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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Good Shepherd – Part 2

        Last week, we saw the comparison of Ezekiel 35 with Jesus’ teaching on the Good Shepherd. This week we will see how the shepherd cares for his sheep and its message for those who care for and watch over God’s people.

Watchman/Gatekeeper – John 10:3

         “The watchman opens the gate for Him….” John 10:3a
            In the Older Testament, God used prophets as His watchmen. God would send a message through a human prophet, but it was always God’s message! God’s message could be a rebuke or good news. God used Ezekiel to speak a warning to the Israelites, (see Ezekiel 3:17-19) but He used the prophet Isaiah to bring the good news of salvation. (see Isaiah 52:7-10) So God used watchmen to send various messages to His people because He loves and cares for them.   
             Jesus is both the Shepherd and the Gate/Door. You cannot enter His flock by any other way. Jesus said, “I am the Gate/Door of the sheep.” You can’t enter through your own works or the works of the Law – only through Jesus. When Jesus says, “I am,” it excludes everyone else. There is no other Eternal Shepherd, Gate, Light, Way, Life, Truth, Bread, Living Water or Resurrection Life. His “I am’’ statements declare His divinity. He is the Great I am. Our eternal spiritual life begins when we believe in Jesus. Jesus through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit will recreate us into spiritual beings. Jesus slowly will teach His believers His way to transform our fleshly nature into the nature of the Godhead.
            Sometimes many shepherds with their flocks would use the same sheep pen. The shepherds would appoint watchmen to guard the sheep pen and the sheep against strangers or wild beasts who would come to steal, kill or destroy the sheep. To bypass the gate and the watchmen, the thieves and robbers climb over the wall to try to steal the sheep, just as the devil distorts scripture and cunningly leads believers in Christ astray.
          The watchmen would know the shepherds and would allow them to go in to call out their sheep. Although there were many folds in the pen with many shepherds, they were one flock in the sheep pen. Christians are to also be watchmen over Jesus’ flock. Christians are to watch for the wiles of the devil who wants to steal, kill and destroy God’s flock of believers and warn them.
        Jesus is not only the Shepherd and the Gate, He is also the sheep pen. We are safe in Him. Jesus goes into the sheep pen ahead of His sheep and they follow Him. They also follow Him out of the sheep pen into the grazing pastures. Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, but He also told them to “go” into the entire world and make disciples.

The Sheep Hear the Shepherd’s Voice

        The sheep “listen to his voice.” The sheep would only know the voice of their shepherd and would follow only him, as Christians are to know the voice of their Good Shepherd and follow only Him. The shepherd has loved, cared for and protected the sheep. They know his voice. How do we know Jesus’ voice? We must know the Word of God – His Truth. False shepherds lead the sheep with deception and untruth. They don’t protect the sheep. Jesus leads His sheep with Truth!  Jesus “calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” V3b The Shepherd and the sheep have a close, personal bond. They are intimately familiar with each other. As we follow our Shepherd, we learn to love and trust Him because He first loved and cared for us. It is a mutual love. Our Good Shepherd Jesus knows our every thought, pain, need, problem, character and heart. He will never leave or forsake us.
          The shepherd will never lead his sheep astray. The shepherd leads his sheep into the protected place in the darkness and leads them out in the light of day. He is a leader! The sheep are his followers. “When he has brought out all his own, He goes ahead of them and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will flee from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5 Jesus told His disciples to “Resist the devil and he will flee.” Jesus will never tell us to do something contrary to His Word. This is how we recognize His voice and the voice of a stranger!
          Speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus, Paul said, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” Acts 20:28-31 It is important that believers “watch” and know the Truth so you cannot be deceived. The devil “distorts” the Truth in order to lead Jesus’ believers astray.
        Jesus used this figure of speech, but they (the Pharisees) did not understand what He was telling them. The Pharisees were false shepherds, blind leaders of the blind. Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the Truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (abundantly).  Jesus is the door of access that leads to the Father. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s evil and sin. Jesus is trying to warn the Pharisees of their warped truth. Jesus wants His flock to have the fullness of life. He protects from the devil who wants to steal, kill and destroy that life. Only in Jesus’ care and within the boundary of His Word can we be safe and flourish. Jesus gives us the green pastures of His Word and the calm waters of the Holy Spirit to give us guidance, life and peace.

              If you missed Part 1, you can go to my website to read it. Part 3 will be next week.     

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