Summary: The Good Shepherd (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: John chapter 10 verses 1-
Reaching the end of a job interview,
• The interviewer asked a young applicant fresh out of university,
• "And what starting salary were you looking for?"
• The applicant said, "In the neighbourhood of £25,000 a year,
• Depending on the benefits package."
• The interviewer said,
• "Well, what would you say to an five-week holiday,
• 14 paid holidays,
• Full medical and dental cover,
• With the company matching your retirement fund to 50% of your salary,
• And a company car leased every two years, say, a BMW or Mercedes?"
• The young applicant sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"
• The interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it."
At the time of Jesus being a Shepherd was not a good career move:
• It was a job done often by the youngest in the family;
• So that the other family members could do something more important!
• In society shepherds were the butt of jokes;
• Similar to the way we used to say; “There was this Irishman.....”
• Sheep were seen as stupid animals, that could not even find their way home;
• And so those who looked after them were also seen as stupid!
Now our passage this evening divides into two halves:
• Verses 1-21 took place right after the events that you looked at last week.
• The healing of the blind man and his casting out of the temple.
• Verses 22-42 took place two or three months later.
• John brings these two incidents together not because they are chronological,
• But because they are the same subject matter;
• They are tied together by the symbolism of a shepherd and his sheep.
• At the time of Jesus;
• The shepherd with his sheep would have been a very familiar sight.
• The reason for it is the topographical scenery of Judea (The layout of the land).
• The land has what is called an open backbone,
• The central plateau of Judea stretches:
• About 35 miles long and at its widest point is about 17 miles wide.
• The central plateau of Judea is not a land, for agriculture, i.e. for the farmer,
• But was naturally more suited for the pastoral, i.e. for the shepherd with his sheep.
The sight of a shepherd with his sheep out grazing on the Judean hill side.
• Was as a familiar sight to Jesus,
• As cars on the Motorway are to us.
(A) The illustration Vs 1-6):
• Some versions in verse 6 call these verses a parable;
• A better word would be allegory, the N.I.V says “Figure of speech”.
• Jesus in these verses;
• Is simply reminding his listeners of what shepherds and sheep are like.
• We are used to English shepherds and sheep
• In the Middle East things are slightly different.
• If you were a Middle Eastern shepherd,
• You raised your sheep and you kept your sheep,
• And you did not kill them as we do in England,
• You kept your sheep for the purpose of the fleece,
• The sheep had heavy coats of wool and they were shorn regularly,
• And often a shepherd would be with his sheep for decades,
• So long that he even called them by name according to verse 3
• ill: Julie. (Cows) & Gardener's (Pigs).
(1). In the village.
• You would often keep your sheep at night in a communal pen (Sheepfold)
• One large pen was kept by a guardian who was called the door keeper,
• During the night he would have many different flocks in his pen
• Too many for one person to look after;
• And so he would then hire other men to keep the sheep safe through the night,
• While the shepherd went elsewhere to get a good night’s rest
• The next day the shepherd returned for his sheep
• And the door keeper would allow him entrance to them.
• He would open the gate and the shepherd would call his sheep by name
• Ill: Actually the shepherd had the ability to make with his throat;
• A clucking noise or a light high whine sought of tone,
• And his sheep would know,
• Would recognise the sound from the shepherds throat.
• ill: Same as a dog knows its owners whistle (ill: Irish shepherd calls his sheep joke).
• Just like pulling different coloured threads from a jumper
• A shepherd could call out his sheep from the other flocks gathered.
(2). In the countryside.
Now if a shepherd was out on the plains;
• And could not get back to the village pen by night fall.