THE WORLD HAS ITS OWN (Jn. 15. 9) : it loves them and gives to them its places of honour and fame, bestows upon them its glory. It hates “ His Own “ and that alone is enough to prove conclusively its true character – hating those He loves so deeply.
It seems to have brought pleasure to the Lord Jesus to think of these as “ Mine “ and we will consider five of the descriptions He used about them in that way: (1) My Sheep,
(2) My Servants,
(3) My Disciples,
(4) My Friends,
(5) My Brethren.
This arrangement puts these expressions into a certain order, an ascending order of wonder and preciousness ending on a plane higher and dearer than all the others, i.e. Relationship. This is a height that God Himself could not exceed and a level of blessedness that could not be excelled.
(1) MY SHEEP
Each of the words we are considering requires to be associated with another word in order that the meaning of both may be brought out. The second word in this case is, of course, Shepherd.
This expression has been put first because the sheep has only to recognize the voice of the Shepherd and to follow Him. “ Only “ does not mean that this is of little importance. On the contrary, its importance is such that unless this is true of us we cannot know by experience the oilier statements – we shall not hear tile Master’s voice say “ Well done, good and faithful servant," we shall not qualify to be called “ My Disciple," or know the sweetness of His Friendship or the joy of His Relationship.
In Jn. 10. 14, 15 the Good Shepherd speaks about Himself as Infinite in Power (” I am “) and Infinite in Love (” I lay down my life for the sheep “). None could take His life from Him but He would lay it down ; none can take His sheep from Him but He will not lay them down. He will part with His life but He will not part with His sheep. He also speaks of a Knowledge shared by Himself and His sheep, even as there is between Himself and His Father. The latter is possible because the Father and the Son are of one nature, thus communion is possible : so also between the Shepherd and His sheep “ I give unto them eternal life," i.e. they are of the same nature. There, is the added truth that the Father also is concerned in this – in fact it is He who “ gave “ the sheep to the Shepherd, so that His purpose, His interest and His hand are involved in their safety and welfare.
In Jn. 10. 27 He speaks about the Sheep. They hear His voice and they follow Him. He says that this is true of all His sheep. Yet many of “ His Own “ today are walking in self-chosen paths, looking for rest in pastures into which He has not led them and seeking satisfaction with food which He has not provided.Truly
” None of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed ;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.”
Now, with the sheep that cost Him so much safely upon His shoulders, He says, in deepest love, “ My Sheep.” Shall we not then gladly resolve to be true to that character?