Summary: God in Christ knows you by name, wants you to thrive in life and gave his life for you so that may be possible both now and for evermore.
Video Clip – The Good Shepherd from SermonSpice
Title: Remember the Voice
Text: John 10:1-16
Thesis: God in Christ knows you by name, wants you to thrive and live a rich and fruitful life and willingly gave his life for you to make that possible for you now and for all eternity.
The setting of which Jesus taught from out text today would seem at first glance… dated and irrelevant to in 21st Century. They say the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area, i.e., herding, developed 10,000 years ago when hunters learned that the animals they once chased all over the landscape, could be a reliable and renewable source of meat and milk products as well as hides for tents and clothing. And so nomadic and semi-nomadic herding became a way of life.
In the 1200s, Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered almost all of Asia by uniting the various nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes who had knowledge of vast expanses of land and knew how to live in rugged, sparse and harsh places for long periods of time.
The herds provided for the herders and the herders protected the herds from thieves and predators.
Many animals naturally live and travel together in groups in the wild. Here in the west we have heard of the massive herds of buffalo that once roamed the plains. An ongoing debate here in Colorado is what to do with the herds of wild mustangs on BLM (public) land. Elk are herding animals.
When I was a kid our family would gather in front of our black and white RCA and watch Rawhide with the young Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates. We would watch Rowdy and all the other cattle drovers moving their herd to market. Now, several times a year, we can settle in for an evening of the Lonesome Dove series and relive moving a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana. And sometimes we can get a snippet of western history as cattle herders and sheep herders and sod-busters get all tangled up in what they used to call “range wars.” Herds and the grazing of herds have the feel of what they did in the old days.
So herding is not a new trend, it is an ancient way of life that has not changed all that much over the centuries. Yet all over planet earth, including the Arctic, 21st Century men and women herd horses, cattle, sheep, goats, reindeer, yaks, musk-oxen, swine and camels over mountain ranges, valleys, plains, steppes, deserts… anywhere there is marginalized land suitable for grazing.
Herding is a harsh life. In January of 2010 The Denver Post ran a news article about sheep herding here in Colorado calling the life of a shepherd “quite possibly Colorado’s worst job.”
And yet, the role of “shepherd” is one of the primary ways God chooses to describe his relationship with people… with us. Arguably, the 23rd Psalm, one of the most well-known passages in the bible, speaks of God as our shepherd and of us as God’s sheep. It is a beautiful and pastoral image of a loving shepherd who leads, provides for, protects and blesses his sheep. And so this morning as we retell and unpack Jesus Christ’s story of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep, be looking for an understanding of what God, as the Good Shepherd, is like in the way Jesus relates to us… even in the 21st Century.
God knows your name.
I. God knows your name
“The shepherd… calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:1-5
One of the most powerful statements in the bible occurred at the baptism of Jesus when he heard “the voice” from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:22
Another powerful verse is from I John 3:1: where the bible writer states, “See how much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” So, just as Jesus heard “the voice” affirming his relationship with his father, may we too hear “the voice” affirming our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
If you have ever wondered just how intimately God knows you and how much God loves you, the bible says that even before God made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4
Really, that is not such a far-fetched thought. I was reading about world population and birthrates this past week. In some parts of the world like Africa and parts of the Middle East birthrates are as high as 7.5 children born per woman… in those places overpopulation poses some frightening consequences. Under population also poses frightening consequences. The birthrate of 1.39 children born per woman in places like Germany, Japan, Italy and Greece point to an increasingly aging population being supported and cared for by fewer and fewer younger people. Here in our country the birthrate is approximately 1.9 children per woman which has those who watch demographic trends growing increasingly edgy.