The Good, the Bad, and the Unwanted
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. ~John 10:11
One of the most-loved chapters in the Bible is Psalm 23. It begins with, “The LORD is my shepherd.” Our Lord is described as a Good Shepherd, a Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd. In John 10, we see Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In this chapter, our Lord gives us insight on four groups of people that are found in every church. Let us see what I refer to as “the good,” “the bad,” and “the unwanted.”
We see the lambs.
The lambs, or sheep, are also known as the flock in the Bible. They are followers. They must be under the guidance and supervision of a shepherd. Over time, they develop a sense of knowing the shepherd by his voice. They tend to be weak and vulnerable to attack. Left to themselves, they will tend to wander off and frequently endanger themselves. Sheep typify the congregation of a church. The role of sheep is to follow the shepherd.
We see the Leader.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Shepherds are the leaders of the flock. The very name "shepherd" has three key identifiers: he leads, he feeds, and he heeds. He has a familiarity with the sheep to the point that they know his voice. He knows each of his sheep by name and leads them to green pastures to feed and to still waters to drink. He leads them out each day and brings them back into the sheepfold before night. Jesus laid down His life for the sheep. He sacrificially gave His life so that the sheep can be saved from their sin. The Shepherd loves His sheep, and His sheep love Him. The Shepherd is “the Good” Shepherd.
We see the laborers.
Hirelings are hired hands who care for the sheep in the shepherd’s absence or as an extension of his work. Hirelings do not own the sheep. Hirelings only do what is required of them, and nothing more. They do not take risks, and they have minimal concern for the sheep. If a wolf or predator attacks, the hireling does not stick around to defend the sheep, but, out of concern for his personal safety, will leave the sheep and flee. A hireling is only dependable to a certain degree. He is mainly concerned for his personal interests. Sheep cannot be left in the care of a hireling when there is danger or they are outside of the daylight. The hireling, when needed the most, is typically “the bad.”
We see the larcenists.
Larceny is a word synonymous with stealing, robbery, and plundering. The larcenist is the thief Jesus refers to in John 10. He works by infiltration. He climbs up some other way. His motive is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. A spiritual thief is a person whose goal is to steal the affection and hearts of the sheep; kill the spirit, morale, and enthusiasm of the sheep; and destroy the work of the Shepherd. The thief is a plunderer. The thief is "the unwanted" company.
We see the lessons.
A flock is loved by the shepherd and is most delicate. Caring for the flock is hard and rigorous work. It is dangerous work. It is discerning work: one must be able to discern the shepherd from the hireling and thief. It is delightful work: to see a lamb become a sheep and remain the flock is an encouragement. Shepherds seek to enlarge the flock through births and other sheep that need a shepherd. Be sure you know your place as a sheep in the flock, and not as a hireling or a thief. Stay huddled close to the flock, know the voice of the Shepherd, and don’t let the thief enter in.
Have a protected God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Numbers 33-34