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The next “I AM” signature of Jesus is a comforting one. It’s all about our relationship with him as a shepherd. He plays the role of shepherd and we are his sheep. Here’s how Jesus puts it: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Several flocks of sheep were held in a pen for the evening, each flock belonging to a different shepherd. When it was time for a shepherd to take his flock out of the pen, he actually called his sheep. And the sheep heard and recognized their shepherd’s voice and followed.
In this relational image of shepherd and sheep we who are followers of Jesus are the sheep. As his sheep we hear and know his voice and follow. The challenge for us today is three-fold: FIRST-We must do all we can do to spend more and more time with our shepherd, so we can get to know him as our shepherd-to get to know his voice when he speaks. SECOND-We must be careful to take the time to listen for our shepherd’s voice. It’s too easy to be so busy making noise that we aren’t quiet enough to hear what Jesus is saying. THIRD-The shepherd calls his sheep and leads them out. We must wait for the shepherd to speak and to lead out with his orders and opportunities.
Jesus continues his teaching: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
It’s from this teaching that we get SECRET #47: The follower of Jesus relates to the Master as the good shepherd. Jesus views himself as a shepherd-owner of his sheep. He doesn’t see it as a job that he was hired to do, but he has a vital relationship with his sheep. He owns them, he loves them and will do anything he has to do to protect them. So as we relate to Jesus as our shepherd, we have a sense of real security and protection from whatever might happen.