Jesus calls us sheep. What does that mean?

In John 10, Jesus used a real-life example of a spiritual truth concerning sheep. The shepherds had pens where they would corral the sheep for the night and guard the gate, many times by lying down as the gate itself. Thus, anyone who entered the pen by any other means than the gate was a thief and a robber (v1). Jesus was specific in identifying the one guarding the gate was the shepherd (verse 2).

When the sheep hear their shepherd’s voice, they respond to him (v3). He calls each sheep by name and leads them out. Sheep won’t follow unfamiliar voices/people. Verses 4-5 bear this truth 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.

In verse 6, John explained that Jesus was using a figure of speech about Himself and His “sheep,” His followers. He then tells them plainly, “I am the gate for the sheep” (v.7). “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (v9). It is at this point that Jesus makes the spiritual correlation between the thief and the devil. Jesus had already told them that the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

We can count on the devil wanting to:

  1. Steal your joy,
  2. Kill your peace,
  3. Destroy your witness/testimony.

Jesus gave the counterpoint to Satan’s plans: “I have come that they might have life and have it in abundance” (v10). What does it mean to have abundant life? It means to have more than we need. I would consider eternal life PLENTY of life, wouldn’t you? But wait. It gets better! He wants to give us abundant life RIGHT NOW! Our life with Jesus begins the moment the Spirit assumes control of our lives. His light gives light to our lives, health to our bodies, and joy to our hearts. His peace surrounds us, fills us, and lifts us up above life’s problems.

You may say, “Well, I don’t feel peaceful all the time.” But consider that the problem is not with Him, but with us. If we stay in constant contact with Him, what else would we feel but His peace, His joy, and His love? It would be like standing under a gentle waterfall! From the time that we first come to Him, we strive for the rest of our lives to learn to walk with Him and stay in step with Him, to keep our eyes fixed on Him, and to follow Him as His “sheep.”

More tomorrow on what it means to follow Him.

Abba, You have used the perfect illustration to depict our relationship with You. It’s as if You created sheep for this specific purpose! Sheep are dumb, willful, and complaining, but they are also loving, loyal, and completely dependent upon their shepherd–just like us! May we hear Your voice daily and respond to You by following You wherever You lead. Amen.

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