Summary: I Am Series, part 1 I Am The Good Shepherd
I Am Series, part 1
I Am The Good Shepherd
John 10:7-18; 27-30
We are in the first week of a new three week series leading up to Easter, entitled I AM, looking at three of the I am statements made by Jesus. This week we will look at I Am the Good Shepherd; next week we will look at I am the Bread of Life; and then on Easter, I am the Resurrection and the Life. We will take a week break on April 13 with one of our missionaries, Paul Wiig sharing about his work in India.
Shepherds in the ANE lead their sheep rather than drive them. The imagery of God as a Shepherd to his people is deeply rooted in the bible. Shepherding was a very common vocation, especially among the people of Israel. Israel's kings and religious leaders were likened to shepherds yet many were self serving and self seeking. Yet God promised his people to send a Messiah who would shepherd them which we find in Jesus, the Good Shepherd. So let's look at the Good Shepherd today.
1. The Good Shepherd Sacrifices His Life for the Sheep (vs. 11, 15, 17)
The Good Shepherd speaks of laying down his life for the sheep. The sacrifice of his life is the means of eternal or abundant life for his sheep. This is because he is the the way, the truth, and the life, the only door between God and man. When needed, shepherds would build a sheepfold with brush and sleep in the opening to protect his sheep. The Good Shepherd is contrasted to the thief who only comes to steal and kill and destroy and the hired hand, the under shepherd, who is only looking for a wage so runs away at the first sign of danger. The Good Shepherd sacrifices his life because the sheep are in mortal danger and their safety is only found in his death. If anyone enters the fold by Jesus they have life as going in and going out and finding pasture. They have everything they need; they are are fat and full sheep. In the end, the only life that matters is the life that Jesus gives. Are you looking to the Good Shepherd for the full life or are looking to false or pretend shepherds who promise life but who abandon you and betray you at the first sign of trouble.
2. The Good Shepherd Seeks His Sheep (vs. 16)
Jesus says he has other sheep that are not of this fold. He has been talking about one sheep fold and one flock. But here are different sheep who are of another sheepfold that are included and must be brought into this fold. They will come because they are also his sheep and will listen to his voice. The first flock of sheep are the lost sheep from among Israel who Jesus seeks and saves. Then this other sheep are the lost sheep from among the Gentiles, who he seeks and saves also and brings into his fold. God's plan all along has been to make one flock, the church, made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. The Church fulfills Israel in this sense. Yet there are still sheep that he must bring in, who will listen to his voice, drawn by him as the gospel is preached.
3. The Good Shepherd Keeps His Sheep Secure (vs. 27-30)
Here Jesus gives us a summary statement describing four characteristics of sheep. They hear his voice, they are known by him, they follow him, and they are secure. They hear his voice means that when the gospel goes out they respond positively because they are his sheep by his gracious choice. But it is more than this because the verb tense of the verb listen means hearing his voice as a way of life. You hear him speak to you now through preaching or as you read his word or through other people or that still small voice. Second, you follow him or obey him. The verb tense here also means following or obeying Jesus as a way of life. Third, you are known by Him. In the Ancient Near East each shepherd had a specific call by which he gathered his sheep out from among other sheep when several shepherds were using the same sheep fold or pasture. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd calls us by name meaning he knows us intimately. The God of the universe not only knows my name but he calls me by name. Next this God who calls us by name and gives us eternal life describes this life in two ways - we will never perish and no one can snatch them out of my hand. First, you will never perish or never fall under God's wrath and condemnation. It cannot be reversed or lost. Secondly, no one can snatch you out of his hand, meaning no one can take eternal life you nor will Jesus ever lose you. The emphasis is on Jesus' power and ability to keep his grip and not our feeble attempts to hang on. And to reinforce this, the Father stands behind his power to keep us safe in Christ. Belonging to Jesus, being known by Jesus, removes any threat or possibility of perishing or being taken away from Jesus.