Summary: A Good Shepherd Sunday sermon on how Jesus never lets us out of his hands as his sheep. Also, Jesus describes what it means to be a sheep.
May 2, 2004 John 10:22-30
22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
One of the hardest things to believe is that you are a believer, especially when you look at what God expects of believers. In his epistle to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Co 13:4-7) These are signs of love. But when we look at ourselves, do we see ourselves always trusting, always hoping, and always persevering? Not if we’re looking in the mirror.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. A Sunday that we set aside in the church year to celebrate that Jesus is our Good Shepherd - and we are His sheep. But how do we know we are His sheep? When I look at myself, I don’t eat grass. I don’t have white furry hair. I don’t lay down in pastures green. I don’t have four legs. I don’t “baa.” So how do I know I really am one of Jesus’ sheep?
In today’s text, the Jews wanted to know who Christ was - was He really the Shepherd? Jesus had come to the Feast of Dedication. This was apparently a festival to celebrate the cleansing of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in around 164 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes had slaughtered a pig on the altar and Jerusalem and desecrated the temple, and Judas apparently had led a revolt to reclaim the temple. So Jesus happened to be there - in the middle of December - during this Festival. It was at this time that the Jews wanted to know if Jesus was really claiming to be the Messiah or not.
Instead of answering the question who He was immediately - Jesus answered the question by asking them - “who are YOU?” Were they sheep seeking the Shepherd? Did they really want to know who He was? Or were they just imposters? As you come here this morning to listen to this sermon - Jesus poses this same question of you. Why are you here? Who are you? Are you the sheep that you claim to be?
Are You a Sheep of the Shepherd?
I. Do you listen?
Instead of pointing to how much hair you have or how many feet you have, Jesus points to other characteristics of what he considers His sheep. Unless you’re a hairy four legged creature, I guess that’s a good thing. What’s the first sign of a sheep? Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; In the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, it says, In the Greek mysteries and Gnosticism more stress is laid on apprehension of God by seeing. According to Philo’s “On Flight” - page 108 - hearing can lead astray, not seeing. If you were to get a revelation by hearing, it would have to be confirmed by sight. Monuments depicting religious acts show that the climax often comes with vision. According to our Lord and Savior and the history of our holy revelations - the exact opposite is the case in the way God communicates with us. Moses was attracted to the burning bush. But this meant nothing, until God spoke to Him from the burning bush. When Isaiah was called by God to be a prophet for Israel, he saw an awesome vision of angels flying and covering their faces before the throne of God. But the climax of the vision came at the SPEAKING of the Lord. The decisive call from Isaiah was laid out in vs. 2 of his first chapter - Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: (Is 1:2) God’s Word says that faith comes from HEARING the message. (Romans 10:17) Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we DON’T SEE.” (Hebrews 11:1) Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament history shows the rabbis reading out loud the holy books. Throughout Revelation Jesus continues to say, “he who has EARS let him HEAR what the Spirit says!”