Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

December 4, 1893

Jesus the Good Shepherd

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.”

Here it was demonstrated that a worse blindness than that of physical blindness closed the understanding of the Jewish people. By his infinite power Jesus could heal those who were physically blind, but those who were spiritually blind could not discern their need of enlightenment; for they thought themselves righteous. The treatment that Jesus received from those of his own nation is symbolic of the treatment he was to receive from the whole world. He lived in the world, and he had a deep, earnest love for the world, and especially for the Jewish nation. The question was brought to an issue that had been the point of controversy since the fall, concerning the character of God. Satan had charged God with exercising arbitrary power, and of alienating the human race from himself. Satan sowed seeds of enmity, and kept them well watered, in order that he might be successful in deluding souls, and thus triumph over Christ, making the gulf more deep and impassable between earth and heaven. He presented his falsehoods as truth, and became bold in transgression, seeking to wear out the goodness, mercy, and forbearance of God, to extinguish from his heart all love for man, and thus so exasperate divine justice that God would leave the world under Satanic jurisdiction. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Instead of being softened by the long patience of God, they encourage themselves in continual resistance.

Satan took the field in person against Jesus Christ. Evil angels conspired with evil men to resist good, to trample upon righteousness, and all the energies of evil were confederated together to destroy the champion of God and truth. While success seems to attend the masterly activity of Satan, Jesus takes the field to contest his power. Jesus came “unto his own, and his own received him not.” He was charged with an embassage of mercy, sent of the Father at a crisis when rebellion had overspread the world, in order that man should not perish, but have everlasting life through faith in the Son of God. Through Christ they were to bruise the serpent's head, and gain eternal life.

Jesus was the truth, yet he was scorned as a deceiver. He was hunted from place to place as a malefactor. His own nation took the most active part in throwing contempt upon him. His friends, and even his own brethren, denied and forsook him. Every cruelty that an apostate angel could instigate was set in operation. He was buffeted with temptations, lacerated with stripes, crowned with thorns, mocked and derided as a false king, and at last crucified on the cross.

Satan has kept up his system of cruelty, and still employs his planned agency of crookedness and deception, and accuses and condemns and tortures in order that he may control the conscience. While exercising his power in torturing those whom he controlled through demoniacal possession, he yet laid the blame of it upon the Lord God of heaven. He put his own interpretation on his Satanic actions, and charged God with being the author of all evil. In the parable of the shepherd Jesus puts his own interpretation on his work and mission, and represents himself as the good shepherd, feeding and taking charge of the sheep. He said, “He that entereth not in by the door [by himself] into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Christ said that all who came before him claiming to be the Messiah were deceivers. At the time of Christ's coming there was much agitation concerning the appearance of the world's Messiah. The Jewish nation expected that a great deliverer would come, and there were men who took advantage of this expectation, turning it to the service of themselves, that they might be thereby profited and glorified. Prophecy had foretold that these deceivers would arise. The deceivers did not come in the way in which it was prophesied that the world's Redeemer should come; but Christ came, answering every specification. Types and symbols had represented him, and in him type met antitype. In the life, mission, and death of Jesus every specification was fulfilled.

Jesus was the good shepherd to whom the porter openeth, who knows the sheep, calleth his own by name, and leadeth them out. He it is who is stronger than the thief and the robber, those who enter not in at the door, but climb up some other way. The Pharisees were not able to discern that this parable was spoken against them, the professed leaders of the people, pastors of the flock. Jesus presented himself in contrast to them, and when they reasoned in their hearts as to what he could mean by the parable, he said: “I am the door of the sheep.... By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Christ presented himself as the only one in whom were qualifications for making a good shepherd. He is represented as the “Chief Shepherd.” Peter writes, “When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Again he is called 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, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever.” “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”

The Pharisees had just cut one off from the fold because he had acknowledged that Jesus had wrought a wonderful miracle, and had opened his eyes. They had called the blind man to them after his healing and had said: “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner. He could never have wrought the miracle. As to this man doing the miracle, you are wrong. It is only a deception.” But the restored man answered, “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Then they asked again, “What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? How hard they were to convince! How hard they tried to cover up with unbelief the mighty work of Jesus, and sought to persuade the man to disbelieve his own senses! They were false shepherds indeed, and sought to scatter the sheep. But the blind man who had been made to see answered their caviling, asking them if they too would be his disciples. They were indignant that this ignorant man should presume to teach them, and could scarcely find words to express their contempt. They were men who had been educated in the schools, and claimed to be expositors of the Scriptures. They were not to be thought of as disciples of any pretender, and declared themselves to be the disciples of Moses.

But the man upon whom the miracle was wrought was not to be intimidated by their scorn, and said: “Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” The indignation of the scribes and Pharisees knew no bounds. Gathering their robes about them, as though they feared contamination, shaking the dust from their feet against him, and treating him with the utmost contempt and derision, they said, “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?” And in no gentle manner they thrust him out of the synagogue. The sheep was cast out of the fold for being a living witness to the power of Christ. Many have been cast out of the church whose names were registered upon the book of life. Wolves in sheep's clothing were ready to cast out of the fold and devour one who was entitled to the Lord's pasture; but Jesus, the True Shepherd, sought him, and gave him a place within the fold.

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