The Good Shepherd #9 THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP He Knows the Sheep
The "good Shepherd" knows His sheep. He knows their strengths and weaknesses, needs and desires. Jesus Himself declared, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep." This is a personal and affectionate knowledge, not simply recognition of the existence of the sheep. This aspect of Christ's knowledge of the sheep is seen in His words, "and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out" (John 10:3). Personally summoning us, He leads us out of sin, danger, and error. Our sensitivity to His call is the Appointed means of our escape. Thanks be unto God for a "good Shepherd" that knows the sheep. To be known by Deity is a transcendant blessing! It is more central to salvation than us knowing God. In fact, it is the fountain from which our knowledge of God springs. If that seems too strong, hear the word of the Lord. "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God . . . " (Gal 4:9). Our knowledge of the Lord comes from His involvement with us. Our assurance results from our conviction that the Lord knows those who are His. "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim 2:19). John again states the case for us. "But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him" (1 Cor 8:3).
He Is Known by the Sheep
Not only are the sheep known by the Shepherd, the Shepherd is known by the sheep. "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." This is not mere intellectual assent; it is a personal vibrant acquaintance with and recognition of the Living Christ. Those that know the "good Shepherd" do follow Him. Ultimately, they will not follow false shepherds. As Jesus said, "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:3-5). Those that know the "good Shepherd" find discrepancies in the overtures of false shepherds. They cannot be nourished by the wind of false words. Appearance is not the criterion by which the sheep measure the Shepherd. It is His effectiveness in leading them "out" of the quagmire of sin And away from the environs of wickedness that experientially validates His leading. They know effective leadership is the hallmark of the "good Shepherd," and they follow Him wherever He goes. Knowing the indispensability of this knowledge -- knowing the Good Shepherd -- Paul counted everything but loss to obtain it. Even though we have often probed this passage, it is worthy of our attention once again. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (Phil 3:8-10). This is the mark of those belonging to the "good shepherd." They willingly abandon anything that inhibits their fellowship with Jesus. If it is true that Christ's sheep know Him, then all those that recognize His voice and follow Him, belong to Him. Whatever deficiencies they may have, their strength is their sensitivity to their "good Shepherd." Those who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His ways are simply not His sheep. This is an arresting consideration when you ponder how often religious leaders confess that the ways of the Lord are strange to them. Hearing the voice of the "good Shepherd" involves an alert spirit. When our "affection" is set on "things above, and not on things on the earth," our hearts are sensitized to the voice of the Lord. He is thereby enabled to direct us in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. We will know when to move, and where. This is the experience declared in Isaiah's prophecy. "And your ears will hear a word behind you, This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left" (Isa 30:21).
-- TOMORROW: THE CHIEF SHEPHERD --