11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 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.”
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” 
What struck me today in this familiar passage is Jesus’ mention of the other sheep. He remarks that He “must bring them also.” Even while his attention is on training His disciples and refuting His naysayers, He has His mind on the mission, and on those who need to hear His voice.
The Shepherd metaphor, as I mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon, emphasizes relationship. We find comfort, guidance, and hope in the relationship that we have with our Shepherd. We seek to hear His voice so that we may follow Him.
But the Shepherd image is also missional. Jesus is the Shepherd who looks for the lost sheep. In fact, as He mentions elsewhere, He will leave the 99 in order to seek out the lost one. That’s a pretty clear indication of the priority of His mission to gather lost sheep. And here as well, having just mentioned that as Good Shepherd He will lay down His life for His sheep, His thoughts go to those sheep who are not in the fold yet, who have yet to hear His voice.
For me this is a reminder that hearing the Shepherd’s voice and following Him is not just about my personal spiritual growth. Ultimately with Jesus, everything works toward fulfilling His mission. And so I should expect that my Shepherd will guide and lead me in that direction as well.
Good Shepherd, lead me and guide me to follow You in your mission of gathering the other sheep.
NOTE: I will be on vacation next week. The Abide Devotion will resume on November 6.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
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