Sheepfold – A sheep pen
In the time that Jesus walked on this earth there was a way of caring for sheep that actually still exits in that region today. This “sheep pen” was a public pen that was used by many different flocks to house their sheep for the night. Those different flocks would gather in the sheep pen by going through the “door” that was watched and guarded by a doorkeeper. The pen was usually open air with no roof and it housed many sheep and protected them from robbers and animals. In the morning the shepherds would come and collect their sheep because they knew exactly who they were. In John 10:1-18 Jesus shares some great wisdom with us about the importance of the sheep, the shepherd, the pen, the door, and the doorkeeper. It almost sounds like the title for a C.S. Lewis novel. In the same way that Lewis wrote his great parallels of the Christian life, Jesus exposes some great truth that we must consider as believers. First of all, in verses 1-3, Jesus exposes the truth of Him being the only true shepherd of the Jews and the fulfillment of prophecy. There are many others who will claim to be that shepherd, but Jesus is the only true shepherd, and the others are just imitations. We as believers are the sheep, and Jesus takes us through the door to the safety of the pen by calling to us, and by the way, we know His call because we know Him. Which brings to mind. If we have someone that is trying to lead us to another door, we really shouldn’t be able to hear them, and as it says in verse 5, “We will flee from him.” With the Lord in our life we are given “spiritual red flags” that pop up at the sound of danger, and false teachers will raise a red flag every time. In verse 10 a verse that is well quoted starts to make more sense, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” There are many thieves and robbers just waiting to be used by satan to distract and manipulate us into following them. They have one thing in mind; DECEPTION! The way to keep our red flag in full alert mode to identify those robbers is to study God’s Word and get with other “sheep” in the pen to draw strength and insight. Here’s a little side note: If you are the type of person to get all involved in following a minister or teacher to the point that you trust in their strength you are following the wrong person. In verse 13 it says what a hired hand will do when the going gets tough. They will flee, because they are not concerned about the sheep. Jesus goes on to say in verse 14, “I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know me.” Enough said…. In verse 16 He goes ahead to speak about us Gentiles and the realization that we are a part of the flock, and we are all under one shepherd and His name is Jesus. And then in verses 17 and 18 Jesus says what all believers live by, He is our salvation, and that is the formed evangelical church of today.
The illustrations used by Jesus to teach this great truth are very deep and also very expansive. The breadth of His comments encompass all believers and give us hope and security. Hope in the safety of the sheep pen, and security to know that robbers and wolves cannot take us out of that pen. I believe the doorkeeper is the Lord and His perfect righteousness. God sets all this into motion and the finality of what He did in sending His Son for us helps us realize a great sense of assurance knowing that Abba Father is watching over us when we are awake or asleep. It means that God is intimately involved in what is going on in our lives and never sleeps or lets down His guard when watching over us. I don’t know about you, but that is awesome news to me, a sheep. First of all, I can’t protect myself because I am totally reliant on my shepherd. Secondly, I don’t know where to go except that Jesus show me. Thirdly, God provides for my every need as the Creator of the Universe, Almighty God!
So, fellow sheep arise, and please trust the good shepherd and the doorkeeper to equip us, protect us, lead us, and love us. God is the Great I Am and His strength is something we must tap into if we are going to first of all, live an abundant life, and share it with other prospective sheep. Some may say, “Why was Jesus born of a virgin and why did He live such a humble life, as a carpenter? Where is the strength in that? Remember, Mary His mother, was from David’s lineage, and that lineage had changed through the years. David was a King during his living days, but his father Jesse was a shepherd, and David was “annointed” to be King. Through the years that line lost it’s royal standing and Mary was very poor and humble. All of this was to fulfill prophecy to the fullest. So, when you read scripture that is related to sheep and shepherds, really listen closely for the great wisdom God imparts to us through those truths. David was the annointed King, but Jesus is the King of Kings. His reign will never diminish, though our modern day society may try to make us think so. He is almighty God and He nows us. He is a shepherd to His sheep, and a King to all. He is King Shepherd….
The Pilgrimage continues….