Our Good Shepherd Has More Sheep Than Just Those in Our Pen
Jesus talks about a sheep pen with a gate (John 10:1-21). The shepherd goes into the pen through the entrance. He calls his sheep, and they follow him into the pastures. Only a thief would sneak into the pen another way. Yet the sheep don’t know the robber’s voice and won’t follow him.
Jesus is the Gate and the Good Shephard
Jesus is the gate of the pen. He protects his sheep and keeps them safe. He won’t let someone with ill intent enter the sheep pen.
But Jesus isn’t only the gate. He’s also the good shepherd.
Jesus, as our good shepherd, is caring, protective, patient, brave, wise, and sacrificial. He knows our names. He cares for us, watches over us, and rescues us when we get into trouble, which we too often do.
As our good shepherd, Jesus is willing to die for his sheep. In fact, he does. He dies to make us right with Father God.
Yet there’s more. It’s easy to overlook, but it’s significant.
Jesus Has Other Sheep
Jesus doesn’t only have sheep in this one pen. He has other sheep too. They also listen to his voice and follow him where he takes them. He’ll get them and bring all his sheep together so there will be one flock, with one shepherd (John 10:16).
But where are these other sheep? We don’t know for sure, but here are some considerations:
Other People Groups
Jesus’s other sheep may mean other groups of people. The Jews during Jesus’s day, however, placed people into two groups. There were the Jews. And there was everyone else—the Gentiles.
Since his audience when he shared the story about the Good Shepherd, the sheep pen, and the sheep, were Jews, his other sheep might have been a forward-looking reference to the Gentiles who would later follow him.
This is a call for Jewish followers of Jesus and Gentile followers of Jesus to get along. It’s a reminder that through Jesus there is no difference between Jew and Gentile (Romans 3:22).
Since this teaching is a forward-looking allusion, Jesus’s other sheep could refer to other cities in the area where his followers will go and establish local churches. Paul will travel to many of these cities and even write letters of instruction to several of them.
It could even be cities throughout the world. This aligns with Jesus’s commands to be his witness in Jerusalem, the surrounding area, and throughout the whole earth (Acts 1:8 ).
Yet it wouldn’t be wrong to extend this teaching to us today. Jesus’s other sheep could refer to the different streams of Christianity and to the multitude of Protestant denominations.
Though many of these groups have an inward focus and act as though they’re sheep pen is the only one, Jesus wants to bring us together to be one flock, with one shepherd—him. In short, he wants us to get along and to exist in unity with each other.
Space is vast, with a mind-numbing number of solar systems and planets. Surely some of them are inhabited by Jesus’s creation. It would be arrogant to think that our planet is the only one with life.
Therefore, Jesus’s other sheep could exist on other planets. Though they could be people like us, they could also take on a different form. Regardless, we are all Jesus’s sheep. We all follow him.
We Are One Flock with One Shephard
When we follow Jesus as our Good Shepherd, we must take care to get along with all the other sheep in his flock. This includes both those sheep from our own pen and Jesus’s other sheep that are in other pens.
Through Jesus there is one flock and one shepherd. We are united in Christ. May we never lose sight of this. May we always strive to embrace all of Jesus’s sheep, regardless of where they’re from or who they are.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.