Sabbath, December 24, 2011
“… Those who claim to be led of God, and go right away from Him and His law, do not search the Scriptures. But the Lord will lead His people; for He says that His sheep will follow if they hear His voice, but a stranger will they not follow.” –Faith and Works, p. 56.
Life from the Shepherd
1. What did the Lord use to illustrate what His ministry was to the world?
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John 10:14, first part I am the good shepherd….
“Again Jesus found access to the minds of His hearers by the pathway of their familiar associations. He had likened the Spirit’s influence to the cool, refreshing water. He had represented Himself as the light, the source of life and gladness to nature and to man. Now in a beautiful pastoral picture He represents His relation to those that believe on Him. No picture was more familiar to His hearers than this, and Christ’s words linked it forever with Himself. Never could the disciples look on the shepherds tending their flocks without recalling the Saviour’s lesson. They would see Christ in each faithful shepherd. They would see themselves in each helpless and dependent flock.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 476.
2. How did the prophets use the same picture to represent God’s loving care for His people? To whom did Jesus apply these prophecies?
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Isaiah 40:11 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.
“Christ applied these prophecies to Himself, and He showed the contrast between His own character and that of the leaders in Israel. The Pharisees had just driven one from the fold, because he dared to bear witness to the power of Christ. They had cut off a soul whom the True Shepherd was drawing to Himself. In this they had shown themselves ignorant of the work committed to them, and unworthy of their trust as shepherds of the flock. Jesus now set before them the contrast between them and the Good Shepherd, and He pointed to Himself as the real keeper of the Lord’s flock. Before doing this, however, He speaks of Himself under another figure.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 477.
The true Shepherd’s gifts to man
3. In contrast to the ceremonies and systems of men, how does one enter the eternal, heavenly fold?
John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
John 10:1, 2 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
“Christ is the door to the fold of God. Through this door all His children, from the earliest times, have found entrance. In Jesus, as shown in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelation of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to His disciples, and in the miracles wrought for the sons of men, they have beheld ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29), and through Him they are brought within the fold of His grace. Many have come presenting other objects for the faith of the world; ceremonies and systems have been devised by which men hope to receive justification and peace with God, and thus find entrance to His fold. But the only door is Christ, and all who have interposed something to take the place of Christ, all who have tried to enter the fold in some other way, are thieves and robbers….
“In all ages, philosophers and teachers have been presenting to the world theories by which to satisfy the soul’s need…. Christ came that He might re-create the image of God in man; and whoever turns men away from Christ is turning them away from the source of true development; he is defrauding them of the hope and purpose and glory of life. He is a thief and a robber.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 477, 478.
4. What does the true Shepherd do besides providing food and water for the sheep? Why does the Lord represent His people as a flock of sheep?
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
“Of all creatures the sheep is one of the most timid and helpless, and in the East the shepherd’s care for his flock is untiring and incessant. Anciently as now there was little security outside of the walled towns. Marauders from the roving border tribes, or beasts of prey from their hiding places in the rocks, lay in wait to plunder the flocks. The shepherd watched his charge, knowing that it was at the peril of his own life. Jacob, who kept the flocks of Laban in the pasture grounds of Haran, describing his own unwearied labor, said, ‘In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.’ Genesis 31:40. And it was while guarding his father’s sheep that the boy David, single-handed, encountered the lion and the bear, and rescued from their teeth the stolen lamb.
“As the shepherd leads his flock over the rocky hills, through forest and wild ravines, to grassy nooks by the riverside; as he watches them on the mountains through the lonely night, shielding from robbers, caring tenderly for the sickly and feeble, his life comes to be one with theirs. A strong and tender attachment unites him to the objects of his care. However large the flock, the shepherd knows every sheep. Every one has its name, and responds to the name at the shepherd’s call.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 478, 479.
5. How close is the relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd?
John 10:14, 15 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.
Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
“As an earthly shepherd knows his sheep, so does the divine Shepherd know His flock that are scattered throughout the world. ‘Ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.’ Jesus says, ‘I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.’ ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.’ Ezekiel 34:31; Isaiah 43:1; 49:16.
“Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 479.
Hearers and followers
6. What did Jesus say about His sheep? What do they do?
John 10:3, second part … And the sheep hear his voice.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Revelation 14:4, second part These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
Personal question: Are you following the good Shepherd?
“Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, ‘Follow Me,’ and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care…. He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth….
“Though now He has ascended to the presence of God, and shares the throne of the universe, Jesus has lost none of His compassionate nature. Today the same tender, sympathizing heart is open to all the woes of humanity. Today the hand that was pierced is reached forth to bless more abundantly His people that are in the world. ‘And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.’ The soul that has given himself to Christ is more precious in His sight than the whole world. The Saviour would have passed through the agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His kingdom. He will never abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His followers choose to leave Him, He will hold them fast.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 480, 483.
7. What did Jesus say about other sheep who were not in His fold? What was He going to do for His sheep?
John 10:16, 17 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.
John 11:51, 52 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
“The lost sheep of God’s fold are scattered in every place, and the work that should be done for them is being neglected. From the light given me I know that where there is one canvasser in the field, there should be one hundred. Canvassers should be encouraged to take hold of this work, not to canvass for storybooks, but to bring before the world the books containing truth essential for this time.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 315.
“When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd.” –(Australian Signs of the Times, Supplement, January 26, 1903) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 401.
For additional study
• Matthew 18:11-14
• Gospel Workers, pp. 181-184
• Lift Him Up, p. 196
• Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 261, 262