One of the most glorious descriptions of the LORD JESUS CHRIST in the scripture is when HE is depicted as the shepherd of HIS sheep. He has a specific flock to which HE attends and a specific purpose to do everything in HIS power to provide pasture for them and to deliver them from harm.
HE is the one Shepherd.
'Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; And I will set up one shepherd over them, and HE shall feed them, and HE shall be their shepherd. ' (Ezek 34:22-23) There are many religions and sects in the world. The actual truth is that one is just as good as another. All religions lead to the same end. Though some of them are effective in producing morality and a form of devotion, ultimately, every religion which man pursues will lead to his destruction. Eternal life cannot be found in religion or morality. There is only one way (or portal) to everlasting life, and the SHEPHERD is that door for the sheep. The LORD JESUS said 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.' (John 10:7) and also, ' I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' (John 14:6) Any man who hopes for eternal life in any creed, religion, or person other than JESUS CHRIST will eventually find his hope to be in vain.
HE is the good Shepherd.
'I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.' (John 10:11) A good shepherd will do whatever is necessary to protect his flock. The LORD JESUS paid the ultimate price of dying to secure the redemption of all of those who belong to HIM. Their sin had separated them from the FATHER, but HE willingly laid down HIS life to pay their sin debt and remove that wall of separation. HE accomplished everything that was necessary for them to enter into the eternal life which HE promised them before the world began.
HE is the great Shepherd.
'Now the GOD of peace, that brought again from the dead our LORD JESUS, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, ' (Heb 13:20) Death is a great enemy of mankind, casting its dark shadow over the whole human race because of sin. The LORD JESUS is called the great Shepherd because HE has triumphed over death and the grave. Since HE rose from the dead HIS sheep have the promise that they too shall experience the resurrection of their bodies. HE said, 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.' (John 11:25-26) Death has now lost its sting for all who have been made the recipients of the promise of eternal life in the great SHEPHERD of the sheep.
HE is the chief Shepherd.
'And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.' (1 Peter 5:4) The LORD JESUS CHRIST came into the world with little fanfare. HE took on the form of a servant and was pleased to dwell in the earth with a meek and gentle disposition. HE laid aside the glory, which was HIS from eternity with HIS FATHER, and walked here as a common man without even a dwelling to call HIS own. HE allowed himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter, not even speaking harshly to those who mistreated HIM, instead praying for them. Some have assumed since HE humbled himself in this fashion that it is HIS eternal nature to be meek and lowly. This is a great mistake. HE is high and lifted up; and the heavens and the earth shall flee away from HIS presence when HE returns to earth with a full display of HIS power and glory. HE shall not appear unto men in the humiliation with which HE was clothed when HE came the first time. HE shall come in flaming fire taking vengeance on all who have not bowed their knees to HIS lordship. HE shall gather HIS sheep, for whom HE shed HIS precious blood, and shall give them a place in the very presence of HIS glory forever.
So who are HIS sheep? HE said, 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.' (John 10:27) The 'sheep follow HIM: for they know HIS voice. And a stranger will they not follow.' (John 10:4-5) Do you hear HIM today?
I was a wandering sheep, I did not love the fold,
I did not love my SHEPHERD's voice, I would not be controlled;
I was a wayward child, I did not love my home,
I did not love my FATHER's voice, I loved afar to roam.
The SHEPHERD sought his sheep, the FATHER sought his child;
He followed me o'er vale and hill, O'er deserts waste and wild;
He found me nigh to death, famished and faint and lone;
He bound me with the bands of love, He saved the wandering one.
JESUS my SHEPHERD is. 'Twas He that loved my soul.
'Twas He that washed me in his blood. 'Twas He that made me whole;
'Twas He that sought the lost. That found the wand'ring sheep;
'Twas He that bro't me to the fold; 'Tis He that still doth keep
Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
It seems that the advocates of modern day soul winning have forgotten (or perhaps never knew) that there is a difference in men being drawn to CHRIST and men being persuaded to acknowledge HIS work and/or follow HIM. Many followed HIM when HE walked on the earth, but they only did so for a season (i.e., temporarily). Some did so because they were impressed with miracles, some because HE fed them with loaves and fishes, still others because they were convinced HE was going to lead them out of earthly oppression and poverty. But the time came when they would not endure sound doctrine and practically all of them went away. (see John 6:60-66) Simon Peter gave evidence of his faith when he told the LORD that there was no one else for him to turn to. Peter confessed his faith when he told the LORD, 'THOU art the CHRIST, the SON of the living GOD.' (John 60:69). The LORD said to him, 'Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to you, but MY FATHER which is in heaven.' (Mat.16:17) Peter was the recipient of heavenly revelation and gives evidence of the fact that no man can or will come to faith unless he is drawn. (see John 6:44,65; Mat.11:27; Jer. 31:3) The emptiness and weakness of much modern day preaching is because many believe that the purpose of preaching is to persuade men to 'do something'. Yet the scripture indicates that our main goal in preaching is to exalt the LORD JESUS CHRIST and then HE will draw men to HIMSELF. Redemption is the work of CHRIST from beginning to end. HE may be pleased from time to time to use men as vessels to bear forth the sweet healing balm of the gospel but make no mistake about this 'unless the LORD build the house they labor in vain that build it'. (Ps.127:1) Modern day soul winning is built on the same principles of the flesh that any other sales endeavor is, that of 'closing the deal '. Most spend more time trying to get someone to 'pray the sinners prayer' or make some commitment than they do in unfolding the unsearchable riches of the redemptive work of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. More effort is put into getting the mood right for the 'invitation' or 'altar call' than in the exaltation of HIM who gives eternal life to those who seek HIM. Nowhere in the scripture do we find evidence of any 'preacher' asking anyone to 'do' anything. There is ample evidence however of men being pricked in their hearts by the gospel, asking what they need to do. (see Acts2:37; 8:36; 16:14,30). Many can be persuaded to pray a canned prayer, but only GOD can break a sinner's heart and cause him to cry out for mercy.