United Methodist Church
218 College Street
P. O. Box 327
Ducktown, Tennessee 37317
Sunday School: 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Morning Worship: 11:00 a.m.
Rev. "T" Reamsnyder, Preaching
He is the Good Shepard
In the Gospel of John we find 7 statements known as the “I am” discourses. These 7 statements help us to realize that Jesus was the great “I am” of the O.T., who has become flesh in the N.T. to seek and to save each of us who are lost.
This morning we are going to look at the most famous of the “I am” statements – The Good Shepherd. But before we go any further in this I want to consider first not the shepherd, but his sheep.
Sheep, of all domestic animals, require the most care and supervision. Left to themselves, sheep have an unlimited capacity for getting into trouble.
Sheep are compelled by mob instinct. Sheep tend to go with the flow, even if the flow is going the wrong way.
Sheep are very susceptible to fear. One roar of a lion, in fact one loud noise of any kind, can send a flock in every direction, away from the protection of the shepherd.
Sheep are very timid. If you look in the dictionary under sheep you will see that it reads, bashful or timid person. Timid in that same dictionary means lacking self confidence.
Sheep are not considered to be of high intelligence. One of the customs, of the males, is to stand several feet apart and run full speed at each other and butt heads. Need I say more on that subject?
Sheep are very destructive. Left to themselves, sheep would seldom move on to new pastures, instead they would get bogged down in the mud they created.
Sheep are very stubborn and greedy. Where they are content they will refuse to move, you will find them eating for the future, growing fat beyond both necessity and reason. It takes a shepherd, sometimes with his dogs nipping at their heels, to get them moving from their comfort zones.
Sheep have a tendency to wander off. Sheep are forever getting lost. Their lack of focus is a great source of concern, because they allow the herd to move on without them while they’re looking for something they can enjoy on their own.
Sheep are very vulnerable to predators. Under their own power they could never survive among the wolves and yet they so easily leave the protection of their shepherd, than cry and complain when they get hurt.
Sheep have an incredible ability to get dirty. And stay that way until someone cleans them up.
Sheep are clearly God’s favorite animals. Hands down, no contest, sheep are mentioned 187 times in scripture and if you include the word lamb it becomes 392 times. Could there be a better metaphor for our relationship with God?
Have you noticed that a sheep is never a mascot of a sports team?
It may not be complimentary to be known as sheep but we are sinful, obstinate, rebellious and foolish.
I heard a story about a typical blonde that had gotten sick of all the blond jokes so one day she decided to get a makeover – cutting and dying hair. After buying a new convertible, she set out for a drive in the country where she came across a herd of sheep.
She decided to stop and talk with the shepherd. After a few minutes of chit-chat, she said I have a proposition – if I can guess the total number of sheep can I have one. The shepherd agreed but was absolutely shocked when she guessed correctly – 382.
He kept his promise and allowed her to pick one out to take home. After the woman picked out her sheep and put it in her car, the shepherd said he had a proposition for her – If I can guess your real hair color, can I have my dog back?
Throughout the Bible the Lord calls us sheep because we too are dirty, defenseless, dependent and dumb, but it is comforting to know we have a good shepherd.
Verse 1: I am the Good Shepherd…
When Jesus says, “I am,” He is depicting Himself as one with Yahweh (the Father) – “I, even I, and only I am…”
Ordinarily, the Israelites considered this name too holy to be spoken by human lips. In fact, it was so revered that it was only pronounced one day a year, on the Day of Atonement. If the name had to be written, the scribe would take a bath before writing it and then destroy the pen afterward.
The word Good, in the Greek (kalos), means beautiful and valuable – Jesus is beyond being morally good but is also excellent and per-imminent in every feature – incapable of doing anything bad. He is good in every attribute as God is good.
To the listeners that day, this would have been shocking and scandalous. In their minds only God is good and King David was their shepherd. And yet Jesus was declaring Himself to be their shepherd and their God.
Jesus is saying to them that He is greater than David. In John 6, in claiming to be the Bread of Life, Jesus claimed to be greater than Moses. In John 8, after declaring Himself to be the Light of the World, Jesus says that “Before Abraham was born, I am!
It is as if throughout the book of John, that Jesus lined up the heroes of the Jewish faith – Moses, Abraham, and David, and said, “I am infinitely elevated above everyone and everything because I am God.”
Of course this would send the Pharisees into an up-roar. First because they would consider this heresy and second because they considered themselves to be the shepherds of Israel – but now that Jesus has stepped onto the scene, He has exposed them as self-serving and self-centered.
In verses 12-13, Jesus contrasts Himself with the religious leaders. He says that I am the shepherd and the Pharisees are nothing more than hirelings. And He says let me prove it!
I) He speaks regarding REDEMPTION:
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep (puts the sheep before Himself, sacrifices Himself if necessary). A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs from it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t really matter to him
He gives His life (huper), willing gives His life on behalf of, to benefit another – in the place of . Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
And as we know, Jesus died in our place – not as a martyr or because he was crucified – but because He willingly took our place as our substitute as the required payment for the penalty of our sins.
C.S. Lewis wrote, It cost God nothing, as far as we know, to create nice things, but to convert our rebellious wills, it cost Him crucifixion.
Sheep were raised in the shadows of the Temple for the single purpose of becoming a sacrifice. Yet in the shadow of the Temple, the Good Shepherd is about to lay down His life once and for all for the sheep.
Now contrast that with the hireling. Hired man – one paid to do the work. He has no vested interest. If things didn’t go just the right way or if they ran into a problem then they would abandon the sheep.
Why? Because the sheep mean nothing to the hired man. That is what happens when those who are in it for personal gain and convenience meet up with difficulty – they run.
Let’s get practical for just a second. It is real easy to point the finger at someone else and make accusations questioning their commitment. But rather than looking at others, let’s take a look at ourselves.
We say – I am committed to God! His church? But are we really?
• Is personal and corporate worship a priority?
• Is spending time growing and studying His Word a regular habit?
• Are we striving to be obedient in every aspect of our life?
• Are we a faithful steward, a tither or are we looking for an excuse?
• Are we using our gifts to serve His Church and Commission?
• Do we tell others about the validity of our relationship with God?
I could go on and on. But are we really followers of the Shepherd?
II He talks about RELATIONSHIP. The Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep
"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."
Folks, He Knows His Sheep, the Greek word for know: ginosko – to know experientially and was used as a Jewish idiom for physical intimacy. This is not book knowledge, but personal knowledge.
The point is, Jesus knows us and wants us to know Him. He knows everything about us – good and bad – and He loves us anyway. We matter to Him.
Just as a shepherd knows the individual bleats and bahs of his sheep, the Good Shepherd knows every detail about us. (see Psalm 23)
1 He PROVIDES, He knows our basic need
2 He PILOTS, He knows our need for direction
3 He PROTECTS, He knows our need for security
4 He PURSUES, He knows our need for compassion
But it is a reciprocal relationship – He knows the sheep and the sheep know the shepherd. They know His voice, His touch, His compassion, His love, and His discipline – and we experience these in His leading every day.
Since He’s the Good Shepherd, we can trust Him to provide the leadership we need for our life.
He doesn’t prod me forward or make me go somewhere He’s not willing to go. He goes ahead of me. It means when I can’t see what’s ahead – I can trust that if the Lord is leading me I can trust Him – He can see what’s ahead because He’s already there! And He can see what’s coming up and He can help me avoid dangerous places on the path.
It means when He’s going ahead of us He’s leading us to pasture – that place where our soul is going to be fed so we’ll be spiritually healthy. It means we don’t have to fear that our life is going in the wrong direction. I listen for His direction (through prayer and through abiding in His word) and I can follow with confidence that I’m not going to head off a cliff!
Jesus goes ahead of us and calls us forward. As we’ve already learned, He calls us forward and says come to Me for drink. Come to Me for the bread of life. As He says in Matthew, come unto Me if you’re burdened and I will give you rest.
Follow His voice – and we will enjoy the benefits of having Jesus as our Good Shepherd – an abundant life!!
As our Good Shepherd, Jesus provides us access to an abundant life.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
The sudden shift of metaphor from shepherd to gate might seem rather strange to us, but in reality it is not. When the sheep returned to the fold at night after a day of grazing, the shepherd stood in the doorway of the pen and inspected each one as it entered.
He anointed any who were scratched or wounded and gave water to those who were thirsty. After all the sheep had been counted and brought into the pen, the shepherd lay down across the doorway so that no intruder—human being or beast—could enter without his knowledge. The shepherd became the door, the sole determiner of who entered the fold and who was excluded (14:6).
v 8, All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Here it is – one of my MOST FAVORITE verses in the entire Bible! As our Good Shepherd, Jesus promises that when we follow Him, we will have “Life to the fullest”.
Other versions of the Bible put it this way…
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NASV)
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (The Message)
I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (The Amplified Bible)
My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. (NLT)
“to the full” – means in the Greek perissos
• exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
• over and above, more than is necessary, super-added
• exceeding abundantly, supremely
• something further, more, much more than all
superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon.
This is SUCH AN ENCOURAGING AND LIFE CHANGING CONCEPT.
God is not interested in taking all the fun out of our lives. He is not interested in making us follow a bunch of rules that put everything good out of bounds! He wants us to experience life abundantly!
God says we are to forgive those who hurt us. We think – I don’t want to follow that voice! I’d rather harbor bitterness and seek revenge. And we reap ulcers, hatred, divorce, pain, emotional scars, physical violence.
On the other hand if I follow God’s word I discover that when I forgive others I really set myself free. I discover that I am more at peace. That others lose their power over my emotions. And I set into motion a cycle of grace into their lives.
God says we are to abide in His word. We think – I don’t want to do that. I want to watch TV and get on the internet and talk on my cell phone. And we reap, hectic lives full of more information than we know what to do with. We reap images in our minds that are unholy, which set into motion a whole new cycle of sinfulness in our lives.
On the other hand if I follow God’s word I discover that when I read God’s word every day I find ways to apply it. I find people I can share it with. I find that when I’m tempted I’m able to recall Bible verses and defeat the devil.
This is what Jesus is talking about when He says He’s come to give us abundant life if we follow His leadership as our Good Shepherd.
But He goes on from there, to tell us more…
Jesus says –instead of being like a hired hand – we can trust Him to be like a shepherd who is willing to stand up to predators and defend His sheep.
If we will only learn to stay within the sounds of His voice and listen for His call, He will lead us. He will give us an abundant life – far beyond anything we could arrange on our own. And He will protect us from the attacks of the evil one.
Though I’m not sure I like being compared to a sheep, I’m so thankful that I have a Good Shepherd. Amen