Signed Jesus – Message #6 – May 18, 2003 How to be Protected John 10:11-15 In John chapter 10 Jesus contrasts Himself with the persons who were the leaders of the Jewish religion. In v.11 He says, "I am the Good Shepherd.” What prompted Jesus to take on the title of the Good Shepherd? To fully understand the meaning of this title, we must look at the events of John chapter 9. In John 9:1-7 Jesus heals a man blind from birth. The Pharisees object to the man giving credit to Jesus for his healing (v.8-17). He tells them that he thinks Jesus is a prophet. They become incensed and accuse him of never having been blind. They even interrogate his parents to see if he was born blind (v.18-23). When neither the man nor his parents will deny that he was blind, the Pharisees say to the man, "Give glory to God…We know this man [Jesus] is a sinner." The man replies, "Whether He is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (v.24-25) When the Pharisees deny that Jesus was from God, the formerly blind man exclaims, ”Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes.  We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." This statement so incenses the Pharisees that they excommunicate, kick the man out of the Temple (v.34). 2 It is against this backdrop that Jesus contrasts His dealings with the flock (God’s people) to the Pharisees dealings with them. Notice what Jesus teaches us. I. The Shepherd’s Work A shepherd’s work involves sheep! Up to two hundred times in the Bible, God’s people are referred to as sheep. Now think of the magnitude of all the things that God created, and let me ask you a question. “Why does God call us sheep?” God could have called us many wonderful things – powerful horses, soaring eagles, mighty lions. Instead He calls us SHEEP! Have you ever heard of an athletic team with the name “sheep.” Sports teams names usually are either strong men (Vikings, Patriots, Cowboys, Redskins), or ferocious animals (Lions, Jaguars, Bears). Never sheep! “How about the St. Louis Rams?” Well, a ram is not a sheep. Get too close to one and you’ll understand the difference. Steve Farrar (Gettin’ There, p.166-167) lists several universal truths about sheep. A. Sheep are stupid. When you go to the circus you can see trained animal acts made up of elephants, lions, tigers, dogs, horses but you never see an act of trained sheep! Why? Because sheep can‘t be trained to do anything. They’re stupid! B. Sheep are dirty. Sheep cannot clean themselves. They have very heavy coats of wool that contain oil called lanolin. When their coats come into contact with the ground the combination of the wool and the lanolin attract burrs, grass, bugs, dirt. Sheep get very dirty. 3 C. Sheep are weak. They are not strong animals. They falter easily and are unsure of their footing. Have you ever seen a “Beware of Sheep” sign posted on a gate? Have you ever see a wide-eyed animal fleeing for its life from a bleating lamb? Sheep are too weak to be dangerous. D. Sheep are defenseless. Sheep, unlike most animals, cannot protect themselves. They can’t bark, they can’t claw, they can’t bite, they can’t do anything! There have actually been incidents of ravens and crows landing on a sheep’s head and plucking out its eyes. They are defenseless. They need a shepherd to take care of them. And God refers to us as sheep! Yes and with good reason! A sheep’s best defense is to stay close to the shepherd and to remain with the flock. If a sheep wanders away it is in big trouble. It’s too dumb to find its way home and too weak to defend itself. It needs a shepherd to protect and care for it. And so do we! • We are too dumb to find God on our own, He must find us. • We are unable to keep ourselves morally clean, He must cleanse us from our sins. • We are too weak to walk the path of life. We need the Good Shepherd to guide us. • We are defenseless to ward off the attacks of Satan. We need the Holy Spirit living within us to strengthen us in the face of temptation. That is why Isaiah wrote, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray...” (Isaiah 53:6a). Now it is not by accident that Jesus calls Himself the “Good Shepherd.” In Greek there are two words for “good.” 4 • Agathos – the excellent quality of the thing – “That’s a good dog.” • Kalos – the moral quality which also contains the thought of winsome, lovely, beauty – ”The good doctor.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Vol.2, p.62). James Montgomery Boice declares that Jesus is the “good, beautiful, winsome, lovely, attractive, true and genuine Shepherd.” II. The Shepherd’s Relationship to the Sheep Jesus speaks of the relationship of the shepherd to the sheep. It is the same relationship He has with us. The shepherd… A. Leads the sheep (v.4) - ”When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” The shepherd walks in front of the sheep and faces whatever dangers that may come. He puts himself between his animals and the dangers and threats that lie ahead. In the military the person who leads the column or the platoon is said to take “the point.” This is usually the most dangerous position. This soldier will be the first to draw the fire of the sniper or the gun emplacement and quite often as a result of the danger he faces his fellow soldiers are warned in time to escape without injury. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is on the point and has gone ahead of you. What do you face tomorrow? Is it: • The loss of employment – Jesus walked through that for you yesterday. • Chemotherapy – Jesus already went through that for you last week. • Sorrow, pain, suffering, death? He leads the way through whatever adversity you face. 5 The fact is Jesus takes the point as our Good Shepherd and walks ahead of us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Notice also that the shepherd leads the sheep, he does not drive them. Many years ago there was an awesome television show called Rawhide. It was a western about a cattle drive. For seven years Gil Favor (the trail boss), Rowdy Yates (his right hand man) and Wishbone (the cook) drove cattle somewhere – never getting to the end of the drive. Frankie Laine sang the theme song and it went something like this. Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, Though the streams are swollen, Keep them doggies rollin’, Rawhide… No time to understand ‘em, Just ride and rope and brand ‘em, Keep them doggies rollin’, Rawhide. That’s not good news for if you’re a doggie! Stop to think about it. “No time to understand ‘em, just ride and rope and brand ‘em!” (Farrar, p.177) But we have a Good Shepherd who leads us, He doesn’t drive us! The Shepherd goes before us to face what we face before we face it. B. He knows the sheep (v.14 &16) - "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me… 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.” 6 The word “know” in those verses is more than an intellectual knowledge, it is an intimate knowledge. Our Shepherd knows our… 1. Names (v.3) - “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.” At night several shepherds would keep their sheep in the same fold. In the morning to separate the sheep the shepherds would walk in different directions and call to their sheep. The sheep would recognize the voice of their shepherd and move towards him. Now, if by chance a sheep became confused, the shepherd who knew his sheep would call his sheep by name. My friend the Good Shepherd knows you, He calls to you by name and asks you to follow Him. 2. Natures – While all sheep are alike in their essential nature, each has its own distinctive characteristics. A loving shepherd recognizes these traits. One sheep may be afraid of high places, another of dark shadows, another of moving waters. The shepherd considers these special needs as he tends to his flock. Jesus knew each of His disciples personally (impulsive Peter, hesitant Thomas, friendly Andrew) and He knows you personally too! 3. Needs – Psalm 23 is a picture of a sheep looking at its shepherd and describing how the shepherd met its needs. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Alive, p.123-124) As sheep, our Good Shepherd knows our need of… a. Rest – “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (v.2a). It does not say He lets me lie down, but He makes me lie down. The shepherd will 7 sometimes force us to take the time to lie down in the green grass (the situation) around us and look at Him. b. Refreshment - “He leads me beside quiet waters” (2b). Sheep are deathly afraid of rushing water because they can drowned easily. So the shepherd takes them to or makes for them quiet waters where they feel secure and find refreshment. c. Restoration – “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake” (v.3). Every night at twilight, a good shepherd counts his sheep. He knows what can happen to a wandering sheep after nightfall. So even if only one sheep is missing, the shepherd goes out to find it and restore it to the flock. (Farrar, p.176-181) Where are you today? Have you wandered away from the Good Shepherd? He wants to take you into His arms and bring you back to the flock! C. He dies for the sheep (v.11) - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” A good shepherd will fight the bear or the lion and put his own life on the line for the sheep. In the OT the sheep died for the shepherd. The shepherd would take the best, the strongest, the most perfect male sheep in his flock and offer it as a sacrifice for his sins. The sheep died for the Shepherd. In the NT though it is the Shepherd who dies for the sheep. Listen again to Isaiah 53:5-6, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are 8 healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Good Shepherd died for you and me! D. He rises from the dead for the sheep (v.17-18) - “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to 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 authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." The voluntary death of the Good Shepherd is followed by His victorious resurrection. Yes Jesus died on the cross, giving Himself for us. But on the third day He arose from the dead and now He lives forever for His sheep. III. The Responsibility of the Sheep to the Shepherd The responsibility of the sheep is two fold. The sheep are to… A. Trust the Good Shepherd – believe in Him. B. Obey the Shepherd – listen to His voice (v.4). ”His sheep follow him because they know his voice.” The Shepherd does everything for His sheep. Since we, God’s sheep. are to trust and obey the Shepherd, it is well that He is the Good, the trustworthy, Shepherd! Points to ponder: Do you see Jesus as the Good Shepherd? Have you trusted Jesus as your Good Shepherd? Are you listening to and obeying His voice?
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