Summary: What Jesus says is that he’s not here to lead us into constraint...he’s here to lead us out! The door isn’t the gate to a cattle stall or a chute to the slaughter house! This gate leads out into the vast beautiful pasture, a life of freedom… full of joy.
The Good Shepherd – John 10:1-10
The imagery of Christ the Shepherd and the sheep has made for beautiful pictures to decorate our homes, lovely greeting cards, and beautiful hymns, but the meaning and implication of this symbol is deeply personal and convicting.
Far too often when we think of Christ the Shepherd, we always think of ourselves the sheep, which we should, but far too often we focus on everyone else who is outside the flock and divide everyone into either sheep or goats. Just a couple weeks ago we saw that when Jesus reinstated Peter after His resurrection, Peter asked what would become of John. Jesus told Peter not to worry about what happens to John. He must focus on His own relationship to Jesus.
"Christ is at once the door, the shepherd and the pasture.” B.W. Johnson
1. Christ is the door - way
In this story, the 'ticket' required by the gatekeeper--the only requirement--is the death and resurrection of Jesus. He has paid the price for us. He has flung the door wide open so that “whosoever will may come.” Anyone, everyone.. the door is open, and no one can shut it. The primary mark of a good shepherd. He is willing to die that the sheep might live. That is what the story of the cross is all about.
We assume that we are on the right way because we are Christians, but just because you set out on the right path at some point in your life doesn’t mean you’ll always stay on it. It takes daily corrections to pattern our life after Christ.
2. Christ is the shepherd – the truth
It’s such an easy thing to talk about following Christ, but that doesn’t mean going to church and reading our Bibles. We must follow Christ each and every moment of the day. So that when we choose the words to respond to someone, we would choose the words that Christ might use in that moment. When faced with a difficult decision, we strain our ear for the voice of our Shepherd to know which way to go. When we have been hurt by others, we follow our Shepherd Savior and choose love over anger, forgiveness over retribution.
Are we really followers of Christ or just fans? Fans are fickle. It’s easy to be a fan when the team is winning. Thousands of people fill the stands Sunday after Sunday wearing the team colors and cheering for our Champion, but the real question is are we truly followers of Christ… when huddled around the campfire early on Friday morning what will we say before the rooster crows? In the moments when no one else is watching do we speak and act as those who are trying to follow after Christ?
We may have done the Church a great disservice by talking about our salvation as though we were inducted into a club from which we could never be evicted. It’s good to ask whether we are a follower of Christ. At some time in your life did you make a commitment to follow Christ? But we must also ask even more now than ever each and everyday, at this moment, am I following Christ?
Sheep fare best together, not picked off one by one. If we will all follow His voice, we will be heading in the same direction. The real reason there is so much division in churches today is quite simply because everyone follows their own voice. There are so many different egos struggling to be fed. Not to mention there are people claiming to be shepherds who don’t have the interest of the flock at heart.
There is something public, open, honest, and even simple about how we live as God's people through Jesus. We listen for His voice. We follow Christ. It’s not about keeping all the rules and never making a mistake. Rule keeping is the stuff of religion. We are called to love Him who first loved us, and if we truly love Him, we will follow Him. Henry Blackaby said, “We don’t have an obedience problem; we have a love problem.”
Radical love. Loving the unlovely. Serving the ungrateful. Compassion for the corrupt. Welcoming the outcast. Radical love. This is the Good Shepherd. This is the example He has set for us and what it truly means to follow His voice.
3. Christ is the pasture – the life
What Jesus says is that he’s not here to lead us into constraint...he’s here to lead us out! The door isn’t the gate to a cattle stall or a chute to the slaughter house! This gate leads out into the vast beautiful pasture, a life of freedom… full of joy.
“Jesus and the early Apostles preached a salvation radically different from the kind of salvation being preached today. They spoke of a life in the kingdom of God encompassing all of human existence, both here and hereafter. The circumference of their message embraces 360 degrees.” Richard Foster