“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).
When Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd we know He was using a metaphor. The truth He expressed was of the sacrificial relationship He has with us His children. As a shepherd, He knows which sheep belong in His fold and those that recognize His voice, that is, know and believe in Him, so only they get in. Jesus made it clear that those sheep included the Jews primarily but also those that dwelt outside of Israel, the Gentiles. The Kingdom of God is now open to people of every ethnic group, language and nationality. These only they are the ones who benefit from His protection, from His life. His sheep trust Him and depend on Him for everything including food and protection from predators, which in our case are Satan, sin and death. He laid down His life to protect us from them and bring us into His Kingdom.
The strange thing today is that so many of the sheep seem to be led astray by shepherds who masquerade as servants of God. Now no real Christian should be fooled by outward pagans and teachers of non-Christian sects and religions. Yet many will fall pray to preachers and pastors who claim to speak for the Lord. They promise prosperity, healing and ease to those who will come, to those who will give their cash, to those who will perform certain acts of worship and sacrifice. Such false teachers are preying upon people’s fears. They are out to enhance their own kingdom not the Lord’s by abusing the poor and weak.
Some of the Lord’s true sheep may be led astray, but the Good Shepherd will go out of His way to bring us back to Him. He works through His Word and Spirit to do this. For our part, we Christians need to discern the true teachers and preachers from the false. We must compare all teachers to the Word and to Jesus, knowing of course that no one is perfect or sinless as Jesus was. His true servants serve not with bombast, pride and self-interest but with weakness, humility and compassion.