Summary: Jesus is the good shepherd of our lives. He guides us in the way we should go. He calls us by name. He protects us, leads us, provides for us, and takes us to safety in eternal life.
September 30, 2007
The Good Shepherd
Can you hear Him calling?
There are things in life you want to remember, moments that you do not want to forget. So you document them with pictures. A family picnic, a vacation, a romantic evening, your first dance, your daughter or son’s first dance. There are events in your life that you photograph so that you can remember them. Some events get more photographs than others. You take more pictures at a wedding than you do of your first house because the one is a bit more meaningful than the other.
The image of a shepherd is riddled throughout scripture especially in the Old Testament. This was an image familiar to the Jews…something they were well aware of. This image is not only deep in its meaning and implication but very commonly used. This is not a single picture that we see in scripture in passing, this is the wedding photo album of scripture.
Continuing on with the imagery we saw last week in the first 10 verses of chapter 10 Jesus will shift his focus from two different images. In his first exposition of the parable Jesus presents himself as being the gate for the sheep to enter through. In His second exposition of the parable Jesus presents Himself as being the good shepherd. These are two seemingly unrelated images. However, in Jesus day it would be quiet common for the shepherd would lay down at the entrance to the pen at night and serve as the gate for the sheep. The shepherd is the gate through whom the sheep enter into the pen. Last week we focused on the gate, this week, we are going to take a look at the shepherd. If you want to turn to John 10:11-18 that is where we will be today. We are still in Chapter 10 in the same context as last week but these verses show a lot more of the shepherding image.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jn 10:12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. Jn 10:13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— Jn 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. Jn 10:16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. Jn 10:17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. Jn 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Can you hear Him calling? This image of Jesus as the shepherd is one of the most predominant depictions of Jesus in scripture. Even in modern artwork it is very common for Jesus to be portrayed as a Shepherd. With a proper understanding of culture this image gives us a greater and deeper understanding of our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a brilliant and poignant look into the character of Jesus.
In the Old Testament the frequent and primary reference to Israel was they were ‘sheep that had gone astray’. Time and time again the OT depicts Israel as the lost sheep and the promised future king as the shepherd. The people are commonly referred to as Sheep and their leaders as shepherds. In fact Ezekiel 34 is an entire chapter that uses this imagery to describe the people of Israel, their current wicked leaders, and God’s future coming to be a shepherd for the flock. We heard Tim and Jamie reading the first 10 verses of this chapter, here is verse 11:
Eze 34:11 “ ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. Eze 34:12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. Eze 34:13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. Eze 34:14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. Eze 34:15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. Eze 34:16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Eze 34:17 “ ‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.