Summary: The mission serving the Good Shepherd faces 100s of millions of people worldwide who "have not sufficient exposure to make a decision for or against Christ." How will we reach them?
Marilyn Laszlo was a missionary in Papua New Guinea. She put the language of her village in written form and was teaching 200 people to read and write. One day, people from another village visited and saw the people from the first village going to church, singing, and being taught the Bible in their language by one of their own villagers. The leader from the second village asked Marilyn to come to his people and put their language into writing “so that we might know about God too.”
Marilyn told him that she had “several more years of work in this place,” and the leader went away very disappointed.
Weeks later, Marilyn organized a search party to find that village. After an all-day search, they found it and the village leader “was thrilled” to see them. Marilyn says, “We were the first white people to come into that village, so we were quite a sight. As we were walking through the village I noticed in the center a new building, very different from their regular houses. I asked, What is that new building in the center of the village?”
The leader said, “Oh, that is God’s house - that’s our church.”
“Your church?” Marilyn asked. “Do you have a mission here?”
“Oh no, we have never had a mission here.”
“Well, do you have a pastor here - you know, someone that comes to preach God’s Word?”
“Oh no, we’ve never had a pastor here.”
Well, is there someone here in the village that can read and write Pidgin English who holds services in your church?”
“Oh no. There is no one here that can read or write. And we have no books.”
Marilyn looked at him and said, “Then what is that building for?”
He said, “Well, we saw the little church in your village and our people decided to build a church too. Now we’re waiting. We’re waiting for someone to come and tell us about God in our talk, in our language.”
[Confessing Christ as Lord, Urbana 1981, p. 213ff]
Can you believe that? That’s a true story.
Today, there are over 6,000 people groups in the world who have not yet heard the gospel. To His first followers, Jesus the Good Shepherd said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also.” How will Jesus bring them?
Please open your Bible or a Pew Bible to John chapter 10. We’ll begin with verse 11.
Jesus said, “ I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
On the night before His crucixion, Jesus said to His closest followers, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). As you know, Jesus did that. He showed the greatest love that anyone can show. He died on the cross because He is the divine Good Shepherd and He loves those who are His own.
v.12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
A hired hand flees at the first sign of danger. A hired hand is not going to endanger himself for others. As a result of this, a wolf comes in and grabs some sheep while the rest of the sheep scatter. The unity of the flock is destroyed by the wolf, but the hired hand doesn’t care.
v. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
The hired hand is after selfish gain; he doesn’t care at all about the safety of the sheep entrusted to him. Have you ever worked with someone like that. They clock in, do their work,and clock out. Maybe they constantly watch the clock while they’re working,and they can’t wait to be done. They don’t love their work; they don’t even like it. They work for the paycheck and nothing else. The couldn’t care less about the quality of their work. All they want is that paycheck at the end of the work week.
v. 14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,”
Jesus knows those who belong to Him and they know Him. Think about that second village that Marilyn Laszlo visited. They had the barest of exposure to the gospel, yet they wanted it in their village. They were hungry to know God. They were passionate about learning about Jesus. They prepared for the gospel to come to them.
v. 15 Jesus completes His thought, “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”