Summary: This sermon investigates our relationship as sheep to Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
John 10: 11 – 18 Hired Hands?
Intro: Once there was a blonde who was really sick of all the blonde jokes. She decided to dye her hair and change her hairstyle. After her new makeover, she decided to take a drive through the countryside. She happened upon a shepherd with a large herd of sheep. She stopped and talked with the shepherd at length. Finally, she asked him, “If I guess the total number of your sheep, can I have one.” “Yes”, the shepherd replied. With that the young lady guessed correctly 382. The shepherd was amazed and kept his word. After she had picked her sheep to take home, the shepherd asked,”If I can guess your real hair color, can I have my dog back?” (Joke courtesy of the sermon “The Good Shepherd” by Joseph Rodgers)
I. There are really 3 characters in this scripture lesson: The Good Shepherd, The Hired Hand and The Sheep
A. In Verse 16, Jesus speaks of his followers as sheep --- you and me as sheep.
B. Phillip Keller, a sheep rancher, wrote a book titled, “A Shepherd Looks At The 23rd Psalm” He says that sheep require more attention than any other livestock. Sheep will ruin a pasture by eating in one place until there is nothing left to eat, they are near-sighted, timid, feeble, defenseless, have no homing instinct and can’t find their way home without a shepherd to guide them.
C. Not a very flattering picture of us as sheep. Not flattering; but, true. Most people don’t like change unless they are forced to, some are stubborn, near-sighted and can’t see things beyond our nose, some are feeble and sometimes our only defense is to run away. We are also helpless without a caretaker.
II. Verses 11 & 12 speak of two kinds of caretakers. There are the shepherds and the hired hands.
A. At the time of Jesus, there were people who made their living by taking care of the sheep at the temple in Jerusalem. There job was to keep them healthy and alive until they could be used as a sacrifice. --- These people were looked down upon by society.
B. They were nothing more than hired mercenaries. They had no vested interest in the sheep. They were going to die anyway so why take good care of them? These people didn’t care because they did not own the sheep and had no vested interest. It was easy, convenient money.
C. In the face of trouble, they run, leave the sheep vulnerable to attack. They just don’t care! The sheep mean nothing to the hired hand.
III. Contrast the hired hand with the Good Shepherd. In verse 14 Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd.
A. I had a friend in Missouri named Jerry. He owned and operated a dairy farm. I was always amazed that he could tell them apart and knew just what each cow needed to be comfortable with the milking process. The same is true of shepherds.
B. Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd because he knows the sheep and the sheep know him. The key word here is ginosko in Greek. It means to know experientially and was used as a Jewish idiom for physical intimacy. This is not book knowledge, put personal knowledge. The Good Shepherd provides because he knows our basic need, he pilots because he knows our need for direction, he protects because he knows our need for security, he pursues because he knows how easily we are led astray.
C. In order for a shepherd to know his sheep, they must spend a great deal of time together. They have to live with each other, talk with each other, walk with each other. It is a reciprocal relationship. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice, his touch, his compassion, his love, and his discipline. As sheep of that belong to the Good Shepherd, we should experience His leading every day.
Conclu: A man in was arrested and taken to court for stealing a sheep. The man protested that he didn’t steal the sheep, it belonged to him. When the case went to court, the judge asked for the sheep to be brought into the courtroom. He ordered the suspect into the hallway and told him to call the sheep. When he did so, the sheep made no response. Then, the judge asked the other man to do the same. When the sheep heard his voice, it ran towards the man. It was obvious that it recognized the voice of its master. The judge said, “He knows his sheep and his sheep know him – case dismissed” (Illustration from sermon, “Worthy Sheep” by Mike DuBose) Who will you follow, the hired hand or the Good Shepherd? Who’s voice to you seek and follow? The Good Shepherd is calling His sheep this morning . . Do you know the shepherd’s voice? We have a worthy shepherd – I pray He will find us all to be worthy sheep.