The Good Shepherd
Open Your Bible
John 10:1-42, Numbers 27:16-17, Psalm 23:1-4, Micah 2:12-13
This summer, my family decided to host a petting zoo for my niece and nephew’s joint birthday party. Our entire crew rarely gets to celebrate together, so we all chipped in for what we hoped would be a good old-fashioned family memory.
We kept the petting zoo a surprise. Uncle Dave closed the blinds so the kids wouldn’t see the truck pulling into my parents’ driveway, complete with a trailer hitch full of animals. After setting up a small octagon made of portable fencing, the petting zoo operator began to unload the animals from the truck one by one. We all walked outside, and as predicted, the kids lost their minds. There was a cow, a goat, a donkey, an alpaca, and at last, a white wooly sheep. The sheep was not on a lead, and upon seeing the crowd of screaming children, turned and bolted down the street. Chaos ensued—picture half a dozen grown adults chasing a scared animal through a residential neighborhood. The petting zoo guy looked bored and a bit annoyed. Not with the animal, but with us. Once we calmed down, he easily called the sheep back to his side and into the makeshift corral. The sheep was not to blame. Terrified, it had done what its instincts led it to do. The problem was, the sheep’s instincts only sent it further into danger.
Oh, how I am like that sheep.
In John 10, Jesus gently paints a picture for his disciples of what it means to be led by the Good Shepherd. He is not bored or annoyed with His work, guiding helpless creatures to safety. He is wholly invested, ready to lay down His life if danger presents itself. He is not running after us with anxiety, but He calls us to His side with the distinct, loving timbre of His voice. He is the doorway and the one leading us through it. He protects us, keeps us in, and feeds us, leading us out. The picture He paints is not a scene of confusion but of peace. The scripture says He knows us by name (John 10:3) and that He doesn’t run away when there is danger, but steps in front, shielding us and taking every blow.
Many people today do not live in an agrarian society. I do not know the intimate details of caring for skittish sheep. I rarely have a chance to witness firsthand how a sheep’s instincts can lead it astray. But I know my own heart. I know how seductive the world can be. I know that my warped instincts often lead me further into the heart of sin when all I want is to hear the Lord’s voice.
Today, I pray that we will slow down and listen for the still, calm sound of our Shepherd’s voice. That we will turn away from the chaos of the world and look deep into the steady gaze of His Word. Jesus Himself tells us the truth: He knows us by name, He leads us and guides us, and He lays down His life and takes it back up. To this, some said, “He’s crazy” (v.20). But to those who know their own hearts and who long for a Good Shepherd, these words are the very source of life.