Summary: It’s hard to find a good spiritual leader. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is just the leader you’re looking for.
JESUS CHRIST – THE PERFECT LEADER (John 10:1-10)
Recently in the news, we’ve seen a lot of examples of bad spiritual leadership. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, is struggling with a major problem that all of us know about. Last week, Pope John Paul summoned the highest ranking cardinals in the US to come to Rome, to address this problem, which seems to be getting more and more out of control. People in Boston, MA, Palm Beach, FL, and towns throughout our country are saying that there must be something wrong with their church. Their leaders have betrayed their trust. Their leaders have failed.
Now let’s travel 3000 miles to Israel – more examples of bad spiritual leadership. There’s war going on in the streets. Two sides from different religions are at each other’s throats. Children are being used as human bombs. There’s something wrong with religions that promote that. And there’s something wrong with their spiritual leaders too.
Our world needs a good spiritual leader, someone who can shepherd you, someone who will not promote violence, but peace, someone who will not betray your trust. Our world needs a good shepherd. And the only spiritual leader who truly fits that description is Jesus Christ.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, the day that we remember that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He is the spiritual leader that every church, that every Christian, that every person in the world needs.
In John chapter 10, Jesus reminds us that not all people who claim to be spiritual leaders are safe to follow. Look at verse one: “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.” Jesus uses the picture of a sheep fold. Picture this – a sheep fold was a walled enclosure made of stones. Several flocks of sheep were kept in the sheep fold. When a legitimate shepherd came to get his flock, the watchman of the fold would let the shepherd enter. The man who does not enter the sheep fold by the gate – for now, let’s compare the gate to Jesus and his Word - if any spiritual leader tries to enter your life without talking about Jesus and his Word– but instead, tries to climb into your life by some other way – what does Jesus call him? A thief and a robber.
Jesus says more in verse 10 – “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Anyone who comes to you and says, “Let’s talk about God, but let’s not talk about Jesus Christ” – anyone who does that might seem good on the outside, but on the inside, they’re from the Devil, and will only kill and destroy your soul.
Why are we attracted to these people? Maybe it’s because we’re attracted to anything that’s new, anything that’s different. Anything that’s politically correct, anything that makes me feel good about my mistakes, anything that lines up with my sinful nature – we’re attracted to those sorts of things. Our sinful nature doesn’t want to hear about Jesus and his Word – and sometimes that causes us to welcome the thieves and robbers the Devil sends into our lives – people who will kill and destroy our souls.
A perfect example of that is in the Middle East. The radical Muslim teenager who follows the voice of her shepherd commits suicide and goes to hell. Or what about in the United States? The faithful Christian suddenly becomes attracted to another form of Christianity – they never talk about Jesus Christ, but boy, do they have a great speaker over there. The music is wonderful. The people are friendly! Sure, they never talk about Jesus Christ, but they do talk about God. That’s good enough, isn’t it?
Jesus says no. Anyone who tries to enter your life not through the gate, which is Jesus and his Word, but through some other way, is a thief and a robber, and the result will be death for your soul.
We need to repent to God for those times we have strayed away from him, those times we have followed shepherds that don’t focus on Jesus Christ. How good it is, that we can repent, and that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, forgives us. Our Good Shepherd rescues us when we stray away. He finds the thieves and robbers who have captured us. He fights on our behalf, and even dies for us. But through it all, we are set free from those thieves and robbers, forgiven of all of our sins. Three days later, our Good Shepherd rises from the dead to prove to you that you are forgiven. What spiritual leader do you know, who would allow himself to be blamed for the mistakes of others? What spiritual leader do you know, who would allow himself to be executed, in your place? What spiritual leader do you know, who has not only died, but has risen from the dead, and to this day, no one has been able to disprove that he is alive. What spiritual leader do you know, who offers the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, to all people, free of charge, no strings attached?