How to be a Good Sheep in God’s Flock-a Closer Look at John 10: 1-21
How to be a Sheep in God’s Flock
Do you remember the passage about the Good Shepherd in the Bible? Jesus tells us how much He–the Good Shepherd Himself–loves and cares for His sheep. Do you long to be I a sheep in His care? Reading this passage may prompt us to ask, “How can I be a good sheep in God’s flock?”
In John 10: 1-21, Jesus talks not only about how He cares for and protects His sheep, but He also explains how the sheep behave with the Shepherd. It is a relationship that they have; the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep and the sheep recognize the Good Shepherd as one who loves and cares for them.
Listen to Jesus, the Good Shepherd
In the Gospel of John, the Good Shepherd, tells us specifically what a good shepherd does and what the sheep do when they listen to the Shepherd.
“Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.” (from verse 1) The sheep cannot open a gate by themselves. It needs to be open for them. Jesus, the Shepherd, will enter through the gate, not try to climb over it as a thief would.
Jesus says, “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (verses 2 and 3) These two sentences have a lot of information in them! Let’s look at them more closely.
- The gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, Jesus.
- Jesus talks to the sheep.
- The sheep belong to Jesus; they are “his own.”
- Jesus calls the sheep by name. He knows every single one of them particularly.
- Jesus leads the sheep out through the gate.
That is a lot of detail! When I read this, I think of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. God created each one of us. He designed us before we were born and Jesus calls us each by name. We become children of God and sisters and brothers to Jesus when we are baptized. I think of Jesus leading us through the gate as Him leading us into the life of the Church.
Follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Next, “When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.” (verse 4) Jesus drives all of the sheep out. He does not leave even one behind. He then walks ahead of the sheep, leading them to where He wants them to go. The sheep follow Him because they hear and recognize His voice.
The sheep know they belong with the Good Shepherd. They recognize His voice because He talks with them, instructing them and calling them so they stay with Him. Depending on how easily sheep get distracted (or should I say how often humans get distracted!) I can imagine the Good Shepherd calls them often during each day, perhaps continually!
Then Jesus then tells us more about the sheep and their nature: “But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” (verse 5) Not only does Jesus tell us that the sheep will not follow a stranger, but He says they will actually run away from a stranger because they do not recognize his voice.
It is not just one stranger who tries to lead the sheep away from the Good Shepherd one time, but many different strangers that try repeatedly to lure the sheep away from the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd protects and watches over His sheep so this will not happen.
This is a lesson to us; to be one of Jesus’ sheep in God’s Flock, we need to not only ignore voices that try to lead us astray and away from the Good Shepherd, but we need to actually RUN AWAY from them. Run away from the voices that try to lure us away from God and His love and care for us and stay close to our Good Shepherd, who loves and cares for us so tenderly.
Trust Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Then Jesus is very specific as He ties up His story: “So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.” (verse 7) He Himself is the gate. He spells this out for us so we can have no doubt about it.
“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (verse 9) We will find all we need when we choose to follow Jesus. He is at the gate waiting for us. We do have the choice to follow Him or not.
Then, Jesus tells us what the stranger’s goal is and what His own purpose is: “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (verse 10) So, we can choose: be led astray by the voice of the stranger or listen to the voice of Jesus and enjoy the abundant life He will lead us to.
Love Jesus, the Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (verse 11) Here is when Jesus tells us specifically that He is the Good Shepherd and He tells us what a Good Shepherd does: he “lays down his life for the sheep.” This is a hint of what He will do for us: die for our sins. He will die to save us, His sheep.
Know Jesus, the Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” (verse 14) This is how intimately Jesus wants to know us: to know us as closely as He and the father know each other. This is also how closely He wants for us to know Him. That is really amazing! Our God and Savior wants us to know Him this intimately. We are so blessed!
“and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus then says, “and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” (verse 15) Here Jesus tells us that He will lay down His life for us. It is a promise. First He said that a Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, now he tells that He will lay done His life for the benefit of the sheep. He foretells His own sacrifice and death and tells us that it is for our own benefit.
As we know, Jesus did indeed lay down His life for us, His sheep. He laid down His life for us so we could have that abundant life and the promise of Heaven. We can spend eternity with Him at the end of our earthly lives. We just need to follow Him. John 10: 1-21 tells us how to do that.
How to be a good sheep for Jesus in God’s flock
So now that we know the roles of the Good Shepherd and the role of the sheep, we apply this passage to our own lives.
Here is the information given above in another format, comparing side by side each verse and how we can apply them in our lives.
HOW WE CAN APPLY IT
1 “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”
The Good Shepherd will come through the gate. Avoid anyone who does not do this. Listen to the teachings of the Church and the Bible. Be true to your Catholic faith.
3 “The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Jesus calls us each by name. He knows each of us by name. Listen to His voice.
4 “When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
5 “But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Run away from a stranger that tries to distance you from God. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one we need to be attuned, not to any other voice.
7 “So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. …9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
Jesus is very specific: He is the gate for us, His sheep. He wants to guard and watch over us, to lead us to pastures that are safe and will provide nourishment for us to grow. We can trust Him and have faith in Him that what happens in our lives is for our ultimate benefit.
10 “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Jesus warns us about the motivation of the thief-he does not have the best interest of the sheep at heart. Quite the contrary! Stay away from the thief; he is your enemy.
Jesus, on the other hand, is the opposite. His purpose is to care for the sheep abundantly in all of their needs. Cling to Jesus.
11 “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Jesus not only tells us He is the Good Shepherd but tells us what a Good Shepherd does: gives His life for His sheep. Because of His genuine sacrificial love for us, you can trust Him.
14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”
Be a good sheep for Jesus in God’s flock
There you have it! To know how Jesus loves and cares for His sheep (=us, His people) just read John 10: 1-21. Another Bible passage that is amazing and further talks about God as our shepherd is Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd. In A Shepard Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller gives a great commentary that dives into the meaning of the Psalm from the perspective of how a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
Here is a brief video by Jeff Cavins about this Gospel: