Summary: In John 10 Jesus describes himself as the "good Shepherd" and this sermon explores what our proper response to the good Shepherd should be: 1. Follow me (vs.1-5) 2. Enter through me (vs.6-10) 3. Trust me (vs.11-12) 4. Listen to me (vs.14-16,27-30)
I AM series #3 Castle Hills Christian Ch. 07-04-04
I AM the Good Shepherd
This summer we’ve been looking at the “I AM” statements of Jesus. Jesus said “I am the bread of life” in John chapter 6. In Chapter 9 He said “I am the light of the world.” Jesus next “I am…” statement seems to fall on the heals of the previous one, and seems like the next point in Jesus’ argument with the blind Pharisees who don’t recognize Jesus as the light of the world. They ask Jesus if he is saying that they are blind and he replies. “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (9:41).
That forms the pivot point for what will follow in chapter 10. In his attempt to reach his audience with the truth, Jesus tries yet another word picture. In Chapter 10, Jesus uses an example that was very familiar to everyone who was listening. Raising sheep was a big part of the economy in Israel, and everyone knew the dangers sheep faced in the area and the value of a dedicated, skilled shepherd.
In the beginning of Chapter 10, Jesus takes the opportunity to contrast the Good Shepherd with false shepherds, hirelings, thieves, and predators.
1. Follow Me John 10:1-5
1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice."
When Jesus said these words he was making two distinct and important points; the first one related to the blind man he had just healed.
(1) Before the man-born-blind was healed he was an outcast from the fellowship of believers and had to beg for a living. When Jesus’ men asked, “Is his blindness because of his sin or that of his parents?” That was no doubt what the blind man had heard time and time again. Instead of caring about his condition, people simply used him as a point of departure for theological discussions on sin and related illness. The standard Jewish notion was that illness was punishment for some past sin. (That was what Job’s friends told him when they found him in such a predicament. He was frustrated because he knew that wasn’t true). Sadly, when Jesus healed him, the man wound up cast out of the synagogue as a heretic for giving credit to Jesus as healer. The man went from outcast due to illness, to outcast due to beliefs in one day’s time. The leaders had cast out a sheep of the flock of Israel, not because he was a bad sheep, but because they were bad shepherds. Jesus made the comparison between the good shepherd and hirelings, thieves, and predators, to show that the shepherds of Israel were abusing the sheep.
(2) The second intention of Jesus’ words was to show that the Good shepherd (prophecied in Ezekiel 34) has finally made his appearance.
The Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, in the 34th chapter of his prophetic letter contrasted the false shepherds of Israel with the true shepherd who would someday come to lead the sheep himself and to judge all false shepherds according to their evil deeds.
When Jesus told the crowds, “I am the Good Shepherd,” they may have been looking out to the hills around Jerusalem where it was common to see flocks of sheep grazing under the watchful eye of a shepherd. He was trying to make things as simple as he could, but vs. 6 tells us: 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. So Jesus stepped back and tried again. This time, He told them “I am the Gate.” Now, that may seem confusing unless you understand the a good Shepherd WAS the gate for his sheep. The typical sheep fold of that time was an enclosure made of rocks with a small opening at one end. The shepherd would literally lay down in that opening to guard it thereby making him a human gate of sorts. Nothing entered or exited the sheep fold without the shepherd’s knowledge and permission. As long as he lived the sheep were safe and secure, for he was their security. Even though the hirelings would see danger and run away, the good shepherd stayed at the entrance to the fold and protected every sheep inside it. He was literally willing to lay down his life for his sheep and they knew it. As long as the shepherd was there the sheep were safe and secure. They gladly followed the shepherd anywhere he went knowing they were safe and happy in his presence.