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For if ye
born of God,” ye love Him who proceeded forth and came from God: if ye are the “ children of God,” ye hear your Father's words.
CHRIST DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
JOHN x. 11, 14.
11. “I am the good shepherd : the good shepherd giveth his life for
the sheep." 14. “ I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of
In his former words, our Lord had described himself as the door of the sheepfold : the door by which the shepherds must find admission to the flock, the entrance by which both shepherds and their flocks must seek access to the Father.
This leads him to another comparison. He is not only the door of the fold, but He is also the guardian of those within the fold : He fulfils the prophetic promise ; He “ feeds his flock like a shepherd.
He was the good shepherd. And there was a proof of it. He would give his life for the sheep. Not as the hireling, whose own the sheep are not, and who would neither risk any thing for their safety, nor sacrifice any thing for their good. Very different was the case of Him who purchased the flock with his own blood : and who could say, I lay down my life for the sheep : I know my sheep and am known of mine.
These two sentences well deserve remark : I know my sheep ; and am known of mine.
When we look out into the world in a moral view, it appears a scene of confusion. And it is a comfort to those who have hearkened to the words of God speaking to them in the Gospel, that they have this assurance ;
66 the Lord knoweth them that are his." Perhaps they are little known by men, and still less understood : but whether they are approved and admired, or misrepresented and scorned ; whether they are justly valued, or unjustly despised ; they are at least seen and known according to their true character, by Him whom they love and serve. Some may overlook them, for the disciple of Christ does not push himself forward ; some many condemn them, for many think that they are following a shadow ; some may think them hypocrites, for much that is undeserved is often laid to their charge ; but however this be, their heavenly Shepherd sees and distinguishes them, and judges them according to what they are, and not according to what they are not. I know my sheep, He has said. This proves the aptness of the comparison, which likens Him to a shepherd, and his followers to a flock. For a stranger and common observer, looking towards a flock of sheep, would confound one with another, and think it impossible to discern between them ; while their shepherd, from the close attention and diligent care with which he has been long used to mark and study them, can tell them all; and knows them by signs which another could neither perceive nor understand.
2. But this is not all that we are told. We are further assured, that as the shepherd knows the sheep, so the sheep their shepherd. I know my sheep, and am known of mine. They do not indeed know Him by the hearing of the ear, or by the seeing of the eye. He is far above out of their sight, and his disciples, to whom He was at this time speaking, knew Him in a way in which we cannot know Him now. But this does not hinder our knowing Him in a true and proper sense ; that is, our trusting Him, loving Him, and serving Him. The case is like that of a father, who may be in a foreign country ; but who maintains, and educates, and exhorts, and advises, a child that remains at home. The child knows that father, though without seeing him. He knows what he is to the father, and what the father is to him, and what he does for him. In the same manner do the sheep of Christ know their shepherd. They “ have not seen, and yet have believed.” As St. Peter says, “ Whom, not having seen, ye love ; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." He has left his invitation, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are beavy laden.” They have heard this call, as if addressed to themselves : and they have attended to it, and have come to Him by faith and prayer, and have desired to escape from a dangerous world, and to place themselves within his fold. Thus they have joined themselves to his flock, sought shelter under his care, and know in whom they are trusting. When, therefore, Jesus has left this truth written, I am known of mine, he means that He is known by those who trust in Him, not in a visionary or enthusiastic manner, not by dreams or fancies ; but in that sober, intelligent way in which a parent is known by his children, or a master by his servant, or a commander by his soldiers. They know Him as the child knows that he looks to his parent for support ; as a servant knows that he looks to his master for direction; as the soldier looks up to his commander, for encouragement and example. In this way the Christian depends on Christ, in his passage through the world : takes Him as his pattern, obeys Him as his Lord, reverences Him as the author of his spiritual being, and loves Him as the giver of eternal life.
Let all ask themselves, whether the Lord Jesus is thus known to them? If they belong to the true flock, they must have this acquaintance with their Shepherd.
And great indeed is the comfort springing from these words. The world in which we live has been reduced by sin to a state, which makes it no longer a pasture in
which God's people may enjoy themselves, but a wilderness in which they are too likely to go astray. But in this wilderness there is still a fold, and those within it shall dwell safely; and in this fold a flock is gathered together ;-of all ages, some young, and some old ; and of all ranks, some high, and many low: and over this flock a shepherd watches, and knows every one, whether young or old, rich or poor,-knows every one that is his own.
And He too, in his turn, is known by them : they are conscious that they are not alone; their shepherd careth for them; and under his guidance they “ shall never perish ;" for He came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly."
JESUS DESCRIBES HIS FLOCK, AS HEARING HIS VOICE AND
JOHN x. 27, 28.
27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28.“ And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
HERE, again, Jesus compares those who believe in Him to a flock," the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” He speaks of them as being given him of his Father, to be redeemed by his blood, sanctified by his grace, and reserved for an eternal inheritance : defended by his own power, and his Father's power, from the temptations of the world and the malice of Satan. I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man (any one) pluck them out of my
hand. Thus close is the connexion between the Redeemer and the redeemed. But the same scripture which
declares their privileges, describes also their character by marks which cannot be mistaken. My sheep hear my voice ; and I know them, and they follow me.
The first sign, then, by which the Lord knows his flock, is, that they hear his voice. They hear his voice, saying unto them, “ Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “ Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life.”
“ Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, and
ye shall find rest unto your souls.” This is the first voice they hear, calling them to renounce a perishing world, and to shun the deceitfulness of sin, and to seek an eternal inheritance. But it is not once only that they hear his summons. Sheep that are well attended, are constantly obedient to their shepherd's voice; and the sheep of Christ are always anxious to hear and receive his word.
There they find comfort and instruction : they read it, they pray over it, they meditate upon it, they prize it above all things : saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth."
“ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law :" may be guarded by its warnings, led by its directions, and supported by its promises. Whatever conveys to them the mind and will of their good Shepherd, they humbly and willingly receive.
Thus they hear the Redeemer's voice : and I should add, they hear no other. The flock of Christ “ will not follow a stranger, but flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers."
One may come, and beckon them out of the safe pasture, out of the straightforward road of the Bible. Some may allure them with the pleasures of sin, others may promise them the treasures of this world :
some may pretend that there are other ways of reaching heaven, besides that which Christ has taught; that there is no need of becoming“ a peculiar people,” purified by the Holy Spirit, and “ redeemed from all iniqituy.