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The Good Shepherd

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"THE GOOD SHEPHERD OF HIS SHEEP"

(A Series on Jesus)

 

C.R.5/17/87p.m. (9/4/97)                                           John 10:1-42

 

PROPOSITION:Jesus is the Shepherd and  the  Gate  of  His

      sheep and His sheep know His voice and listen to Him and follow Him and receive life from Him.

 

I.INTRODUCTION

 

-     WE live in an extremely mobile world.....many people going many places......in cars and boats and planes and busses.....in careers and education......in causes and various forms of political action.....but very few really know where they are going.

-     EVER heard of the mid-life crisis? That is a 40 year old who has been to school for 12-18 years of his 40 but wakes up one morning and realizes that he doesn't know where he is going.

-     SO he tries to find himself with a sports car or a new career or a new wife or a new hobby, like sky-diving.

-     WE have never lived in an age when so many people are doing so many things....but still don't really know why.

*     So in California they drive convertibles, eat bean sprouts and consult guru's.

*     In the mid-west they become avid Hawks fans to the death.

*     In the east they brag on their Ivy league schools and practice walking with books on their heads for their "coming out" party.

*     In the south they follow the big mouth bass, turn up Willy Nelson and drink another Bud.

-     AND all the time they are lost....like sheep without a shepherd.

-     THOSE people I ran into in the tavern in Chester, Iowa yesterday, had no idea where they were going....and that is especially sad for those children who were thrust into the scene. (Cliff Haugland came through there at about 11p.m. last night and found the whole crowd out on the streets and sensed the same demonic oppression I did.)

-     WE rush madly to our idols and heroes, hoping to find some direction;

*     We talk and dream about the greats in sports like Mickey Mantle.....Lou Pinella.....Babe Ruth...but they offer no direction...in fact many in our day are part of the problem, not the solution.

*     We look to our political leaders...but they are blurred by Watergates, Iranscams, shady deals, off-color jokes, illicit relationships and broken promises.

*     We used to hope that our schools would give us some direction, but under the leadership of NEA, many teach evolution as if it were gospel, promote abortion as a viable alternative to teenage pregnancy and make fun of morality saying it is whatever our society says it is.

-     WHO do we have to follow? Who is in the lead? Who knows where we are going?

-     AMERICA is lost and desperately in need of a shepherd.

-     YOU need a shepherd.

-     JOHN 10 presents The Shepherd of the world.

-     THE shepherd was a very familiar part of the scene on the Palestinian countryside.

-     YOU see, the main part of Judea was a rocky plateau that couldn't be cultivated.......so the shepherd was a common sight.

-     AND in this area no sheep grazed without a shepherd because of how rugged it was....he was never off duty.

-     THERE was very little grass, so they had to move around a lot to be fed and watered.

-     THE ground was so rugged that the sheep could easily get lost and hurt.

-     THE shepherds job was constant and dangerous...because the plateau was also populated by many wild and dangerous animals like hyaenas and wolves and there were always thieves and robbers who would steal what the wild animals wouldn't.

-     SIR GEORGE ADAM SMITH who travelled this area back at the turn of the century,  wrote concerning what he saw of the shepherds;

      "On some high moor, across which at night the hyaenas howl, when you meet him, sleepless, far-sighted, weather-beaten, leaning on his staff, and looking out over his scattered sheep, every one of them on his heart, you understand why the shepherd of Judea sprang to the front in his people's history; why they gave his name to their king, and made him a symbol of providence; why Christ took him as the type of self-sacrifice."

-     THE Palestinian shepherd went about his job very differently than shepherds of other regions.

-     HE carried a scrip; a bag made of animal skin that contained his food. (Bread, dried fruit, some olives and cheese.)

-     HE had a sling as a weapon of offense and defense. There were no sheep dogs, so often he would use  the sling to shoot a stone just in front of a straying sheep's nose to bring him back.

-     HE had a staff....a short wooden club with nails on one end and a strap on the other. With this he would defend his sheep against marauding animals and robbers.

-     HE had a rod, like shepherd's crook, with which he would catch and pull back any sheep that was straying or wandering towards danger.....At the end of each day, as he would bring them to the fold, he would hold his rod down near the ground and cause each sheep to pass under the rod....and as they did he would examine them for any hurt or injury that may need attention.

-     IN most countries the sheep were kept for killing, but in Palestine they were kept for their wool....so there was quite a relationship built up between the sheep and their shepherd over the years.

-     THEY would each have names...and would answer to their names and follow when their names were called.

-     IN fact, they have been observed never to answer to any other voice....even when someone dressed in the shepherds clothes and looked just like him and sounded just like him.

-     AND, since they had no dogs for driving sheep, they didn't. The shepherd would lead them and call them as he did....going ahead and checking for danger and looking for food and water.

-     SO it is little wonder that Jesus used the illustration of the sheep and the shepherd in His story about His relationship to us in John 10.

 

II.THE SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP

 

-     JESUS lays out the story in John 10:1-6

      "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. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice. Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them."

-     THERE are several things I would like you to observe in these verses;

*     The Shepherd leads the sheep out. He goes on ahead....and in so doing He leads them out.

*     He calls them by name....knows each one intimately.

*     They listen to His voice....also speaks of intimacy.

 

III.THE GATE OF THE SHEEP

 

-     THEN, in verses 7-10 Jesus changes the image a little to the gate of the sheep;

      "Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

-     THERE are three things that Jesus teaches here.

*     You have to enter through Him to be saved...there is no other way.

*     The only way to be fed is to come and go through the gate which is Jesus.

*     The only way to live life to the fullest is to find it in Jesus.

-     THERE is no other way...no other gate for the sheep.

 

IV.THE GOOD SHEPHERD

 

-     NEXT, Jesus talks about Himself....the kind of Shepherd He is. In verses 11-18 He says;

      "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. 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.

-     IN this passage Jesus focuses on His role in the shepherd analogy;

*     He lays His life down for the sheep....He has authority to lay it down and take it up again.

*     He knows His sheep and they know Him.

*     He brings in all sheep from all pastures...no one is left out.

 

V.SHEEP LISTEN TO THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE

 

-     THEN in the last section on the shepherd analogy, Jesus talks about our role as sheep in verses 27-29;

      " My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand."

-     THERE is one key principle here that concerns us....Jesus, the shepherd, knows us...and we follow Him.

-     THAT is the only place of security that there is...in following Him.

-     BUT it is a place of eternal security.

 

VI.CONCLUSION

 

-     ARE you the sheep of His pasture tonight?

-     THAT is the only place where you will find direction for life, life abundant here on earth and eternal life in the next.

-     WHOSE sheep are you?

-     HOW closely are you listening and following?

 

I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS

 

 

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