As you read this passage today focus on the variety of things that help to define the relationship between Jesus and those who follow Him.
v 3. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
How quickly a lover learns the name of the beloved! You cannot go on saying ‘Hey, you!’ to someone you love. Using a name, even a nickname, establishes a personal relationship.
v 4. He walks ahead of them; they follow him because they know his voice.
When two climbers are roped together the leading one plans the route, negotiates the hard pitches first, and holds the follower on a tight rope when the difficult sections might otherwise cause the follower to fall.
v 10. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Many people seem to think that following Jesus leads to an austere and even joyless life with a myriad of rules and regulations to be followed. Quite the contrary in fact; His plan is that we should enjoy a full and satisfying life. That does not mean that it will all be a life of ease and sunshine; but is does mean that He gives a deep rooted joy and peace that others around can see but not really understand.
v 11. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
The lover declares to the beloved – ‘Your life is more important than mine.’
It was not the Roman nails or leather bindings that held Jesus to the cross – Jesus did have the power to come down and defy His executioners – but His love and desire to rescue people for all eternity held Him there. His death was a voluntary act of self-sacrifice, rescuing sinners, drawing them to God.
v 14. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,
Knowing and being known lies at the heart of our relationship with Jesus. It an awareness of this that that touches us very deeply and causes us to value and worship Jesus above all other.