There is no greater feeling when someone we recognize from our past or present relationships acknowledges us by calling us by our name—correctly! Our first thought might be, what, Joe actually knows my name? What did I do to deserve that? Our second thought is of relief when we reciprocate the honor by remembering their name! Right?!
Yes, honor is given to a person when we remember their names. It shows we cared enough to remember. It signifies we somehow connected with them in a way that caused us to remember their name and them. We must have had a relationship with that person in a way that caused us to never forget their name.
Guess what? Jesus knows each one of our names. Scripture tells us that God knows not only knows our name but he knew us before we were the twinkle in our mom and dad’s eyes! (Psalm 139) God even knows the number of hairs you have on your head right now, at this moment! For some of us, he subtracts from that number often. (Smiling). Seriously, the One who made you knows you.
Jesus sets the record straight about this “knowing” by telling another sheep/shepherd analogy. We who believe get it. The Shepherd knows HIS sheep. But do the sheep know and recognize HIS voice and follow? They do if they fully trust the Shepherd for protection and provision as He leads them.
Imagine the face of Jesus when the not—yet believers don’t get the story. (“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So, he tried again.”) Was there a slight eye roll and could a sigh be heard from our Good Shepherd? Jesus moves forward and explains with clarity who He is and who we are in the story. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep. We are the sheep who know His voice and follow Him. Simply stated, but that’s where we are headed.
John 10, The Message
He Calls His Sheep by Name
1-5 “Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”
6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep rustlers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.
14-18 “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”
19-21 This kind of talk caused another split in the Jewish ranks. A lot of them were saying, “He’s crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?” But others weren’t so sure: “These aren’t the words of a crazy man. Can a ‘maniac’ open blind eyes?”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Jesus is not only the Shepherd who loves His sheep and calls them by name, he lays his life down for them as a fortified, powerful gate that separates the sheep from harm, from evil who seeks to devour the sheep. Nothing will ever get through this “Gate”. Jesus is the Shepherd who is the Gate and stands between good and evil. What blessed assurance, right?!
“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.”
LET TRUTH SINK IN…
Jesus not only knows us by name, He was willing to lay down his life for ours! This kind of love is relentless, merciful, selfless, full of humility and truly not of this world! This is amazing grace! This is crazy, amazing love! (See also Philippians 2) The Jews couldn’t wrap their heads around this “out of his head”, not from this world thinking. But Jesus knew, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Salvation is for all—ALL the sheep in all the pens around the world who believe.
Friends, Our Shepherd knows our hearts and our thoughts. We have nothing to hide. He knows our names. He knows exactly what we need when we need it most.
Psalm 23 culminates our learning:
You are my Shepherd. You are all I need. You let me rest in green meadows.
You lead me beside peaceful streams.
You renew my strength.
You guide me along right paths, bringing honor to your Name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
Lord, Good Shepherd, Savior and Lord,
Thank you for knowing my name, my heart, mind and soul and loving me beyond my wildest dreams. Continue to lead me. I believe You. I trust You. I’m yours forever. Help me to hear and recognize your voice quickly and follow you!
In Jesus Name, Amen