There is a story of a troupe of soldiers during Word War One, who tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The sleeping shepherd woke up as his terrified flock was being driven, or rather, chased off by these rough men in the direction of a waiting lorry. The shepherd quickly stood to his feet and called out to his flock in the distinctive voice they instantly recognised amid all the panic, fear and trauma. There was nothing those thieving soldiers could do to stop the sheep from turning around and running back towards the security of their shepherd’s voice.
The Good Shepherd
Are you facing anything today that has you walking, or even running in the opposite direction from the voice of your Shepherd – the Shepherd who, incidentally, never sleeps?
In these times that feel so uncertain, with the constant drip-feed of bad news: new variants of this virus, job losses and financial stress, there is something we can be certain of; a truth that will always remain: Jesus is the Good Shepherd and if you are his sheep, nothing and no one can ever snatch you out of his hand. (John 10:27-28)
In Luke’s gospel Jesus told this parable:
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”Luke 15:4-7
He Is Holding Onto You!
The sheep was rescued from danger and lifted to safety by its shepherd, not its own efforts. The words Jesus used – ‘repent and return’ simply mean, stop straying, stop struggling, and rest on Jesus, the Shepherd alone for salvation.
John 10 has long been a favourite chapter of mine. I call it the Good Shepherd chapter, for obvious reasons. A few things stood out to me this morning as I read it again.
1) The safety of that found and rescued sheep was entirely in the hands of its shepherd, as he carried it on his shoulders. The only possible way it would be lost again was if the shepherd let it go or let it down.
2) Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has me on His shoulders. Nothing, no matter how frightening or threatening it might seem, will ever be able to snatch me away from him:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”John 10:27-28
3) In John 10:1-7, Jesus mentions two threats to the safety of the sheep: thieves and robbers. Thieves try to take by deception, cunning or trickery; robbers often by violence and destruction, preying on the weakness of their victims.
You Know Your Shepherd’s Voice
If “thieves and robbers” have threatened to unsettle your heart and mind today, remember your Shepherd and Prince of Peace. Open up his word and listen to what he has to say as you read. John chapter 10 is always a good place to start.
Amidst all the noise and clamour for your attention it is his voice you know best, because you are his sheep and he calls you by name.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.Isaiah 40:11