Summary: The story of the shepherd and the sheep can be applied to us today - - and it will be an exact fit! This message gives similarities and warnings.
* I recently received an email from a person being called into the missions field, but was told they could not serve Jesus because they had been divorced. IF YOU ARE THAT PERSON - - PLEASE EMAIL ME AT: firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your email address so I can email you back!
I think the one image people use to identify with Jesus more than any other is the image of Him as a shepherd. The very word makes us think of love and comfort; of being taken care of; and being kept safe.
Jesus is, in fact, our Great Shepherd. He is our constant protector, always on guard and who does not sleep.
In PSALM 91:1-4 it tells about Him.
‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.’
In verses 9-10, it goes on to say –
‘If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent, for He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Now, you might be saying that you believe in Jesus, yet some bad things have happened to you in your life. We have spoken before about the two realms of our beings; the physical and the spiritual. We have said that the spiritual is the most important because it lasts the longest. And that is where God will protect you with every bit of power He has. And, He will also protect you physically, as it glorifies His name. So, the bottom line is; if Jesus is your Savior, you will be kept safe; if He isn’t – you won’t be.
I think all of us would agree that we need as much protection in this world that we can get. It is such a negative place, and it is only getting worse with each passing day. It has been said that those who contemplate suicide do not want to die, but they cannot find a reason to live. You know in your own life that whether it is in the home or the workplace, emphasis is given often on what you do wrong but is rarely given on what you do right. How often have you been having a great day when all of a sudden someone you know throws a negative at you and in an instant, your attitude is shot?
This happens every day to each one of us, but we are told in the Bible to be of good cheer, because in the midst of all this negativity and turmoil; amid all of this chaos and trouble, God gives us the picture of our Great Shepherd. The One who will lead us and the One who will watch out over us.
PSALM 23 is a message of God’s powerful love for us. And today, I will read it to you in the words from the New Living Translation.
‘The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings. Surely, Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.’
In REVELATION 7:17, it again tells us,
‘For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
In that passage, we are given another image of a loving protector. One in whom we might find safety and rest and peace.
In JOHN, we read where Jesus is teaching His disciples about the kind of relationship He wants with us. We are going to look at this relationship today in the image of a shepherd and his sheep. And, as we also look at other characters, it is my hope that we see the sacrificial love Jesus has for you and if there is any one of you who isn’t fully in God’s fold, this morning will be the moment of decision for you.