We continue to consider just what the Saviour tells us about Himself, the SHEPHERD and His sheep. We considered how the Lord knew His sheep but . . . . .
THE SHEEP KNOW THE SHEPHERD
“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers, . . . . . I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine,” verses 4-5, 14.
Sinners flee from Christ. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden,” Genesis 3:8.
We want now to consider what the Saviour says of Himself the SHEPHERD!
The Pharisees, to whom the Saviour is speaking, considered themselves the pastors of the flock and they viewed the Lord Jesus as an imposter. Therefore, they said, the people should not listen to Him.
But the Saviour answers them by showing that He was the the true Shepherd and they were the false shepherds. This is why they were angry, v 19.
The Saviour uses language that all would understand
Every Jewish person knew about sheep and shepherds! These were most vital matters and the Saviour wanted them to understand! Again we note that the TRUTHS of the gospel are illustrated all around us!
The first thing He states is that He is the Door.
“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep,” verse 7. How important to know the right door that leads to salvation and to life eternal!
Doors surround us here in the school and lead to various places. One leads to the great OUTSIDE. There is a DOOR which leads us to the GREAT ETERNITY – Christ!
Again, the people could understand about robbers seeking to steal the sheep.
“All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers,” verse 8. There had been many deceivers. The sheep of God are constantly under attack from robbers who would steal away their blessing and inheritance. They would lead them into danger, pretending to be true shepherds but being false, they had to climb over the wall to get at the sheep for the had no authority to enter. It was important to identify the robbers!
The true Shepherd knows His sheep
Jeremiah 1:5. He calls them by name! “The LORD called yet again, Samuel,” 1 Sam 3:5. What a wonderful thing that the Lord KNOWS us!
“There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” Verses 19-21.
Those who foolishly believe that if ‘you stick to the simple gospel message’ you will please the people around, are very much mistaken.
If Christ upset and divided people when He out of true heart and in love preached and divided people, how much more so it will be with us given all our faults?
Let us get to the heart of the parable.
The sheepfold is a picture of the Church of God.
It was a separated place for the sheep to be taken in the hours of darkness. All round us today is darkness. 1 Peter 2:9. 1 Tim 3:15.
It was a place of protection from danger. Out of the darkness comes danger. Col 1:13. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
C. I am sure that there were lights in the sheepfold. Shepherds would need light to watch out for predators and also the welfare of the sheep. John 12:46. Psalm 89:15 – called into the light by the ‘joyful sound’ of the gospel!
The answer to God’s question to the Rich Fool is: ‘NOT MINE, I HAVE NOTHING FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!’
Boys and girls, I will repeat something I said in a previous Assembly: ‘We cannot take into the world that is to come any riches we may have accumulated here!’
1. No matter what we gain in this world it is no preparation for the world to come. We can easily forget the ‘world to come’ as we concentrate upon the affairs of the ‘world that now is!’ That is forbidden to the one who hopes to gain heaven.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier,” 2 Timothy 2:4.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (riches),” Matthew 6:24.
Soldiers are forbidden by law to have anything to do with active politics while they are engaged in army duties.
2. We cannot live for this world AND also for the Kingdom of God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33.
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short . . .”1 Cor 7:29. Then please note the verses which follow up to verse 33.
Nothing is more important to our own wellbeing than serving God.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on,” Matt 6:25. “
“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30.
‘Leaving all’ to follow the Lord Jesus is the price some have had to pay. But the Lord compensates many times over!
3. So then, the one that puts God and His Kingdom before his own affairs will profit themselves greatly by doing so! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33.