that the sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. The thief cannot convince them.
How do we stack up as the sheep in the sheepfold? Can the thief and the bandit fool us? Are we easily lured away from our Shepherd, Christ Jesus? Do we recognize our true Shepherd’s voice? Are we one flock with one shepherd?
We have a lot to learn from sheep. Sheep tend to herd together. They are easily handled in large numbers in vast areas. They are obedient. Occasionally a sheep gets lost, and the shepherd must go and find it. Jesus specializes in lost sheep. And of course, there are the goats that have to be separated from the sheep, for they are not favored.
Jesus said of sheep that, “They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” We must learn to recognize our Shepherd’s voice. He is dedicated to us. Jesus talks about the “hired hand” versus the shepherd. When the wolf comes and threatens the sheep, the hired hand, not being the shepherd, runs away because he doesn’t care for the sheep. The good shepherd stays and protects his sheep.
We have a hard time coming together as a herd, much less having the ability to run from imposters, thieves and bandits. We are easily led astray by words that seem too good to be true. We lack the patience of the obedient sheep. The natural world drives us apart and drives us from our Shepherd. Sheep are very valuable because they provide a source of food and clothing to man. We too can bear fruit for the Lord in loving and helping our fellow men and women. It’s all right to be a little sheepish for the Lord.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.