by Gordon Lanpher, ATS Graduate Intern, Children’s Pastor @ The River
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They 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 and does not own 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.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” - John 10:1-18
There is a phenomenon is shepherding called bummer lambs. For those of you who don’t raise sheep let me explain. Every occasionally a mother lamb will give birth to a sheep and completely rejects it. She will not feed it and if the shepherd tries to bring the lamb to her, she just kicks at and injures it. So what the shepherd has to do is literal nurse this lamb by bottle. Every day for at least a little while the ‘bummer lamb’ is place around his shoulders and is carried. The lamb gets a chance to hear the heartbeat of the shepherd. Once the lamb is able to eat on his own, he released to be with the rest of the flock. This where is gets interesting, when the shepherd calls his flock, “sheep, here sheep” the first ones to show up are almost always the sheep who were bummer lambs. They know his voice.
Jesus is the good shepherd. He is the one who takes care of us when we are hurting and carries us around his shoulders. It should not surprise us that as injured, broken people God says we are able to hear and know the voice of the Savior. The question becomes are we listening for his voice?
Take some time to sit and listen for the voice of Good shepherd because we all ‘bummer lambs’ who can hear the heartbeat and voice him who is calling.