John 10:14-15: “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 for the sheep.”

When people speak about themselves they usually do so to hijack some attention. I see it all the time – in conversations people get frustrated with short attention spans and so they brag a little and appear flashier than they really are. Not so the Messiah. When He talks about Himself He simply states the truth. To make His statements understandable He cloaks His self-portrayals in imagery. “I am the gate” is one; “I am the good shepherd” is another one.

On that note – I find it interesting that Jesus refers to Himself as a shepherd, not a sheepherder.  There is a significant difference between the two:  Sheep herders drive their herds much like cowboys drive their cattle by pushing them from behind, while shepherds guide their flocks by leading them from the front. Also flocks differ from herds. While herding associates with feeding and running together, a flock is meant to congregate in places or alternatively head towards a location. To put it bluntly: Jesus is no cowboy and God’s children are not mindless sheep driven by one. 

In Psalm 23 we put ourselves in sheep’s shoes (that is to say if sheep wore shoes) because King David wrote the lyrics of Psalm 23 entirely from a sheep’s perspective. [Psalm 23:1-4]:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 could not showcase the relationship between sheep and shepherd more beautifully. I believe this is what Jesus is referring to when He says about His sheep. [John 10:14-15]:

“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 for the sheep.”

Our relationship with the Lord is designed to grow past mere acquaintance. We are invited to know Him intimately – just as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father – a level of intimacy that is special indeed.

Luke 15:4:“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”

Jesus told us a story about lost sheep. Here is His story:

A sheepherder performed a head count of his sheep and found that one of his lambs went missing. So he left the 99 sheep of his flock at the campsite and went looking for the lost lamb. High and low, he looked everywhere. Meanwhile the sun went down and it was almost dark when he finally discovered it. Profoundly relieved he carried the lamb home on his shoulders. As he went, He shared with all of his friends and family what had transpired, and everybody was glad to hear the good news.

I don’t know about you, but the ninety nine sheep left behind were always a puzzle to me. What if the shepherd later returns to the camp to find out that his other sheep took off in the meantime? With ninety nine sheep scattered, the crisis would have become even worse than before, with only one lamb gone astray – or maybe not? Jesus did not specify a number. Perhaps the story of one lost sheep in all reality is the story of one hundred lost sheep.

Humanity crossed a threshold a long time ago when we left the Garden of Eden; from that point forward we have striven to find our way back to Paradise, whether consciously or subconsciously. Unfortunately, there is a million ways we can get lost on the way, and this is where Jesus comes in. He is the Good Shepherd actively helping the lost – although He has a hard time finding certain strays that insist they are not lost.

Have you ever gone along for a ride and the driver of the car was overly confident? No asking for directions in the middle of a foggy night in a strange town … still driving in circles hours later – we know this driver is in denial.

Unfortunately we will stay lost when we are too arrogant to ask for directions; this is also true on a spiritual level. From the Lord’s point of view, He cannot help the proud. When we are humble enough to ask Him for help, Jesus will personally come to our rescue. Wherever we are, we are never too far gone that He can’t pick us up and bring us home.