Summary: The Good shepherd calls, but who is listening? The good shepherd leads, but who is following? What about when the sheep can not agree on what the good shepherd is saying or where He is going?
Dakota Community Church
May 17, 2009
The Good Shepherd 1
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing 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. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 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."
This little pronouncement from Jesus seems like a fairly inoffensive thing, comparing himself to a shepherd who lovingly cares for his sheep, even to the point of death, but then he adds this part about his relationship with the father and taking up his life after it has been laid down and the religious listeners bristle and reach some strong conclusions about him.
At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"
But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
To fully understand this reaction we need to explore a couple of things:
The historic conflict between God and the leaders (shepherds) of His people.
The context in which Jesus is speaking these things.
First let’s get a little historic background.
God has long been having difficulty with the men who are called to “shepherd” his people.
Numbers 27:15-18 (First man mentioned for the roll)
Moses said to the LORD, "May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd."
So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him.
2 Samuel 5:1 (David’s call)
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ’You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.
1 Kings 22:16-17 (First reference to bad shepherding)
The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD ?"
Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ’These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’
Zechariah 10:2-3 (The Lord’s anger toward bad shepherds)
The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
"My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle.
Ezekiel 34 (Further displeasure with bad shepherds)
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ’This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! 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.