Picture this with me…
Jesus is traveling in and around the area outside Jerusalem called the Kidron Valley. In this area are familiar places in Jesus’ ministry Mt. of Olives, Gethsemane, even the Jericho Road weaves through the Kidron Valley.
You have to know, Jesus is a master communicator! When he’s talking to farmers he talks about seeds and farming, when he talks to fishermen, he talks about repairing nets and where to fish…and when he talks to shepherds, or even those who are called to be shepherds of people, he talks to them about sheep.
Jesus uses His surroundings to preach incredible and hard to explain biblical truths. This time would be no different. As Jesus is standing with a large group of people he begins to look out into the Kidron Valley. Do you know what he sees? He sees another opportunity for an important lesson regarding who he is. He begins to draw the attention of the listener to the sheep pens, or folds, that dot the landscape of the Kidron Valley.
Some pens are caves, some are sheds,or even large walled areas in an open field called a pasture.
What’s interesting to me, and I hope for you, is how these pens would operate: The first thing to know is every sheep pens had a gatekeeper. Because the pens didn’t have gates, the shepherd would sit down in the opening of the pen. This wasn’t to keep the sheep in, but to keep the predators out! Shepherds would prove they were the shepherd of their sheep because they had a distinct call and knew them by name.
The Sheep Know My Name
During WWI, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.
Listen, sheep are dumb, but they’re experts in knowing the voice or their shepherd. It just takes practice and training.
Think about if you were a sheep…
- A shepherd knows your name
- A shepherd leads you (on purpose) to good pasture
- Protects you when you get stuck
- Searches for you when you’re lost
- Lays down to protect you from harm
- Places himself between you and an attacker
John 10:1-11; 14-16 (NLT) 1 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.