Most people today will not be familiar with the work of the shepherd.  Most live in towns and buy their food in shops. But until after the industrial revolution, most people lived in rural areas and their lives revolved around the world of farming of one sort of another.

A shepherd takes care of sheep. A person who ‘herds’ sheep, hence shepherd. His role was essentially two fold. To PROVIDE and to PROTECT.

The shepherd provided by leading his sheep to a place where they could feed well – to good pasture. In this way they remained fit and healthy, producing the wool and milk the shepherd needed to use or to sell.

The shepherd protected by keeping off wild animals who threatened the very lives of the sheep. Wolves were a particular problem. And wolves were dangerous to the shepherd himself. The shepherd therefore had to be both courageous and experienced in fending off a cunning wild predator.

In chapter 10 of the Gospel of John the Evangelist, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd.

His hearers would have understood immediately what he was saying. He was using an example from their everyday lives – a very powerful and real example – to explain to them how he cares for his sheep.

His sheep are those who follow him and rely on him for their pasture and their protection. Jesus says that his sheep know his voice  and that therefore they follow him.

Now human beings cannot follow a physical person called Jesus in this world today. But Jesus uses a physical picture to illustrate a spiritual truth.

Hearing his voice is to heed his teaching and to obey it. To live by the teaching left to us in the written record of the New Testament.

By accepting and obeying what Jesus says there, his disciples today can feed spiritually on God’s truth and keep themselves in good spiritual health. And maintaining themselves in good spiritual health, they remain his sheep – they are guarded and protected by him.

Jesus will keep them safe from spiritual predators which seek to harm and kill the believers spiritual life.

Jesus said clearly that he gave his life for the sheep.

He calls his disciples sheep because human beings really do behave like sheep. They go with the crowd; they are easily frightened; they stray away from the place of safety God would have them live in by obeying him.

By following the crowd or their own foolish instincts, believers can disobey God and take themselves off to a place of danger where they are lost and out of their depth.

King David in the Old Testament understood the great truths of this when he wrote what we know as the 23rd Psalm. Most people today will not know this Psalm, but I remember a time when most people knew of it … As English speaking nations, we have wandered far from God’s pasture – his teaching and his protection.

No wonder there are so many problems and people are bewildered and lost …

King David wrote:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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