Faithlife Sermons

The Scent of the Shepherd

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. 7 So Jesus said to them again, “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 hear them. 9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through 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.
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:1-18)
Jesus first offers a challenge to the watchmen, the gate-keepers of Israel, to recognize who Jesus is and that he has the right of entry. Secondly, that Jesus’ authority cannot be authenticated by signs; rather, it is self-authenticating and is demonstrated when his sheep hear his voice.
Those who were authorized to enter through the gate. Those interested in stealing or wounding the sheep would avoid the gate; he climbs in by some other way.
His point is that these unauthorized people enter and brutalize the sheep. By contrast, the shepherd knows his sheep, is recognized by the watchman and by the sheep alike, and leads them out for their own good
In Ezekiel 34, the LORD berates ‘the shepherds of Israel’, the religious leaders, for slaughtering the choice animals, clothing themselves with wool, yet utterly failing to look after the flock.
‘You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally’ (Ezk. 34:4).
God insists they are his sheep, his flock. The Lord says, ‘I will rescue my flock … I will bring them out from the nations … I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel … I myself will tend my sheep … I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak … I will shepherd the flock with justice’ (Ezek. 34:10–16).
I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety’ (Ezek. 34: 23–25)
The thieves and robbers are the religious leaders who are more interested in fleecing the sheep than in guiding, nurturing and guarding them.
They are the leaders of ch. 9, who should have had ears to hear Jesus’ claims and recognize him as the revelation from God, but who instead belittle and expel the sheep.
That this shepherd leads his sheep in and out, to find pasture) alludes, to Numbers 27:15–17, where Moses prays for a successor who will lead the people of God out and bring them in, ‘so that the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd’.
The next verse in Numbers 27 makes clear that the successor is Joshua, which name, in Greek, is ‘Jesus’.
Unlike Western shepherds who drive the sheep, often using a sheep dog, the shepherds of the Near East, lead their flocks, their voice calling to them.
The shepherd goes ahead of his sheep and draws them gives the correct picture of the master/disciple relationship. The sheep follow simply because they know his voice; by the same token, they will run from anyone else because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
Now Jesus is not the shepherd who goes through the gate; rather, he is the gate (v. 7)
Both here and in v. 9, Jesus claims, I am the gate . I am the bread of life, living water, the way, truth and the life. I tell you the truth
How Jesus be the shepherd and the gate. Near-Eastern shepherds slept in the gateway of their own sheep pens, keeping marauders/predators out and sheep in
When Jesus talks about thieve and robbers, he is pointing out messianic pretenders who promise the people freedom but who lead them into war, suffering and slavery. The freedom Jesus wins for his people will be achieved not by sword and shield, but by a cross. If large crowds are taken up with the pretenders, the real sheep do not listen to them (v. 5).
Jesus the gate is the sole means by which the sheep may enter the safety of the fold (v. 9a) or the luxurious forage of the pasture (v. 9b).
The thought is much like John 14:6: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.’ While the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, Jesus comes that they may have life, and have it to the full. This is a proverbial way of insisting that there is only one means of receiving eternal life
There is only one source of knowledge of God, only one fount of spiritual nourishment, only one basis for spiritual security—Jesus alone.
The world still seeks its humanistic, political saviours—its Hitlers, its Stalins, its 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 come ‘only … to destroy’).
‘Jesus is right. It is not the Christian doctrine of heaven that is the myth, but the humanist dream of utopia.’
Within the metaphorical world, life … to the full suggests fat, contented, flourishing sheep, not terrorized by predators; it means that the life Jesus’ true disciples enjoy is not to be construed as more time to fill (merely ‘everlasting’ life), but life at its scarcely imagined best, life as God Himself experiences it—completely fulfilled, joyous and contented.
Many people in the industrialized West are inclined to think of shepherds as sentimental beings, perhaps somewhat effeminate, with their arms full of cuddly lambs. But the shepherd’s job was tiring, manly and sometimes dangerous. The word kalos suggests perhaps nobility or worth
Within the metaphorical world, that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep means no more than that he is prepared to do so. Jesus does not merely risk his life, he lays it down, in line with the Father’s will (vv. 17, 18).
Far from being accidental, Jesus’ death is precisely what qualifies him to be the good shepherd—a point presupposed in Hebrews 13:20, which acknowledges Jesus to be ‘that great Shepherd of the sheep’. And by his death, far from exposing his flock to further ravages, he draws them to himself (12:32).
The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display while yelling, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defence the shepherd loses his life; that by his death they are saved. That, and that alone, is what makes him the good shepherd
Psalms 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”
The shepherd would anoint the heads of the sheep primarily for medicinal purposes. The oil was used to treat scrapes, cuts and wounds. But this anointing had a secondary purpose that was even more important.
While the shepherd is treating wounds, he is also applying his scent deep into the wool of the flock. A wise shepherd knows that predators hunt by scent primarily. He understands that the wolf is not afraid of the sheep but they are petrified on their protector.
This tactic confuses the predators because when the shepherd is out of sight, the wolves and jackals still can smell him. Although by sight it appears the coast is clear they will not betray their sense of smell.
A coyote will my be tempted by the bleating of sheep but once he catches the scent of the shepherd on the wind, he will prance back and forth without coming closer because he is tempted by the sound but afraid of the scent.
This is why I lay my hands on you in prayer. Because to the spiritual predators you may look and sound like an easy meal but you smell like a man of God. You may have wandered off from the rest of the flock, you’re alone and solitary, but you still smell like a shepherd.
You young lambs may look small and easy prey but you have the scent of a seasoned evangelist on you. You appear weak but you have the aroma of a warrior. To a hungry lion, you look like a delectable mutton chop but you stink like an angry shepherd. You may appear timid but you have the scent of a teacher.
When a predator can’t see a shepherd but they can pick up his scent, they keep their distance. They know he walks softly and carries a big stick. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Everything in the spirit world is afraid of a shepherd. I’ve got twenty years experience. If my anointing doesn’t scare the predators, then I have the anointing of my pastor Nathan Scoggins whose been in ministry for 40 years. He has the mantle of O. R. Fauss.
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