Summary: Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he promises us life to the full.

Keys To Life

John 10:1-21 July 4, 2003

Life to the Full

I remember listening to a person on the CBC reflection of his brother’s fight with cancer. The man shared how during the long periods of waiting while his brother was being treated, he would often go an shoot hoops at a local gym. He wasn’t religious and had no real faith in God, but he talked about how shooting hoops was a type of prayer for his brother in his mind. “Three in a row and John has to get better…”

We might shake our heads at the idea of shooting hoops as a form of prayer, but there may be times when we are not that far off. We too can create little formulas in our prayers that we think will force God’s hand in prayer. We have our own rules about what type of prayers God will and won’t answer. We have our own rules about moral/spiritual condition of the person praying, whether it is ourselves or another person.

This was the difficulty of the Pharisees: They had a whole system, based on the law of the Old Testament of things that you must and must not do to find favor with God. It was based on the Law of Moses, but they also interpreted the law in the strictest manner, so much so that it was impossible to completely obey the law as a regular person in Palestine. Their interpretation of the law always placed themselves firmly on the top of the spiritual heap where they could look down their noses at the rest of the Jewish people

What they taught was that the way to life is through strict obedience of the Law and their interpretation of it.

Jesus Speaks out powerfully against them in John 10:1-21 (Watch DVD)

Jesus presents the Pharisees as false shepherds who are actually thieves and robbers.

The Pharisees claimed to hold the keys to the Kingdom of God, but they won’t let anyone in! Jesus says in Matthew 23:13:

13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

And in Luke 11:46:

46Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

He says that they have only come to kill and destroy, but that he has come to give life to the full.

A powerful illustration is the encounter that Jesus, a blind man and the Pharisees have just before he talks about the Good Shepherd: watch DVD

Paul talking about the difference between the law that the Pharisees taught and the life that Jesus offered says this in Romans 8

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[1] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,[2] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[3] And so he condemned sin in sinful man,[4] 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Modern Pharisees

Anyone who places themselves on a religious pedestal, and makes entry to heaven hard for others

Legalists – “people who concentrate so much on the don’ts of the faith that they forget the joy of grace. – traditional fundamentalists

We can fall into the trap of legalism in our prayers – people who teach that you can cause more problems by praying “wrong” – we leave grace out of the equation

Controllers – people who use fear and intimidation to create a nice little religious system around them with them at the top.

God says that you do not earn his favor by getting the next basket, or by obeying the Pharisees interpretation of the law, or by obeying every new rule that the fundamentalists think up – you gain his favor by entering his presence through his son Jesus Christ.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Enters by the gate

The gate that Jesus enters by is obedient relationship with his father. It is funny, because the Pharisees taught obedience as well, but Jesus obedience was different – it was obedience out of Love for his father, rather than out of duty and a desire to twist God’s arm. It is a humble obedience instead of an arrogant obedience. Philippians 2:8 says he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.

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