A Sheep Shares Trust
Jesus used the parable of the "Lost Sheep" to teach the value of a soul. (Luke 15:1-7) In John 10:26-27 Jesus used the sheep to illustrate the value of trust. He said, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." During His personal ministry Jesus often received the disapproval of the Pharisees and scribes because of His relationship with sinners. "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." (Luke 15:1-2) Jesus invited sinners; tax collectors, the drunkards and prostitutes to enter His kingdom. These are the people that the self-righteous Pharisees would have never wanted to spend time with. The self-righteous attitudes of the Jewish Leaders lead to one of the great statements of Jesus' earthly ministry, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick." (Luke 5:31)
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"Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (Luke 15:1-7)
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." (John 10:11-18)
The sheep should have humbly followed the Shepherd. "The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way." (Psalm 25:9) The sheep of Luke 15 had failed to trust and follow. This sheep was astray. The charge was made against Jesus, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."(Luke 15:2) Jesus involved Himself with those that needed Him for salvation. This does not mean that He, in any way participated in their evil. Scripture says, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." (Psalms 1:1) Luke 15:4 pictures a lost sheep and The Good Shepherd seeking to find and restore him. "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" (Luke 15:4) The Shepherd is concerned about the lost so he leaves the 99 to go in search of the one that was lost.
There was rejoicing when the sheep was found and restored to the flock. The shepherd searched until he found the sheep. "And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (Luke 15:5-7) We observe both the care and tenderness of the Shepherd and the sheep again willing to follow the Shepherd. When the Lord looks for sheep He is looking for His own sheep, one of His fold.
Jesus is "the good Shepherd." In another Scripture Jesus is pictured with the parable of the "Good Shepherd." (John 10) The sheep should be willing to follow the Good Shepherd. Many titles are used for the Lord and His people. None are more beautiful than The Good Shepherd and His sheep willingly following Him. Peter even spoke of Jesus as the chief Shepherd. "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Peter 5:4) Isaiah said, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah 40:11)
Jesus gathered into one flock or one church the people of God. (Acts 2:47) Jesus is the majestic Ruler of all His sheep. He died for sinners who were like sheep that had gone astray. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) Both the Father and the Son love the sheep, and so the Son came to seek and to save those who were lost. (Luke 19:10) Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) In Zechariah 13:7 we read of God calling Jesus by the term "My Shepherd," "O sword, against my shepherd, even against the man that is my fellow."
The Good Shepherd owns the sheep. The Good Shepherd would lead His sheep out from the sheep fold. His sheep would know his voice and follow Him. This is significant because several herds of sheep would stay together in one pen. Jesus referred to the sheep as His own. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." (John 10:4) He used the term "My Sheep." "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (John 10:14) His sheep are very familiar to Him. They follow Him in unconditional obedience and submission. The Good Shepherd owns the sheep. This enables the Shepherd to lead His sheep in the best possible way. The good Shepherd leads and protects His sheep. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalms 23:1-6)
The sheep trust and follow the Good Shepherd. Jesus said, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:26-27) Is there a greater privilege on earth than to follow the Good Shepherd? Perhaps the reason we sometimes have so little joy in our Christian lives is that we do not follow the Lord Jesus without compromise. Many want to follow the Good Shepherd when He speaks of grace, but there is no call for obedience and practical righteousness. We must hear His voice and follow Him in all things.
Will you accept God's wonderful good news the Good Shepherd died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God are sheep in the Lord's one flock. Their main goal should be to trust and follow the Good Shepherd.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA