- The Good Shepherd
- John 10:1-11
- Lyndol Loyd April 23, 2017
We’re in the second week of our sermon series entitled, “I Am.” We’re looking at the “I am” statements Jesus made in John’s gospel account. He made seven different statements in the Gospel of John.
On Easter Sunday, we looked at Jesus’ statement, “I am the resurrection and the life.” The resurrection is not just an event, it is a person and Jesus is the one person who can bring resurrection to any deadness that we experience in life.
Today, we’re going to look in John 10:11. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” He is the good shepherd; God is good. The gospel means “good news.” It’s good news that Jesus, the good shepherd, was willing to die for us, to take our place.
The fact that he said, “I’m the good shepherd,” implies that there are others that are not good. In fact, he doesn’t just imply it, but in John 10:1 he said, “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!”
Now, he was talking about our spiritual enemy. We have an enemy, his name is Satan. He is the prince of darkness. He hates God and he hates God’s people. His mission is to steal, kill and destroy.
You have to admit, there is a power of evil in this world, destroying a lot of things that matter to God. A lot of people are sick, a lot of families are falling apart, a lot of marriages are in trouble, a lot of kids are making bad decisions. I believe, at the root of all the evil in the world is the thief and the robber.
In fact, Jesus said very clearly here, the mission of our spiritual enemy. John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” or “life in all its fullness.”
Let’s be really clear, Jesus is the good shepherd. Who are we in this metaphor? The sheep. Imagine this: The love of God, through His Son, is such that He desires for you to have a rich and a satisfying life. Other versions say that, “His purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” That’s what He wants for you.
So again, Jesus is the good shepherd; we are the sheep. Now, sheep, just for the record — this is the animal mentioned more than any other animal in all of scripture — is the most commonly mentioned animal, they are mentioned about 200 times in the Bible.
We are sheep and, unfortunately, that’s not great news. Because sheep are some of the most stupid animals on planet Earth. Think about that. If you go to a circus, you’ll see trained animals. You can see trained donkeys; you can see trained dogs; you can see a flea circus.
You never see sheep in a circus because you can’t train them, they are too stupid. The only way to make a sheep play dead is to shoot them, and that trick only works one time and then it’s “game over.” They are incredibly stupid creatures.
I just need to say, with the love of Jesus, “You’re stupid and so am I.” Let me give you the four challenges of being a sheep, if you’re taking notes. The first one is this: Sheep get lost easily.
In fact, in the Old Testament, there’s a verse in Isaiah 53 that says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” It’s incredibly common for a sheep to walk away from the shepherd’s fold and say, “Hmm, I think I’ll go this way. I think something over here may make me happy. I don’t know what to do, I can’t seem to make a good decision.”
The reality is this is where many of us are. We’re really trying to find and figure out this life, but we seem to keep making bad decisions. It’s because sheep, without a shepherd, get lost very, very easily.
The second thing is that sheep are defenseless. This is really interesting to me to think about. You can think about almost every animal and almost every one of them has some form of defense. Even a cat has claws to scratch your eyes out. Many animals have fangs, some will have some kind of horns. Some can kick, some can fly away, some are really, really fast. Some blend into the environment. Sheep can’t do anything; they’re totally defenseless.
Bad joke coming, here’s a warning. You attack a sheep and what can they do? They just say “baahh-kk-off.” Bad joke. I warned you it was coming.
They are defenseless. On our own, without the body of Christ, and without the armor of God, without the protection of the good shepherd, we are very vulnerable to the lies of the evil one.
Number three, sheep are very stubborn. Somebody, look at the person next to you and say, “I think he’s talking about you right now.” Some of you are not going to do it. I’m talking to you; you’re stubborn. I told you what to do and you’re not going to do it.
In fact, I read that sheep, whenever they walk in between two rocks and become lodged in, they are too stupid to go in reverse. You’ll never hear the “beep, beep, beep,” as they just back out. There’s no “beep” and no backing out. Instead, they just keep lodging themselves in, going forward, getting themselves even more stuck. How many of you know somebody like that right now? Raise your hand. Do not point to them. They’re stubborn, they’re stupid.
The girl that says, “I always get the bad guys. All the bad guys come after me.” You’re thinking, “Well, maybe honey, you’re fishing with the wrong bait.”
Or it’s like the person who says, “I’m out of money. I’m broke all the time. Let’s go to the mall and talk about it.” Stubborn and stupid.
Number four, sheep are filthy. That’s not good news. You say, “I’ve seen white, fluffy sheep on T.V.” That sheep was power washed before the show. They are filthy; they stink; they’re horrible. They don’t have the ability to clean themselves, and they won’t.
If I can say it very respectfully, that’s the way we are in the eyes of God on our own. In the eyes of a perfect God, we are very, very dirty, filthy sinners, falling way, way short of God’s standards of perfection.
Bottom line: Sheep need a shepherd and we need a Savior. We need Jesus, and without him, we are vulnerable to the lies of the evil one. That’s why it’s very good news when Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. So good, that I would lay down my life for the sheep.”
Now, what I want to do in the rest of our time together is show you some incredible qualities of the good shepherd. I pray that God would help connect these to your heart, and you can apply them to the way you live every single day.
- He guides
What does the good shepherd do? He guides. “The good shepherd guides.” Psalms 23, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” In verse 3, he said he does what? “He guides me along the right paths for his namesake.” The Lord guides.
Do you ever find yourself with a big decision to make and you don’t know what to do? When you seek the Lord, he will reveal himself to you and he will guide you.
John 10:3-4 says this, “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. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. The sheep know, they recognize the voice of the good shepherd.”
Now, some of you may say, “Well, I don’t know the voice of God. I mean, are you talking about how God just speaks audibly to you, Lyndol?”
He says, “This is God”? I am saying that God can absolutely speak audibly. But, God also speaks through His Word, and you can hear Him every day through His Word. He can speak through circumstances, He can speak through people, He can speak through a prophetic message. God can speak in all different ways and the sheep who belong to Him know His voice.
Now, some of you may say, “Well, I don’t know His voice.” I’d say there’s one of two reasons you don’t know. I’ll tell this story to give you an example.
Imagine if you walked into a room with fifty women and they’re all talking, because that’s what women do, they all talk. Have you noticed that? They all understand each other, all at the same time. You walk in a room with fifty men, nobody’s talking because they’re all watching the game.
If my wife is in the room, I would ask you, “Can you recognize her voice?” If you say, “No, I can’t.” Well, the reason is one of two things: Either, you don’t know her, you have never met her, or you haven’t spent enough time with her to know her voice. Because, if I walk in a room with fifty women, I can walk around blind folded and be able to tell which voice is her’s. Because, not only do I know her, but I’ve spent so much time with her that I can pick out her voice.
If you don’t recognize the voice of the good shepherd, then maybe you either don’t know him, or you haven’t spent enough time with him to recognize his voice. Because the good news is, our good shepherd, if you’re one his sheep, he calls you by name.
So, if you have a difficult decision to make: should I take this job in another city or should I stay here? Should I keep dating this person or should I not? Should we try to have more kids or should we not? Should we be a part of this church or should we not?
Here’s what you can do when your making decisions. Tell God, “You said, Jesus is the good shepherd. He’s the guide; that’s His job. Our job is to follow. Show me and I will follow.” It takes all the pressure off.
- He provides
Our God is a good God who provides. In fact, Psalm 23:1-3, David said this: “The lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides quiet waters and he restores my soul.”
I love that imagery. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” How often do you see a sheep lying down? Some of you may say, “Well, I don’t see a sheep very often.” Good point, fairly taken. But, if you see sheep all the time, you won’t see them lying down very often because there’s three things that have to be in place before they lie down.
The first is they have to be well fed or they will not lie down. They have to be getting along or they will not lie down. They have to feel safe or they will not take a rest. But, in the presence of the good shepherd, who leads them to green pastures, they are full because they’ve been in his presence, and he breaks up fights and helps them to get along.
Some of you need the good shepherd to come into your home and help bring some healing and forgiveness in relationships. And when the good shepherd is present, they are not afraid because he is their defender, and so they will rest and actually lie down.
The Bible says, “He refreshes my soul.” I love this. He is such a good provider. He doesn’t just provide for us materially, He doesn’t just provide for our bodies, but He provides for our souls. Some of you, right now, have everything you need on the outside, but inwardly, your soul is not at rest. You might be a sheep without a shepherd. Because our good shepherd is so loving in His provision, He refreshes our souls. Inwardly, we can be at peace.
The good shepherd guides, and the good shepherd provides.
- He protects.
This is what the Bible says in Psalm 23:4-6, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Why? Because my good shepherd is with me. “For you are with me.”
When He is with me, I have nothing to fear. When He is with me, I am at rest in my soul. When He is with me, I know He’s working in all things to bring about good to those who love Him and are called according His purpose. “I will fear no evil for you are with me.
“Your rod” — it was a weapon to scare off or to harm the animals who would threaten the sheep — “and your staff, they comfort me.” The staff had a hook to rescue a fallen sheep out of danger or even to comfort the sheep, stroking it like you would a pet, saying, “Here, little sheep. I’m your good shepherd.” This would comfort me.
Verse 5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.” What does this mean? Well, sheep were stinky. Flies were everywhere. And it wasn’t uncommon for a fly to fly into the nose of a sheep, lay eggs and the larva would hatch. Some would not go south out the right end of the nose, but would go north. And these little larva would get inside the nasal and even up into the brain area and drive these sheep so crazy that they would bang their head up against the wall, even to the point of killing themselves.
“You anoint my head with oil.” It was like an insect repellant. The good shepherd says, “I’ll even take care of what irritates you. That’s how good I am.”
“My cup overflows.” There’s a tradition in Old Testament Palestine homes where you were allowed to stay at the table, and as a guest at the house of the host, as long as they filled your cup back up with wine. As long as it was full, you were welcome in the house. When they let it run empty, it’s time to go home.
And David says, “My cup overflows.” In other words, I’m always welcome in the presence of the good shepherd; that’s just how good he is, and just how much he loves me.
- 6: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me, overtake me, all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He protects me. He protects me. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never fall upon physical harm but this does mean, in the spiritual terms, that he has stored up for you an inheritance that will never spoil, perish or fade. And the good shepherd is the one who would lay down his life for the sheep.
In fact, Jesus told a PARABLE and said, “If a shepherd has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away” — because they are prone to wander — what will that shepherd do? “The shepherd will leave the 90 and 9 to pursue the one.”
May I say today that there may be someone here that this whole message is just for you. You’re the one. You are the one. You are the sheep that needs the shepherd, and he is coming for you. He loves you that much.
If you feel like, “Oh, man, this message, it’s like it’s for me. It’s like God is speaking directly to me.” Guess what? God is speaking directly to you. You’re the one. You’re the one. You are the one. He’s coming for you.