"…He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out" (Jn. 10.3)
INTRO.: A song which pictures Jesus as the Good Shepherd who leads His sheep is "Jesus Leads" (#169 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by John R. Clements (1858-1946). Other songs by Clements which have appeared in our books are "Somebody Did A Golden Deed" and "No Night There." The tune was composed by John Robson Sweney (1837-1899). Some of Sweney’s other well-known tunes include those for "Tell Me The Story of Jesus" and "There’s Sunshine In My Soul." The song "Jesus Leads" was copyrighted in 1893 but its first publication does not seem to have been until 1898 in Henry Date’s Pentecostal Hymns No. 2: A Winnowed Collection for Evangelistic Services, Young People’s Societies, and Sunday Schools. The copyright was renewed in 1921 by Hope Publishing Co.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns (as a chorus with only the last two lines of the third stanza) edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today, it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections.
The song identifies several scenarios in which Jesus leads His flock.
I. Stanza 1 says that He leads us in times of danger
"Like a shepherd, tender, true, Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
Daily finds us pastures new, Jesus leads, Jesus leads.
If thick mists are o’er the way, Or the flock ‘mid danger feeds,
He will watch them lest they stray, Jesus leads, Jesus leads."
A. Jesus is the great Shepherd who leads His sheep: 1 Pet. 2.25, 5.4
B. His purpose is to help His sheep find pastures where they can feed: Isa. 11.11
C. As He leads them to green pastures and still waters, He protects them in time of danger: Ps. 23.1-6
II. Stanza 2 says that He leads us when the road is rugged
"All throughout life’s rugged road Jesus leads, Jesus leads,
Till we reach yon blest abode, Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
All the way before He’s trod, And He now the flock precedes,
Safe into the fold of God, Jesus leads, Jesus leads."
A. Life’s road can sometimes be rugged because for God’s people it is a strait and narrow way: Matt. 7.13-14
B. His ultimate aim is to lead the wandering sheep to yon blest abode: Matt. 18.12-14
C. To do this, He has preceded the flock as a forerunner to show the way into the eternal fold: Heb. 6.19-20
III. Stanza 3 says that He leads us through Jordan (death)
"Through the sunlit ways of life Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
Through the warrings and the strife, Jesus leads, Jesus leads.
When we reach the Jordan’s tide, Where life’s boundary line recedes,
He will spread the waves aside, Jesus leads, Jesus leads."
A. Jesus leads His sheep through the sunlit ways of life, when all is going well with them, just as Paul knew how to abound and be full: Phil. 4.12
B. He also leads them through the warrings and the strife, when there are trials and tribulations: Heb. 2.17-18
C. And He will lead them through death into heaven just as He led the Israelites through the Jordan River into Canaan, which is sometimes used as a type of eternal rest: Josh. 3.14-17, Heb. 4.1-9
CONCL.: Even though it does have some special parts, this song has a very simple melody that is easy to learn and pleasant to sing. But more importantly, it has a wonderful message for us. If we accept His guidance as our Shepherd and will always follow Him, then we can be assured that, no matter what happens to us in this life, "Jesus Leads."