Summary: A very underestimate phrase is that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. What does this truly mean? The enemy’s policy by comparison is shocking?
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 22nd April 2018; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
“Please be seated.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14).
In today’s gospel reading today, we find the reference to sheep 6 times in only 7 verses. … So have a guess what todays sermon is about. Have a guess! … I did a sermon of these verses 9 years ago and as I went through the passage, I wrote as I found. … In the end there was hundreds of reference to sheep … I mean, sheep everywhere so I swore I would not do that again. …
Yet here I am today with that same reading … and my first reaction was, “I’m no gonny dae it” … and then I did what most good Christians would do … I threw it aside and said, “ack I will look at that later”. … We are all human … but later I thought “instead of focusing on the sheep, why not focus on the shepherd”, and that is what I have done, and I sincerely hope you relate more to the shepherd than the sheep, and in doing so we will cover a lot of ground, so hang on.
What is a Shepherd?
Anyway, we are here in Ayr … and Ayr is a market town close to a countryside full of sheep … looked after by shepherds … and if I was to ask you, what does a typical shepherd look like? … I am sure you would say that they are pretty normal human beings like us, wearing the same cloths as we would wear, if we worked in fields all day, in all weathers.
This is a strange question with an obvious answer, but this was not the case back in the day, because at the time of Jesus, shepherds were very poor, and dare I say, pitiful creatures. They were treated as outcasts, the scum of the earth; … and so was anyone associated with them.
There were in fact nobodies, nobody wanted them, they smelled, and they certainly were not welcome in any church; ... yet, it is amazing that God the Father choose lowly shepherds to be the first to witness the birth of Jesus. … So not only was Jesus birth humble in a manger, but the witnesses to his birth were lowly Shepherds who lived in the fields, and not the higher echelons of society. ...
The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.
And this humility brings us to our Gospel reading this morning wherein verse 11 Jesus says, but "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep, ... and you know, after what I have just said, Jesus is now comparing or relating himself to these poor unclean outcasts ... recognising the good work they do for the sheep, and saying, I am the “shepherd of mankind”. … When Jesus recruited Peter, he said, “I will make you fishers of men” … but here, Jesus is going a massive stage further by implying that he “will even lay down is life for them”.
And did you notice also, that Jesus said it three times in this short passage … in verses 11, 15 and 17 … that he will lay down His life for us. … Jesus wants us to hear that because he really does loves us ... and that he also wants us to know that His death will not be a victory for His enemies; ... his death will be, or was a voluntary sacrifice to save us from ourselves, and restore our relationship with God.
And voluntary it was, because we read of occasions in the gospels where Jesus avoided capture and execution … Jesus knew how to escape … but when his "hour had come", he willing submitted his life for us as act of obedience. … Some people think it was Judas, or Caiaphas or Pilate who decided the time or the events of his death … but we know from the bible that it was God the father himself.
A hireling will shoot the Craw at the first sign of danger.
Next … verse 12 goes on to say, "But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose sheep are not his own, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. In verse 12 here, Jesus starts comparing himself with the hired hands, and by doing so he subtly attacks by implication, the so called religious leaders of the day, the Scribes and Pharisees … who as we know, were more concerned in their own importance rather than committing themselves to God.