We saw last week that the sheep could perceive the shepherd's voice; if a stranger were to call for them, they might run -- they would definitely not follow him. If their shepherd called to them, however, they would recognize him and follow. Let's study this passage some more . . .
Here are verses 8, and 11-13:
All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.In real life, the shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep; he will protect the sheep from predators who would harm or kill them. So here, we are talking spiritually about Jesus protecting us from spiritual predators.
You know who we're talking about . . . Satan.
We may think of a cartoon figure with a mean face, horns and a pitchfork, but Satan is real, peeps. Very real.
The scriptures tell us that there is a force for evil in this world, and it is not only very real, but very personal. And it is out to capture and destroy your soul.
Over the top?
Look at what Peter said in his letter:
Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (I Peter 5:8-9)
Peter knew the truth. He warned us.
Still not convinced?
Tell me, if there is not a personal force that wants to destroy your spirit, then how about those terrible thoughts that keep you up all night? The ones that you fight off, with prayer and more prayer. How we long for the peace that passes all understanding when Satan attacks!
What about that unethical thought, that immoral thought, that thought that pops into your head and you wonder, "Where in the world did that come from? That's not like me!"
"I don't think that way!"
How about when someone insults you, or just disrespects you in some way? Does a quick thought pop in, "I shouldn't have to put up with that!" "I'll get back at them!"
Or the worst of all, of Satan's tricks, when we fail at something . . ."Well, that's just typical. I should be ashamed." "I'm worthless." "I'll never be able to succeed at that."
Let's look at this logically, OK?
We have accepted Christ's gift of salvation.
We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
So can these terrible thoughts in our minds possibly be coming from within us?
Those are coming from outside of us. From a force that is using our small doubts, our insecurities, our lack of peace in Christ's care, to make us come perilously close to self-destruction.
It's a war. Ever read C. S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters? It's an awesome read, and I would encourage you to read it. It is an imaginary (but very true to life) correspondence between an older demon and a younger one, detailing the war they wage to control a person's soul.
Jesus is our good Shepherd, and He will protect us. Not by making the mind war from Satan go away, but by reminding us with His gentle spirit that nothing -- let me repeat that -- NOTHING can shake us from Christ's hold, from His shepherdship.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
We can rest securely in the truth that Jesus will protect us from any danger that would come our way. He is our good and protecting Shepherd.