The Lord is My Shepherd
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (KJV)
What a wonderful and comforting promise we are given from this scripture. Jesus uses the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to illustrate the relationship between Him and His followers. There are many truths to be learned from a careful reading of this passage.
This study is going to focus on these 6 basic truths learned from John 10:27 and 28.
The sheep belong to the shepherd.
The beginning of our study text uses the words “My sheep”. We are taught from this and other scripture that we belong to Jesus. Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” We see here in this context that the “church of God” and “the flock” are one and the same. Jesus purchased the flock with His blood when it was shed at calvary. The sheep or flock belongs to the shepherd and he paid for it with his life. (John 10:11)
The sheep know and recognize the shepherd.
“My sheep hear my voice…” Sheep respond to the voice of the shepherd. Even at night when they are surrounded by unseen enemies, the voice of the shepherd can calm the fears of the sheep because they know by his voice that he is there and he is protecting them. It is important to note that this context says that it is the “voice” or the words of the shepherd that the sheep respond to. (John 10:4) “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”
Sheep will not follow a strange voice. Neither should the flock of our Lord follow any but the “voice” or word of the “good shepherd” mentioned in John 10:11. (John 10:5) “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
After our shepherd gave his life to purchase us, he went to heaven and sat down beside the Father, (Heb 10:12). Our shepherd has left us his “voice” or his words to comfort and direct us to Him. (John 6:63) records Jesus as saying “… the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” We as the flock of our “good shepherd”, the Lord, should draw great comfort from His voice because we are truly surrounded on all sides by our enemies.
The shepherd knows and recognizes his sheep.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…” What great comfort we as small children felt, when we, perceiving unseen dangers, ran to our parents for comfort. We know that our parents will recognize us on sight. Likewise, sheep running towards the shepherd know that they will be recognized and accepted into the secure and protective company of their shepherd.
(John 10:14) teaches “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” Jesus here identifies Himself as the “Good Shepherd” and plainly states that he knows His sheep.
The context of John 10:4 mentioned earlier draws a visual imagery of more than one shepherd’s sheep being present where it reads …” putteth forth his own sheep…” The “good shepherd” shall put forth his own sheep among others. It is absolutely imperative that the shepherd know his sheep in order to accomplish this. And the context goes on to further reinforce the imagery of the sheep identifying themselves as the property of the shepherd when they follow his voice.
Jesus Christ, as our “good shepherd” must recognize us when he presents His sheep before God on the last day. (Matt 25:32) “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats”. Verse 33, “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
How important will it be on that day for the “good shepherd” to recognize His sheep? (Matt 7:23) “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
(Matt 25:41) records the words of the “good shepherd” as saying…”Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
Brethren, let us do all that lies within our abilities to make sure the “good shepherd” recognizes us on that day.
The sheep follow the shepherd.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” One draws the mental imagery, from this context, of a shepherd leading his flock of sheep through green pastures. One can almost see the sheep obediently following after the shepherd in a group, secure in the knowledge that he will never lead them into harm’s way, completely and utterly submissive to his will and blindly entrusting their whole life to his guidance, whithersoever he leads.
What happens when a sheep fails to follow the shepherd? (Luke 15:5) records the words of Jesus as saying: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Does this context mean that no matter what, the “good shepherd” will not allow us to be lost? Read down to verse 7…”I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” In this context, Jesus plainly teaches that the metaphorical sheep that was spoken of as being retrieved, was “likewise” received back with heavenly rejoicing as a result of what? “one sinner that repenteth.” So in this context, the figurative sheep, like the sinner, was not completely passive. The sheep and the sinner had to stop doing that which separated him from the protective guidance of the shepherd.
The context of the study text suggests that the sheep must follow the shepherd in order to remain within his care. The shepherd is not standing still, he’s going somewhere. (Luke 9:23) records the words of Jesus as saying, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
The sheep will never perish.
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish…” (V 28) What a wonderful thought. The “good shepherd” will preserve the lives of his faithful sheep forever. No earthly sheep could ever hope for such a thing. We have been given a promise of eternal life in the presence of God if we follow Him and obey His commandments. (Matt 19:17) Jesus could not have said it any plainer, “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” The word “If” makes this a conditional statement. Therefore not keeping the commandments would mean one would not enter into life. For those who keep the commandments of Jesus, life, for those who do not… eternal destruction. (2 Thess 1:8-9), “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
The sheep will never be taken from the shepherd.
“and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (V 28)
We are told in scripture that nothing can separate us from the love of our “good shepherd.” Paul asked the question in Rom 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Then he answered it in verses 37 through 39, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our “good shepherd” will never forsake us. Nothing on this earth can separate us as long as we follow and obey His voice. If we become lost, the “good shepherd” will take us back into the flock if we repent and stop doing those things that separated us from the other sheep.
What a wonderful visual image we can draw of our savior and master as a shepherd watching over us, (His sheep), faithfully and lovingly through life. The inspired writers often used the relationship between shepherds and sheep to illustrate their thoughts and what comfort we can draw from our consideration of these great truths.
The 23rd Psalm
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
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