Summary: This sermon builds on Jesus statement "I AM the Good Shepherd" using Psalm 23 and Ezekiel 34.
“Trusting the Shepherd”
The I Am Statements
FCC – August 26, 2007
Text: John 10: 11-18
Introduction: During our recent sermon series, we have been looking at the “I AM” statements of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. So far we have looked at Jesus’ claim to be “The Bread of Life”, “The Light of the World”, and “The Door.” This Sunday we will look at possibly the most beautiful of all the “I AM” statements in John 10: 11:
I AM the Good Shepherd
The image of Jesus being the Good Shepherd has brought encouragement to millions. This metaphor of Jesus has its roots in the Old Testament. This week I read many passages referring to God as our Shepherd. Here are a few of them:
In Genesis 49: 24 we find an important phrase. Jacob is blessing Joseph and says: But his (Joseph) bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
Jacob would also say in Genesis 48: 15: Genesis 48:15 (NIV) Then he blessed Joseph and said, "May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…
Isaiah would say this about God in Isaiah 40:11. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
And in Ezekiel: 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. Ez. 34: 12
When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9: 36
The picture of a shepherd tending sheep is so foreign to us, yet somehow still conjures up images of comfort, courage, and concern. We often feel the need for the Good Shepherd at funerals, but He wants to guide us, protect us, and give us life for this life! Jesus stepped into that first century to make His bold claim...I AM the Good Shepherd. It is my prayer as we prepare for Sunday worship that those who are scattered, helpless, or hopeless, will give their life to the Good Shepherd.
We can trust the Shepherd because…
1. Our Shepherd is Good (v. 11a, 12-14a). John 10:11 (NIV) "I am the good shepherd. There is much comfort in knowing that our Shepherd is good. Most folks find comfort at funerals in the 23rd Psalm, even if they don’t follow Him in their daily life. They want to be reminded that our shepherd is good. Some in this room might struggle with this concept. When thing are going good, we say that God is good. When things are going bad, we wonder where God is…but as it is often said: “God is good! All the time!!”
The OT describes bad shepherds. Ezekiel 34:2 (NIV) "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? A bad shepherd is one that looks out just for himself or herself and doesn’t take care of the sheep in their care.
Ezekiel 34:5-6 (NIV) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My 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. Ezekiel is saying that without a shepherd for the sheep, the sheep become scattered…and a bad shepherd doesn’t even look for them.
Jesus says in John 10:12-13 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. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. In other words, bad shepherds don’t care for the sheep. Like Ezekiel’s words, we are told that a bad shepherd is only in it for them-selves and doesn’t care for the sheep. When bad stuff happens, bad shepherds leave.
But Jesus says in John 10:14 (NIV) "I am the good shepherd”
Rodney Whitacre writes (in John IVP) – “This word (good) refers in such a context to that which is beautiful, noble, honorable, worthy of praise. In other words, Jesus is fulfilling his job as a shepherd in an exemplary fashion so that such goodness is able to be perceived. He is the admirable shepherd, and there is something admirable, heroic and attractive in His death. Consequently, it is in His death that He will draw all men to Himself.”