Text: John 10:22-29

In Psalm 23, David the shepherd-king emphatically declared, “The LORD is my shepherd”. By confessing the LORD to be his Shepherd, he is effectively submitting himself to be the LORD’s sheep. As the LORD’s sheep, David is confident that the LORD will feed and guide (Psalm 23:2), restore (Psalm 23:3), defend and protect him (Psalm 23:4), and prosper him. What a blessing to be the sheep of the Divine Shepherd!

With such wonderful blessings described in Psalm 23, it is little wonder that this Psalm is one of the most loved psalms in the Bible. However, these promises are only applicable to those who can declare, “The LORD is MY shepherd!” Therefore, we must ask ourselves this question – whose sheep are we? Are we Christ’s sheep?

John 10:22-29 provides an acid test to determine if we are Christ’s sheep. In the preceding verses, Jesus spoke an allegory (Greek paroimia, i.e. metaphor, figure of speech) of how the sheep would only follow the voice of the Shepherd but not the voices of strangers (vv. 1-5). The people could not understand the allegory, and so Jesus had to explain the allegory to them. He declared that He was the Good Shepherd that laid down His life for the sheep because He truly cares for His own (vv. 6 -18).

The sayings divided opinion among the Jews (v.19-21). As Jesus walked in the temple at the Feast of Dedication, some of the Jews confronted Jesus. The wanted Him to declare openly and explicitly that He was the Messiah (Christos), the one who will come to redeem and restore Israel. These are words of doubt and unbelief. Jesus quickly rebuked them. Had He not done many miracles among them? Surely these miracles serve as signs that authenticate the truth of His Words! Why then do they not accept the testimony of these miracles? Jesus then dissected the issue like a sharp knife cut-ting through melting butter. The reason why they simply refused to accept that Jesus is the Messiah is because they were not Christ’s sheep in the first place!

It is a common sight in those days for flocks of various shepherds to mingle with each other as they wander and graze in the fields. To an external observer, he will now be able to tell which sheep belong to which shepherd.

However, when the time comes to return home, the shepherd will simply call out for his sheep and they will separate themselves to follow their shepherd. The fact that the Jews were not able to recognise and understand the Words of Jesus as the Words of their Messiah shows that He is not their Shepherd!

On the other hand, Jesus explains that He knows who His sheep are. This is again a reflection of shepherding in the Middle East. While observers may not be able to identify the sheep, the shepherd can easily tell which sheep are his and which belongs to another shepherd. This is because he knows his sheep intimately (see from the term ginōskō), and the connection be-tween the sheep and the shepherd is inseparable.

Herein is the acid test – when the shepherd calls, the sheep will not only hear the voice of the shepherd, but they will also follow! The term “follow” is where we get the English word for acolyte, and carries the picture of a disciple most willing to follow his master. Christ’s sheep will firstly be able to perceive and understand the Word of Christ. Having understood His Words, they will be most willing to follow and obey His commands. Any-one who claims that He is a disciple of Christ, but is happy to live a life of habitual sin and debauchery is not a sheep of Christ!

How did the people react to the Words of Christ? Many took up stones to stone Him. This is the reaction of those who are not His Sheep. When God’s Word is faithfully preached, they resist the admonition and rebel. Is there little wonder why many churches have chased out faithful preachers of the Word, and heaped to themselves teachers to scratch their itching ears?

Nevertheless, John 10 ends on a positive note. While many sought to stone Jesus, there were also many who confessed that John the Baptiser’s testimony of Jesus was true. They came readily to Christ, and confessed that this was the Son of God, and the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (c.f. John 1:29). These were the true sheep of God.

Dear reader, it is not enough just to confess Christ to be the Good Shepherd, but He also must be your Good Shepherd. If you are not Christ’s sheep, then you belong to the devil who is the father of lies. This is the frightening truth! Now, if you indeed belong to Christ, then the Holy Spirit that indwells within you will help you identify, perceive and understand the Words of Christ. You will love to study and know His Word intimately and deeply. You will desire to obey His Words. Does this describe you?

Whose sheep are you? Are you Christ’s sheep? Amen.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew