‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.’ Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They 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.

’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life of the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

’I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life of the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shephered. The reasons my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’

The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’ But others said, ‘There are not the saying of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ - John 10:1-21

In this passage, Jesus is telling us the parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep. He is talking to the Pharisees--comparing us as humans to the sheep and Jesus as our shepherd. First, let me start off by reminding you that sheep are defenseless animals. They are completely dependent on their shepherd to not only guide them but also protect them. They know their shepherds voice and that is the only voice that they know to follow. Good shepherds keep a close eye on their sheep to steer them in the direction they want them and also to keep these prone to danger animals secure. He tells us “anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Jesus is the gate. He is the shepherd who only enters through the gate. Therefore anyone else who tries to get into the pen is not a shepherd but they are there to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus makes it known that He is the good shepherd. No person or thing can compare. The sheep may not be able to protect themselves but they do know the voice of their shepherd and that is whom they listen to. When they hear another voice they literally run away because they don’t recognize the stranger’s voice.

He tells us multiple times that He is the good shepherd but, what makes a good shepherd and how do we know to follow Him? The good shepherd stays when danger approaches. When a wolf attacks a flock or when you experience death in a family--the good shepherd is not shaken. He does not move. The good shepherd protects. When a flood occurs or when you experience a break-up-- the good shepherd covers us with His peace and His comfort. The good shepherd knows each of us by name. And with that the sheep recognize His voice alone. We have the ability to be like sheep and recognize his voice instinctively. In order for the sheep to know their shepherd’s voice they were trained. They were trained to listen and to follow. They were trained to trust in their leader. They had to know that their shepherd was for them. That their shepherd was there to know them, to protect, and to stay. Just like the flock of sheep we, too, can learn to recognize and follow the voice of the Lord rather than the voices of those who abandon, hurt and neglect us.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus came to tell the Pharisees that they may have life and they have it to the full—not that they would only sometimes recognize his voice or only half the time follow Him. That is the only voice that the sheep recognized. That is the only voice that they followed. He has that for each of you, too. He came to give us abundant life, life to the fullest. We, you and I, can become totally dependent on Him. We can know that He calls each of us by name. We can live out of the truth that He has laid down His life for us. He is the good shepherd.

I challenge you to ask yourself who is the shepherd you’re following? Is it the good shepherd? Or is it yourself, your family, your friends, your grades, or your number Instagram likes? He came so that we may have life and we may have it to the full. Why would we say no to that?

And just like the sheep had to get to know their shepherd, we too must know our shepherd in order to follow Him. That can look like praying, reading, worshiping or whatever will bring you to that place where it is you and the Lord. He knows you by name. He lays down His life for you. He is the good shepherd.

Lord, I thank you that you are the Good shepherd. I thank you that you know each of us by name. I thank you that you came to not only give us life but give it to us at the fullest. I ask that every other voice in our head that is not from you would go mute. Lord, I pray that we would lay every other shepherd at your feet. That we would know your voice and that your voice would be the only one we follow. That you are our shepherd. That you are the only good shepherd.

- Ashley Gibson