The Good Shepherd
November 24, 2013 Series: The Goodness of God
Topic: Grace Passage: John 10:1–10:30
Grace Community Church
â€¨November 24th, 2013
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
JOHN 10:1-30â€¨Today we’re continuing in our series on the Goodness of God. We’re going to be in John 10; go ahead
and open bibles. Last week Allen set the stage for us to understand and see the Goodness of God. We saw that the goodness of God emanates from who He is-it is His character. He doesn’t have to try to be good, He IS good. He is infinitely pure, morally righteous and excellent in every way. We saw that God’s goodness is both merciful and severe. We experience the goodness of God every day through His common grace as well as through the eternal grace and salvation available through Jesus Christ. And at the same time we saw that because we are sinners, His infinite goodness is a danger to those who persist against His goodness in sin. And yet, we also saw that He beacons us to come and taste and experience His goodness, even in the midst of hardship, trial or failure.
How can it be possible that we, a sinful rebellious people, can come safely and confidently to this infinitely good and holy God and truly experience His goodness without being consumed? Today we’re going to see that God’s goodness is not confined to “who God is”; His goodness is also clearly displayed in what He has done. And because of what He’s done and how He relates to us, we can taste and see that He is good because we have a Good Shepherd who has made a way for us. We’re going to read verses 1-30 a little at a time but 14-15 are going to be our anchor verses. Let’s read John chapter 10:14-15. Let’s pray.
Now as Jesus is standing in the Temple, calling Himself the Good Shepherd, the Jewish listeners would have been immediately reminded of all the Shepherding motifs and references in the Old Testament: Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. Passages like Psalm 95:7-8, “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” The Jews are hearing Jesus say, “I am your God! Your Shepherd! And there’s a building tension from chapter 5-10 between Jesus and the Religious Leaders because Jesus is claiming to be God-and they didn’t believe Him; they argued and they tried everything to refute the truth of His claim.
Today, we might hear Jesus say, “I am the Good Shepherd” and we might be wrestling with something different. If He’s the Shepherd that means I’m a sheep-not the brightest specimen in the animal kingdom. I know I have room for growth but can we be a little positive here? I don’t know if I want to be called a sheep. Why not a stallion, tiger, giraffe? We may not like Jesus claim that we’re sheep; we might disagree and argue (actively or passively). But until you understand and believe the truth of Jesus claim about who you are, you will never truly know or experience Jesus as your Shepherd; never know the strength, protection, comfort and security of the Good Shepherd.
So I want to start by giving you some biblical characteristics of sheep. Sheep are Cast Down. Sheep will
lay down and get comfortable or, if they have too much wool, would get top heavy and fall over and they get stuck; can’t get back up. They would bleat and struggle but the more they struggled the worse it would get which would produce anxiety and panic, and if left in that stuck position they were vulnerable to animal attack. And if left too long they would begin to lose circulation in their legs and would eventual suffocate and die. They couldn’t get themselves up. They needed a shepherd to grab them by the scruff of the neck and pull them up. And sometimes, massage their legs to get the blood flowing again so they didn’t keep falling over.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
JOHN 10:1-30â€¨Can you relate to being cast down? Like Psalm 42:5, 11: “Why are you cast down, oh my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me?” Have you ever experienced that? Do you know the feeling of turmoil in your
soul? Like when something happens in life or in a relationship that gives you a knot/sick feeling in the pit of your stomach; that feeling of pressure when all the problems in your life seem to have no possible solution and they're pressing in on you from every direction. The feeling that the air in the room and the life in your body is close to gone. Can you relate to that feeling of discouragement and hopelessness? The psalmist says: “Hope in God! For I shall again praise Him, my hope and my God.” When you’re cast down, you need a Good Shepherd to lift you up.
Sheep tend to wander. Everyone knows that we’re easily distracted and swayed. That’s why marketing and media is so powerful today. Leaders of all kinds know that if you want to influence and control people, you wrap your message in a pretty package and saturate the masses with it and the majority will follow. Psalm 119:176 says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” I’ve lost focus/direction. Seek me, Lord, so I won’t forget you. We’re drawn to material and temporary things for comfort, that lead us astray.
But if we’re going to find true, lasting comfort we need to look for it in the Good Shepherd.
Sheep are lost. Isaiah 53:6-“We all, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Romans 3:23-“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We’re all born with this condition of lostness, with a genetic disease of sin, and we need the Good Shepherd to seek us, find us, save us and keep us safely within the flock. This is the context that Jesus is sharing that He is the Good Shepherd. And these passages, and many others, would have been on the minds of the Jewish people hearing Jesus.
Another passage that might have come to mind, maybe even to some of you, is Psalm 23. It starts with, “The Lord is my Shepherd...” I want to read to you an anti-Psalm 23 written by David Powlison.
I’m on my own. No one looks out for me or protects me. I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing’s quite right. I’m always restless. I’m easily frustrated and often disappointed. It’s a jungle-I feel overwhelmed. It’s a desert-I’m thirsty. My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can’t fix myself. I stumble down some dark paths. Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want. But life’s confusing. Why don’t things ever really work out? I’m haunted by emptiness and futility- shadows of death. I fear the big hurt and final loss. Death is waiting for me at the end of every road, but I’d rather not think about that. I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen. I find no lasting comfort. I’m alone ... facing everything that could hurt me. Are my friends really friends? Other people use me for their own ends. I can’t really trust anyone. No one has my back. No one is really for me — except me. And I’m so much all about ME, sometimes it’s sickening. I belong to no one except myself. My cup is never quite full enough. I’m left empty. Disappointment follows me all the days of my life. Will I just be obliterated into nothingness? Will I be alone forever, homeless, free- falling into a void? Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” I have to add, “Hell is also myself.” It’s a living death, and then I die.
If you can relate to any part of this, you need the Good Shepherd. This is the result of living apart from God; without the Good Shepherd. So let’s look now at what makes Him so good.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
The Good Shepherds Relationship to His Sheepâ€¨â€¨So Jesus begins in verse 1 (read 1-6). Jesus starts by showing them the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. And he uses the contrast between a false shepherd and the Good Shepherd. The false shepherd comes deceptively/covertly; and he comes as a thief and a robber, with selfish, violent intent to steal the sheep. But Jesus says, I am the Good Shepherd and I just walk in through the front door-because my sheep know me, they know my voice. This is the relationship Jesus has with His sheep. It’s based in trust and love because His sheep know who He is; that He is faithful, good, that they belong to Him. This is summed up in our anchor verses (14-15)-“I know my own and my own know me”.
If you’re a Christian, you know what Jesus is talking about; that still small voice that comes in times of need. That voice that speaks encouragement, comfort, direction, warning, conviction, grace and peace. Everything else could be falling apart, people around you expect you to be freaking out, but you know His voice and you listen and you know He’s good. And when that voice leads us out, we follow. Even when it doesn’t make sense, we follow because we know the voice of our Shepherd and His voice brings with it faith, trust, confidence and peace because we know Him.
Jesus also said He knows His sheep...by name. The infinite, holy creator of the universe knows us intimately by name. He saw you being knit together in your mothers womb, He knows every hair on your head (or how many we should have), He’s fully acquainted with every fiber of your being; heart, mind, body and soul. This is the relationship He has with His sheep-intimacy, knowing and being known. In this we see the goodness of God-this is amazing-that He wants to know us and wants us to know Him! You know you’re His sheep when you hear His voice and follow Him.
The Shepherds Provision/Protection for His Sheepâ€¨â€¨Then in verse 7 he says it again (read 7-10). Every false shepherd comes to harm the sheep (steal, kill and destroy) but Jesus is saying, my sheep don’t listen to them or follow them; they follow me. I am the Door. My sheep come to me. Jesus is saying, “I am the only Way.” Like He said to Thomas in John 14:6-“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The only way you can be rescued and protected from the temporary plight of hopelessness and discouragement and the eternal plight of judgement and hell is through the Door that leads to life and green pasture-Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
There is a battle going on for your soul. The enemy comes to deceive and destroy. And because of our sin, starting in the garden, we transferred our allegiance from God to the enemy. This is what Jesus is saying; Every false shepherd does not have your best interest in mind. They come with selfish and destructive intent to deceive you, use you, profit from you, to wear you out and when they’re done to cast you out and leave you for dead. But not Jesus; He’s saying no matter where you are in this process, come to me, I have made a way for you, I will protect you and I will restore you. I have defeated your enemy and broken the power that He had over you. Come to me and enjoy green pastures drink of my mercy and grace. Christian, we are susceptible to lies as well. Renew your minds, remind yourself of the gospel, fix your eyes on Jesus.
The Shepherds Sacrificial Heart for His Sheepâ€¨â€¨And here’s how we know His provision and protection are real and lasting; that Jesus really is the GOOD Shepherd (read 11-18). Can you see the contrast thats building in what Jesus is saying? The false
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
JOHN 10:1-30â€¨shepherds are deceptive; thieves and robbers; coming to steal, kill and destroy; they’re hired hands, not
invested in the sheep; they abandon the sheep at the first signs of danger and leave them to be scattered and killed. But not me, Jesus says. The Good Shepherd lays down His own life for His sheep; willingly, with authority and purpose because of His great love for His own sheep. The Good Shepherd is infinitely invested in His sheep and He proves it with His life.
He says, “I am the Good Shepherd!” You can come to me and find shelter, protection, comfort, peace and life. You know why? Because I laid my life down for you. That’s how we know Jesus truly is the Good Shepherd. Every other shepherd that we look to for comfort doesn’t care 2 bits about us. But Jesus knew us as lost sheep; He saw us wandering in our sinfulness and blindness down dark roads and along dangerous cliffs and instead of abandoning us He died for us, pursued us and saved us. The infinitely good God of the universe came to earth in the form of a sheep, took our sin upon Himself and became the Lamb of God. And because of His sacrificial death on a cross for sinners we can trust in His name for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. And we can truly know how Good the Shepherd of our soul really is. Isn’t He Good!
He’s good to all His sheep, and in vs. 16 He says He has other sheep, meaning the gospel is going to go to the gentiles and to every tongue, tribe and nation. He had you in mind. Church, isn’t He good? And he has others in mind. There are sheep in Corning, Painted Post, Watkins, Elmira, Sarasota; sheep that need to hear about the Good Shepherd. That’s our mission.
The Shepherds Promiseâ€¨â€¨I want to skip down to Verse 27 and close with the Shepherds promise (read 27-30). This is the promise of the Good Shepherd! Now this totally debunks a popular teaching today that says that Christianity is God reaching His hand down and you reach up and as long as you don’t let go you’re safe but if you let go, you loose your salvation. This is false and results in a man-centered, works-based, hypocritically religious life.
The gospel is that the Father, through Jesus, came down among lost, cast-down, scattered sheep and scoops them up, holding them gently but ever so securely in the palm of His hand so that no one can snatch them. This is the imagery; that Jesus holds us securely and the Father holds Him securely and we are divinely wrapped up in His grip! This isn’t about us losing our salvation or position with God-the question to ask is, can anything overpower the Father? The answer is a resounding NO! That is the promise of the Good Shepherd to His sheep.
When you come to the realization that you’re lost, that you tend to wander and are easily cast down. When you come to the realization that you need the Good Shepherd and you come and find that He has died for you and His salvation, comfort, security and peace are yours through faith. When you give Him everything and follow Him and find Him to be faithful, strong and good; then this song rings true from your heart to your Good Shepherd-read Psalm 23.