The Good Shepherd
There is a small metal door painted white in the side of a tiny mission church in Johannesburg South Africa. This door is changing lives. On it are painted the words “door of hope.” That is exactly what it is for various babies within the city. On average some forty to fifty babies were being abandoned on the streets to die of exposure or starvation a month. That was before the mission installed their door to a baby bin allowing mothers to anonymously deposit their unwanted babies and have someone love them and care for them. Now the mission is saving over 100 babies a year. What an incredible door.
I know of another incredible door that takes in the unwanted, saves lives and brings hope. That door can be found in John 10, and his name is Jesus. sermon by Joe Bertone, He Is The Door of Mystery (“I Am The Door”) 8/27/2012
John 10:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
——- It is only the shepherd, the one who cares for the sheep, who is patient with the sheep, who feeds and guards them, it is he only that has the right to enter through the gate. ——— This is vitally important. The watchman, or the gatekeeper, guards the gate of the sheepfold for the shepherd. He has to be able to recognize who the shepherd is, and watch for robbers and thieves. This person has to be very discerning. Once that gate is opened, the sheep are fair game. Where is that gatekeeper, that person so familiar with the Word and with sound doctrine that they can pick up on false teaching immediately? How will we know what is the voice of Jesus Christ and what isn’t? I believe this is one of those times where practice makes perfect. In other words, you have to be around this voice to be familiar with it.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to knowing God’s voice —- Saints, have your ears been trained to listen to good preaching enough to know what it sounds like and what it doesn’t sound like? Have you read enough of the Word of God to know when a preacher or teacher is off and is drawing his message from some other source? Familiarity with the shepherd and with the voice of the shepherd is the best way. You remember David? Long before he became king, he was a shepherd. There was a progression in his life. See many people assume shepherding is very passive, but NO NO. HE fought many battles before joining Saul’s army, but then he climbed the ranks from private to general and then king. But there was a progression in his familiarity with God’s voice. Even as a shepherd, he was a still a sheep who followed the Chief Shepherd. Let us do the same…
Even with his parables, Jesus was hard to understand. Many of the parables went over the heads of people they were addressed to, so Jesus goes on to explain further:
John 10:6-10 (NLT) 6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
By the time Jesus was born, you had kings and governors over Israel that were Roman appointed, not appointed by the people. Israel was surrounded by people that spoke a different language, looked different, dressed different, ate differently and who didn’t like them any more than they liked most of the Romans. And by the time Jesus was born, many of the Sadduccees and Pharisees had digressed into simply wanting to make Roman money, get Roman citizenships, wives, housing, clothing, and lifestyles. This is who Jesus was speaking to and about when he said “all who came before me.”….not the prophets of the Old Testament, but the religious leaders 100-25 years before he was born. And he came to tell the people of Israel and us that he was the one who had their best interest at heart, and came to give them the fullest and most enriched lives they could possibly live.
Christ came so we could live life to the fullest –
Christ is saying to us is provision, safety, security, and peace can only come through life in him. He wants us to go out and find good pasture. This can mean the favor, the blessings, the promises. BUT these things are tied to hearing the right voice. And also, promises and blessings might not be material, they might be reflected in transformed lives and relationships. Stay close to the Shepherd and he takes care of his sheep in any way they need. But stray away, and you don’t have the right to be angry at the Shepherd if wolves come after you. Don’t leave the sheepfold! Any life outside of the shepherd’s care is no life indeed. Wolves are at the door. Thieves and robbers are at the door….we need a true shepherd, a good shepherd, to lead and guide and protect us.
John 10:11-15 (NLT) 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
Jesus puts the sheep first. He leads us, lays his life down for us, and then he constantly speaks to us…. This Christian walk is relational from start to finish. He did it for US.
Jesus gives everything and lays down everything for US — See sometimes the shepherd would take his rod, and when the sheep were wandering off, he would throw it in front of them to scare them and lead them back. Every now and then, we need a Word from God that’s going to shake up things.
Lamentations 2:14 (NLT) 14 Your prophets have said so many foolish things, false to the core. They did not save you from exile by pointing out your sins. Instead, they painted false pictures, filling you with false hope.
Jeremiah 23:29 (NLT) 29 Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord.“Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?
See, Jesus is the Shepherd. Then there are sheep, and then there are the sheepdogs, those who are willing to protect the sheep and support the under shepherd as he serves the Chief Shepherd. As the shepherd leads the flock to the green pastures, the sheepdog follows behind the flock using its speed and its nose to keep the flock together. If some start to sway to the left he quickly puts his nose in the way and promotes them to stay together and keep following the shepherd. They never ask for accolades, they simply serve. Lord make me a Sheepdog! Well you might say those passages I just quoted were Old Testament. This is the gospel of grace. Yes it is, but what did Jesus and John both say? Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. And what did Paul tell Timothy about the last days?
In 2 Timothy 4:3 he said people would gather teachers to themselves who didn’t teach sound doctrine but taught what they wanted to hear.
Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plan he has for you, plans to give you a hope and a future. But sometimes we can’t have hope or a future with that unforgiveness we don’t want to acknowledge, or that lust that we make excuses for instead of asking God to help us be free from, or when we reach for the fridge when we’re down and stressed instead of reaching for scripture.
David however, was different. He was both a shepherd and a sheep at the same time. I love how scripture helps us interpret the scriptures, because John 10 is giving me new insight into Psalm 23..
Wow. David said God’s rod and staff comfort him. Wow, he could find comfort in God’s discipline? Then God anointed his head with oil….soooo…. sheep would often be covered in flies. Well, after a while a fly might try to lay eggs in the sheep’s fur on its face or head someplace. Well, the sheep would try to rub out the flies by rubbing their faces on a rock or tree, but that would only irritate the skin or injure it. Well, the shepherd would come with anointing oil to heal the skin and protect the sheep from flies. This is a picture of the gospel like I’ve never heard. Our best efforts to save ourselves from those fly eggs……our sins, only make things worse. It is only the shepherd, coming from outside of us, like Jesus came from outside this world, coming to us and pouring out his Spirit on us, to heal us, release a fragrance in us that keeps the flies at bay, and soothes our irritated souls.
Christians, he leads us to green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. But also, let us learn to find comfort in his rod and staff, to find comfort in that hard Word, and embrace it. So as we close our message, we pray that the Spirit of God would give us a supernatural sensitivity to the voice of the Shepherd of our Souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that we would not be like goats, who are stubborn and don’t listen to the Shepherds. Father, I pray that everyone in Neighborhood Church, every soul, that they would be sensitive to the voice of Christ. I pray that we would not even breathe in the direction of a thief or a robber because they are so in tune with the Shepherd. In Jesus’ name, amen!