1. This has been a good weekend of celebration. 50 years to look back over and to thank God for. 50 years of being a church.
2. As I looked through the year of the bible readings and sought to choose a passage for this evening, I wanted to find a passage that would be appropriate for this weekend. The passage before us reminds us of who we really are. And to whom we belong. And how He has watched over us these 50 years as our shepherd.
3.Jesus is talking about the entire true church, but what He teaches us has to do with how He has watched over FRC and over each one of us as individuals.
4. Jesus says to us "I am the good shepherd." We are His sheep.
5. This teaching was not new. In Psalm 23 we are told "the Lord is my shepherd." Jeremiah speaks of gathering the nation as a flock of sheep that has been scattered. And in Ezekiel, God says:
Ezek 34:12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.
Ezek 34:15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.
6. The idea of God, of Jesus being our shepherd is one that gives us a picture of how much God cares for us and how He deals with us.
7. Jesus first tells us "I am the gate for the sheep." At night the sheep would be gathered in a pen for protection. And in the morning they would go out to the pasture for the day. When Jesus says He is the gate He says that He is the only one with authority, the only way, to enter the sheepfold. The only way to be a sheep of Godís sheepfold, to belong to His flock, to be saved.
8. For as Jesus says later in John, no one come to the Father but through me.
9. But the picture I also have is that of the shepherd standing in the doorway of the pen as they came in from the pasture. He would inspect each sheep as it entered. If the sheep were scratched or wounded by thorns, the shepherd anointed it with oil to provide healing. If the sheep were thirsty he would give them water. And he would count them to make sure they were all there. If one was missing, he would go out to find the lost sheep, as we read in the parable of the lost sheep. We get the picture of Jesus caring for His church and each one of us in a very personal way.
10. Jesus says that He has come so that we may have life, and have it to the full. To know Him as our shepherd, changes everything in our life. A young man or woman develops a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. They fall in love. All of a sudden their lives are filled with purpose and meaning and a future. Their lives become full. Everything is now different. So it is when we develop an intimate relationship with Jesus. We now want to live for Him. We seek to serve Him and honour Him. And we feel loved and cared for. We do not need to fear anything for He will be with us.
11. And we recognize His voice. We hear Him and His words of instruction. At night various flocks may be gathered together in the pen. Just as there are various flocks in the world - those who follow Jesus and those who follow others. In the morning the shepherds come to take their sheep out to the rich pasture for food. The sheep will only follow their own shepherd. We will not follow false teachers but only Jesus.
12. And the shepherd goes before us. To make sure the way is safe. He does not stand behind us and beat us and force us to go ahead. Instead He leads us and makes sure the way is safe for us.
13. And because we know Him we follow Him. God has put that desire to follow in our hearts.
14. Jesus says that as the good shepherd He lays down His life for His sheep. He is not a hireling paid to watch over us, but He is our owner. We were purchased by His blood. We belong to Him. And because we do, He does not run away when there is danger. In fact He defeated our greatest for by dying for our sins. Satan and death have been defeated. And so we need not fear anything, for our Shepherd will see us through all things. And He will not leave us or forsake us.