JESUS, THE GOOD SHEPHERD

 

 

In John chapter 10, Jesus is informing us that He is the Shepherd of the sheep. Reading from verse 1, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, verily,verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” When we think of what Our Lord said concerning Himself, that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel, that is a significant statement. Jesus is stating here that He is the door of the sheepfold and He is talking about His people Israel.

 

In John 10:10-11, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they (the word ‘they’ is important. The ‘they’ the Lord is talking about are the people of the House of Israel, His sheep) …that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

 

Turning to Ezekiel 34:2-4, “Son of man prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed, but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost.”

 

Instead of warning His people of their lack of faith in God and His promises and guiding them as a good shepherd should they remained silent, even helping to persecute the Lord’s prophets when they, fulfilling their commission, tried to guide the people back into the fold of Almighty God’s mercy.

 

Returning to Ezekiel 34:11-12, “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.”

 

So the Hand of God was moving to preserve His people and gather them to a place spoken of through the prophet Nathan to David long ago. Therefore, we have an appointed place in the west for His people to come. A place of safety. Verse 16, “I will seek that which was lost.” No wonder the Lord Jesus Christ stated emphatically “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24.

 

With the focus upon the word ‘they’ and realising that ‘they’ are the people Jesus is concerned about, let us return to John 21:15-16. Our Lord is speaking to Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him Feed my sheep.” Jesus asked the question of Peter three times and he was very upset. But what Jesus was emphasising strongly to Peter and indeed the rest of the disciples, was that they were to be given the important task of seeking out the lost sheep of the House of Israel with the good news. To “feed my sheep.”

 

Some of these lost sheep were in Asia Minor, including Galatia. Peter writing his first epistle mentions Galatia, 1 Peter 1:1. How they arrived there in the first place was that the kings in Asia Minor were fighting wars against each other and it was known that the best fighting men were the Celts. One of the kings engaged them as mercenaries and the Celts were successful. After the battles were over and they received their payment, they did not leave but sent for their families and came to live in Galatia. It was said by Jerome, the writer of the Latin Bible, that in his travels through Asia Minor the Celt dialect he heard in Galatia was very similar to the Celt dialect found in Gaul. The House of Israel lost their ancient name and were known by many different names, including Celt, on their travels to the appointed place in the isles.

 

In the passage of time the message is brought to the Celtic people in these lands through Joseph of Arimathea and later through the Apostles. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, circa AD 300, stated the Apostles came to the Isles Britannic and preached the Gospel to them. So the Celtic people are amongst the first to receive the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. When they hear this Gospel they cannot do other than accept it wholeheartedly, for, as Jesus the Christ has already explained, My sheep know my voice. They are impelled to accept their Shepherd, the Christ of God.

 

It can be seen from the reading in John 10 that Jesus is both true shepherd of the sheep and the door of the sheepfold. By concentrating on the word ‘they’ we realise it means the people of the House of Israel and Jesus is their Shepherd. In Ezekiel 34:30-31, the prophet refers to the people of Israel as sheep, “Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the House of Israel are my people, saith the Lord God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.”

 

So we have in symbolism the way God our Heavenly Father regards His people of Israel. They are lost sheep and He wants to find them. So He sent a Shepherd to seek them out; to minister to them. And that Shepherd (our Lord Jesus Christ) is given twelve men from out of the world. And they are obedient to their master and also carry this wonderful message to the lost sheep of the House of Israel wherever they are scattered for they knew where they were to be found. Jesus prays and thanks His Heavenly Father for the men God has given Him, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” And “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” John 17:9 and 20. Indeed Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

 

KATHLEEN GAGE

 

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