Lent 2019 - Why the Shepherd Chose to Die
Please stand as we read our newest memory Scripture together …
1 John 1:5-7
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”
And our memory refresher verse(s) for today is(are) …
2 Timothy 2:11-13
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot disown Himself.”
Please open your Bibles to John 10:1-21
As we come to this portion of Scripture, Jesus has just healed a man born blind.
And, I must tell you, I love the interaction between the man who has been healed and the Pharisees!
Well, the Pharisees end up insulting the man and kicking him out of their gathering!
After a while Jesus, the man born blind and some Pharisees are together and Jesus says in John 9:39-41,
“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.
“Some Pharisees who were with Him heard Him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’
“Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’”
Of course, Jesus is speaking of spiritual blindness. So, He goes on to speak to them in parables that they should understand, but, it just goes to confirm their spiritual blindness.
With that in mind let’s look at: John 10:1-21
May God bless the reading of His Word … (Prayer for help …)
In verses 1-6 Jesus is figuratively speaking of Himself as a spiritual shepherd, God the Father as the spiritual gatekeeper, the one who controls entry into the sheepfold of safety. Jesus says that the sheep actually know the voice of their Shepherd and they will follow him but will run away from a stranger.
In this section Jesus never mentions that He, Himself, is the shepherd.
The Pharisees don’t get it! Why is He telling us about sheep and shepherds and gatekeepers????
In verses 7-10 Jesus then identifies Himself as the Gate to the sheepfold. This means that He is the ONLY legitimate means of entry into the safety of the fold.
In verses 11-18 Jesus then identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who protects the sheep with His very life. He is NOT like the hired man who abandons the sheep and runs away when a threat to the sheep comes.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who is willing to die for His sheep; to lay down His very life. But ……. What good is a dead shepherd? And that bring us to the most unusual part of this passage.
“The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”
Jesus is almost sounding like a broken record here when He says,
“… I lay down my life - only to take it up again …”
“… No one takes my life from Me - I lay it down of My own free will …”
“… I have the authority to lay down my life and then to pick it up again and this authority comes from My Father! …”
Jesus has been using sheep analogies. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has sheep.
Who wants to kill the sheep? Perhaps it is not so much to kill the sheep but to steal them.
The Pharisees are having a truly difficult time with Jesus. He seems to be stealing their sheep, their followers, their admirers.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
“They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”
You see, the Jewish leaders had quite a following! And they loved it!
But, then along comes this upstart, Jesus.
- Jesus has no formal training.
- Jesus didn’t dress in the religious “uniform” that they all wore!
- Jesus was actually considered to be ceremonially unclean to them;
- He would go into the houses of sinners and tax collectors,
- He would allow a woman with a sinful reputation to bathe His feet with expensive perfume and wipe His feet with her hair.
- When Jesus would rebuke the Pharisees the crowd actually ENJOYED IT!!!!
- JESUS WAS STEALING THEIR SHEEP
- They wanted Him dead
- THEY WANTED THEIR SHEEP BACK, even if they had to kill Jesus to get them back!
Now, this is in John chapter 10. Who has been talking about killing Jesus?
“For this reason they tried all the more to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill Him.”
The wanted Him dead. They wanted their sheep back! And, Jesus knows this.
So, when Jesus says in John 10:17-18
“… I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”
Jesus is saying:
- You can’t kill Me but I will lay down My life of My own accord
- But … I won’t stay dead
- I can and will take My life back up again by the authority given to Me by My Father
This sort of thing was unheard of, so, no wonder they declared that Jesus was insane and demon possessed!
Now, this “lay down My life” was not an easy thing in any way. Even though Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin was why He came to earth, it certainly was NOT something He was looking forward to!
Just because it was possible never meant that it would be easy!
We see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane saying in Matthew 26:39, 42,
“Going a little farther, [Jesus] fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”
What is this cup thing Jesus was referring to? We don’t talk like that anymore.
It is the cup of God’s wrath against sin, and all of that wrath was about to be heaped up and piled upon Jesus, the perfect sinless Son of God.
We love to speak of God’s love and God IS love but God is also just!
Our God does love us! He loves us enough to send His Son for our salvation.
Our God also HATES sin! Why does He hate sin?
Because He loves us and sin destroys us!
Would you love something that would destroy someone you loved?
Would you even be indifferent about something that would destroy someone you loved?
Just listen to a couple of verses that describe the nature of the wrath of God!
Ezekiel 21:31-32 (spoken against the Ammonites for insulting the LORD)
“I (the Sovereign LORD) will pour out My wrath on you and breathe out My fiery anger against you; I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men, men skilled in destruction. You will be fuel for the fire, your blood will be shed in your land, you will be remembered no more; for I the LORD have spoken.”
Psalm 78:59 AMPC (spoken against Israel for idol worship)
“When God heard this, He was full of [holy] wrath; and He utterly rejected Israel, greatly abhorring and loathing [her ways]”
And the LORD says in Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sins, it shall die.”
All of that sin that was destroying humanity could not be left unpunished!
If the Lord poured out His Holy wrath against everyone who sinned everyone would be destroyed!
It is that cup of the Lord’s holy wrath against sin that Jesus was about to take upon Himself.
It is that cup of the Lord’s holy wrath that would drive the Father to send the Good Shepherd to lay down His life in the place of all who actually deserved the wrath of God!
We think about the physical pain that Jesus was about to bear, but, the holy wrath of the Father being poured out on Jesus in the place of all of humanity is something we cannot understand in our wildest imaginings.
So, when Jesus said that He could lay down His life and pick it up again it was not some parlor trick just to show that He is God. It was not like He would just play dead for three days and then get up to everyone’s applause!
It was an unthinkable, incomprehensible act of compassion by the Son of God for His creation.
Sometimes we talk about Jesus making a way for all of the sin that was ever committed to be forgiven. But when we say that it must always joined with the truth that in order for that forgiveness to be applied to you, you must abandon the world and join yourself to Jesus completely, you must be “in Christ”.
By the same token, even though all of the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus at His crucifixion anyone who is not in Christ is not protected from the wrath of God.
Anyone who is not in Christ will still experience the wrath of God, now and in eternity.
Do you know that the wrath of God is found 152 times in the Old Testament and 29 times in the New Testament.
We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God!
2 Chronicles 36:16
“They mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.”
Ephesians 5:3-7 says,
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
No, we don’t like to talk about the wrath of God because,
- It might offend people and they might not come back to church
- They might go to another church that is more “positive”
- It might make US feel uncomfortable if we are living a lukewarm Christian life
- It might scare US if we are just going through the motions of being a Christian
In many science fiction books and movies people travel around in space ships. In many of the stories the space ship has a defensive mechanism called a force field.
The object of this force field is to protect the ship from weapons that are being fired at them from an enemy vessel.
If a person happened to be outside of the force field they would be vulnerable to the enemy weapons but anyone inside the force field would be protected.
The final holy wrath of God is yet to be unleashed!
Jesus is the force field. If you are in Christ you will be safe because Jesus Himself took on the wrath of God!
John 3:36 says,
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Romans 5:9 says,
“Since we have now been justified by [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”
We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God, but, His wrath will come against all who are not in Christ!
The Bible talks about a time when the wrath of God comes to earth in
Revelation 6:15-17 when it says,
“Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’”
Earlier we asked the question, “What good is a dead shepherd?” Well, if we are talking about and earthly man watching over a bunch of actual sheep, he’s not much good at all!”
But if we are talking about the Good Shepherd who has the power to lay down His life and pick it up again; if we’re talking about the Good Shepherd who died in our place for our sin, then He is of unimaginable good.
For He is the ONLY PROTECTION FROM THE WRATH OF GOD!
And THAT is why, Jesus the Good Shepherd Chose to Die!
But, that protection is only good if you are in Christ!
Are you in Christ today? Do you have a real relationship with Jesus?
Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?
If Jesus is NOT your Lord then He is NOT your Savior, either and you stand open and vulnerable to the wrath of God.
If you are unsaved, if you are not in Christ, let me ask you. Why would you wait?
(Invitation and benediction)