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May 24, 2020 12:00 pm
Was four weeks ago that we began a seven part series on the seven iambs of the gospel of John, though Jesus spoke the words I am more than seven times in John's Gospel there are seven times when he spoke those words with a predicate that is linked to his saving work. He said I am the bread of life.
I am the light of the world. I am the door. I am the good shepherd.
I am the resurrection and the life I am the way the truth and the life. I am the vine, the 77 metaphors about Christ's work of salvation and we are halfway through the list the first three we have examined.
We are coming to number four. Today, and then, Lord willing. If he allows will take up three more in the days to come. It may very well be that this one the fourth is the most evocative of them all. It seems to evoke strong response strong emotions in the heart of people conjures up immediately pictures that we have seen of Jesus holding the little lab in his arms.
Jesus gentle Shepherd and so perhaps more than any of the other seven. This one remains in the minds of many people and maybe the only one that is known by some people who are not Christians are not familiar with the word of God, you do recall of course that number three I am the door. Number four I am the good Shepherd are both found in the same setting. Namely, in John chapter 10 the both of them found in the same discourse the same message that was spoken by Christ. That is sometimes called the good Shepherd discourse in their Jesus first made the statement.
I am the door that has many wonderful teachings that flow out of it and then secondly he made the statement.
I am the good shepherd that is the one that we are going to take up, Lord willing. Today we shall do so in three parts number one. The setting number two. The saying number three. The separation first. The setting notice that outline is very similar to the one that we use last Lord's day, and indeed the first part. The setting is going to be similar because since both of the these are found in the same chapter than the setting is the same for both. Which means that for those of you have heard that this is going to be a review but I'm just going to touch lightly on some of the things that I mentioned last Lord's day not going to them in any great detail, but there are four elements of the setting that I think we need to keep in mind number one is Jewish shape keeping practices which would've been known to all of the people at the time when Jesus spoke these words in the temple at Jerusalem. They lived in an agrarian society and she was a very big part of what took place among the farmers, the shepherds and the people in the agricultural parts that dominated the nation of Israel suffer the very beginning of this discourse, we hear about things like sheep and shepherds and folds of doors and dangers, and it's all related to Jewish shape keeping practices which familiar to them or not so familiar to us, but I simply remind you that villagers in that day, often would construct one large fold, which was a common fold for the whole village in which was used by all of the shepherds in that village and use. Therefore for number of flocks and their flocks would not individually be large flocks, but altogether it would make a pretty good massive shape to be protected at night, and these folds that had walls as high as 10 or 12 feet with brambles on the top and only one way in through the door guarded by wooden gate. The second thing in the setting is the many Old Testament references to sheep and shepherds. I read a few verses out of Ezekiel chapter 34 last Sunday will make reference to one other one a little bit later but that was a very very common portrait from the Old Testament Scriptures. The common theme shape and shepherds and most of the time when that was mentioned. It was clear that Israel was the flock Israel constituted the shape, but more often than not that that was included by a prophet of the Old Testament as a scathing rebuke of unfaithful Shepherd.
Those who were supposed to be feeding the flock and they were failing to do so with a background like that from the Old Testament. Then we find the words of Jesus fit right into that fact discourse opens most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way.
The same is a thief and a robber.
Later he makes reference to other faithless shepherds. The third item in the setting relates to the healing of the man blind in John chapter 9, which immediately precedes it.
You really have to go all the way back to chapter 7 defined the beginning of Christ's ministry in the temple in Jerusalem at the feast of Tabernacles.
You remember just some months just six months before his crucifixion and that begins in chapter 7 and continues in chapter 8 and then the healing of the blind man flows immediately after that in chapter 9 and this good Shepherd discourse flows out from that in chapter 10. It's all connected together in a chapter 9, among other things, what we see is the nature of the Jewish religious leaders of that day they were the faithful shepherds of Ezekiel 34. They were not concerned about this man, they weren't interested in his welfare. They didn't even care that he or if he had remained blind. They were only concerned about their position their comforts. There in, and the threat that Jesus Christ seemed to them to be directing toward their position. They are the thieves and the robbers of John 10 one. They are the hirelings of John chapter 10 that's the background also of this discourse and then finally this the setting for the part of the discourse that were looking at today. The good Shepherd begins with the opening verses of the discourse where the emphasis is upon the door verses one through 10, but there are common elements there and they are they are intermixed. They are intertwined.
As you recall, and what we learned in the first 10 verses of this discourse are several things that are important, but number one shape have enemies animal sheep have enemies. The discourse refers to walls Jewish shape of which the animal shapes are simply a picture portrait that have enemies fall shepherds. There are thieves and robbers literally in the case of animal Street and very, very strongly figurative, but very dangerous in regard to human shape. You call David talked about as in his days as a shepherd how he protected his flock from on one occasion a lien another occasion a bear, dangerous work to be a shepherd. They were indeed enemies around sheep have enemies. The second thing we learned of the first 10 verses is that sheep need shepherds. Why are they put in a strong fold at night because they are so vulnerable. Without that protection that they would surely be destroyed or lost or both, first one than the other first loss than destroyed.
They need that protection they need a shepherd to lead them out of the fold and to take them to the pastors which shape have difficulty finding.
Believe it or not most animals know how to find food.
Sheep are so dumb they have to have someone to lead them to the Pharaoh.
Defendant lead them to the water or they'll lose their way. Sheep need shepherds human shape need shepherds as well and then 1/3 thing we later learned for the first 10 verses is that sheep need saving animal sheep need to be saved from the predators that we've already mentioned, but human shape especially need to be saved. That's when Jesus said I'm the door by me. If anyone enter and he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture shape particularly human shape need to be saved we are lost we are headed for destruction.
We are in desperate need of salvation, but God the father sent the good Shepherd to take care that need and how grateful we are. That's the setting that we come secondly to the saying and that pretty much covers verses 11 through 30 you find the exact words I am the good shepherd twice. The first declaration is in verse 11 Jesus said I am the good shepherd. The good Shepherd gives his life for the shape and the first declaration of the good Shepherd. We have the clear identification of the shepherd, namely Jesus who said I am the good shepherd that is a an amazing claim but it is a true claimant, and it is a very welcome claim. Jesus is the good Shepherd that phrase however good good Shepherd is not as easily translated as we might think.
At least Greek scholars tell me this like take their word for it.
Good is probably the best English translation available. They nearly all agree about that, even when they offer other shades of meaning for this word in the law give some of you in a moment, but everyone agrees that there is no other word that that comes as close to encapsulating this Greek word is the word good and yet it's not big enough. It's not descriptive enough. Because this word has the idea not only of being good, but it has overtones of being beautiful or attractive. I am the beautiful Shepherd I am the attractive Shepherd, and indeed the sheep are certainly attracted to him and find them beautiful and it also very much carries the idea of being noble or worthy. I am the noble Shepherd I am worthy Shepherd and that takes us to another Old Testament reference, namely Zechariah chapter 11 verse 17 where Zechariah says woe to the worthless Shepherd who leaves the flock. Woe to the worthless Shepherd who leaves the flock. And when you think of what Zechariah said, and then think of what Jesus said in John chapter 10, it's almost impossible to dismiss the almost certain to that he had Zechariah 11 in mind when he said that the worthless Shepherd who leaves the flock of fleas who sees a wolf any flakes he doesn't stay and protect the flock and so this good Shepherd. In contrast to the worthless Shepherd is a beautiful attractive noble worthy. That's the kind of Shepherd that the sheep have, what a wonderful Shepherd. Indeed we go on this text to not only see the identity of the good Shepherd, but also the commitment of the good Shepherd for he says the good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. The good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Now he doesn't matter how good a human Shepherd is were many good ones who served as examples to Christ's sermon so that what he said could be related to those around him but nevertheless it would be hard to find a human Shepherd who intends to lay down his life for the shape human shepherds if they are committed to the flock are willing to put themselves in danger there willing to fight the enemies they're willing to fight the wolves fight the Lions fight the Bears but they intend to prevail. They intend to defeat the wolf the lion and the bear they don't intend to give their life in the process they intend to protect the weaker sheep and for everybody to come out alive including themselves. But in the case of Jesus the sheep needed, not someone who would protect and spare his life at all costs.
But they needed someone who was willing to give up his life in order to save the sheep. That's what was necessary and so this Shepherd deliberately and intentionally necessarily by design ladies down his life for the sheep. He gives up his life because the sheep need his death before they can benefit from his life.
That's the commitment of the good Shepherd, his commitment goes beyond the commitment of the greatest human ship. It reminds me of the words of Paul in Philippians chapter 2, he says let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God made himself of no reputation in took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself in this became obedient unto death, he was sent to die. The father sent him to die and he obeyed. He became obedient completely obedient to the father's will to the ultimate extent. We did everything the father told him to do for including lay down his life obediently because the father will that the father designed it obedient unto death, why because that's what the sheep had to have in order to be saved. Following that we have a description of uncommitted shepherds. By contrast, in verses 12 and 13, but a hireling who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep sees the wolf coming in leaves the sheep and flee in the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
The hireling flees because he has a five hireling does not care about the sheep. The description of uncommitted Shepherd and none can trip committed Shepherd does and why he does it. Why does he flees when danger arises. The acts and self-interest.
He's more interested in protecting himself and protecting the sheep and he'll be happy to guard the sheep as long as it doesn't cost very much but when the price gets high. He's not willing to take a chance and he gets out of there in leaves the sheep along with the wolf. That's what he does and what is he do it because he is a hired hand is not the shepherd of the sheep is a hired hand enough, we realize that in this good Shepherd discourse. There are actually two kinds of deficiencies in shepherds. There are the thieves and robbers, which is one category and then there are the hirelings which is another category. The thieves and robbers are those who have wicked malicious intent toward the sheep. They are, they intend to plunder the street that's all I have in mind there purpose for climbing up over the wall of the sheepfold the middle of the night hoping not to awaken the doorkeeper, the Porter who was guarding the gate is so that they can get in there and steal sheep and plunder sheep and benefit themselves from the sheep. They have no interest at all of the sheep in mind. They are wicked malicious thieves and robbers, and they represent a certain kind of self-proclaimed Shepherd self-proclaimed religious leader who will get a following, but not because he's interested in benefiting the people who are following him. He's interested in fleecing them. He's interested in getting as much as he can from them, and if it destroys them.
So what he cares little. That's the first kind of a deficient Shepherd.
But then there's a second kind, not quite as malicious at all. He's a hired hand.
He's well-intentioned, he took the job because he has an interest in treatment, taking care of sheep but his main concern was earning a living, earning a salary. He's a hired hand. He's happy to attend the sheep to protect the sheep to feed the shape to lead the sheep as long as it's not too costly to himself.
For him it's first a job and then secondly is a what shall we say a ministry because he's less than fully committed to the sheep.
And though that kind of Shepherd under Shepherd, no talking about is not as dangerous nor as evil as the thief and the robber he still fall short of what is needed by the sheep and he fall short of what the good Shepherd requires of the under Shepherd is the first declaration. The second declaration is in verse 14 where Jesus is again I am the good shepherd inherent these of the following words and I know my sheep and am no by my own. He repeats the identification of himself as the good Shepherd and then he talks about the connection of the shepherd to his sheep. I know my sheep in an intimate relationship and they know me. Likewise, an intimate relationship. In fact, he goes on and likens that relationship to the relationship he has with the father. Verse 15 as the father knows me. Even so, I know the father that I laid on my life for the sheep.
I know my shape and am known by them and it's similar to the relationship between the son and the father and the way that they know each other, which is the most intimate relationship possible. We can even fully understand that relationship and certainly we cannot emulated ultimately but it nevertheless speaks about a special intimacy which the true sheep of Christ have with the shepherd which rises far beyond the level of human fellowship which even unconverted people can have with their neighbors and friends, something far greater than that there is a knowing there is a communion.
There is an intimacy. There is a fellowship between the good Shepherd and his sheep, which is unlike anything else on earth. Then we have what I have called the final declaration of verses 25 through 30 in here. Jesus does not repeat the words I am the good shepherd. So in that sense, we can't say it's 1/3 declaration we have the first one in verse 11. The second one in verse 14 where those exact words are used, but it's impossible to miss the the the meaning that is mirroring what has been said earlier about the good Shepherd.
As we come to verses 25 to 30 is a very similar meaning, though different wording. Now you remember, probably from last Sunday that this takes place on a separate occasion. We read now in verse 22 was the feast of dedication in Jerusalem and it was winter and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch, the Jew surrounded him and said to him, how long do you keep us in doubt. If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe the works that I do in my father's name. They bear witness of me, for you do not believe me because you are not of my sheep.
As I said to you, and then these words that do echo the words were spoken earlier my sheep hear my voice. 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 that would snatch means to take out violently not strong enough to do that. My father, who is given them to me, is greater than all, no one is able to violently take them out of my father's hand.
I and my father are one. What we have in this final declaration. Well, as we see this takes place about two months later after the first one which is connected with the feast of Tabernacles. This one is connected with the feast of dedication of what we know of today is Hanukkah that celebrates the cleansing of the temple that had been defiled by the Syrian monarch, Antiochus epiphanies and about 167, 170 BC I don't remember the exact dates but in that range, Judas Maccabeus started a a military movement against the Syrians, which appeared to be impossible. They were strong, the Jews were weak. It was really a guerrilla operation sniping at them from around the edges, darting away after after attacking them and hiding and he kept up that guerrilla operation over several years, and eventually one he conquered when he did the first thing he did was to cleanse the temple to cleansing from all of the defilement that falls altar that the images that have been put in the temple.
He cleansed all that out, cleaned up the temple and restored it to its intended purpose.
And that's why this is known as the feast of dedication they rededicated the temple to its original purpose well during that phase. Jesus comes back to the temple and is walking through Solomon's porch and is costed by Jews who demand a verdict, tell us plainly.
If you are the Christ, keep hearing things that make it sound like you're claiming to be the Christ, but we've never heard you speak the exact words I am the Christ, I am the Messiah. And you know what they hadn't, Jesus had never spoken those words in public and private, but a lot of reasons for the Jesus asked them a question. The moment I might've expected him to ask as he did on other occasions before I answer that question tell me what you mean by the term Christ you demand that I'd tell you find the Christ.
What does that word Christ mean to you. Do you mean military conqueror somebody who fights the armies of Rome and throws them off is that you got in mind that case, the answer is no, I'm not that kind of Christ.
But I am the real Christ. The biblical Christ, the prophesied Christ, you are just you have a wrong idea of who he is but anyway the demand for him to tell us Jesus says, in effect, I have already told you, and you didn't believe me because even though he has never said in so many words I am the Christ, he has said so many things and performed so many miracles that when you take them altogether.
Their extensive message can only point in one direction. This man has to be the Christ and many people had come to that conclusion we read about them of the book of John and other Gospels. There were myriad, said it come to that conclusion.
Not because he said I'm the Christ because of everything else he said and did. There was only one thing that they could include he is the Christ. They understood it. He had told them they didn't hear that they didn't believe it. Jesus said, I did tell you. Your unbelief has obscured my message you not able to understand what I'm saying because of your unbelief unbelief blocks ability to perceive spiritual truth. Your unbelief has obscured my message. He says in verse 25 and furthermore your unbelief reveals what category you are in and this is very telling. Verse 26 but you do not believe why, because you are not of my sheep. You are not one of my sheep. That's why you don't believe many Christians have it backwards. They think the people are not sheep because they don't believe Jesus said people don't believe because they're not sheep.
The two categories, sheep not sheep shaped goats and Jesus said those who are my sheep. Even those who haven't yet. They will believe and why will they believe because they are of this category. They are of my sheep.
They are of the flock that is sheep.
I have Street says here I am sheep of another folder, Gentiles of them.
Also I must bring their already, my sheep, but they haven't believed yet.
They haven't come yet but they will they will, but the reason why you don't believe, is because you are not one of my sheep as I already told you explained it to you running out of time as usual. I remember when I first began to come in the doctrines of grace many years ago. This goes clear back to around 1980 approximately talking to a pastor friend of Mike who I found to my surprise told me he believed the doctrines of grace and I didn't know that I can see anything about his ministry that would have alerted me to that but he did and then he said this, he says, but he said you have to understand that the doctrines of grace, a sort of a family secret. We don't talk about them in public with me to the family and SI good to me until I read the Bible in places like this. Somebody forgot to give Jesus the message she's not reserving this information for the shape he's telling it plainly to the goats. It's as plain as it can be. He could have said you don't believe because you're not one of the elect, because that's really what he saying you don't believe because you're not one of my sheep say well I would've said that I know because you know Jesus.
Jesus did and maybe we shouldn't be afraid to copy him while I come now to the third section, which is the separation I have to cover quickly because the last part of the chapter versus 31 to 42 marked the end of Christ's public ministry. The Jews respond.
They understood what he was saying when he said I am my father are one and they took up stones to stone him anything. Why are you doing that but for what good work. What one of the miracles.
What good works are done starting the they said no, not for good work, but because of blasphemy. You claimed to be the son of God, you said you and the father are one. You're claiming deity. They understood his claim, but they rejected his claim and they intended to stone him, but what were they doing they were only proving what Jesus had said you don't believe because you're not one of my sheep glad private fellows.
I'm telling you this and I'll shake you up in RSA all Lord help make what I want to believe, help my unbelief.
Now start in what you doing just demonstrating the truth of what I just told takes them back to Old Testament Scripture, which I wish I had more time to elucidate is very interesting.
Psalm 82, six square where humans are called God small G and he kinda throws a monkeywrench in the thinking so that they give some little positive in the direction they're going, but here's the point.
Jesus then withdrew himself from them and they couldn't cesium. We read in verse 39 they couldn't follow him. In verse 41 to another place.
They couldn't prevent him from ministering to people continuing to follow him and believe in him. In verse 41, 42, they couldn't do a thing to him until he let them they couldn't do a thing to him until the right time came, they couldn't go thing to him until he yielded himself into their control, and folks the same thing is true today. Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. You say all things look so bad all things look so dark a look at the enemies look how strong they are looking how vicious they are liquid are going to do folks you forgetting who the head of the church is you forgetting who the good Shepherd is you forgetting who has the power. If you think that there is anyone that can destroy the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are wrong.
If you think there's anyone that can prevent the forward forward March the forward. The forward movement of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are wrong. If you think there's anyone who can for God's eternal purposes for his church and for the multiplied millions that are going to be gathered in from every tongue and tribe and raised if you think anything can prevent that you are wrong.
Nothing can prevail against him.
Everything is under his perfect control and he even uses vicious wickedness and opposition and hatred of people to accomplish his purposes.
So in this passage we learn of the security of the believer.
Christ unreserved commitment to his shape.
Nothing. Nothing can destroy them in this passage we learn about intimacy. The intimate relationship between Christ and his shape.
What a privilege, but it's also a mark of true sheep. Do you have anything that could be described as an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That's a mark of true sheep. If you have any question about that. You need to go to Christ and ask him to give you that in this passage we learn about the danger of the danger that comes from false shepherds of the danger that comes from uncommitted shepherds, but we also learned that even these will not damage true sheep that can't do it. They are a danger to deceived people who think their shape and are not deceived by by the thieves and the robbers they could be deceived by the hirelings but not the true sheep and so that tells me that when were praying and praying for our nation and praying for our church and other churches. What we need to pray for one of the most important things we need to pray for his God, give us true shepherds give us committed shepherds give the shepherds who are neither thieves and robbers, nor hirelings, but who are appointed by Christ and committed to the shape of the Lord Jesus Christ, shall we pray father again, we thank you for the word that you have given it brings light and brings truth to our hearts, all Lord help us to receive it gladly, and thereby to demonstrate that you have worked in our hearts and we are indeed your sheep and father for those who have difficulty with that Lord, show them their their danger and father may this be a wake-up call may be used to arouse them out of slumber and away from deceit and cause them to humble themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ and cry out to him for mercy and for help and for pardon as we ask these things in Jesus name