Summary: The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
John 10. Once there was a tourist walking on the back roads of Israel when up ahead of him he saw 2 shepherds, each with his own flock of sheep, and they came together in the road and began talking. As they talked together their sheep began to intermingle, until it looked like one big flock. The tourist wondered how these shepherds would ever untangle the mess, it seemed to be an impossible task, with hundreds of sheep all mixed in together. And yet as they began to part company, each shepherd merely said a few words, calling their sheep to come, and the sheep began to split back into their original groups and followed their shepherd. By nature, sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. Look at the end of verse 4: “his sheep follow him, because they know his voice.” My sermon title today is, “How to know the voice of the Shepherd.”
Now John 10:1-5 is a figure of speech. It is an allegory or a parable, or story that teaches truth. You can see that from verse 6: “Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.” Let’s read this together and we will see that the main emphasis of the figure of speech is the shepherd and His sheep.
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. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice." John 10:1-5 (NIV)
Now this passage follows chapter 9, where the man who had His eyes opened had been roughly treated by the Pharisees and was thrown out of the synagogue. And Jesus is still speaking to the Pharisees here. John writes in chapter 10 that thieves and robbers destroy the sheep and He has in mind these Pharisees. But they didn’t understand, they didn’t “hear His voice” and vs. 26 tells us why: “you don’t believe because you are not my sheep.”
And so this passage shows Jesus coming to the sheep pen of Judaism, where there is the danger of thieves and robbers, that is, scribes and Pharisees, who hurt the sheep. And Jesus comes calling out His own sheep, and in vs. 3 they listen to His voice, and He leads them out of the sheep pen of Judaism and into the rich pastures of the gospel.
And we need to see this morning that Jesus coming as a Shepherd is simply the fulfillment of the cries and prayers of those in the Old Testament. Numbers, 27. In this chapter Moses is about to die, and like any good shepherd his dying thoughts are on the sheep. And Moses prays a prayer in this chapter, and this prayer is answered in John chapter 10. Moses prays in Numbers 27:16 and says 16 "May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd." Moses knew that people, like sheep, need a shepherd or they will wander away. We can see that today with those who avoid the fellowship, and how they become consumed in other things, and cannot find their way back. People need a shepherd, they need leadership. And there is an amazing answer given to Moses’ prayer. In answer to Moses prayer, a young man is brought forward, a young man by the name of “Joshua.” Vs. 18 Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses. Joshua and Jesus are the same name: Joshua is Hebrew, Jesus is Greek.
God’s real answer to Moses’ prayer, whom Joshua points forward to, is Jesus, Who came as the good Shepherd to lead people out of Judaism and legalism, and bring them into the green pastures of the gospel. John 10 is the answer to Moses’ prayer in Numbers 27.
But look at John 10: people would harm and steal the sheep, so He warns about thieves and robbers who try to break in and harm or steal the sheep. And He gives us a way to recognize them. Notice vs. 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.”