- Religion and Philosophy
The Good Shepherd and Lord of the Flock
By Harold Markham
In John 10: 22-42, Jesus contrasts believers and unbelievers using the sheep/shepherd motif [recurring theme or idea in a work of literature]. Believers have the supreme benefit of Christ's care as the Good Shepherd. That benefit is realized in concrete truths in John 10:26-29.
"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11
I. The Lord owns His flock (v. 26).
"but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock." (v. 26)
So far in John's Gospel we have seen a division:
- Those who believe vs. those who don’t believe.
- Children of God vs. Children of the Devil.
- True disciples vs. false disciples.
- God's sheep vs. the false sheep.
Those who do not truly believe (trust) in Christ are not part of His flock. He is the true Messiah and the Shepherd of God's people. In the "Bread of Life" section of John chapter six, Jesus confronts the unbelievers who are following Him:
But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:65 (ESV)
Just a few verses earlier in this passage Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15, ESV)
Bottom line: Christ is Lord of the true flock of God. Which flock are you part of? Do you embrace Christ's person and work? If you think you have "paid" for your sins, you are are not a true sheep. Perhaps you are one of the false sheep who wants only what Christ can do for you. You know the guy that says, "Jesus, heal me, feed me, comfort me, help me out of this jam!" Jesus is not a means to an end; He is the end.
"Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3, ESV)
II. The Lord calls His flock (v. 27a).
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (27a)
The ancient Near Eastern shepherd was know by His sheep. They knew His voice. he called to them. As Jesus said:
"The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3–5 (ESV)
The true Christian is called of God. The Apostle Paul stated it like this in Romans 8:29–30:
"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
Paul also reminds the Lord's sheep in Corinth that they are "... called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" (1 Corinthians 1:2, ESV)
Believer, the Good Shepherd has called you. He has chosen to love and grace you with salvation. He has made you His own. You are part of His flock. Is He precious to you?
III. The Lord knows His flock (v. 27b).
…and I know them, and they follow me. (27b)
In the Gospel of John, the word know means much more than intellectual awareness. It speaks of an intimate relationship between God and His people.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, John 10:14 (ESV)
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 (ESV)
I think we can relate to this understanding. For example there can be a room full of children yet when one cries his mother recognizes the voice and responds. There is a relational ownership-- she knows the child; he is her baby!
Unlike a child/parent relationship, God has known us from before time. It was His plan to save sinners and make them His child.
"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29, ESV)
What amazing love and gracious favor has been bestowed on believers. Rest little lambs in the kind intention of the Shepherd who knows.
IV. The Lord leads His flock (v. 27c).
…and they follow me. (v. 27c)
No one has a right to claim to be one of Christ’s sheep if he lives in willful, persistent, open disobedience. Just as there are false shepherds, so there are goats who try to pass for sheep. One day Christ will say to them, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). To be sure it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV)
Real faith will manifest itself in works and good deeds (James 2:14-18, ESV). All who have true faith will be motivated to serve Christ with deeds of faith and love. This was the entire point of Christ in (Matthew 25:31-46, ESV). But in Matthew 7 Jesus warns that not all who do the deeds have the real faith.
Do you follow the Good Shepherd? Id your life marked by good works? If so, why do you do them?
V. The Lord secures His flock (vv. 28-29).
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (vv. 28-29)
An important duty of the Good Shepherd is flock security. The believer's Heavenly Father is also concerned about the destiny of His Children. Remember Christ's words in John 6:39 where he says that He will:
"... lose nothing of all that he ;the Father] has given me..."
Jesus is not an incompetent shepherd. He is able to hold on to those entrusted to Him by the Father.
Also Christ’s sheep hear only His voice and follow only Him. They won't listen to or follow a stranger.
A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:5 (ESV)
Christ’s sheep have eternal life. Eternal, by the way, never ends. Believers have eternal life (john 3:16). Since the sheep did nothing to earn it, they can do nothing to lose it. Salvation is God's work. Christ promised that His sheep will never perish. The Good Shepherd is no liar.
Dear believer, no one—not a false shepherd, not a thief or a robber, no false prophet, not even the Devil is powerful enough to snatch Christ’s sheep out of His hand. Christ’s sheep are held not only in His hand, but also in the hand of the Father, who is greater than all; and thus no one is able to snatch them out of His hand.