John 10:1-18 “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.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“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. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Psalm 23:1-3 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Because Jesus identifies Himself as our Good Shepherd, it naturally follows that we are His sheep. Sheep are social animals which group themselves into flocks and follow the animal which is in front of them, even if the lead sheep is headed over a cliff. Instead of following another sheep, we would be wise to follow our Shepherd who promises comfort, protection, guidance in the right paths, and restoration. We do want to be one church, yes, but we want to be one church following Jesus. There are many other organizations which are larger than the church, but their size does not mean that they are right. Bigger is not always better. Might does not make right.
Sheep are also a prey animal. When faced with a predator, a sheep’s natural instinct is to flee, not to stand and fight. Most of us are like that, too, particularly outside of the body of believers. We tend to run from our problems rather than face them. We avoid conflict; it makes us uncomfortable to disagree with other people. While peaceful solutions are preferred, sometimes they are not possible. There are principles for which we must stand and fight together as Christians; otherwise the wolf, Satan, scatters the flock and picks the sheep off one by one, devouring us.
Dear Lord, thank you for caring for us and for protecting us. Help us to follow You in all things. Please give us wisdom to know right from wrong and to recognize those who would lead us in the wrong paths. We ask for strength to stand together as a body believers and seek Your leadership.