Jesus is the Good Shepherd – a sermon on John 10:11-21 by Rev. Colin Pretorius
If you’ve ever been to one of those massive farms or stations we have here in Australia, you’ll have seen how farmers herd their sheep. They get on motorbikes or even utes and drive the sheep ahead of them. It’s the same sort of idea for those farmers who use sheep dogs – they walk behind the sheep and send the dogs to this side and that side, all the while driving the sheep ahead. But it was – and still is – quite different in the Middle-East. The story is told of tourist guide who was telling his group about this particular difference – about how in the Middle-East the shepherds always lead their flocks. “Here,” he said, “the shepherd always leads the way. He’s the one who walks in the front and the sheep follow him. They know his voice and they follow him.” To the amusement of the tourists, the guide had just finished telling them this when a flock of sheep were driven across the road and the shepherd came walking after them. The guide was astonished – and he was quite embarrassed too – and he exclaimed to the shepherd: “What are you doing? Why are you driving these sheep, why aren’t they following you? You know that here shepherds always lead the sheep!” “You’re quite right, sir,” the man replied, “the shepherd does lead his sheep. But you see, I’m not the shepherd, I’m the butcher!”
Friends, the way shepherding is done varies across the world. So when we read and hear that Jesus says He’s the Good Shepherd, we have to think about what He means. And we also have to think how that applies to our lives. Our passage tells us that
- the Good Shepherd sacrifices (v11-13);
- the Good Shepherd knows His sheep and they know Him; (v14-16)
- the Good Shepherd willingly lays down His life (v17-18); and
- the Good Shepherd also divides (v19-21).
 Based on a story in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 498.