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The Good Shepherd 11-21-04

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The Good Shepherd

Preached in Southbridge on 11/21/04

John 10:1-18

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full

11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."



            How many of you here own or tend sheep? Let me see a show of hands. No one? It may not be easy for us to understand the words of Jesus or at least understand the way a shepherd would who was alive at the time of Christ.

            Sheep and Shepherds

                        In fist century Palestine a common sight was a shepherd tending his sheep. Many people were shepherds or knew friends and or family members who were shepherds. Walking around and living in that areas at that time and seeing a shepherd would have been like walking around and seeing a mail man delivering mail. Very common.

            The land was better suited for live stock than for farming. From what I understand the land was most like western Texas and Oklahoma. Real rocky and not a lot of rain fall.

            The life of a shepherd was not an easy life or one to be envied. It was a hard job. No two weeks paid vacation. This was a 24 hour 7 days a week constant job. It was an outside job which meant the shepherd had to endure all kinds of weather, from very hot days to very cold night and whatever else the weather was like. Kind of like our mail men who deliver in all kinds of weather conditions.

            More than weather the shepherd had to deal with wild animals and thieves. In many areas the shepherd had to constantly keep moving looking for food for his sheep. Most of this area had little grasslands. So to sum it up their job was one of long hours, demanding, and extremely physical.

            3 things we are looking at today

                        Now that we have a general idea of the life and work of a shepherd lets get into our lesson on John 10:1-18. We want to focus today on three things relating to the Good Shepherd.

                        1. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name

                                2. The Good Shepherd is not a hired worker

                                3. The Good Shepherd is willing to die for his sheep

1. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name

            The sheep in Palestine were used more often for wool and loom than to be slaughtered, so each sheep would probably be with their shepherd for many years. I read that it was a very common practice for these shepherds to name their sheep and they would often name them based on physical characteristics or their temperaments. It’s also interesting to note that sheep would recognize their shepherd’s voice and run to him if called and would even run from a voice that they didn’t recognize.

            In John 10:3 Jesus says that his sheep listen to his voice and that he calls his sheep by name.

            Have you ever felt insignificant, unloved or maybe uncared for unnoticed? If your Christ’s He knows you intimately, he knows you by name. You see, Jesus knows each and every one of his sheep personally. You are not an unknown to Christ.

            You know in this world it’s easy to be over looked or to get lost in a crowd. A lot of times in our world we are more often seen as a number than a name. When we see and treat others and others treat us as numbers we no longer see them as people. Numbers are lifeless, cold. Numbers are things and have no hopes, dreams, stresses or personalities.

            Our names are special and personal. Our names were given to us by those who love us and because our names, in some way are special. When we are called by our names our interaction with others becomes personal. If I call out “Jeff” that is more personal than if I said “hey you” “yea you”. There is a difference isn’t there. If I know someone’s name it usually means that I have some kind of a relationship with them. In fact we can sometimes tell in a crowd if someone we know is calling our name we can sometimes recognize the voice.

            Jesus Christ calls us by name and leads us.

2. The Good Shepherd is not a hired worker

            There were basically two types of Shepherds at the time of Christ. One kind of shepherd was a member of the family. The shepherd might have been a son or a daughter, or a servant that was considered part of the family.

            This would be like if you owned a business and you had a family member working or running it.

            There was a second type of shepherd and this person was basically a hired hand. Someone was hired to care for the sheep. Obviously his devotion to his job and the care of these sheep was conditioned by his own well being.

            Christ points out that if this hired hand sees a band of thieves or a wild animal attacking the sheep he runs away so he can protect himself. He is more concerned about his own life than that of the sheep.

            The good shepherd doesn’t run away. He cares for the sheep and willingly stays to defend them, because they are his and he loves them. The good shepherd doesn’t do what he does for money or fame or some kind of reward. He does it because the sheep belong to him and his father.

            You know that Jesus Christ will never leave or abandon any of us at any time. Christ stands and protects and fights for us, helps and provides for us.


Listen to this:

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness

for his name's sake.

4 Even 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.

5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD



3. The Good Shepherd is willing to die for his sheep

            You know the ultimate test of love is just how far someone is willing to go to live out that love. It’s one thing to talk about how much we love someone and what we are willing to do but when it comes down to taking action on those words is were we find out just how much and what kind of love a person has for someone.

            King David was a good shepherd and on at least two occasions he showed his courage in killing a lion and a bear to protect his fathers sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-35). Davis was a good shepherd who was willing to put his life on the line for his sheep but Jesus not only was willing to put his life on the line, Jesus knew for certain that for him to be the good shepherd he would have to die for God’s sheep. Not only death but he would have to carry the full weight of human sin on a cross.

            Christ was willing to do this and said “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11-12). And he did exactly that.

Sheep are dumb. I can’t remember how many times I have done the same stupid things over and over. It’s interesting that Christ refers to us as sheep.

Isa 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.


Isa 53:11-12

11 After the suffering of his soul,

he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.



            Jesus Christ loves us, knows our names and has willingly given himself up on our behalf. He has taken our place in death so that we might live. Find comfort in being part of the flock of the good shepherd, Jesus Christ.

            If you’re not in Christ, Jesus is calling your name and wants to be the shepherd of your life as well. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.

Let’s pray

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