Liar, Lunatic or Lord?
Pt. 2 - Shepherd
Lie Detector Test
Have you ever dealt with someone who couldn't or wouldn't tell the truth? It is maddening. They can't even remember all the lies they told. So, we come up with stuff like "Liar, liar pants on fire!" Then there are those that are crazy. You know that person who only has one oar in the water. They are a few clowns short of a circus. Most of us have dealt with folks like this, but have you ever stopped to think that there were days when people thought these things about Jesus? I remind you that not only did Jesus' family, but the religious leaders of His day thought that at times!
Mark 3:20-21 (NIV)
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
John 8:58-59 (NIV)
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
When Jesus uses this phrase, and this isn't the first time, the leaders consider it blasphemy. Jesus is saying in no uncertain terms that He is God Himself. It is these "I am" statements that made the people of His day wrestle with Jesus’ identity. We too need to wrestle with His identity.
CS Lewis said . . .
"You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.”
He claimed to be The Bread of Life, The Light of the world, and now in John 10, He makes two additional and related claims.
TEXT: John 10:7, 9, 11, 14-15 (NIV)
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
We miss that the way Jesus would have said this in His native tongue which was "The Sheep Gate . . . I am and The Good Shepherd . . . I am!"
Here is Jesus the One who came from Bethlehem, where the sacrificial lambs were raised and kept until the Day of Atonement, who enters Jerusalem on the day of His crucifixion through the gate they called "The Sheep Gate" standing and declaring that He is the Sheep Gate and The Good Shepherd
Is He a liar? Is He a Lunatic?
What is Jesus saying? What does He mean?
The only point of entry.
It would seem to be a little surprising that before He claims to be The Good Shepherd, Jesus first says that He is the gate or door to the sheep pen. Too many want the benefits of the Good Shepherd before they come through the door. We want the blessings of Jesus without allowing Him to direct and discipline us! However, only those who come through Jesus can experience the benefits of having Him as a shepherd. The benefits are described in verse 10 of that same chapter . . . life and life more abundant. Protection from the enemy. In order to access those benefits you must first come through the door. You must gain access. You gain access by entering through Jesus. He would drive this point home in John 14:6, when He states . . . No man gets to the Father but through me. He is the only point of entry. You don't gain access any other way. Any other way is considered climbing over the wall. At sundown the sheep would be led into an enclosure that only had one entry point. they were considered a thief or a robber and the shepherd who slept in the doorway and became a human gate would fight to protect the real sheep. If anyone tries to gain entry any other way - by works, by reputation, by last name, by riding someone else's relationship with God, or any other attempt to reconcile with God other than through the Gate, Jesus is an illegitimate approach. Jesus determines who gets in. You can go back and read the 9th Chapter of John and you see at the end of it that Jesus has healed a blind man and the religious leaders investigate and end up throwing this once blind man out of the temple and declare that he is steeped in sin. It is at this point that Jesus steps up in response and declares that these folks are not the sheep gate, but that He is and because He is the door, He also lets them know that the exclusive club that kept others out is over. Since Jesus is the door, He alone would decide who can enter and who can’t! Because Jesus is the door . . .
The door is open.
Religious folks want to control the door. Keep people out. Restrict access. That is what was happening prior to this statement that Jesus makes. The door was closed. Jews only. Circumcised only. Law keepers only. Jesus makes entry available to anyone who will simply believe on Him. Anyone who will approach Him as shepherd of their life finds their way into the flock. Aren’t you thankful that Jesus made it possible for us to be a part of the family? We can’t act like we deserve it, earned it, have rights to this. Instead, we must remain grateful and acknowledge that our only means of access came due to the walking, talking, saving, rescuing, grace filled Sheep Gate who by His sacrifice made this possible!
So, what makes Him The good shepherd?
We could backtrack to the most famous passage that describes the role of a shepherd. Psalm 23 tells us that a good shepherd helps us rest. He makes me lie down. He knows when I need rest even when I don’t. A good shepherd leads me (he doesn’t drive me) to still water. He could take me to rough waters, but instead he takes me to the place where it is safe. He prepares a table in presence of my enemies. He favors me when others are plotting against me. He restores my soul. He meets my needs so that I don’t want. We could backtrack and learn but the truth is the information we gather from the Psalm was what someone else said about Him. Valuable knowledge, but I think it is just as or maybe even more important to hear what Jesus said about Himself as a shepherd. He mentions two things that He will do as The Good Shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Verse 12 - the hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
The Good Shepherd stays present in an attack.
Hirelings abandons you. Only Jesus steps in between you and wolf. He buffers you. He protects you. Go back and read the story of Job and you discover that the wolf couldn’t get to Job unless The Shepherd allowed it. It wasn’t that the wolf never desired or tried before. It was the shepherd in the way. You have a Shepherd in the way today. You may think you are going through struggles, pain, heart break but stop just a minute and think about the pain level, the crushing and hopeless situation you would be in if The Good Shepherd wasn’t standing in the way of the one whose sole purpose is to kill, steal and destroy. The fact that you are still alive, still singing, still moving is proof the Good Shepherd is on duty. Others that see the trouble looming on the horizon, who see destruction at hand, see pain in the path will sacrifice you instead of becoming sacrifice for you. Others will tuck tail and run. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He runs toward the trouble! He continues by saying that He will lay His life down for you! That is commitment to you. He values you above His own safety and own life. He is willing to fight for you! He is on constant and consistent duty. He never sleeps. Never slumbers. Never shifts His attention from you!
Who else would die for you? Who else did die for you?
The Good Shepherd knows me.
Jesus said He was The Good Shepherd and then states that an indication of this is that He knows His sheep. That is why I said He knows me rather than making it plural to He knows us. He is The Good Shepherd because He knows me . . . Intimately. Does He have more than one sheep? Yes! He has a flock. However, He lets me know that I am not just a face in the crowd to Him. I am not just one of the group. Nameless, lumped in, obscure, or unnoticed. No, He knows me. One of the greatest needs in a human is to be known. Jesus answers that need right here. Jesus knows me. He knows my name. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows me and values me so much that if I wander off, He states in Matthew 18:12 that He will leave the 99 and set out on search and rescue mission just to find me! He won’t sit by comfortable with 99 others. He won’t cut His losses. He won’t discount me. No, instead He recognizes my absence. My presence in His flock matters. I think it is crucial for us to grasp this. Say this . . . Jesus knows me! Say it again. Think about what you are saying! Let the truth of that, the reality of that, the security of that, the confidence of that, the freedom of that sink in. He knows me. The Good Shepherd. The One who owns everything. The One who has my answers. The One who has provision. The One who has power. The One who has miracles. The One who can create out of nothing. The One who can command angels. The One who can calm my fears. The One who heal. The One who can make whole. HE KNOWS STEVE! By name. By need.
This should make you sleep better. This should cause you to stress less. This should satisfy your soul. Who cares of no one else knows us The Good Shepherd can single us out by name!