Fear not; for I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1.
Of all creatures the sheep is one of the most timid and helpless, and in the East the shepherd’s care for his flock is untiring and incessant. Anciently as now there was little security outside of the walled towns. Marauders from the roving border tribes, or beasts of prey from their hiding places in the rocks, lay in wait to plunder the flocks. The shepherd watched his charge, knowing that it was at the peril of his own life. Jacob, who kept the flocks of Laban in the pasture grounds of Haran, describing his own unwearied labor, said, “In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from my eyes” (Genesis 31:40). And it was while guarding his father’s sheep that the boy David, single-handed, encountered the lion and the bear, and rescued from their teeth the stolen lamb.
As the shepherd leads his flock over the rocky hills, through forest and wild ravines, to grassy nooks by the riverside; as he watches them on the mountains through the lonely night, shielding from robbers, caring tenderly for the sickly and feeble, his life comes to be one with theirs. A strong and tender attachment unites him to the objects of his care. However large the flock, the shepherd knows every sheep. Every one has its name, and responds to the name at the shepherd’s call.
As an earthly shepherd knows his sheep, so does the divine shepherd know His flock that are scattered throughout the world. “Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.” Jesus says, “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Ezekiel 34:31; Isaiah 43:1; 49:16).
Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep.
Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, “Follow me,” and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.