Summary: What good can a Shepherd do us in the 21st century? Plenty.
Have any of you seen the new cellular commercials that have been on TV lately? The ones with the shepherd... In them a shepherd, a symbol of times gone by, leads his sheep through the distant countryside. When suddenly he pulls out a cellular phone. Such a paradox makes for good advertising, doesn’t it? The past meeting the present.
You know, we often hear in church how Jesus is our Good Shepherd. We are his sheep. It’s a comforting message. It’s sweet. It’s good to teach children. But in the 21st century, what good does a shepherd do? The picture of a shepherd fighting off wolves and bears with his shepherd’s tools is quaint, but what does that do for us in this cellular, internet, eat or be eaten world? Well, today we are going to see that Jesus our Good Shepherd isn’t so outdated, that he is truly a Shepherd for the 21st century, because he deals with 21st century problems and because he leads 21st century sheep. So let’s listen to the words our 21st century Shepherd, words which were spoken 2000 years ago in the very first century. We read from John chapter 10...
I. He deals with 21st Century problems
It can be cold in Jerusalem in the winter. Northwest winds blast through the Judean mountain range on which Jerusalem sits. In our text for this morning Jesus is in Jerusalem in December, during winter, for the Feast of Dedication, or what we call today Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights. And as was Jesus’ custom, while in Jerusalem he spent much time in the Temple, in his Father’s house. So, on the cold December day of our text, Jesus was in what was called Solomon’s Colonnade, a part of the temple that provided some shelter from the biting winter winds.
When suddenly in blew the cold, attacking hate of the Jewish leaders. Wanting to trap Jesus with his own words, they asked him: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” They wanted Jesus to say that he was the Christ, i.e., the Messiah, the Savior promised in the Old Testament, the Son of God. Because with that they could charge him with blasphemy and kill him. In fact, that’s the charge on which they finally condemned Jesus the night before his death: that he acknowledged that he was the Son of God.
But at this time Jesus merely replied: “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my father’s name speak for me.” Literally in the Greek, Jesus said: “the works I do in my Father’s name” Jesus’ miracles, his perfect life, the way he taught with authority, his “works” all point to his true identity: the Christ, the Son of God. But the leaders of the Jews did not want to accept it.
You know, today we’re surrounded by people who want to know who Jesus is. Both Time and Newsweek, and even many major TV news shows have had special reports in search of the “real Jesus”. Who was this man that has left such an influence on the world? There have been so many answers: a prophet, a teacher, a myth, a magician.
But then again, what would a man like that (a teacher or magician) really have to offer us in the 21st century? The truth: very little. But let’s not be so bold as to give our personal opinions on who Jesus is, but rather let’s let him and his Word tell us. Verse 30 tells us that he and the Father are one. Jesus is true God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one holy and perfect God.
So Jesus is more than just a prophet and teacher, he is God and his works prove it: changing water into wine, healing many people, feeding thousands with only a handful of food...those are the works of an almighty God. A perfect life of love, never sinning, never returning evil for evil, but always giving. Such perfection can only be the work of a perfect God. And what we saw three weeks ago proves it more than anything else. Jesus’ resurrection. Only God has such power over death.
And this God/Man, our 21st century Shepherd, deals with 21st century problems. You know, the Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun. The main problems that existed for those Jewish leaders 2,000 years ago are the same problems that face the world today: societal decadence, lack of commitment in marriage, stress, indifference to God, war, dictatorships, every man doing as he sees fit. Sound familiar? The problems are the same, because man’s sinful nature hasn’t changed.
The same pride that was Adam and Eve’s first sin, still haunts us over 6,000 years later. We want to be good parents, good husbands and wives, good workers, good pastors but many times for the very wrong reasons. So that people say, “What a good mom. She has such well behaved children. What a good worker let’s give him a raise. What a good pastor, I love his sermons.” All so that we feel good about ourselves and what we have accomplished.