David continues to elaborate on his personal relationship with the Shepherd/Lord. He leadeth me. (Psalm 23.2) As already metiond Jesus continues to use this metaphor in John 10. But lets see how He specifically explains the leading role of the Shepherd in contrast to others.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. John 10.1-5. 11-14
I appreciate the illustration written and explained by C.W. Slemming in his book He Leadeth Me, Shepherd Life in Palestine. “This text of Scripture makes known another great truth of Eastern shepherd life, that is: He goeth before them. In this country sheep are always driven, in Palestine they are always led. the shepherd saunters along according to the condition iof his sheep. He gently leads those that are young doing his journey in easy stages. An English guide who was conducting a party of tourists through the Holy Land made known to them the fact that shepherds always led their sheep, when one day one of the party called the guide’s attention to a flock of sheep being driven, remarking: I thought you said it was never done. That is so, said the guide, I think we ought to enquire. Going across to the man, he said: Excuse me, Mr. Shepherd, why are you driving the sheep? I thought it was never done. The Man looked at him and said: Shepherd? I’m not a shepherd–I’m a butcher! So the exception proved the rule! What a wonderful truth! Christ is NOT a butcher, He is the Shepherd.” (p. 32)
What a great story and illustration of our Savior. Aren’t you glad that Christ is not a butcher? We can be butchers, cant we? With our cutting words and criticism we can shred people and destroy their passion for Christ. If we are going to imitate Christ we must learn to lead patiently and kindly. But we also need love, the essential characteristic necessary for sacrifice. When things get tough we cannot leave people behind, those are the moments that we need to work together.
How interesting, the fact that the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. Such a truth only emphasizes the reality of a personal relationship between the sheep and a shepherd. A relational bond that cannot be duplicated by anyone. A bond that involves love, trust, and faithfulness. I am reminded of how beautiful Christ is, and I am so grateful that he uses metaphors to explain the true relationship that we can experience with Him. Not only does he become a man, but he speaks in human terms so that we can truly understand who He is, and how to relate. Some of us are independent and it is not natural for us to follow others. But Jesus has proven Himself to be a loving and compassionate leader, a Shepherd worth following, one who we must follow.
Slemming, C. W. He Leadeth Me, Shepherd Life in Palestine-Psalm 23. Toronto: Christian Crusade. 1977