Date: June 11, 2017
Speaker: Jim Stanley
Series: Discipled to Disciple
Text: John 10:1-30
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one. - John 10:27-30
In Jesus day sheep were a part of everyday life. They were an important food supply; their wool and hide were used for clothes; they were sacrificed in the temple as a part of Jewish worship. They were owned by the wealthy and cared for by poor but faithful shepherds.
They were known for their lack of intelligence and tendency to wander places where they were easy prey for wolves and other predators. When we are compared to sheep the analogy isn’t very flattering! Shepherds had to be vigilant and watchful. They had to lead the sheep to food and water. They had to be prepared for attacks; and provide shelter in the night. They had to be prepared to rescue those who had gone astray. A good shepherd truly cared for his sheep in spite of their rebellious ways.
Jesus referred to Himself as the good shepherd. His followers are His sheep. This means He does all the things for us that a good shepherd would do. Because He is God who loves us, He does them perfectly. He protects us; He finds the best pasture and streams of water for us. He guides us and provides the shelter of His perfect peace. He keeps us in the flock and goes to find us when we go astray.
Our job is really quite simple. We must stick close to the good shepherd. We only enter the sheepfold through Him. It is said that the shepherd would lay down in the opening of the sheep-pen and be the “door” between the sheep and the world outside. We enter eternal life through Him and find strength for daily living in the same way. We listen for His voice; of the many voices in the world vying for our attention, we only pay attention to His. When we hear His voice, we follow His lead.
Think what this says about the stubborn independent streak that lies within us. We want to provide our own protection; find our own pasture and direct our own lives. As with sheep this doesn’t work out so well! Jesus saw the Jews of His own day in the same terms: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt 9:36). Having no shepherd is no way to live; rebelling against the One we have is equally damaging.
The great news is that He never gives up on His sheep. We may wander and stray but He stas put. Both He and the Father guarantee the safety we have. Knowing we are secure in them forever begs the question: “Why would we ever wander away even for a moment?” The answer to the question lies in the folly that is bound up in the heart. We truly are as the song says “prone to wander.” But we can say “no” to the urgings to stray. Likewise, we can say “yes” to the promptings of the word of God and the Holy Spirit to stay put.
Pride says “why do I need a Shepherd?” Humility responds “Because I am a sheep!” And humility is the place where the Good Shepherd supplies grace!
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