John 10:1-18 (NIV)
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Sheep aren’t good at many things. They are relatively dumb animals and can do little on their own. But they are good at following. They are also good at distinguishing. They can recognise the voice of their own shepherds. They will follow their own shepherd, but won’t pay any attention to others who try to lead them.
Jesus uses sheep as an analogy for us and shows us that this means it is our responsibility to follow God. Being His sheep requires a commitment to follow Him and do what He says. The shepherd may lead a sheep through a dark and scary place, like the valley of the shadow of death, but the sheep have to follow the shepherd through that place. You have to be willing to put Christ first in your life. You have to be willing to put your goals and desires and plans below Christ and even sacrifice them if He asks you to. Others will come and ask you to follow them. Perhaps a girlfriend/boyfriend. Perhaps a parent. Perhaps a boss. Perhaps a friend. Perhaps a teacher. They will ask you to listen to their way. But who will you listen to? Will you follow them or will you follow Christ? Our life as a Christian is quite simple. But it is not that easy. We know what to do, but will we do it? I encourage you in that whenever you face the choice to follow something else or Christ – choose to follow Christ every time.