Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!
Make sure you don’t miss a post, just enter your email in the “Subscribe Via Email” box in the upper left-hand corner of our blog. It’s free and you’ll receive these posts straight into your email inbox.
Kendra Graham notes from John 10: 9-11
“I am the door of the sheep, if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they may find life and find it abundantly. I AM the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
I am the door of the sheep. If any enter through me he shall be saved, go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may find life abundantly. I AM the good shepherd; lays down his life for the sheep.
I’ve been thinking about this verse in conjunction with my trip to Israel for the past six months. I had the opportunity to go to Bethlehem, where Luke 2 describes how the shepherds were living in the fields, keeping their watch over their flocks by night. Wil and I weaved our way through the city and out to where the hills were littered with caves. These caves are where shepherds would bed down for the night as they hustled the sheep deep into the darkness of the cave for safety. At the mouth of the cave there could be found evidence where fires had been, blackened marks on the roof of the cave. The shepherds would start a fire, cook their dinner perhaps, and maybe use the fire for warmth and protection from any wild animals that would be tempted to attack their sheep. The shepherd would then bed down in the front of the cave, lying his body across the opening so that an intruder would first have to get through the shepherd before attempting to take the life of one of his flock.
Standing there in the darkness of the cave was overwhelming. The John 10 parable of the shepherd and the sheep came alive to me. I could hear the sheep bleating in the dark, not understanding why they had to be trapped in this cold, dank, dark place. I could see the shepherd as he set up camp for the night. Unbeknownst to the sheep, their safety was first and foremost on his mind.
Can you see it? The sheep are in the cave, protected by the physical body of the shepherd. The shepherd will lay down his life and die before he relinquishes one sheep to the slaughter. The shepherd’s body is the actual door. The LIFE of the sheep is on the mind of the shepherd.
The sheep will go in for protection led by the shepherd and will be led out by the shepherd to eat. So what do they eat?
Standing on the hills outside of Bethlehem made me wonder this very thing. I asked our local tour guide and pointed to the lushest spot that I could see from the hill just beyond the city. Do they eat there? Are those the pastures of Bethlehem that David penned the 23rd Psalm in? There was what seemed brown desert as far as my eyes could see… except for this one beautiful patch of greenery! An oasis in the desert!
Our guide laughed, “Oh no! The sheep would never be allowed to graze there! Farmland is hard to come by here in the desert, there are not fields of green! The sheep may be able to glean the fields after harvest, but never be allowed to romp in the crops!”
Ok…. then where in the world would these sheep eat? Luke 2 says they were living in the “fields by night” and Psalm 23 says pasture land… is that not lush green new delicious grass as far as the little sheepie eyes can see?
Standing in the “fields” which are really “shepherds’ desert hills”, because that is where the caves would be found and where they would bed down, he told me how the sheep have always grazed in that land, and it has been rolling around in my mind ever since. It isn’t what I thought.
Across the hills, there are noticeable sheep grazing trails which he pointed out. All I see are trails in the dirt and I see rocks, a lot of rocks, I don’t see a bit of green. More confused than ever, he explained to me about the desert climate. Rain is a luxury in places like this, but there is a little humidity in the air, and it does rain, a little. This little bit of rain combined with the humidity will accumulate on the rocks in the hills (fields), and underneath these rocks, as the water accumulates in the shade of that rock, a mouthful of yes, lush new green grass will grow. The shepherd will look for a hillside that was exposed to this moisture and bring his flock to graze it from top to bottom or bottom to top. Each step, a mouthful for the sheep. The sheep must continue to follow the shepherd because he knows what hills have the food.
I could now see, each step, contains just enough food for the next step, and there’s not enough grass to bask in that one place for the rest of your life, but enough for the day.
This reality changes everything. Today’s pasture is not enough to fulfill tomorrow’s needs. The shepherd knows where the sheep need to be. The shepherd leads the sheep through the desert, not for their harm, but to provide for their life. The shepherd leads the sheep in the dark dank cave at night, not to punish or torture the sheep but to protect them. The shepherd lays his own body across the door, not to keep the sheep in, but to keep the enemy out.
How often have we had the wrong view of God? We look at God through the eyes of sheep, we can’t help it, we have more in common with the sheep than with God. BUT GOD, loves us anyway, and in those very hills, in those very skies that I gazed into, that day, I remembered the night that was lit up with all heaven as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds and the sheep, “For unto YOU is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” The hills that had fulfilled the needs of the sheep that day were those very hills facing the city of David.
Like it or not, we all follow someone or something, even you leaders out there. The Word of God says, that everything else is like a thief, that comes to steal your joy, kill your dreams and ultimately destroy. Have you ever asked yourself, “Is this all there is?” LIFE is not elusive. Jesus came to give us LIFE, to take us back from the thief that has stolen everything and restore us to the LIFE that He has intended us to have from the beginning of time. It doesn’t look like we think, just like those sheep trails, but God with skin on came for US. Jesus came to be our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace Isaiah 9:6. We are all created to follow after someone or something, so Jesus came, to lead us and to give us life abundantly, one mouthful at a time.
Jesus said I AM the good shepherd, so who better to invite to His bedside the night of His birth, than those shepherds who understood what it was like to lead, love and protect the sheep?
For God, so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to be that shepherd for the sheep. Jesus would indeed lay down His life so that we, His sheep, could have life abundantly.
Glory to God in the highest!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?
Where are you looking for sustenance in life?
When have you demanded that God provide everything you need up front?
Who or what are you hoping in to find your daily needs met?
What really do you expect God to do for you? Have you been looking at God as though He is torturing you instead of providing and protecting you? Will you seek to find the Good Shepherd this Christmas in His Word?
LIVE IT OUT:
Open God’s Word today and glean who Jesus is, and how He desperately wants to lead you and give you life. Ask today that your eyes be open to where He is, in this season, in your life.
P.S. Ladies, registration is open for my 2018 Women’s Bible Study at The Cove. Let’s get together seven Tuesday evenings in January and February and dig into the Word of God. Register online today.
Can’t make it in person? We’ll be streaming LIVE each Tuesday evening on Periscope, via Twitter, where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.
Watch the 2018 Women’s Bible Study video here: