Summary: Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd so that the people would know what he was talking about. Jesus was preaching in Palestine, and sheep were quite common in that area. Sheep are not very smart though. They were easy prey for wild animals.
How many of you have pets? I have three of them at my house right now. I have three cats. One is a sixteen year old male named Rusty because he is rust-coloured. My family also calls him Tubby because he is fat. He loves to eat, and he loves begging for food whenever anyone is in the kitchen. He also loves to explore the house and the yard, especially the basement.
We also have his sister, and her name is Mama. She’s usually very quiet and sleeps most of the time-usually outside my bedroom door. The third one is a four year old male name Bo. He loves to stir up trouble, especially with Rusty. Sometimes I have to take a squirt bottle filled with water and let him have it………although one time I had to use a glass that was half-filled with water.
All three of them are a big responsibility, just like all pets are a big responsibility, but everyone in the family loves them. They have to have lots of food and water. They have to be kept cleaned and taken to the veterinarian when they are sick. They need someone to care for them.
People also need someone to take care of them. Who takes care of you? Jesus also looks after us, and he tells how and why he cares for us in John 10:11-18, and I’ll read that to you right now.
Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd so that the people would know what he was talking about. Jesus was preaching in Palestine, and sheep were quite common in that area. Sheep are not very smart though. They were easy prey for animals such as bears, foxes or coyotes. They needed someone to protect them from harm and to lead them to fresh grass to eat. They needed someone who would be willing to die to protect the sheep. That person is a shepherd. Let me explain what a shepherd does by telling you a story about a boy named Seth.
"Mr. Markley," Seth said after class one morning, "in our lesson, why did Jesus call Himself a good shepherd?"
Seth was new in the class. His home was in Texas, and he didn't usually go to Sunday school. But he was spending a few weeks with his grandparents, and they took him to Sunday school. He liked it very much. Seth grinned at his Sunday school teacher now. "I'd like it better if Jesus said, 'I am the good cowboy!' We have lots of cowboys back home. I'm going to be one someday!"
Mr. Markley laughed. "I know you love your Texas ranch, Seth," he replied, "but Jesus knew what He was saying when He compared Himself to a shepherd rather than a cowboy. Tell me--what does a cowboy do?"
"Aw, that's easy." Seth's eyes lit up. "He drives the cattle where he wants them to go. They used to do it on horseback, but now they use pickup trucks a lot. Sometimes they even use helicopters! That's what I want to do!"
"Well, how about sheep?" asked Mr. Markley, "How do you get sheep to go where you want them to go? Do you drive them, too--with a horse or truck or helicopter?"
Seth grinned. "I don't really know a lot about sheep. I just know they used to always need a shepherd to take care of them. Otherwise, I guess they wandered away and got lost or got into trouble. I think they're kind of dumb. That's why I'd rather have . . ."
Mr. Markley held up a hand. "Wait a minute," he said. "Think about the way people act, and maybe you'll see why Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd. Do you think maybe we're more like sheep than cattle? Most people don't mind following a good leader, but they don't like to be forced to go any particular way."
"I guess that's true," acknowledged Seth.
Mr. Markley nodded. "God doesn't force us to go His way--like a cowboy would drive the cattle. God is like a loving shepherd, ready to help us and lead us. Without Him, we're lost and just wander around."
"I think I get it," said Seth, "and I guess I'll be learning more about that while I'm here, right?"Mr. Markley smiled and nodded.
Let’s bow our heads for a moment of prayer. Dear God, Thank you for being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for loving us and taking care of us. Thank you for laying down your life for us so that we can have eternal life with you in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.