1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
What is the mark of a Christian? Today, Jesus boils it down to one simple thing, “My sheep listen to My voice.” What makes you a Christian? You listen to Jesus.
There is a lot of talk in the Scriptures about God’s people being sheep, and a lot could be said about how dumb and helpless sheep can be. But the main thing about sheep in this text is one of the good characteristics of sheep – their hearing. Sheep don’t have exceptional hearing like dogs, but they do have very discerning ears.
The way sheep were cared for in Jesus’ day helps us understand this text.
Each town would have a big pen where all the shepherds would bring their flocks at night so they could go home and get some rest. A gatekeeper would be there through the night to make sure no one stole away the sheep. In the morning, the shepherds would go and call out to their sheep. Each flock would gather together and follow their shepherd and go about their sheepish day.
So, picture this scene playing out day after day. Thousands of sheep from many different flocks are in one huge pen, and dozens of shepherds are all calling out to their flocks at once. And in the midst of all the baaing and calling, the sheep, with their discerning ears, would pick out the voice of their shepherd, go toward it, and follow him.
This is how it is with you, Christian. This world is full of voices shouting at you. All sorts of things are trying to get your attention, attempting to get you to follow their voice instead of the voice of your Shepherd, trying to draw you away from your Shepherd.
The voice of one thief calls out to you, “It sure is nice of God to give you green pastures of His Word, but there is so many other things you could eat that would taste even better. I can show you fields of wealth and pleasure. You can feast there and be filled with all they have to offer. Just follow me, and I’ll show you. Those green pastures will always be there.”
The voice of another thief beckons you, “It sure is nice of God to lead you by the still waters of His love, mercy, and forgiveness. But you don’t need that all the time. You are a good sheep. Sure, you aren’t perfect, but no sheep is. And don’t you get bored of being by those still waters? I can show you things much more exciting. I can take you to oceans with big waves of pride. I can take you to rushing rivers of power and influence. Follow me, and we can have an adventure. You can always return to the still waters of God’s love and mercy if you want to.”
The voice of another thief whispers sweetly to you, “It sure is nice of God to lead you in paths of righteousness, but those paths of righteousness can be very hard. I can lead you on paths that are easier. I can lead you on the paths of tolerance and acceptance. So many other sheep walk on them, and you know what they say: there’s safety in numbers. All these paths lead to the same place in the end.”
The promises are enticing and possibilities are alluring. So you follow the voices of those thieves. For a while, the food of those other fields tastes good. For a while, the other waters are more exciting. For a while, the paths are much easier.
But soon you find that you are in the desert. Alone. Hungry. Scared. The thief has lured you away, and you are lost. Without your Shepherd. The wolf comes and snatches you because you have listened to the voices of thieves.
Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” And by listening to the voices of thieves, you are damned.
So, hear again the voice of your Shepherd. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Jesus, your Good Shepherd, has come. Jesus took all the thief’s stealing, killing, destroying. For you, Jesus was robbed of the glory that was rightly His. For you, Jesus was killed. For you, Jesus was destroyed so that you would not be – not now, not ever.
Today, don’t listen to the voices of the thieves. Hear Jesus, your Shepherd, calling out to you, little flock. Do you hear Him? He is calling now. “Take. Eat. This is My Body given unto death for you. Take. Drink. This is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sin.”
Hear His voice. Follow Him. He sets a table before you. And listening to His voice, His goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life, and you dwell in His house forever.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.