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Jesus knows his sheep as the Father knows him

Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, February 12
Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, February 12
Petr Kratochvil

Today’s bible study is from the Gospel of John 10:14-15: I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father - and I lay down My life for the sheep.

This is a very familiar verse and the reference to the ‘good shepherd’ is equally familiar. The interesting idea is that the shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd. Any of us who has ever had a child or a pet knows that our child or pet will be able to pick us out and come to us. They know their parents from the sound of their voices to the sight of familiar faces to their unique smell. And pets are much the same. They will come to their owners almost immediately, searching hem out of a crowd or traveling long perilous distances if necessary.

So, while most of us have not been shepherds, we have been parents and pet owners. Let us not think what it would be like if we had bee shepherds. Would many sheep that we tended and guarded and led know us? Would they come to recognize our sight, sound, touch and smell as much as a child or a household pet? They almost surely would. And, conversely, we would recognize each of them as surely as if they were our children. While it’s each to say that they all look alike, there are subtle differences that would allow us to tell them apart if we knew them intimately.

In this verse, it is not we who are the shepherds, but rather Jesus. Peter tells us that Jesus, our shepherd, knows each of us. He will watch over us like a shepherd watches over his sheep and not let us get lost or come to any harm. Jesus knows us. Jesus knows our hearts and our minds, all of our secrets, all of our joys and hopes, and all of our worries and sorrows. Jesus recognizes each of us as one of His own flock, as surely as God in heaven knows Him. Jesus shows His implicit faith in God the Father in stating this: Just as the Father knows Me. It is with that complete, unquestioning and unwavering knowledge that Jesus, our good shepherd, knows each of us.

Peter ends this verse by stating that Jesus will lay His own life down for his sheep. As a mother, I can appreciate laying a life down for a child. When my children were small, I believe I would have done it without hesitation or question, as most mothers would. It is that parental kind of love that belongs to Jesus when his flock is concerned. His flock, we humans, can be unruly, difficult, straying, disruptive and inattentive, just as children are at times. But Jesus’ love never fails and He will never fail to lay down His own life for any one of us, if it should become necessary.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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