Summary: To demonstrate Jesus’ care for us and desire that we follow him.
With the DaVinci Code book and now the movie coming out soon, there have been people, even Christians, calling into question, who the real Jesus is? Two weeks ago, we began looking at the Jesus’ self declarations in the book of John, Jesus’ “I AM” statements. Jesus telling us who he claimed himself to be. Two weeks ago we looked at Jesus’ statement, “I Am the Bread of Life.” This week we are looking at two, Jesus said, “I am the gate,” and “I am the good shepherd.”
If Jesus is the shepherd that makes us his…sheep. Not very complimentary is it.
1. Stupid and stubborn - have you ever seen a trained sheep in the circus or zoo? NOT THE SERTA SHEEP WE SEE ON TV.
2. Dirty and Wayward - They are prone to wander, following the others, even they are lost themselves. and never learn from their mistakes
3. Easily frightened and confused – They have been known to plunge off cliffs in their fear and confusion
4. Defenseless and dependant upon others for protection.
5. Need guidance and protection.
Perhaps by implying we are sheep Jesus was trying to say something about us too. We aren’t always bright and sometimes we are stubborn. We are frequently prone to wander and follow the crowd of other sheep even if they are heading in the wrong direction or lost. We are easily frightened and confused when the storms of life come, we panic as if no one is in charge. We are defenseless, sure we have weapons, police, armed forces, but they can only protect us to a certain degree. We are still in need of guidance.
I believe Jesus likened himself to a shepherd for a reason. Like a shepherd cares for and protects his flock, Jesus cares for us and protects us from the enemy even going to great lengths to do so, that we might experience abundant life in this world and eternal life in the next.
1. Jesus cares for his sheep
We know the good shepherd’s responsibility is to tend his sheep, to care for them, provide for all of their needs because he cares about them. In verse 4 Jesus says, the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [of the sheepfold].”
He knows each of his sheep by name. It was common for shepherds to have every one of their sheep named and they were able to distinguish them from each other because of their markings or peculiar traits. A shepherd could say, "See that sheep over there? Notice how its feet toe in a little. The one behind it with a gimp in his walk, that’s Limpy; the next one has a patch of wool missing off its back, he’s Patch; there’s one with a black mark below its eye, that’s Blackie, while the one closest to us has a small piece torn out of its ear, Tag. The shepherd knew each by name.
When I look at flock of sheep they all look alike to me because I don’t care about them, they are not my responsibility, and I don’t take the time to really get to know them, certainly not to name all of them. To know someone’s name usually means you have either spent time with that person or you have taken the effort to remember them. How many times have you been to church or in town and you know the person but you just can’t remember their name and you’re too embarrassed to ask? I know it has happened to me on several occasions. Dale Carnegie in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, says we don’t remember a person’s name because we don’t make the effort, we don’t spend the time trying. But the shepherd knows every one of his flock by name and cares deeply about each and every one of them. In fact the good shepherd cares so much for the sheep that in the event of an attack he even lays his life down for them.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he knows each one of us by name. You are not just another nameless face to Jesus. He knows you more intimately than you even know yourself. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows our peculiar habits, traits, and characteristics and he loves you anyway. He loves you enough to lay down his very life in exchange for yours so you may experience eternal life and live life to the fullest here on earth without the fear from our enemy Satan because he has no claim on us.
Jesus’ care and compassion were illustrated in his parables of the lost sheep and lost son.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus explained how much he cares for the sheep, when one sheep out of a 100 was lost he went and searched and searched for the sheep until he found it. He brought the sheep back and celebrated. Common sense would be to not leave the 99 sheep for the one lost sheep but Jesus cares passionately about even the one lost sheep. At one point in your life perhaps you were lost yourself, and yet Jesus cared about you enough to come after you, otherwise you wouldn’t be here this morning. Jesus cares about you and me, and our lost friends, family members, people in the community who wander around aimlessly like sheep without a shepherd.