Summary: As a unique individual created in the image of God, you are a very important person, loved and cared for by Jesus your Lord - as was one lost sheep for which a good shepherd risked his life to save and bring back to the fold.
FOUR GREAT SAYINGS OF JESUS III
A Series of Devotional Sermons
Third Great Saying . . . “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and, my sheep know me.” John 10:14
On my visit to the Holy Land in 1974, one of the sights which I beheld as I rode on a bus from town to town and village to village was the picturesque settings in which I saw herds of sheep grazing.
Not much has changed in the rural areas of Palestine since the days when Jesus walked along those country roads. Of course, the big difference between his day and ours is the mode of travel. I rode in an air-conditioned tour bus. Jesus walked.
The mention of travel mode brings to mind a humorous story told by Dr. Frank Harrington, long-time pastor of Peachtree Road Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. He was my favorite TV preacher prior to his untimely death a number of years ago.
Dr. Harrington told about the experience of one of his elders whose son attended the University of Georgia. It seems that, before the son left home to go to Athens, the father said to the son, “Son, I tell you what. When you come home for the Christmas holidays, if you have done two things that I want you to do, I will give you a brand-new sports car.”
“Wow”, said the son, “whatever you say, Dad!” “Okay, here’s what I want you to do: Make the Dean’s list and cut your hair short; if you do, I’ll give you the keys to a brand-new sports car.”
At the end of the first semester, the son came home for the holidays – having made the dean’s list, but still with long hair. Smiling broadly, the son handed his dad the letter of congratulations on making the dean’s list.
“That’s great,” replied his father, “but what are you going to do about your long hair?”
“Well, dad, it’s like this. After I got to the university, I enrolled in a Bible study, and I figured you’d be mighty proud of me for that. But, you know, dad, I learned from reading my Bible that Jesus had long hair, so I decided it would be okay for me to have long hair.”
“You know, son, I am very proud that you enrolled in a Bible study and I’m so glad that you did your Bible readings; but you didn’t read far enough, because the Bible says that Jesus walked everywhere He went!”
As Jesus walked along the hot, dusty roads of Palestine, He observed flocks of sheep tended by their shepherds.
There is so much in the Bible – Old and New Testaments – that refer to sheep and shepherds. For example, how would we have made it through life without the 23rd Psalm?
The life of David would have lost so much of its glow had it not been for the fact that he was a shepherd lad when Samuel discovered David to be God’s choice to become the greatest king Israel ever had. “Oh,” said his father and older brothers to the prophet, “he’s just a shepherd lad.”
As a matter of fact, a real shepherd in those days was born to be a shepherd. He was sent out with the flock as soon as he was old enough to go; he grew into the calling of being a shepherd.; the sheep became his friends and his companions; and it became second nature to him to think of them before he thought of himself. Such a shepherd was said to be a good shepherd.
But the false shepherd came into the job, not as a calling, but as a means of making money. He was in it simply and solely for the pay he could get out of it. He might even have been a man who had taken to the hills to get out of town. He had no sense of the responsibility of his job. Any shepherd who was in it for his own sake rather than for the sake of the sheep was a bad shepherd.
This contrast between the good and bad shepherd was no doubt what Jesus had in mind when He said, “I am the good shepherd.”
As the good shepherd, Jesus was saying to all who follow Him that He was born into this world for a purpose . . . He was sent to be the shepherd of God’s flock . . . He grew into the calling of being the kind of shepherd who would lay down His life for the sheep . . . His sheep would become his friends and do whatever He asked . . . His sheep would become His companions who would be with Him forever . . . there would never be a time when the well-being of His sheep would be anything less than His major concern – even though they walk through the valley of the shadow!