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How is Jesus Both the Door for the Sheep and the Good Shepherd?
I am the door. If anyone enters by 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. - John 10:9-11, ESV
I don't know much about sheep, but I have heard that keeping sheep properly contained with an electric fence is challenging. Many farmers will keep other livestock with an electric fence but not sheep. Here's what one livestock expert, John Kirchhoff at Countryside Daily, said about sheep
and electric fences:
A horse can get zapped by less than 2,000 volts and will almost never try the fence again, whether it’s turned on or not. 2,500 volts will easily turn a cow, but you better have a good 4,500 volts to even get a sheep’s attention. . .
In addition, if one sheep makes it through the fence, herd mentality demands everyone else follow, whether they get shocked or not. Think of lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff and you’ve got the idea. . . Worst of all, it seems both sheep and goats will try the fence daily to see if it’s operating.
So, my take-away is that sheep are kind of thick-headed, slow to learn, follow each other blindly as a herd and like to test their boundaries every day. No wonder God repeatedly calls His people sheep!
In the ancient world, herdsmen didn't have electric fences. The key to a sheep's care and survival was often found in a good, study door to the sheep pen and a good, wise, brave shepherd to lead them to pasture and protect them from predators. Jesus said that He is both the door for the sheep to enter the sheepfold and He is the good shepherd who leads them to pasture and protects them from enemies.
For a sheep, going through the right door is critical. If a sheep enters the wrong door, it could end up in the wrong sheep pen or even find itself heading for slaughter. Jesus is the only way for us to find shelter with God, the only entrance for us into the kingdom of God. He became our door when He laid down His life for us, opening access to God through His body and blood, through His perfect righteousness given to us and His death to cleanse us of our sin.
Jesus is more than just a door. He gives us more than just access. He is also the good shepherd who leads us. In ancient pastures, shepherds used the herd instinct of their sheep for their own benefit, training them to follow their voice and stick together. Once sheep knew the voice of their shepherd, they would not follow another. Do we know the voice of our shepherd? The best safety for us is to train our ears to know His voice, and the best way to do that is to immerse ourselves in His word.
A good shepherd does more then just lead the sheep to pasture and then water and then back to safety. He also corrects them when they go astray and defends them from enemies too fierce for them. Do we know how prone we are to wander away and does this keep us close to our Shepherd and His rod and staff? Do we know how deadly our enemies are and how vulnerable we are to their attacks? Can you imagine what would happen to a sheep if it thought it was mature enough strong enough to take on a wolf? The more mature a sheep becomes, the more it knows its own weakness and the closer it sticks to the shepherd.
Finally, a good shepherd leads a herd of sheep together. Lone sheep are easy prey. Lone sheep get easily left out of the feeding and of the shelter. While the good shepherd will go after the lone sheep who wander off, when He finds them, He brings them back to the flock. Wise sheep (if there is such a thing) know that sticking with a good flock that's following the voice of the good shepherd is key to their protection and provision.
Jesus is the door for the sheep. He is also the good shepherd? Have you entered God's sheepfold through Him? If so, do you know His voice, so you won't follow a stranger? Are you sticking close to His rod and staff, remaining with His flock? If so, He will lead you safely, all the way home.
Prayer Based on Psalm 27:
Lord, You are my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
You alone are the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of You, O Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon Your beauty, O Lord,
seeking You by Your grace among Your people.
For You will hide me in Your shelter
in the day of trouble;
You will conceal me under the cover of Your tent;
You will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in Your church, among Your people,
sacrifices of thanksgiving with songs of joy;
I will sing and make melody to You, Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to You,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not Your face from me.
Turn not Your servant away in anger,
O You who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For even if my father and my mother were to forsake me,
You, O Lord, will always take me in.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon Your goodness, O Lord,
in the land of the living!
I will wait for You, Lord;
let me be strong, and let my heart take courage;
give me the grace to wait for You!
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