In John 10; 1-10 Jesus is speaking and identifies himself as the good shepherd, the true shepherd knowing his audience will understand the relationship of the shepherd and his sheep.
The shepherd plays a big role in biblical stories. My earliest memories include the pictures of Jesus holding a lost sheep. We all know that choirs of Angels were sent to announce Jesus’ birth and they were among the first to see the newborn Jesus. Old testament stories often spoke of shepherds. And I am willing to bet many of us have been comforted by the 23rd Psalm which begins with the words “The Lord is my shepherd…”
Being raised in the city all my life I had to look into what a shepherd actually does besides hanging out in idyllic looking pastures posed against a rock with a cute little lamb. Here is what I found; A shepherd knows his sheep by sight. He calls each of them by name. The sheep know him as well and respond to his voice. They know the difference between their own shepherd and one meant to do them harm. There is a lot of trust there. The shepherd has the wellbeing of his sheep at the forefront of his mind and he is careful to lead them by going first and they do not run ahead but follow the one who is in charge.
(To me this sounds like a good preschool teacher who knows her charges well, loves them, calls them by name, knows their habits and always goes first to make sure the way is safe)
First, Jesus asks us to understand he is the good shepherd and comes to us in the open with good intentions. He goes through the gate and does not come over the fence like a thief. He is bringing the good news of salvation and abundant life.
To make things clearer, Jesus also identifies himself as the gate. The gate of the sheep fold is the proper way to go into the sheep fold. Jesus then talks about false prophets that came before Him only to steal kill and destroy. He refers to himself as the gate of the sheep hold, and tells us that whoever enters by him will be saved.
We are encouraged to listen to our shepherd’s voice. We trust that he has the best intentions for us. We must trust he knows us well and it is our task to know Him.