The Good shepherd! – John 10:1-16

The Good shepherd! – John 10:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 14, 2015

In our day and age we do not think about shepherds, in fact most folks would not know what they are or what they do unless one lived in the Southwest or some other place that raises sheep. Shepherding is a lost art that has been replaced by other means such as GPS, dogs and gas-powered vehicles. However, in Jesus’ day shepherding was a way of life that everyone was intimately aware of. Comparing people to a shepherd and his sheep was common. The priests and the rulers often called themselves shepherds and their people as sheep. This is why the Bible makes frequent use of this analogy. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David were shepherds.

Jesus takes the idea of shepherding and relates it to the fact that the spiritual leadership of his day had lost their ability to be insightful shepherds who took care of those entrusted to their care. Instead of being good shepherds they had become…

I. Thieves and robbers! (Vv. 1-10)

“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1. There are those who think that Jesus was some kind of emotional and emasculated wimp. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was no “Mama’s Boy.” He not only spoke what was on his mind, he spoke the truth. Again, he begins his teaching by telling his listeners, “I tell you the truth.” When we find Jesus saying this, it means that his hearers had not only better listen they should also understand what he is about to tell them. If they do not, they will suffer the consequences of not doing so. Jesus bluntly tells them that “the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Those who want to steal what you have always try to enter by some other means. However, “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Sheep in Jesus’ day would listen for their master’s voice and follow him to safety, to feed, or to drink. “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Smart sheep, too bad more people are not like these sheep Jesus describes. And isn’t interesting that those who disdain Jesus and his followers often call them “a bunch of sheep”? I for one am glad to be named one of his! Contrary to what some ignoramuses often think, sheep are smarter than a lot of folks! Sadly just as those today often do not understand the teachings of Jesus, “they did not understand what he was telling them” either. So, Jesus reiterates what he had just told them but adds new meaning, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” All who teach anything other than what Jesus teaches are “thieves and robbers” who try to spiritually sneak in and rob the innocent of the gospel. Jesus in another “I am” statement emphatically relates, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus the good shepherd, the gate of God, gives us life completely, anything else only kills and destroys those who listen to it. Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers!

EXAMPLE: Far too many in our day and age incorrectly think that there are many ways to God or that all they have to do is think good thoughts about themselves and others. We would never use the same kind of convoluted logic when handling toxic chemicals, explosives, prescription drugs, or the vehicles we drive. Although there are those who foolishly do, thank goodness they are in the minority! Could you imagine trying to justify transporting gasoline in open buckets in the back of your pickup truck? Jesus the good shepherd, the gate of God, gives us life completely, anything else only kills and destroys those who listen to it. Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers!

All who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers and all who try to teach anything other than what Jesus teaches is as well. They are evil shepherds while Jesus is…

II. The Good Shepherd! (Vv. 11-16)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns 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. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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.

1. When they begin to doubt what Jesus is trying to teach them, Jesus bluntly retorts, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” That’s what a good shepherd does, he protects his flock. Yet more than this Jesus the ultimate shepherd would deliberately lay his life down for the sins of the whole flock! Again, Jesus uses the “I am” God-statement for himself. Good sheep or bad, Jesus would die for his sheep! The priests of Jesus’ day would never have done such a thing and in fact were more than willing to throw anyone under the nearest Roman chariot who dared teach anything other than their convoluted view of God. In fact, they were like “hired hands” that had no vested interest in the sheep they were supposed to take care of, “So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” False shepherds are only interested in the sheep when they get something in return, money, recognition, fame, or fortune are what they are in the shepherding business for. They care nothing for the sheep! In contrast, Jesus is the “good shepherd.” He intimately knows his sheep and his sheep intimately know and trust him. It is just like the father and son relationship Jesus has with God the Father! When those who come to Jesus by faith are willing to trust him with their lives, he willingly gives them everything he has! Including his life! “I lay down my life for the sheep” Jesus tells them. He would die a horrendous death on the cross for our sins! I know this to be true because he also tells his listeners that it was not just for the Hebrew nation he came to die for, “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.” That’s us! Those of us who are willing today to give our lives and trust the Good Shepherd to lead us in and out of his pasture! Jesus is the Good Shepherd!

EXAMPLE: There are those who give Jesus a bad name because they claim Christ, but then they teach something quite different from what the Good Shepherd taught. Churches who rant about the judgment of homosexuality but refuse to teach on the compassion of Christ; churches who claim fellowship with Jesus simply because they think they are saints when in fact they are wolves in sheep’s clothing; or churches that refuse to teach on sin and leave their listeners in the world’s fold where they are eaten alive by the perverted predators of this world. In contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his sheep and gives us eternal life when we trust ourselves to his tender care. Do you hear his voice? He is calling your name today. Come home to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

Conclusion:

Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers! In contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his sheep and gives us eternal life when we trust ourselves to his tender care. Do you hear his voice? He is calling your name today. Come home to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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