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Summary: Jesus knows, cares for, and protects his followers.

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20070429

Title: Jesus Is Not an E-Shepherd

Text: John 10:22-30 (Psalm 23)

Thesis: The relationship between Jesus and his followers is likened to that of a shepherd and his sheep… Jesus is knows, cares for, and protects his followers.

Introduction

Last year Bonnie and I did an overnight trip to Steam Boat Springs… The Sheridan was running one of those special low, low off-season specials. I originally had grandiose thoughts of a wide, looping return route home up through Craig and then down through Meeker. And from Meeker, driving through the White River National Forest to Yampa and then home.

However, we found that there was plenty to keep us entertained in and around Steamboat Springs. We hiked down to Fish Creek Falls, which is a 283 feet waterfall that is supposedly easily accessible down a short trail. They neglect to tell you that it is a straight down trail and that once you get down to the falls, you have to climb back up that short straight up trail that took you to the bottom. We also enjoyed visiting Steamboat Lake and another short nature trail that was mostly up mountain climbing and on the way long side of short.

By the time we had all that fun, we simply did not have time to do the circuitous route home. So, we took a shorter route down Highway 131 through Yampa. I’m glad we did…

Along the way, we passed a Sheep Camp. There were thousands of head of sheep on either side of the highway. The camp itself had corrals and a long line of Sheep Herder Wagons. And, there were herders and their dogs at work moving the sheep.

There are some 10,200,000 sheep in the United States today. They are roughly evenly divided between meat breeds and wool breeds, i.e., food and fiber… and they are all under the care of herders who live with the sheep, provide good places for the sheep to eat and drink, and protect the sheep.

The shepherd or sheepherder is an ancient image that is as vivid in contemporary life here in Colorado as it is in the biblical narratives… so as we come to the text this morning, keep the images of shepherd and sheep in your minds.

Our text begins with a meeting between some religious leaders and Jesus, from which we can gather, some who would follow Christ have personal agendas.

I. Some, would be followers of Christ, have a personal agenda.

They have a controversial question. Is Jesus the Messiah who was to bring the whole “flock” of Israel together for the purpose of overthrowing political oppression and establishing a new kingdom? Or is he not the Messiah?

The religious leaders asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” John 10:22-24

It is wintertime… it was around December 25 and during what contemporary Jews celebrate as Hanukah. It was called The Feast of Dedication then and was celebrated to commemorate the Maccabean Revolt, which resulted in the Syrians being driven out of Judea. Three years earlier, King Antiochus had invaded Jerusalem, sacked the temple treasury, and sacrificed a sow to Jupiter on the temple altar. It did not set will with the Jewish people. So when the revolt was successful, Judas Maccabeus purified, rededicated the temple, and established an annual festival to commemorate the occasion in 165 B.C.

Jesus is walking through Solomon’s Colonnade, which was a long covered porch, approximately 75 feet long, 45 feet wide, and supported by 30 foot high pillars on the east side of the temple. It was a magnificent structure that overlooked the Kidron Valley and protected worshippers from the heat in the summer and the rain in winter…

It was there in Solomon’s Colonnade that Jesus is confronted or ambushed by a group of religious leaders who have an agenda. The text reveals three things about this group of people:

A. Those who confronted Jesus were of mixed opinions about Jesus.

“The people were divided in their opinions about Jesus. Some said, “He is a demon, or he’s crazy.” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:19-21

There is nothing new… people have always had mixed opinions and expectations about Jesus. Some are avid and devoted believers, some are so, so, others are skeptics, and others are disbelievers.

B. Those who confronted Jesus were determined to pressure Jesus into revealing who he was.

The Jewish leaders gathered around him and asked him… John 10:24

The word “gathered around” means to surround or encircle… they essentially were putting Jesus between a rock and a hard place. They had Jesus cornered. They had Jesus treed and they were not going to let him slip away without answering their question.

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