Please find a quiet place to focus on these scriptures for a few minutes, asking for an open mind and heart to hear God’s wisdom for us today.
The Message (MSG)
6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.
Growing up, I was blessed with a Grandfather who, in his 50’s, sold his small town business, and bought a ranch – it was a dream of his to be a rancher. He raised cattle, goats, and until the coyote population got out of control, he also raised sheep. (I remember hearing that my Grandmother cried when the last truckload of sheep left the ranch.) Granddaddy spent his days taking care of his stock, being a shepherd, and driving the fences to take care of the land. He loved it, and I loved riding around with him during visits. He spent so much time with these animals, that when it came time to gather up the cattle or sheep, he had trained the sheep to follow him with intermittent horn honks. The cattle would follow his truck if he laid his hand on the horn for several seconds at a time. I always thought that was a cool trick, and didn’t realize until I was older that it took him time (and care and love) to train the animals to do this. The animals knew his “voice” and would respond. Thieves that might have crossed his fences to steal the animals would have no idea how to gather up the animals like that – the animals didn’t really matter to them, they were only in it for the money. The animals had a relationship with Granddaddy – they knew HE was the one that fed them when it was too dry or too cold… he was the one who took care of them and kept them alive.
Those “sheep stealers” remind me of the things in my life that keep me from worship, from daily bible study, from fellowship, from sharing God’s love with other people. I seem to have quite a few of those “sheep stealers” in my life – entertainment, wrong priorities, busyness, and selfishness. Like the shepherd in Jesus’ story in John 10, and like the time and energy it took for Granddaddy to develop a relationship with his stock as their shepherd, we need to DAILY spend time and energy with God for our relationship to grow with him. And, the cool thing is, He says we will be rewarded with a “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
These verses and Granddaddy’s example of a “shepherd” remind me of the blessings that can unfold in my life from having this relationship with God. He is the one who takes care of us, who sent His Son to die for the forgiveness of our sins, so that during our time on this earth, we can be aware of the abundant blessings in this LIFE. He is the one who takes care of us, who sent His Son to die on the cross so that we may have eternal LIFE with Him in heaven.
Thank you God, for sending your Son to die on the cross, to forgive my sins, to give me LIFE that I never dreamed of. Help me to daily seek You to rid my life of the “sheep stealers” that keep me from a close relationship with You. I want to be able to hear your “voice” loud and clear! In Jesus’ name, Amen.