“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15 (NASB)
My kids and I participate in a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) group every Thursday morning. If you don’t know what BSF is (I didn’t either until this last August), it’s “an in-depth, interdenominational Bible study” that has classes all over the globe. Many groups just include women and children, but in some areas, they also have classes for men.
For this session, we’ve been studying the book of John, and it has been great! If you’ve ever considered joining a Bible study and want something that will teach your children the same thing you’re learning (on their level), then I highly recommend it! You can go to their website by clicking the link to see if they have a class in your area. It’s completely free, and you’ll be able to fellowship with other women and go deeper into God’s Word every week. For me, it’s also great to get some adult interaction and know that my kids are growing in foundational Bible principles too. Again–highly recommended!
The Good Shepherd
Last week, we were in John 10 which is where Jesus unravels the metaphor of the good shepherd. This passage has a lot of really great lessons to be learned about the character of Jesus, but there are a few verses in particular I have on my heart to share with you today.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
John 10:9-10 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
John 10:28 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
What’s the resounding theme that I want to share with you today? Freedom and security.
Both the Shepherd and the Gate
One thing that always struck me as odd was how Jesus could describe Himself as both the shepherd and the gate (or door) to the sheep pen. I just chalked it up to He’s Jesus…of course He’s everything! That thought wasn’t wrong. But we learned something that really tied the metaphor together for me.
In that time period, sheep pens could be stone enclosures with just a gap for a door. At night, the shepherd would lay down in that gap and physically be the gate himself. Therefore, the only way to go in or come out was through him. The shepherd acting as the gate not only meant that he was the only way into the sheep fold, but it also gave an added layer of security for the flock inside. Nothing that wanted to come in and cause the sheep harm could get to them without first crossing him.
He’s the only way into the family of God, and once we’re in, He’s our protective barrier!
Freedom to Pasture
Also in that portion of scripture, it mentions the sheep are free to not only come in but also to go out and find pasture. When pointed out, this little phrase instantly speaks freedom. While the law could only confine, Jesus came to give life, and to give it more abundantly. With Him, we are free to go out and graze. We aren’t held captive with protective barriers.
If sheep are never let out to pasture, they’ll grow sickly, weak, and depressed inside of their pen. Sheep who live an abundant life are free to pasture under the care of their good shepherd.
In the sixth verse of Deuteronomy 28, it states, “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” Along this same thought, in Psalms 121:8, David writes, “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.“ We can feel safe as we travel through the wide open spaces of life. Our good shepherd is with us, watching over us, and blessing us daily.
Nothing can Separate Us (Not Even Our Mistakes)
To give the freedom that breeds abundant life, there has to be a confidence in the safety and security of the sheep. That’s where verse 28 in John 10 comes in. Nothing can pluck us from His hand. Reading this truth made my mind jump to a section of Paul’s words in Romans:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)
Nothing can separate us.
Does that make you feel confident? Like you could conquer the world? Because that’s what it does for me. Not only do we have a God who chose to lay down His life to save ours, but because He’s perfect and has created a covenant that doesn’t rely on our performance, we are free!
It reminds me of one of my favorite novel quotes from East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In it, he writes, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” We don’t have to do anything special to stay in the palm of God’s hand. We are His, and He is ours. He wants us just as we are.
Will you believe and trust His Word today? Will you allow yourself to feel the security and freedom that comes from belonging to the Good Shepherd? And how will this renewed outlook change your life?
Until next time,
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