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Monday, January 2, 2012

Our Great Shepherd

By David R. Ferguson
     In John 10:2-4, Jesus says, "But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."
     What is the significance of Jesus using the parable of a shepherd overseeing his sheep to teach us a lesson about His Kingdom? It is significant because Jesus wanted us to understand that He came to the Earth to be born of a virgin in order that He become the Shepherd of His sheep. As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray…." Our iniquity has left us wandering lost and shepherdless in the wilderness of sin. Jesus came to be the Shepherd of His sheep so that He could lead them in the way He Himself prepared. A real shepherd goes before his flock, and the flock follows him because they have learned to trust him. If you are dealing with cattle, you must drive them from behind. But this is not the case with sheep. With them, you must lead them. The Lord Jesus came to be a Shepherd. That means He came so that the sheep could follow safely in His way. He will not ask you or I to take one step where He Himself has not trod. He goes before His sheep, but we must be willing to follow in His footsteps. We are to tread the path that He blazed.
    His path is not overly burdensome, for our Shepherd said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." The way of the Lord is not burdensome, but it is the only way we can find ourselves back to the Father. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes unto the Father, but by Me." So we have seen that following our Shepherd is not burdensome, and it is the only way back into the fold of the Father. Additionally, it is ultimately an exceedingly rewarding decision to follow our Shepherd, both in this life as well as in the life to come. Paul wrote that the sheep of the Lord have the privilege now "…to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 2:6-7). So let all who have had their sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb rejoice and follow after our Shepherd, the very Son of God "Who His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by Whose stripes you were healed. For you were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25) So take up your cross today and joyfully follow after Him!
    May the Lord bless you!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx 

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