The Good Shepherd
CCCAG August 12th, 2018
Gospel of John Series
Scripture- John 10:1-21
Back when I first went into the reserves, I went out looking for a job. Unfortunately, my military job being an infantryman did not translate well into civilian culture.
The only jobs I could find or fast food or work at gas stations, so I tried both but ended up doing the gas station. The gas station I found to work at was a 711 on 52nd St in Kenosha. This was one of the 2 gas stations that had the dubious distinction of being robbed the most. I worked the overnight which was the time they always got held up.
One night, I'm going through the inventory and I'm watching some guy walk back and forth across the parking lot looking around. Now people acting strangely in a city in the middle of the night is not very uncommon, but something I still want to keep an eye on. He looks like he is talking to himself, and he is just acting weird. I’m assuming he is on drugs or has some sort of mental illness.
Eventually he makes his way to the store and walks up to the counter.
I ask him “Can I help you?”
He says, “I need some money.” I said, “are you asking for a job application?”
He says no “I just need some money” I said, “Well, it sounds like you need a job”
He said, “I don't want a job I just need you to give me some money.”
I said, “I can't give you any money or I'll lose my job”
He said, “just give me the money out of the register”
I said, “Are you robbing me?” as I slowly reach under the counter for the silent alarm.
He said, “No, but I just want you to give me the money”
I said, “Well, I can’t just give you the money unless you are robbing me.”
He said, “Ok, what if I said I was robbing you?” I said, “Are you robbing me? I don’t see a gun or a knife”
He said, “Yeah, I’m robbing you” and reached inside his coat but didn’t take his hand out.
Now, I hit the silent alarm, and I have a decision to make.
I am about 99% sure this guy doesn’t have anything to hurt me with. If he was actually trying to rob me, the gun or knife would have been out as he walked in the door. My natural defensive instinct was to grab this guy and beat him into submission.
But, I stopped and thought about it for a second- do I really want to take that 1% chance to defend the slushy machines? I’m just a minimum wage paid clerk who has never even met the franchise owner, and I know he couldn’t care less that I was there working for him in the middle of the night.
I had made a snap decision there- I’m a hired hand, I’m not dying for the glory of 7-11.
Fortunately, the police were right there 30 seconds after I tripped the alarm and took care of the situation for me. He didn’t have a weapon and was well known to the officers as mental health patient who had gotten away from his group home.
In John Chapter 10, Jesus shows us the difference between a good shepherd and a hired hand. It has everything to do with the heart focus of the person who carry’s the title of shepherd.
Today we call our spiritual shepherds pastors. Pastor is a Anglo-Saxon word that was translated from the Latin word for “one who tends sheep in a grassland.” The bible has a lot to say about how these spiritual Shepherds are supposed to care for God’s sheep.
Jesus tell us HE is the good shepherd. He is the example.
That leads us to our first point of studying John 10:1-21, and we ask the question-
I. What is the Good Shepherd
A Christian ministry did a poll last year of the top ten things people want to see in their pastor
1. Love of Congregation
2. Effective Preaching
3. Strong Character
4. Good Work Ethic
5. Casts vision
6. Demonstrates Healthy Relationships
8. Does not yield to critics
10. Models Evangelism
Not a bad list, and for the most part they are biblical ideals one should seek in a spiritual leader.
The bible also tells us the other side of the story in what a hired hand looks like.
Ezekiel 34- The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds (or pastors) of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.
They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
The summary of this section of scripture is this-these people who desired the title of Shepherd were in it for themselves.
The shepherds of ancient Israel or more focused on what they can get out of the church then serving the church the way that Jesus Christ did.
One of the condemnations that God was giving to these men was the fact they took all of the good things from their flock but refused to tend to those who needed at most.
I believe it is still a great measure to use today. It is a measure that I try to hold myself up to occasionally to see how I'm doing not just in my actions but in my heart.
Several years ago, I was at a conference for pastors and we were challenged with this question- “Would you still be the pastor of your congregation if you received no financial benefit from it?”
After all, people in the world volunteer to work at the Red Cross,
new volunteer for their various clubs,
some of them are even volunteer firefighters, or volunteer EMT's or paramedics.
If the world can do all this and not receive a financial compensation, then why can't the called men and women of God do the same thing?
There was a lot of silence in that room.
This might not be a good sermon point to bring up right before a board meeting. (Joke)
Now I'm not discounting what the Bible teaches about pastors being paid, and being paid well.
Paul commands the church that the elders who direct the affairs of the church are worthy of double honor especially those who are given to preaching and teaching.
Saying that, the challenge that was leveled at us that day had to do with the attitude and example that Jesus gave spiritual leaders at all levels to lay down our life for the church.
That is the foundation of what makes a good Shepherd, but it is also the foundation of what makes a good Christian.
Many of you are the only example of a Jesus centered person people will ever run into, therefore you may be their pastor.
Think about that for a moment
Example if time
Psalm 23 is the best Old Testament scripture that shows the loving care of a Shepherd as he leads the sheep.
He makes him lie down in green pastures, reminds them of God's protection
He leads me beside still waters, speaks of god's peace upon them
He restores their soul he leads them in paths of righteousness
He anoints their head with oil, speaking toward healing the wounds that life gives them (brief explanation/use shepherd staff)- sheep wandering into bramble- vines with thorns.
We have looked at what a good pastor looks like, but Jesus just didn’t leave it there. He also spoke of the actions of the sheep -
II. What is a Good Sheep
A. They listen
This week I will I watched a video of recruit privates being bussed into receptions station (first stop of basic) on their way to basic training. They were all nervous, joking, and as they grew closer to the reception building, the noise grew quieter and quieter as they saw the men in uniform, big round brown hats waiting for them.
As soon as that bus got into park, all the senior drill instructors boarded the bus and began to bark orders.
The order was easy- you have two minutes of get off this bus and form lines. You will have your paperwork in your left hand, your bag of belongings in the right hand. MOVE!
As usual, they all piled off the bus, and half of them didn’t obey the simple instructions they were given, and they got introduced the Basic Trainee’s version of motivation- the pushup.
The first lesson a soldier gets is how to listen, and the next thing is to respect authority.
Why is that so important?
Because in battle, when the explosions are all around you, incoming fire is hitting right next to you, your buddy falls to your left, and you here screams to your right- that barked order from you sergeant may just save your life.
Sheep need to also heed their shepherd. Sheep aren’t the brightest animals in the barnyard. They spend their entire lives looking down at where the next blade of grass is coming from. There are ample videos out there of sheep walking into something harmful or off cliffs because they never look up to see where they are going- they are only concerned about that next blade of grass.
The bible compares us to sheep, and some of you might be offended by that, but think of the society we live in today.
Most of us are the same way. Today, with technology it’s even worse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people walking through the hospital and right into a wall or another person because they are looking at their screens. They have no idea what is going on around them.
That’s why God has given us the shepherds. They live to protect the sheep and make sure no harm comes to them.
But that only works when the sheep trust the shepherd enough to listen to them.
B. A good sheep enters through the gate
A Sheep enters through the gate. In this section of John chapter 10 Jesus clearly describes himself as the gate for the sheep.
One of the main reasons we have spiritual conflicts in our lives, our families, or our church’s is when people try to do things that God has not called them to do or assume a position that God has not given them.
It is also the reason for the conflict in most families. Teenagers try to usurp authority away from their parents.
Wives away from their husbands.
Someone from outside the marriage tries to wiggle their way in between the husband and the wife.
All this has to do with going outside the authority structure of that which Jesus has put in place.
In the church and in the life of a Christian, everything is supposed to go through our gate, Jesus. Everything is meant to go through him, and then down through his authority structure.
I know that authority is not a popular subject in today's culture. It's bad enough that humanity by itself is naturally rebellious. It's even worse in American culture where we celebrate rebellion. America was born in rebellion And it permeates everything that we think of or do today.
Paul reminds us in
Romans 13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Authority is not something that is meant to oppress, but to give the maximum amount of freedom while still having the protection of God.
That is why when we talk about the United States being a free country, we also have to speak of being a nation of laws. You can’t have true freedom without boundaries- that’s anarchy and then the law of the jungle applies- the strong rule the weak- and that doesn’t turn out too well for the weak.
Invariably, the question comes up and reread from this verse, what about when the authority is bad.
Shouldn't we as good Christians be concerned about those living under oppressive government or tyrannical leadership.
Yes. But before we grab the torches and pitchforks to rebel- consider the history of one man from the bible-
Joseph. Joseph served at the second in command of Egypt. The person who was first in command was named Pharaoh.
Pharaoh was NOT a Godly man- in fact he was such an egotistical tyrant that he commanded he be worshipped as a God.
If you and I were living in ancient Egypt right now and Pharaoh walked in and decided that he wants to remove your head for no particular reason other than his personal whim right now the only thing you could do just lose your head. That's a pretty oppressive regime when you think about it.
Thank God You and I are nowhere near that in today's America.
Did Joseph lead a rebellion against this mad tyrant?
No- Joseph submitted to him.
So maybe just maybe we should think about practicing some submission to authority before we scream and protest.
What would happen today if the same people committing acts of violence just to be heard would kneel and pray for those in authority.
What would happen if the church would quit using political methods to bring spiritual change? That is what is killing the church by the way.
What would happen if we were so Kingdom focused that none of the things surrounding us would cause us any fear?
That’s the key to victory…..but it means we have to-
C. Refuse to acknowledge anything but the shepherd
100% of the churches problems in this day is refusing to acknowledge the Shepherd of the sheep.
We in the 21st century will do so many backflips to avoid actually having to humble ourselves and pray and seek his face and turn from your wicked ways that it leads to the spiritual mental and physical exhaustion so many Christians face today.
I’m not just pointing a finger at you, because it happens to me too. These last several weeks since pastor Ron died I've been in kind of a funk.
I was not taking care of myself In doing my own personal spiritual disciplines. I was trying everything else to keep my mind occupied or keep myself busy but at the same time feeling more and more tired, more and more frustrated, in reaching a point I'm just hitting the wall with exhaustion.
It finally culminated on Friday morning at 1:30 when I couldn't sleep so I got up and Wrote the rest of my message for this week. However, before I did that I humbled myself and prayed. God never gets me at 3 PM in the middle of the afternoon but whenever he needs to spend time with me for my own good it's always in the middle of the night. I think it's the only time that he can get past my stubborn Norwegian/German ways and actually get me to quiet down and rest in HIM.
I have a feeling I'm probably not the only one that goes through periods like this.
If you are feeling like you are living in the fog of despair or are in a pit that you can’t see a way out of, let me give you a truth from God’s word that HE reminded me of this week-
Isaiah 30:15- This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
The key to our living the victorious life and being a happy sheep in God’s pasture is simply remembering who is the shepherd. But we have to be willing to listen, we have to be willing to enter through his gate, and we have to be willing to remember him in everything.
III. Why does this matter? Wolf
The Bible doesn't shy away from the fact that you and I have an enemy. He is called many things in scripture
The father of lies
A roaring lion
Beelzebub the Lord of flies. That seems like an interesting name for the devil but when you consider that flies hang around dead things it really fits
We don't talk about him much in this church and rightfully so because Jesus should be the focus of the Christian and the focus of this church. For if our worship of the King is pure then we have nothing to worry about when it comes to our enemy.
That's the ideal. But most of us live in the real world don't we where the ideals are rarely applied in ideal circumstances.
The fact that there is a Wolf out there is not meant to create fear of the Wolf within us. We are not to shake in fear before him.
What the Wolf is meant to do is to keep us close to the Shepherd Jesus. This staff symbolizes the ministry of the shepherd, and it isn’t just for corralling sheep, but to beat wolves to death if it tries to harm one of the flock.
The fear of the devil is lost in the wonder of the Lord. I've said this before as it's the quote that appears on the wall of the prayer room at our old church , and was one of pastor Ron’s favorite sayings.
Fear is the enemy tool. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear has to many of us in it’s grasp today. If that’s you- you need to look to the shepherd of your soul today and be comforted that He is faithful to bring you through the valleys of this life and into the glory of heaven someday.
I want us to remember our Shepherd this morning by remembering His Words-
A good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, and that is what he did and what we will celebrate with Holy Communion.