Summary: Explores responsibilities of spiritual leaders (shepherds) and comfort found in Jesus as our Shepherd/Leader.
THE Shepherd Is Good
Text: John 9:38-10:21
The first 21 verses of John 10 are a continuation of Jesus conversation with the Pharisees shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles. As you recall from last week, Jesus has healed the blind man. Here in John 9:38 we have a beautiful scene of this man worshipping at the feet of Jesus. The Pharisees who are observing this hear Jesus make the comment in verse 39, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." Here before Jesus is a blind man who acknowledged his need and is now able to see both physically and spiritually. In the crowd are these Pharisees (who refuse to acknowledge their spiritual blindness) coming under a divine judgment—God yielding to their choice to remain blind to the truth. They are angered by Jesus’ implication that they are blind leaders. So they respond with a question that goes something like this, “Surely, you are not saying we are blind?”
Now in John 10:1, we hear Jesus’ answer to their question. The answer begins with a solemn caution, “Ameen, Ameen”. The KJV translates it “Truly, Truly”. Jesus is saying to these guys, “You had better listen, and listen good to what I am about to say.”
I. Our text this morning is a powerful WARNING to spiritual leaders.
Jesus sets up a contrast between these false shepherds and himself.
Who is Jesus referring to in John 10:1 when he talks about the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate? He is talking specifically about these Pharisees and all those so-called leaders like them. They are in a position of leadership and power over the people. But God did not give them that position. They simply took it like a thief.
The Old Testament at times uses the analogy of leaders over God’s people being shepherds. These Pharisees were thoroughly familiar with the Scripture and I suspect that Ezekiel 34 may have come to mind. Turn to Ezekiel 34:1-11
“The word of the LORD came to me: 2"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7"`Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.” NIV
Jesus is essentially calling these “so called shepherds” thieves and robbers. He is characterizes them as leaders who have come into their positions of power illegitimately. “Like a thief you climbed over the fence and claimed these sheep as yours. But God did not give you that position. You just took it.” In verse 2 Jesus is telling them one way you can tell who is a legitimate leader and who is not. The legitimate leader doesn’t have to sneak into his position. He doesn’t have to come in the back door or climb through some widow like the thief does. He just forthrightly walks into the gate of the sheep pen. “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”
It is an awesome matter to lead the blood-bought flock of God. Heb. 5:4 “No man takes this honor, he must be called by God…”The ministry is not a profession. It is a calling. And as soon as any movement forgets that, it will loose God’s favor very rapidly. It happened in Israel. It has happened in many denominations. And we must not let it happen in our movement. The first prerequisite for spiritual leadership is not a degree from a seminary, as helpful as that training may be, but it is a call from God to serve His people. “Everything rises and falls on leadership” and when you get the wrong people in leadership you get into trouble very quickly.