“I tell you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber. The man who goes in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him; the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out. When he has brought them out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. They will not follow someone else; instead, they will run away from him, because they do not know his voice” (John 10: 1-5 GNB).
Jesus’ parable of the true shepherd is deeply rooted in the everyday duties of a shepherd. His listeners’ could easily relate to every aspect of his teaching. The image of a sheep in this story represents God’s people. Although sheep are well known to be “stupid” animals, as they cannot survive on their own, they show us that if we ignore God’s guidance, we are just like them. Sheep have no survival skills and are totally dependent upon their caregiver, the shepherd. Sheep need constant care and attention; the sheep that won’t follow the shepherd’s care will surely die. The necessary characteristics of a shepherd were constant vigilance, fearless courage and patient love for his flock.
Two of the main foundations of the gospel message are who Jesus is and what he did on the cross for us. We like sheep have to trust in our Good Shepherd to lead us to the good pastures and safe waters. We are also to do our part by listening to His voice with gratitude and diligence, and not to run away from His fold. We are called by Jesus to be led by the Word and not by our pride or false teachers. These false teachers are thieves and robbers who would rob us of God’s instructions and replace them with rubbish.
So do we ignore the gate of truth and real joy and become like stray sheep that can’t lead ourselves, forever lost and unfed? Or do we listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ? The question is are we sheep under his care or, if you’ll excuse the pun, are we on the lamb-on the run?
Deb and Ken Yaremko
Kensington Commons Covenant Church