“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” (John 10)
Jesus told stories.
He told stories about life that people around him would understand.
And those listening to Jesus that day knew sheep; and they knew shepherds.
Dotting their hillsides, herded across their paths, shepherds and their charges were part of the day to day scenery. In fact David, their beloved king had roots as a shepherd. Experience that probably helped him be a good king, come to think of it.
A different breed, these shepherds were. Loners some might say. Night owls. Seemed they never slept. Wandered the hills – watching, protecting, leading their sheep to new pastures. Constantly guarding and skillfully herding, always making sure their sheep were safe.
But goodness knows they’d seen their share of bad ones.
They knew the shepherds that pretended they cared. The ones in the dark of the night, when Push met with Shove, who let their true colors shine – and let the wolves take their pick. (… always with a ton of excuses, mind you.)
They also knew those who just put their tunes on. The ones who let their charges do whatever, and go wherever their foolish sheep hearts pleased – only to curse and rage to get them back.
And those listening to Jesus that day had seen plenty of shepherds that hovered and yelled and drove their poor sheep batty.
Yes, they knew about bad shepherds. But they knew, too, the ones that treated their sheep like precious children. Those that loved them, guided them, and called them gently – each one by name.
“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus began, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.“
Conjuring up an instant image, the people listened… Here was a leader, a man of God who was herding them with a gentle voice of authority and care. Someone who would never leave them – who’d watch and guide them, who would lead them to green pastures and refreshing, still waters. Someone who would give His life to save them from the wolves.
…They just didn’t know He had to save them from themselves first.
Jesus loves me this I know.
And more than that, He knows me…
He knows you.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep. I know Janie over there – she tends to wander and scatter at a stone’s throw, I need her right next to me to keep her safe. And that one over there? The one with the black scruff of fur right under his chin? He thinks he’s hot stuff. He thinks he can go anywhere and do anything. In fact, he thinks he’s leading us all. Heh, can’t help but love that guy. But I’ve got my eye on him… And look at this sweetie. She’s worn herself out, fretting over her little one – forgot that I’m watching them both. She stumbled over that last patch of hill. Twisted her leg. I’ll be her legs for a awhile.”
Jesus knows me.
He rescued me. He made me his own. He whispered my name over and over and over again, until He was sure I knew the sound of His voice, the pace of His gait – the calming presence of His rod and His staff.
I don’t ever have to be afraid when I’m near Him.
Jesus loves me… this. I. know.
Oh, let this truth settle over me like a warm summer night.
Jesus, my Good Shepherd, he’s got my back
… tattooed in the stripes on his own.
Lord, there are so many times I wish I weren’t such a silly sheep. But the truth is – I am. And the truth is, I can’t change that. I am just so, so thankful for a kind and caring (and understanding) Shepherd. Thank you, Jesus. Today, let me listen closely to the voice you’ve taught me to know.
Watering Today: Prov 30; ps 30, 130; John 10