JULY 10, 2016
MAIN TEXT: JOHN 10:11-21
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them andscatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. AndI have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Today we look at the fourth “I Am” statement Jesus makes in the gospel of John. Each of these statements carry a meaning of a name of God; they are claims to being God to the current culture He is living among and to the reader today.
As we saw last week, there was a rising tension with the religious leaders and Jesus that concerned a formerly blind man that Jesus healed. The man confessed Jesus as Lord and worshipped Him. Due to this confession, the man was thrown out of the synagogue. The Jewish leaders, who saw themselves as shepherds of Israel, wanted to be the ones to decide who was in and who was out of God’s fold. This is where Jesus made clear by saying, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” Jesus is giving them a clear picture of salvation.
He continues today with the shepherding metaphor to help the listener understand the meaning. It was a common job that people would understand. Also, the Old Testament writers referred God as the Shepherd of Israel at different times. They spoke of His care and feeding and protection of His people through this metaphor.
Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament verses that point to God as shepherd. They knew Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd.” They knew Psalm 80, the “Shepherd of Israel.” They knew what Isaiah the prophet said about God shepherding His people. Jesus is saying: “I am this shepherd, the good one.” He goes on to explain what this Good Shepherd is like.
The Good Shepherd Dies for His Sheep
In verse 11, Jesus says that this good shepherd “lays down His life for the sheep.” Shepherds of the day were ultimately held responsible for the sheep. This was serious business. It was a lowly and humble job. It was messy and dirty and no fun. And if anything happened to the sheep, he had to produce proof that it was not his fault.
For a shepherd who was doing his job, it would be very natural to risk your life for the sheep you were responsible for, even lay down your life in the moment of conflict. That’s why Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In fact, in verse 18, He goes on to say, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
Voluntarily. Freely. Jesus gave His life for His sheep. Why did He do this? Jesus says, “for the sheep”. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He took our place. He died for us. He laid down His soul for His sheep. So we could be His. So we could know Him and His love for us.
A good shepherd cares deeply about the sheep in his care. He has developed relationships with these sheep. They’re known to him. They are loved by him.
The Good Shepherd Loves His Sheep
This is the reason behind the laying down of His life. Verse 14-15, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” He lays down His life for them because He knows them.
This word “know” here, it isn’t a word being used to represent information, that He just knows their name or their personality, but it’s about love. Four times, the word “know” is found here. Each time it implies a very intimate relationship. He gives His life for His sheep because He knows them, He loves them. He loves them enough that He wants what is best for them. So He brings them out of the fold and into His flock.
The Good Shepherd Unites His Sheep
Jesus goes from calling His sheep out of Israel in the first verse of this chapter, to now in verse 16 saying, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus is shocking these Jews by saying, “Look, I have other sheep that must be brought in. They aren’t from this fold. So, at some point I will ask you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will bring them together as one flock as He is the one shepherd. There is one body and Jesus is the head (Ephesians 4:4-6). The ultimate purpose is “to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:10)” Jesus prayed “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)” Twice Jesus prayed for this unity. Why? Because, if His children don’t love one another, why would the world believe that the Father loves lost sinners?
It isn’t too hard for us to confess that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, more difficult for us is for us to confess that we are sheep and desperately need the shepherd. We are helpless. We tend to wander. We go astray. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way… (Isaiah 53:6)”
Unfortunately, many of us deceive ourselves. We think we know what’s best. We follow our heart to whatever feels comfortable or sounds good. Yet, Jeremiah reminds us “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
We must continually remind ourselves as His sheep to listen to His voice. May we be constantly in His Word. May we listen to the Holy Spirit. May we not be deceived by our hearts, but instead may we be submitted to the Good Shepherd and his guidance and care. This Good Shepherd that loves you. He has given His life for you.
He is the Good Shepherd!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: John 10:11-21
Eastern shepherds knew the name of each sheep and could call it out of the fold each morning. Do you find it scary that God really knows you (nothing is hidden from his sight)?
The shepherd also knew the nature of each sheep: those that were prone to wander, those that wanted their own way, those that delayed obeying their shepherd’s commands. What
In what way does God gently remind you daily that you are a sheep in need of His Shepherding?
Read Psalm 23 this week in light of Jesus word’s in John.