“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own 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 do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes[a] it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” – John 10:11-18
Sheep know they belong to a shepherd. They are named, known, and counted every day. Naming usually takes place soon after birth, especially if there is some distinguishing characteristic. Think of Spotty, Brownie, or Short Tail. Others are named for the birth place or the birthing experience. So, one might be Hebron or Tough-coming.
Naming is a powerful, tangible expression of the shepherd’s intimate bond that begins at birth and grows through an animal’s tenure with a flock. Once you being to fathom how many times an animal my have been counted, checked, carried, nursed back to health, rescued, protected, milked, and shorn, it dawns on you why Bedouin always say, “They (sheep) are family.”
In John 10 the Good Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Have you fully realized the security and assurance that comes with being named and known? God’s intimate knowledge of each individual in his flock began before we were even born. He shaped us in our mothers’ wombs and ordained the days of our lives. He even keeps track of the hairs on our heads.
How well do you know your flock? Your flock might be your family, your colleagues, your neighbors or your friends. Do you fully understand what impacts, affects and motivates each one? Does each person in your flock get the special love and attention they need to help them thrive? Do they follow you like you follow the Good Shepherd – because they know they are loved and known and special? May you always care for your flock as lovingly as God cares for you.
*Portions of this devotional are taken from While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Dr. Timothy S. Laniak