George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Good Shepherd
I am the door of the sheep--Joh 10:7
The Man Born Blind and the Good Shepherd
Chapter nine of John's Gospel tells about the man born blind. Then in the following one is the lesson of the Good Shepherd. And I dare say it seems at first as if there were no link between the two. But if it is hard for us to find a link, it was all plain as daylight to the man born blind. He hid in the crowd and drank in every word that Jesus said; and as he heard that wonderful talk about the shepherd, he said to himself, "Every syllable of that is meant for me." Had not the Pharisees excommunicated him? Had they not slammed the door of blessing in his face? "I am the door," says the Lord Jesus. Had not the Pharisees been mad with rage that he, a poor lost sheep, should dare to teach them, the shepherds of the people? "I am the good shepherd," said Jesus. Christ knew what had happened. He knew the treatment His beggar-friend had gotten. It stirred His heart into this noble eloquence. And as the sunflower springs from its seed, so all the wealth and beauty of our chapter spring from the healing of the man born blind.
Many Were Called the Shepherd of the People
Of course, when Jesus calls Himself a shepherd, He is far from being first to use that figure. The originality of Jesus does not lie in saying things that were never said before. Old Homer (whom I hope many of my readers love) is fond of calling his heroes shepherds of men. It had been used of Cyrus in Isaiah; of rulers and prophets in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is the name given to the teacher of wisdom in Ecclesiastes. It comes to full bloom in the twenty-third Psalm. I wonder, too, if you have ever thought how many of God's great leaders had been shepherds. Abraham and Jacob both had to do with sheep. Moses was keeping Jethro's flock when God spake in the burning bush. When Samuel came to seek a king, the king, a ruddy lad, was shepherding. Amos the prophet was a simple herdsman. And Jeremiah, the prophet most similar to the Lord, would seem to have been a shepherd too. Did not Christ know all that? Had He not brooded deep upon these shepherds, as He wandered among the hills of Nazareth? Now, at the touch of need and under the impulse of a great compassion, He glorifies and crowns that ancient image by making it the express image of Himself.
As a Shepherd, Christ Knows His Sheep
Now you will note that Jesus knows His sheep. That thought was clearly before the mind of Christ. There was not a Pharisee who knew the blind beggar although they had passed his begging-place for years. But beggar or prince, it is all one to Jesus; as the Father knows Him, He knows His own. Mr. Moody used to tell about a girl who was very ill, and her mother sang to her and spoke to her and shifted her, but the little patient still tossed and fretted. And then her mother stooped down and took her in her arms, and the child whispered, "Ah, mother, that's what I want!" You see that even a mother, for all her love, can never be sure what her little one is wanting. But every want and every need, and every trial and every hope, of every separate boy or girl who trusts Him--it is all known to Jesus. The day is coming when Christ shall say to some people, "Depart from Me, I never knew you! "But that same Jesus is saying today, "I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep."
The Sheep Know Their Shepherd
Note once again that the sheep know their shepherd. There is a story of a Scottish traveler in Palestine who thought he would try an experiment upon the sheep. He had been reading this chapter of St. John, and he was eager to put it to the test. So he got a shepherd to change clothes with him; and the tourist wrapped himself in the shepherd's mantle, and the shepherd donned the tourist's garb, and then both called to the flock of sheep to follow (in the East the shepherd goes before his flock). And the sheep followed the voice and not the dress. It was the voice and not the dress they knew. So you see that every sheep in the flock has got an earmark--it can tell the voice of the shepherd from a stranger's. And every sheep in the flock has got a footmark--they follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Have you been branded on the ear and foot? Are these two marks of ownership on you? Samuel was but a child when he cried out, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth!" The Shepherd called him and he heard the voice.
The Good Shepherd Lays His Life Down for the Sheep
We never think of a shepherd as a hero. But in the East there is never a day that dawns but may reveal the hero or the hireling in the shepherd. Tonight there may spring a lion on the flock. Or who can tell but that yon swirling dust betokens the galloping of Bedouin sheep-stealers? If that be so--come, trusty blade! It must be battle now! For all my watching and my watering shall be vain unless I am ready to combat to the death! So is the Eastern shepherd faced with death. Serving amid fierce beasts and fiercer bandits, he may be called to die for his sheep tonight. And I am the Good Shepherd, says Jesus, and the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. Learn, then, that the cross is Jesus' noblest deed. It is not an accident; it is an act. It is the crowning service of the Shepherd to the sheep, whom He loves too deeply ever to let them go.
There Is Only One Fold
Then, lastly, mark that the shepherd has sheep outside our fold. In the early Church there was a fiery saint, some of whose books our students study yet. And this "fierce Tertullian," as one of our poets calls him, said, "The sheep He saves, the goats He doth not save." But in the very days when Tertullian was writing, there were humble Christians hiding in the catacombs. And they loved to draw the figure of the Good Shepherd, and many of their rude drawings are there still--and often the Good Shepherd is carrying on His shoulders, not a lamb, but a kid of the goats. To the Jew there was but one fold--it was Israel. Jesus had other sheep outside that fold. And whenever we send a missionary to China, whenever we pray for the savage tribes of Africa, we do it because the Good Shepherd has said this: "Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
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