Summary: The story of the shepherd is one that should be intimately familiar to us. It is our story. I share my own story of hearing the shepherd’s voice. Feel free to edit and share your own.
The Shepherd’s Voice
Paonia United Methodist Church
May 11, 2003
A young wife called a newspaper office and asked for the food editor.
"Would you please help me?" she asked.
"I’m cooking a special dinner tonight for my husband’s boss and his wife.
I’ve never cooked a big dinner before, and I want everything to be perfect.
I bought a nine-pound turkey.
Could you tell me how long to cook it in my new
"Just a minute," the food editor said, as he turned to check his reference book.
"Oh, thank you," she said. "You’ve been a big help. Good-bye!"
How would you like to be there for that dinner?
So, where do you think our young wife went wrong?
She heard the words, but missed the point entirely.
It doesn’t take too much to guess what the results look like.
The sad part, is that there are plenty of people who carry this same principle
Into their spiritual lives.
They hear the words, the words even make sense…
But they miss the point completely.
This morning’s Scripture occurs in such a context.
11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The 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. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I 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. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. 18No 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."
The Gospel of John has one basic theme.
John constantly desires that men understand that Jesus is God.
He is concerned with the deity of Christ,
that He is God in a human body.
So repeatedly through the gospel of John,
John records the various times that Jesus made
the claim to be God.
So many times these claims come in the form of parables that are confusing and
take a tremendous amount oif insight to understand.
Thankfully, morning’s text is not quite so difficult.
In fact, it is pretty straightforward.
Jesus claims to be the “good shepherd,
And goes on to describe his extraordinarily personal
And loving responsibilities as such.
Now as straight forward as it is,
I think that it would still help to take a look at what it would mean to be a
shepherd in Jesus day.
Shepherding in the mid-east at the time of Jesus
Would have been very different than it is in other parts of the world today.
Sheep were kept by their owners for years and years,
they were not animals slaughtered for their meat,
but rather providers of wool.
Shepherds led their animals - they did not drive them,
and they stayed with their flock both by day and by night,
protecting them with their rod, a short knobbed club,
from wild animals and robbers - of which there were many;
and they retrieved them from dangerous situations with their staff,
a long pole with a crook in the end that could go around the
animal’s body and drag it to safety.
As I have said the shepherds kept their animals for many years –
and so they came to know them very well
and the sheep in turn knew them very well.
Why is this significant?
Well, I want you to notice several things…
Did you notice that the sheep have done nothing to earn the love of the shepherd?
Did you notice that the Shepherd does not just go looking for the ones that
he likes, or the ones that are somehow more deserving than another?
No, that is just not the way of the shepherd.
The shepherd rescues the lost sheep just because it is lost.
That’s what shepherds do.
They protect the sheep.
And as the shepherd protects his sheep and goes searching for the lost,
Christ came to redeem the lost,
And restore and protect God’s church.
As revolutionary as this message was to those who heard it for the first time,
It should not be unfamiliar to us.
For those of us who have heard the shepherd’s voice speaking to us