Summary: In this sermon I want to stress the fact that we might not know all the sheep of Jesus, but that Jesus knows all His sheep and that His sheep knows Him.
There are many reasons why Jesus refers to us as His sheep, many times people act and behave like sheep,—it seems that we share some of the same characteristics with sheep.
One characteristic of sheep is that they willingly follow the lead sheep. When sheep are taken to the slaughterhouse they have a problem getting the sheep to enter into the kill room, so they have a goat known as the Judas goat to fill that role. They take the Judas goat to the holding pen and he starts several times up the ramp leading to the kill room. After a few starts like this the sheep fall in line behind the goat and follow him up the ramp, at the top he turns one way and the sheep are forced the other way.
Out in the pasture they will usually follow after an alpha male, they will follow wherever he leads and this can be destructive to the pasture, as they will follow in single file and eventually dig a rut in the soil from their many passings, feeding in the same spots until there is nothing left.
Many people are the same; they will follow a strong personality to wherever he leads. Sometimes it can be destructive to them or it can lead to their death. Yet this can be a very positive trait if they are following the right type of leader—one who really cares for them and is seeking their best interests.
Another characteristic is their utter helplessness. When a sheep is on its back, it is in a very dangerous situation—it can die if the shepherd does not get to him quickly. This can happen when the sheep is too fat, or has too much wool, or just by accident. It can roll too far while resting in a hollow in the ground. However, it happens it can spell the doom of the sheep. Its enemies like buzzards or coyotes are on the lookout for the helpless. And this usually happens when it is least expected. Salvation for the sheep comes when the shepherd comes and sets the sheep back on its feet.
When this happens to us, we need someone to set us on our feet also. Everything is going well, then trouble strikes, loosing a job, a death in the family, illness, problems with the children, or marital problems—we try everything to right our self but everything we try fails—it is then that we realize that there is only one who can help us—Jesus Christ.
Another characteristic is their loyalty to their shepherd. Shepherds give names to each of their sheep and the sheep know their name and will respond to the shepherd when he calls their name. They know their shepherd’s voice and will only respond to him and not to some stranger trying to draw them away.
Also, the shepherd will place his mark on his sheep to identify them as his. He will do this by placing a notch or two on the lower lobe of the sheep’s ear. This mark on the ear clearly identifies the sheep and whom they belong too. And this mark is permanent and this mark is clearly seen even from a distance. And Jesus has clearly placed His mark on us and His mark is permanent. This mark is the mark of love (John 13:34-35).
These are just some of the characteristics of sheep, we will further explore them to see how the function in our lives.