Sheep for His Name Sake 6/7/98

Psalm 23
Page 813 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep,
and am known by My own” (John 10:14).

Bonding by humans and animals is a close tie. Those who have a pet dog, cat or some other animal can relate. Pet owners have been known to spend lavishly on medical expenses for a pet. Many have been known to weep and grieve when such a pet dies.

I heard of a child whose cat died. The parent in trying to console the child said, “Don’t cry. Fluffy has gone to be with God.” the child exclaimed, “What would God want with a dead cat?”

Those of us not familiar with an oriental shepherd and his sheep can’t imagine the interrelation between them. Against this backdrop Christ said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own…”

As our children were growing up and conversation turned to a person they wouldn’t ask, “Do you know him?” Instead they would ask, “Does he know you?”

If you have trusted Christ as Savior He knows you. You are known by God.

Knowing that I am from Georgia persons in other parts of the country sometimes ask, “Do you know President Jimmy Carter?” With increasing pride I am privileged to say “Yes.”

Does he know you?

We were prayer partners for some time. Just the other day I had a handwritten note from him with the greeting, “To Nelson, my old friend…” It evoked memories of many pleasantries shared.

If you were to receive correspondence from the Lord would it bear the greeting “My old friend?” Is yours a warm personal relation with the Good Shepherd? Christ said, “I know My own.”

There is a synthesis between sheep and the shepherd, a beautiful bonding. You are —-

Christ wants to guide, guard, and govern in your life for His name’s sake. Perhaps you are a person professing to be a Christian. The word means a Christ partisan, meaning a follower of the Christ. As such you are the best representative of Christ some persons will ever know. You are His proxy. Therefore, in defense of His reputation He wants to enable you to live the abundant life. As a result He offers to lead you.

A close identity exists between a shepherd and his sheep. He is their hero. He condescends to them and they respond to him. They bond as one.

Wordsworth wrote: “The swan upon St. Mary’s lake floats double; swan and shadow.”

The shepherd and sheep are as one; the sheep the mirror image of the shepherd.

This requires both a leader and a follower. He leads but you must follow.

As His proxy don’t disgrace Him.

He said, “I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.” Let’s look at that closely, “I have come that you might have life (comma) and that you might have it more abundantly.” He wants to enable us to live beyond the “comma.” Life beyond the comma — ENJOYMENT, NOT JUST EXISTENCE.

Beyond the comma life is vastly bigger, braver, and nobler once we become adherent followers of Christ.


Life beyond the comma, which Christ called “abundant life,” means wrestling with powers and principalities and mastering them through the power of Jesus Christ. It isn’t a tame colorless round of trivialities.

Abundant life means to be full of moral energy that throws off temptation like a healthy body throws off disease germs. Life beyond the comma is —

This PLUS living is living with another. That one is Christ.

Psychologists say human beings have three desires: the longing to be —

We are created in the image of God, that is, His likeness. This means He likes to be —

Duty may produce diligence, but devotion produces dynamism.

Life beyond the comma, that is, abundant life, is life beyond the cross.

A relationship with Christ is intended to produce people who are richly alive, alight with an inward fire which ignites real living.

A shepherds “rod” was a type of club used to defend sheep from marauders or predators. Comfort is found in knowing the Good Shepherd protects. Not only is comfort found in the rod but also the shepherds staff. The staff was used for controlling the sheep. Bible land sheep live on rough terrain. If one were to fall into a ravine the staff was used to rescue it. If it were a lamb the hook on the staff was put under the body to lift it. If a mature sheep under the neck.

In controlling, the staff was often used to discipline also. A occasional “whack” was needed. The psalm expresses comfort in being disciplined.

Each day the good shepherd inspects each individual sheep. If there is a wound or an insect manifestation the shepherd uses a mixture of olive oil and sulphur to anoint the sheep. Both have medicinal qualities and the sulphur keeps away insects.

When we are wounded spiritually our Lord does for us the equivalent of anointing us, that is, healing us. He provides relief from the pests of life also.

There is a wonderful payoff awaiting obedient sheep. One thing insecure people want is a sense of permanence. In our transient society people seek permanence. It is offered by our Lord.

Throughout the Psalm the presence of the shepherd with his sheep is a repeated theme. Therefore we can say, “I will fear no evil.”

Jesus has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He also said, “I am the door.”

He leads His own into His sheepfold. A sheepfold is a pen or a corral. Often the sheep are gathered therein for protection and shelter. Most don’t have a door to close the entrance. Instead the shepherd sleeps in the doorway. He becomes the door. Christ is such for us.

Jesus spoke of the bond between shepherd and sheep: “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10: 4,5).

Sheep of the Good Shepherd are EARMARKED (Vs. 3) and FOOT MARKED (Vs. 4). They won’t respond to any other voice or follow any other individual.

On occasion two or more shepherds will combine their flocks in a fold for a short time. When it is time to separate them the two shepherds go off a distance and each calls his sheep. Each has a specific call and the sheep know the sound. They respond only to that sound and each goes to its own shepherd.

Someday the Good Shepherd will call out all of His flock. Do you know His voice? If so are you obedient to it today?

Christ commented further: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10: 27, 28).

In English grammar a double negative is considered improper. In Greek it is used for emphasis. Jesus literally said, “They shall not never perish…” This speaks of the security of the believer, that is, once saved always saved.