Summary: Which life are you living: one of abundance or one of achievement? What keeps you from living the abundant life Jesus intends?
Cattle rustling is a major problem in Uganda. Every day the Ugandan army tries to reunite cattle with their owners. The biggest difficulty lies in proving ownership. BBC News reported how one elderly lady settled the issue:
The BBC's Nathan Etungu witnessed the process beginning in a village north of Mbale. He told the BBC's Network Africa that when an elderly woman stood before the herd a remarkable thing happened. She called her cows by name and to the amusement of the soldiers, as each cow heard her voice, it lifted its head and then followed her.
As far as the army was concerned, it was as strong a proof of ownership as one could find.
Imagine…cattle responding to the voice of their master; identified by the one who leads them, provides for them and cares for them. They respond to only one voice, never another.
Oh, if we can but learn to do the same. Christ leads, provides and cares for us, granting us life beyond any we can attain on our own. Yet other voices continue to lead us astray. For some reason we reject Christ’s voice and deny our identity as His.
1. Many spend their lives chasing their definition of abundant life: more stuff, more attention, more pleasure, more thrills and more power. It’s not entirely their fault; at times they’re simply confused. Distracted by things that lead them away from what is most important.
2. Our world is filled with distractions; pleasure, extravagance, power, fame. Distractions that lead us to spend, behave and think in ways incompatible with the sheep/shepherd model of Scripture. We disregard abundance to pursue achievement.
3. The cattle in the opening story teach us something; there is but one voice that leads to complete abundance: the voice of the Master. Abundant life is found nowhere else.
[Which life are you living: one of abundance or one of achievement? What keeps you from living the abundant life Jesus intends? Jesus uses an allegory of shepherd and sheep to describe the relationship he has with believers. OYBT John 10 as we unfold the story together. . .]
II. ALLEGORY OF SHEEP AND SHEPHERD
1. Allegory is literary symbolism: each character within a story, picture or drama represents an abstract truth. Examples:  the blindfolded lady with the scales is an allegory of justice.  George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an allegory of political corruption and it’s effect on social conscience  Moby Dick is an allegory of man’s acknowledgement of God and Satan, and his struggle between the good and evil they represent.
2. It has two applications: first, it presents complex philosophical ideas in a way common people can understand; and second, it allows ideas to be masked so some understand while others do not.
3. Jesus’ use of Allegory: Jesus used both applications; to help his disciples and, at times, mask truths for those who would not accept them. In today’s passage, he uses allegory to present himself as ruler, provider and savior of man in a way that some can understand while others cannot.
4. The Good Shepherd is an allegory of Jesus as true ruler of his people in contrast to false rulers—those who seek to rule for personal achievement.
III. THE CHARACTERS
1. Thieves and robbers: those who intend harm, sneak into the fold secretly, not publicly.
A. Represents those who want to steal your joy; those in absolute rebellion to Jesus. The neighbor, coworker, or acquaintance that denies Christ as Savior and Lord and wants to convince you to do the same.
2. The shepherd, who calls the sheep by name—not all the sheep, just his. Those who are not his do not respond, but instead, run away from him.
A. Jesus calls us to follow him; to live lives of submission and obedience. The thieves and robbers do not respond to his voice because they desire achievement, not abundance. They follow their desires, rather than what Christ desires for them.
3. The sheep, which stand helpless without the protection, love and care of the shepherd.
A. Believers, apart from Christ’s care and protection, are vulnerable as sheep. When we choose to ignore his voice and follow another, our desires expend us and we are lost.
B. Apart from Christ, life has no significance. No amount of money, success, influence or renown can fulfill us. The writer of Ecclesiastes (Solomon?) said it best:
I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 ESV)