Summary: This sermon speaks of the relationship between Christ and His church as that of the Shepherd and sheep. It looks at some of Satan’s pitfalls in the church, as thieves and robbers, and relates the sheepfold to the church.
The Shepherd, The Sheep, And the Church
I believe that of the many images that Jesus identifies Himself with in the New Testament, one that brings solace to many is that of the shepherd. Many stained glass windows in our churches portray Jesus as the Good Shepherd, often surrounded by children. The 23rd Psalm, the Shepherd’s Psalm, has been used by countless pastors to provide comfort to families who have lost loved ones. The shepherd’s description is so appropriate, as the Good Shepherd offers us a safe refuge, from a world filled with thieves, robbers and wolves who are trying to destroy us. The Great Shepherd is our constant protector, always on guard and who does not sleep (Psalm 91:1-4; Psalm 121:1-4).
We live in a world which, on so many levels, thinks on a very negative level. One of the chief reasons for suicide today, is not that people want to die, but that they can’t find a reason to live. Very seldom, in the home, at the workplace, or at the school, is emphasis placed on the things that we do right. At home my wife can do 100 things right, yet often the one thing I focus on is the one thing done wrong. Sometimes she may be having a great day, and instead of just enjoying the good things God has shared with her, I find I often act as a wet blanket by telling her of my bad morning.
In the midst of this negative attitude, God gives us the picture of our Great Shepherd, who tells that we will not be in want, to have the best of pastures and water, and be restored in our souls. We have the peace that He is our guide because He loves us, and will not leave us. There is the certainty that this shepherd walks with us all of our lives, and that when we breathe our last breath in this world, He is there to walk with us through the portals of Glory, and be with Him forever. He views us as royalty, by annointing our heads with oil, and promises us that we will dwell in His house forever.
Here in this passage in John 10, Jesus is attempting to teach to His disciples, the type of relationship that He desires to have with Christians. We are going to look at this today as we consider the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep, and as we look at the other characters in this account, the hireling, the thief and wolf, the other sheep, the sheep pen, the watchman, and the jews. It is my hope that you will see the sacrificial love that the Great Shepherd has in sacrificing His life for us, but also His Lordship as He takes it again. My prayer is that if there be anyone within the sound of my voice, not in God’s fold, that this will be a moment of decision for you.
Jesus is in the midst of a controversy with the Pharisees over healing a blind man on the Sabbath. Oddly enough the controversy is initiated by His own disciples, as they asked Jesus who had sinned in order that this man was born blind. In this culture it was felt that previous sin in the person’s family was the cause for the condition, in this case blindness. Jesus answered them by saying that the man was blind not by the power of someone’s sin, but rather to show the healing power of God. With that Jesus went on to heal the man.
The man was then brought to the Pharisees to investigate the healing. The Pharisee’s were hoping for a way to get something, anything on Jesus. The issue thus became an issue of healing on the Sabbath. The healed man was eventually thrown out of the synagogue for defending Jesus.
Jesus then comes to his aid again. First He leads the healed man to have a personal faith in Him, then He turns His attention to the Pharisees. The account here in chapter 10 is all part of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees.
This passage can actually be divided into two parts, John 10:1-6 and John 10:7-21. Much of the content is similar. What is of most importance are the characters that Jesus uses. Today we are going to study many of them, and one that is incredibly important for the church, that I would dare say that many of us have not given much consideration to.
Jesus response to the Pharisees was very confusing for them as He has to go over it twice with them. This should not be surprising though, for two reasons. First, is the biblical principle that light and darkness cannot mix. You can have one or the other but not both. Jesus states in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world and that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, is very clear that light and darkness cannot mix. It is our responsibility, not as Baptists, but as Christians to make sure that we have no spiritual association with those who do not look to God’s Word as their final authority on all spiritual matters.