Safe and Secure in the Fold of God
John 10:1-10 Safe and Secure in the Fold of God Introduction: I think it’s clear from human history that people crave a kingly figure to rule over them. We want someone who will calm are fears and provide a quality of life for us, creating jobs and capital, boosting the economy, protecting us from enemies without and within. I don’t think I realized how much this was true until the 2008 presidential elections. People were treating Barrack Obama like the messiah, a promised king, one who was going to give us hope again. And yet here we are, nearly eight years later, as a nation in desperate need of hope. And this has been the history of our world - one leader (whether king, president or dictator) after another who, no matter how well intended, has not been able to deliver as promised or as we hoped. I find it very interesting that when we come to the scriptures we find that this is also what God wants for us -a king who rules over God’s people. But not just any king - God’s anointed king, the Messiah. “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” 18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua.” -Numbers 27:16-18 “ I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice…… And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” -Ezekiel 34:15-16;23-24 1. Jesus’ Figure of Speech 1. If we were to read this whole Ezekiel passage we begin to understand what is going on. God is contrasting his heart for the people of Israel with the heart of their current rulers and leaders. The rulers are not acting like true shepherds. They are using the flock for their own selfish gain rather than seeking the benefit and safety of God’s people. 2. It is uncanny how identical the situation in Israel’s past is with this current situation with Jesus, so not surprisingly we hear Jesus using the same language of the true shepherd vs false shepherds. 3. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” 1. The sheepfold was commonly a courtyard near or beside a house and bordered by a stone wall, in which one or several families kept their sheep, although caves and other natural formations were also used. Such sheepfolds may or may not have a formal door and would be guarded at the entrance by a “gatekeeper” who would be hired to stand watch, or by the shepherd himself. 1. Jesus is using this figure of speech, about sheep and the sheepfold, to describe what has just happened between the religious leaders and the man born blind. 2. Sadly, the religious leaders are not like true shepherds who care for the sheep but are more like hired hands, thieves and robbers who only care for themselves. They have proved this through their action of excommunicating him and oppressing him rather than receiving him and rejoicing with him over his healing. 3. In both chapters, 9 and 10, we see afresh that Jesus is the gracious Shepherd himself, who finds those who are cast out, and protects those who are drawn in. It seems to me that one reason for John recording this event was so that those in the early church might have comfort and peace as persecution and censorship escalated from the surrounding Jewish community and the Roman Pagan World…… 2. The religious leaders continue to prove that they aren’t Jesus sheep because they are not hearing his voice, they aren’t following him, they are resisting him. A bit of irony that John includes is that as Jesus used this figure of speech….they didn’t understand him. 1. So now Jesus is going to break it down for us and for them. 2. “I Am the Door of the Sheep.” 1. “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 1. Jesus reference to being the door is another one of Jesus exclusive statements. It’s another way of saying “I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” -“I am the one and only, the true, the genuine, all others are charlatans and pretenders.” In fact not only are they pretenders but they bring the opposite of what they promise. They are Messianic pretenders who promise real freedom but who lead them into war, suffering, and slavery. (Israel’s history was littered with such types) Jesus is like King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone. 2. And the modern world is full of them also: “The world still seeks it’s humanistic political saviors -it’s Hitlers, it’s Stalins, it’s Maos, its Pol Pots - and only too late does it learn that they blatantly confiscate personal property (They come only to steal), ruthlessly trample human life under foot (They come only to kill), and contemptuously savage all that is valuable (they only come to destroy).” -Carson 3. “All who came before me are strangers, thieves, robbers, murderers.” - every other claim, every other figure, except that which speaks of Jesus the Great Shepherd, the one way to the Father, or points to him, is false - a lie that only results in a loss of life. Who are these pretenders? Messianic figures -Explain - all who offer salvation through political, social, or earthly means.. 3. As the Door of the Sheep,- the true, the genuine, Jesus promises two things: 1. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved 1. Saved from what? Sheep are one of the only animals that cannot take care of themselves. They have no homing instinct and are therefore easily lost. They have no defensive skills and are therefore easy prey. They have no sense of danger nor do they have depth perception so they will walk into a raging river or off a cliff. Some have considered sheep to be stupid, but that is not really the case, as a matter of fact, Icelandic sheep are among the most intelligent animals in the world. The primary issue with sheep is that they need constant care and are totally dependent on the shepherd for survival. 1. Scripture constantly uses this analogy of human beings being like sheep because of utter dependence on God, for all things, for life and especially spiritual life. 2. So I take “saved” to mean saved/ Preserved from all that would harm the soul, all that would come against God’s ultimate plan for my preservation for his kingdom, this includes, sin, the devil, and the second death and any enemy or impostor that would try to deter me from Christ the shepherd. From these we are saved if we enter through the door which is Christ. (Saved through the Cross) 2. (He) will go in and out and find pasture. 1. Through Christ is the continual assurance of God’s provision. 2. “Enter by me and you will be forever safe. Saved. But none of us wants to be merely safe. We were not created merely to be safe. The human heart wants infinitely more than safety. O yes, safety is basic and necessary. We want to be protected from what can destroy us. We want life. Life. But we want more than mere life. We want abundant life. Overflowing life. Deep life. Weighty life. Joyful life. We don't just want to survive. We want to thrive. At every level of our human being. We were made for this.” -Piper 1. Jesus calls his followers, not to a dour, lifeless, miserable existence that squashes human potential, but to a rich, full, joyful life, one overflowing with meaningful activities under the personal favor and blessing of God and in continual fellowship with his people. 2. Just in case we are wondering about this salvation and provision _ Jesus clarifies: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Conclusion: When we think of our own lives how do the promises of Christ apply to us? We are promised protection and provision. What are the things that threaten these? Raising our children, facing religious persecution, making ends meet, knowing what Job to take..etc God the creator of the universe, the one who knows the stars by name, the one who sustains every living thing, says, “If you enter through me, if you come to me, if you put your trust in me I can give you the protection to make your life thrive, I can give the provision you need for ultimate fruitfulness for my glory.” He wants to be the Shepherd of your soul!! How comforting… “To make this come alive today I need to recognize the perilous environment of my life, my need of guidance, and the requisite skill that can tell the right voices from the wrong voices” What do you believe in, what are you trusting in? And do you realize that what you believe is a matter of life-and-death? What you believe, whatever it is, is either killing you or enlivening you. You might be a skeptic or a nihilist. But by believing it, you do not have life in its name. John writes that we might have “Life” by trusting/believing in Jesus. This is John’s purpose.