I love the Lord of the Rings movies.
There’s a scene in Return of the King when Aragorn is rallying his soldiers as they face a most certain defeat at the battle at the Black Gate:
Hold your ground! Hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I BID YOU STAND, MEN OF THE WEST!
This is the power of a rallying cry. This is the behavior of the Real Shepherd, Jesus. We know His voice. He gives us courage. As we conclude our three-part journey of John 10 (John 10:1-10, John 10:11-15, and John 10:16-21), we read in John 10:14-21:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”John 10:14-21
New International Version
We are assembled, or rallied, through this call. We hear His voice and respond with obedience. We follow Him through fire and flood because we trust His heart, His voice, and His strength. This call, however, was not just limited to the people of Israel within earshot of Jesus.
We are not just assembled by His rally. We are kept by His call. He has laid down His life for His sheep and now we rest in His strong hand.
We are not holding on to Him, dear one; He is holding on to us! Our assurance is not in what we can muster up, but in His power that laid down His own life and picked it up again. Our King has conquered death! And we walk in the security of His life.
But as good as this sounds to us who have received it, the teachings of Jesus divide (then and now). Some hear His challenge and dismiss Jesus as crazy—He’s a lunatic.
Perhaps they simply thought He was a liar: Jesus’ claims were improbable and impossible. Not only did he speak of dying for the sheep, but Jesus claimed He could also take back His life. These were the ravings of a madman…right?
Others, though, knew that no one could speak like this if they were demon-possessed. If this wasn’t the power of God, then who’s power was it? Satan and the demons cannot heal. They knew that. So who healed the man born blind of John 9?
When Jesus died for us, it was not at the discretion of humanity, but at the will of God the Father. When Jesus walked out of that tomb on Sunday morning—reclaiming His life—it was not at the power of humanity but was at the power of the Godhead.
Jesus’ words cut into the guilty and hardened hearts of his opponents for whom pride had made them dull to the power of God.
Our Good Shepherd looks after us by regenerating us through His death, rallying us by His voice, and reclaiming us by His challenge.
But the Good Shepherd looks for lost sheep, injured sheep, harassed sheep, and calls them to do the one thing we human sheep have the hardest time doing: following. But apart from Him, we are lost. We are injured. We are harassed. And the Real Shepherd of the flock leads us because He knows us and we know Him. He gives us life through Him and He lives His life through us. The Real Shepherd looks after us. Renewing us. Rallying us. Reclaiming us.
O, dear sheep, to whose flock do you belong?
O little lamb, what voice are you listening to?
Jesus calls you…“come.”
Jesus calls you to stop running away…“come”
Jesus calls you to repent…“come”