Summary: Jesus said He was the good shepherd. But why do I need Him to do that? Why can't I get along just fine without Him?
OPEN: Several years ago in the country of Turkey, a flock of sheep made the news. It seems that the shepherds of the flock had been eating breakfast when their sheep began to wander off. Now, ordinarily this wouldn’t have been a problem, except the flock was just a stone’s throw away from a cliff. Suddenly, one of the sheep went over the cliff and 1500 more followed it. Four hundred of the flock fell 45 feet to their deaths. The other 1100 survived only because the dead sheep broke their fall. But many of which were seriously injured. Cost to the local farmers was estimated at around: $74,000
In John 10:12-13 we read “The hired hand… doesn’t own the sheep… … and CARES NOTHING for the sheep.” The flock really isn’t his so he’s not as watchful as he might be to dangers etc. And that seems to have been what happened that fateful day in Turkey. The hired shepherds allowed their sheep to get to close to a ravine, and the result was devastating.
By contrast… Jesus said: “I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). This GOOD shepherd cares enough for HIS sheep to even die for them because they belong to Him.
Back in Old Testament, there was shepherd boy named David who took on giant named Goliath. The King (King Saul) was skeptical about how this would turn out, so he questioned whether David had it in him to do this. And David replied: “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” I Samuel 17:34-35
A hired hand wouldn’t have bothered with that - but these sheep belonged to David’s family. They were precious to them. David was willing to even face death to protect them. And that’s what Jesus is saying here! The sheep are precious to Him and He was willing to DIE to protect them.
One of the most touching scriptures in the Bible is “When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
Throughout the Bible God calls His people… sheep. Psalms 100:3 “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the SHEEP of his pasture.”
But the question is – why are we called sheep?
ILLUS: Max Lucado once asked “Couldn’t God have thought of something better to describe us than “sheep?” Of all God's animals, the sheep is the least able to take care of himself. Sheep are dumb! Have you ever met a sheep trainer? Ever seen a sheep do tricks? Have you known of a sheep who could be taught to roll over? Have you ever witnessed a circus sideshow that features something like "Mazadon and His Jumping Sheep?" No. Sheep are just too dumb. And they’re defenseless. They have no fangs or claws. They can't bite you or outrun you.”
That’s why a lot of men (in particular) tend to scoff at becoming Christians. They don’t like the idea of following Jesus as their shepherd. They believe that they can survive just as well on their own… thank you very much.
ILLUS: A year ago, I had a conversation with a young man who said he wanted to get baptized. So, I did my thing and asked him a few standard questions. I asked him if he believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Yes, he replied. Then I asked if he realized he was a sinner and needed the blood of Jesus to cleanse him. Again he said ‘yes.’ Then I pointed out that Romans says we need to confess “Jesus as Lord” and explained this meant that Jesus would now be His Master. Jesus would own him and everything he possessed. I asked if he was willing to make that commitment… and he paused. “No,” he said. “I’m not ready to do that.”
You see, he didn’t mind having a nodding acquaintance with Jesus… but he did mind the idea that Jesus would OWN Him. He thought that if He let Jesus guide him – if he let Jesus be his shepherd, that somehow he would be less of a man.
BUT one of the greatest kings and military leaders of the Old Testament wrote these words: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:1-6