Summary: This sermon addresses how Jesus is our Shepherd.
VOLUNTEER OR VICTIM?
Text: John 10:1-18
"A soldier returned from the World war minus one arm and both legs. One man said, "It is such a pity that you should have lost your limbs in the war." "I did not lose them I gave them for my country."
"I gave my life for thee
What hast thou given for me?"
(Hyman J. Appleman. Pointed Sermon Outlines And Illustrations. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1953, p. 98).
In John 10:18 we see the words of Jesus reminding us that His life was not taken from Him because He gave it voluntarily. But, there is more to the picture than that. In John 10:1-21 Jesus describes Himself as a shepherd. The imagery that Jesus used in this parable was somewhat allegorical. Jesus was not just talking about a shepherd’s duties. He was describing Himself as Shepherd and us as His sheep. In His use of illustration, we see three pictures which are the door, the leader and the life guard.
In describing Himself as the door to salvation, Jesus used the familiar illustration of the sheepfold. 1) The sheepfold was an encompassing barrier of rocks with an opening for a door (Warren Wiersbe. The Bible Exposition Commnetary. Volume 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989, p. 329). 2) The shepherd would lie across the opening at night. Shepherds were guardians over the sheep in their care. Jesus is our guardian and our Good Shepherd because He watches over those of us who are His sheep. Jesus said, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9 NKJV).
Jesus described Himself as the door of salvation. 1) We often think of how many alternatives will bring about the desired results. 2) But, when it comes to salvation, there are no alternatives (John 10:9). 3) To follow Jesus is to enter the door of salvation and follow the shepherd along the narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). 4) The broad path (Matthew 7:13) has many entrances that lead to a dead end of false hopes, empty promises and slavery to sin that ends in death (Romans 6:23).
Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6 NKJV). Karl Barth once said that it is through Jesus Christ who is both fully human and divine, that "creation and redemption are united" once again (Dogmatics In Outline, p. 69). There is no other way for us to get to heaven except through Jesus who is the doorway to God our heavenly Father.
"Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him why he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the soldier to follow him. When they approached the guarded entrance, the soldiers came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln The soldier had gained an "introduction" (audience) with the President through the President’s son." (Abraham Lincoln, as cited by Donald G. Barnhouse, God’s River., Romans 5:1-11: Garnd Rapids, Eerdmans, 1958, p. 39). It is through Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16) that we have access to God, our heavenly Father (John 14:6).
Shepherds always led their sheep to safety. 1) Sheep are naive, vulnerable and easy to scare. 2) Shepherds would lead their sheep to both food and water. 3) Psalm 23 gives us the imagery of sheep that have eaten their fill, because sheep will not lie down in the grass until they have eaten their fill. That is why Jesus as our Good Shepherd makes it so that we as His sheep can "lie down in green pastures"(Psalm 23:2a). 4) Sheep do not like swift moving water. In fact, they will not drink from swift moving water because it scares them so badly. Mark 4:35-41 where the disciples were scared on the boat with the Lord in the midst of a storm in the sea of Galilee seems to describe how we like sheep are frightful of harm. That is why Jesus as our Good Shepherd leads us beside the "still waters" (Psalm 23:2b).
Our shepherd---the Good Shepherd even leads us through emergencies and crises. 1) He guides our paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). 2) He leads us through the "valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4) where death and all the fear associated with it would otherwise threaten, intimidate and impair our judgement and response. 3) Where there is a shadow, there has to be a light for Jesus said that He was the light of the world (John 8:12). His light dispels the darkness.