Summary: A Visionary/Pictoral style Sermon based on John 10:14-21
The Good Shepherd
I’m sure that many of you will be familiar with the 1980’s sit-com The Golden Girls. The show is about 4 older ladies who share a house together. One of the main characters is Sophia Petrillo – she’s the oldest of the ladies, and the mother of Dorothy Zbornak-one of the other characters.
Whenever Sophia wants to tell a story, share a memory or impart some nugget of wisdom she always starts off by saying “Picture it, Sicily 1947” or it could be “Picture it, Brooklyn 1956”- She always says something like that, to put her story into context.
She then goes on to tell her story, painting a picture with her words - Making her tale come alive in the minds of those listening to her.
Today I want to paint a picture for you. I want you to leave here with a clear vision in your head. This morning I want you to SEE Jesus. I want you to experience for yourselves his goodness, his love and his great devotion to us.
I want you to see before you, the figure of a man:- A tall, strong looking man – A man whose clothes are perhaps a little dusty and dishevelled, from living rough.
He’s a man with scars on his hands and feet, and on his face – scars that were caused by the attacks of vicious wild beasts.
In spite of his scars, this man has kind eyes and a warm smile.
In his arms he gently holds a young lamb. He gives a slight chuckle as the lamb looks up into his face and bleats. He lovingly strokes its head and cuddles it closer to himself.
Standing around him are many more sheep. They push and jostle as they all try to get closer to him. He lovingly casts his caring eye over each one of them – checking for scratches or bites or any other ailments that might afflict them. He rejoices in their health and wellbeing.
His love for them is evident in the way he gives them his utmost attention – He talks to them, calling each one individually by name. As he talks to them, they bleat back at him, as though responding to his voice – they know him. They trust him. They communicate with him as best they can.
In his hand he carries the tool of his trade - a staff. The staff is a long wooden rod with a hook at one end. The man uses this rod to fight off the wild animals that would attack the sheep. He also uses it to guide the sheep, occasionally using the hook to support their bodyweight as each one walks along a treacherous part of the path.
This man knows what’s best for the sheep. He understands their needs better than they do. He knows the types of vegetation that would make them sick and so he directs them away from it. He gently leads them to fresh pastures and clean water – to everything they need.
He gently chastises them when they head towards trouble, or they fight among themselves. He chastises them out of his great love for them - there’s no hint of cruelty or vindictiveness. Why would he be cruel to them? The scars on his own body prove how much he loves them – the scars show how far he’s prepared to go to protect them. His scars prove that he would die for them if he had to.
Occasionally one of the more head-strong sheep will wonder away from his fold. The sheep wants to do its own thing. It stubbornly refuses to obey the man’s commands, and so it finally finds itself separated from the rest of the flock – but more importantly, it finds itself separated from its protector.
Can you see how this man frets over the lost sheep? Do you see the worry-lines on his face? Can you hear the man calling out the sheep’s name – over and over again-pleading with it to return to the fold.
Can you see the determination on the man’s face as he goes in search of the lost sheep? See how he clambers over the rocks and hills, through the thorn bushes and along the cliff edges - facing every difficulty. He’s determined not to go home until his lost sheep is found.
Can you see the look of terror on his face as he sees his lost sheep in the distance? It’s dangerously close to the cliff edge – Doesn’t it realise that it’s about to fall off to an unspeakable end??
As the sheep calls out to him, do you see the urgency in his pace as he rushes to the rescue?? He ignores the cuts and tares that he’s getting from the thorn bushes as he rushes to save his beloved sheep.