11 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.
On holiday in Wales a few years ago we bumped into a shepherd and ended up having a long conversation with him at the roadside (to be honest, it was more of a monologue!) To me one sheep looks much like any other and the same is more or less true of sheepdogs too. For our new friend this was clearly not the case, he knew and recognised each one, and each was important to him, not just for their financial value when they were sold, but because they were under his care. So it is with Jesus, to him we are never just a statistic or target but we’re individuals, known and loved by him. (See Psalm 23 for further reflection).
Like a sheepdog the Holy Spirit is given to guide us into Jesus’ provision and protection. Take a moment to listen to him and seek to follow his voice today.