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The Good Shepherd (and a Bunch of Happy Sheep!) - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2023 6:00 am

The Good Shepherd (and a Bunch of Happy Sheep!) - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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October 15, 2023 6:00 am

This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.


If you don't want to be too happy of a sheep, just sort of stay at a distance from your shepherd.

Wander around a little bit. Thank God the shepherd doesn't know as much as I know. I'm a sheep.

Just sort of wander around and find your own way, make your own idea. But if you really want to be a happy sheep, safety is directly proportional to proximity. The closer you live to your shepherd, the more you are nourished and cared for by him and are safe because of him.

Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. In one of the Far Side comics by Gary Larson, a bunch of sheep are trying to have a party, trying but not succeeding. One sheep starts to panic and says, our party's total chaos.

No one knows when to eat, where to stand or what to, but she's interrupted when the door opens, allowing her to express with relief, oh, thank goodness, here comes a border calling. Have you ever had that feeling that life is total chaos and all you need is a little shepherding to get things back on track? Well, today in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, Skip Heitzig talks about how Christ came to this world to do just that.

But first, let's see what's going on in the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Listen to what the message version of the Bible says about the necessity of a clear vision for the future. If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.

But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Vision for your life. That's the theme of our resource package that features five excellent full length messages by Skip, including six things that will surprise you about heaven and God's purpose for people. Now, here's a comment from Skip Heitzig on the topic of purpose. God has a desire. God has a purpose for you. And one of his purposes for you is that you know him, that he walk with you, that you do life together with him. Do you walk with God?

Is that a concern of yours? Is that a stated goal in your head, in your heart? I want to walk with God. I want to live to please God.

I want to know God. Clear vision for your life. That's the theme of our vision resource package that features five excellent full length messages by Skip, including six things that will surprise you about heaven and God's purpose for people. You'll want to order our vision resource package for this month, which also features a full color magazine about the vision that drives Skip's ministry. You'll also receive an audio copy of Skip clearly outlining his philosophy of ministry in the past, present, and future. Receive your vision package when you make a donation of $50 or more to Connect with Skip. Give your gift by calling 1-800-922-1888 or online at

That's 1-800-922-1888 or Open your Bibles to John chapter 10. And as you find that spot, we'll catch up with Skip Hytzen as he resumes our study. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, many in Israel did not recognize him. He called as their shepherd. He spoke to them. But the Bible says he came into his own and his own did not receive him.

It means his own nation, his own people, his own group. He came to his own folks and they didn't recognize him. They didn't hear his voice.

They didn't pick up his pitch, his tone, his intonation. Now, that wasn't true of everyone. Some, the true sheep, had been looking and anticipating for this shepherd to come all along. Zacharias was one. Elizabeth was another. Simeon was another. Anna was another. Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist. Zacchaeus, that short little tax collector who was up in the tree. This blind man in this story, Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and eventually the thief on the cross will all recognize this is the one and place their faith in him. Look a little more closely at the third verse. He says he calls his own sheep by what?

By name. Did you know that shepherds used to have nicknames for individual sheep in their flock? See, the shepherd intimately knew his flock. He hung around them all day long. He was with them. He watched them. He smelled them.

He put them in the enclosure every day, every night. So he got to know the idiosyncrasies and diverse personalities of each of his sheep. And because of that, in studying them, he would give them nicknames. He might call one Long Nose. He might call another one Black Ear. He might say to another one Fluffy or to another one Slowpoke because he knew them and he would call them by some individual nickname.

And all of this is to speak of the personal nature of shepherding in ancient times. A name is a personal thing. When somebody speaks your name, and isn't it funny you can be in a crowd and there's noise in the crowd, you don't really hear anything in particular, but if someone across the room even just speaks your name, you hear it.

It's personal. Somebody calls you by name. One of my favorite songs was written by Tommy Walker, a friend of mine who's out in Los Angeles. He wrote the song He Knows My Name. He knows my every thought.

He sees each tear that falls and he hears me when I call. I was with Tommy some years ago in the Philippines and he sang this song at a crusade. There were thousands of people from Manila there. And the people in the crowd began to weep as they heard the song. And they all knew the song. They sang the song with them. It was like the national anthem to them. They said it was their favorite Christian song because they felt like in a huge metropolitan area like Manila where there's so many millions of people and you feel like you're just a face in a crowd.

The idea that there's a God in heaven who knows my name and calls me by name is so comforting. So he comes the so he comes the right way. He calls the right way.

And look at the third. He conducts the right way. The end of verse three, Jesus says, and he leads them out.

He's taking them out of this fold. And when he brings out his own sheep, verse four, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. It's a picture of a shepherd conducting his flock, leading his flock out of one place to another. If you have any experience with sheep in the West here, and some do, very few do, but some do, you understand immediately that the Western style of shepherding is very different from the Middle Eastern or Eastern type of shepherding. Here in the West, people use, if they have sheep, dogs to drive the sheep.

But not in the East. In the East, a shepherd leads, not drives, leads the sheep, who will go out first. The sheep will follow him, and he'll take the path to make sure it's the right path. There's no precipice that the sheep would fall over. And that the path is going to take the sheep to a place where they're going to have food and water. It's going to be peaceful.

It's going to be nourishing. That's the thought behind Psalm 23, when David writes, he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He conducts, he leads the right way. He has the right style of leadership, not driving them like the Pharisees, but leading them like God said he would send shepherds to do.

And this is what I think is important in context. What Jesus is saying by this analogy is explaining to the crowd, and especially the leaders, what just happened to that man who had been born blind, who was now healed. He had been kicked out of Judaism. The fold of Judaism had fulfilled its function. It had kept the people of God safe, kept the people of God separate from the world, and that was fulfilled.

That was over. It was time for a new fold with a new flock, and this man was part of that. It's a new order. I'll use another analogy Jesus employs. He says, you can't put new wine into old what? Wine skins. For Jesus said, the wine skin that is old will crack and burst, and you'll lose all the new wine.

No, you have to put new wine in new wine skins, and Jesus here is saying, I'm going to do a new work. I'm leading that man out of the fold, and I'm going to lead him into my fold. I'm his savior. I'm his shepherd.

There's a great point there. Learn to trust the leading of your shepherd. If Jesus Christ is indeed your shepherd and leading your life, then trust him. If he's leading you out of something, it's because he wants to lead you into something else.

Some of us, you know, we don't get led very well. The Lord tries to lead us, and we dig our hills in, and we're just dragging along the road. Maybe he's leading some of you out of a bad relationship, a sinful relationship. It's because he's leading you into something else. Maybe he's leading you out of a false religion. It's because he's leading you into something else. Maybe he's leading you out of a bad business partnership. It's because he's leading you into something else.

Trust the direction and the lead of your shepherd. Now, it says in verse six, Jesus used this illustration. That's what it was. But they did not understand the things that he spoke to them. Now, why did John include that?

Well, it's very simple. Remember back in the previous chapter, he said, For judgment I have come into this world, that those who are blind may see, and those who don't see me may see. Those who say they see will be made blind. And the Pharisees said, What? Are we blind also? And John is now saying in effect, Uh-huh. You didn't get it. Jesus just gave you a simple analogy that any of his followers would have gotten and enjoyed and applied, but they are scratching their heads going, Huh?

Which proves the whole point that they were blind. So, verse seven. Now, there's a shift. Verses one through six, the shepherd gathers his flock. Here's the guiding of the flock. Jesus said to them again, Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers.

But the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.

He will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. And the second time that Jesus talks, the scene has shifted.

The camera pans from the village now to the countryside. It's no longer morning when the shepherd calls his flock. It's probably midday when the flock is out in the pasture grazing.

Now, we have a little bit of a question posed, or at least a little bit of a problem. Jesus refers to himself in the first part and later on after this as the shepherd. Look at verse 11. It says, I am the good shepherd. But now it would seem as if Jesus is mixing his metaphors because he says, I am the door. First, he says, I am the shepherd. Now, he says, I am the door. Now, what I want to get across to you is that it's not a mixing of metaphors. A shepherd is a door.

And I want to explain that. Remember, I said there's two types of enclosures, one in the village, one in the country. Village had a high wall, had briars on top to keep it a little more secure, had a gate that swung, and it could be locked in the middle and it could be locked at night. And there was a gatekeeper who admitted the shepherds every morning. But out in the country, it was a little more primitive.

There were sheet folds, but they were low walled enclosures, just a few piled up stones. And there was an opening, but no gate that swung, a narrow opening. One time, a scholar named George Adam Smith, Old Testament scholar, was visiting the land of Israel. He got a tour guide. The tour guide showed him a shepherd.

It was toward evening, and the shepherd wanted to show where he places his flock at night out in the countryside. So he shows them the sheep enclosure, and he says, I place them in here, my flock in here every night, and they're perfectly safe. George Adam Smith said, what do you mean they're perfectly safe? There's no door.

They can get out. And the shepherd, and he wasn't a Christian. He was a Muslim Arab. He said, well, I am the door. He said, what do you mean you're the door? He said, well, at night, I lay down to sleep in front of this opening, and I become the literal door. So the sheep can't get out unless they were to cross over my body, and they're too scared they won't do that.

And wolves can't get in because they'd have to cross over me, and I've got a club. So the shepherd is the door. When he's out in the countryside where he leads his flock, at night, he becomes the door.

So it's not a mixing of metaphor. The shepherd becomes the very door. What is that you see the door to verse nine? I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved. He's the door of salvation. How many openings, doors do you think the sheepfold had?

One. He didn't say, I'm one of many doors. No, the analogy is perfect because he says, I am the door.

No one gets in this enclosure unless he comes over me or through me. So it's a perfect application of what Jesus has always taught in the Gospel of John, the narrow way, the exclusiveness of Christ. You see, if God sent Jesus out of heaven and he came to the sheepfold the right way, he came to be the savior of mankind, sent by God, why would he come if there were many doors, if there were many ways, if there were many ways to God? Why didn't he just stay up in heaven and enjoy himself and because everybody's leading, going to the same place no matter what they believe?

No, he came that people might be saved true or by him. That's why he says in verse eight, all whoever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. Then look again at verse nine, after he says he will be saved, the door of salvation, he will go in and out, that's a metaphor for contentment, for provision, go in and out and find pasture. So here's the idea, the shepherd would lead his flock in to the sheepfold at night and out of sheepfold in the morning for pasture, that's the idea, in and out and when he took them out, he brought them to green pastures, still waters, abundant food sources because he's taking care of them, he's providing for them.

Even as Jesus Christ nourishes us, his sheep, right now we're being nourished by the very truths of the word of God that speak of his infinite care. Now if you're a sheep, there's a secret to being a happy one. If you don't want to be too happy of a sheep, just sort of stay at a distance from your shepherd, wander around a little bit. Thank God the shepherd doesn't know as much as I know, I'm a sheep.

Just sort of wander around and find your own way, make your own idea. But if you really want to be a happy sheep, safety is directly proportional to proximity. The closer you live to your shepherd, the more you are nourished and cared for by him and are safe because of him. Now we'll finish it up in verse 10.

He's the door to our satisfaction. He says, the thief in comparison does not come except to steal, to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly or literally that they might have it to the brim or in super abundance. I wonder if that describes your life as God's flock. Does abundant life describe you? Notice he says, I come that they might have life. He didn't say, I have come that they might have bummer and have bummer more abundantly.

But by looking at some people's lives, you would think he may have said that. Remember how I said that shepherds often gave nicknames to their sheep based on their personalities and idiosyncrasies? If God were to give you a nickname based upon your personality and idiosyncrasies, what would it be? Would it be words like grumpy? That's my sheep. That's grumpy.

He's always grumpy. There's my sheep wanderers, always kind of wandering around doing his own thing. Or would it be loving, trusting, hopeful? I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Let me put it a little more directly. If as God's sheep, you find yourself constantly complaining about your lot in life, it is an advertisement to everyone else watching you saying, I follow my shepherd, but don't you follow my shepherd or you're going to end up just like me. But if on the other hand it reflects this quality of life, the satisfaction of life, what an advertisement that is to follow the shepherd.

So many people would line up to follow that shepherd as they see the flock, as they see the sheep. Eric Buttersworth is an author who wrote a book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. You may have read the book. It's very popular.

He gives a great little illustration in the book. True story. A sociology professor sent his students out for a project into the slums of Baltimore to find 200 young boys, 200 of them. And they were assigned to write an evaluation of what they thought their future would be in these slums. 200 were found. 200 were interviewed.

They looked at their lives. And almost without deviation, the reports came back the same. Hasn't got a chance. No hope.

In this condition, hasn't got a chance. That was the study. 25 years later, same college, another sociology professor finds this study from 25 years earlier. And now he's wondering, I wonder what happened to those 200 young boys who are now men.

He sends his class out, and their assignment is to find those 200 boys who have grown up and are now men, find out what they're doing. Well, they did. And they discovered that though 20 of them had moved or had died, 176 of the 180 that they talked to, 176 out of 180 had very successful lives.

They were successful business people, or they were lawyers or doctors. You get the drift. And that was astonishing because the first report is, hasn't got a chance. Well, now the professor in the sociology department is very curious. He goes, you got to find out why. So they went back and they started interviewing them. And almost without fail, the answer came back, well, there was this one teacher that changed everything for me. So they found the teacher. She was old, old lady, but still very lucid. And the sociology professor said, you have to tell me, I'm writing this up, you have to tell me what your secret was to changing these lives. She smiled. She was very flattered, sparkle in her eye and a big smile.

She said, honestly, I didn't do anything special. I just loved these boys. I just loved these boys. And the conclusion of the professor is their success was based on the love of one single teacher. Amazing story. Our victory, our success is based on the love and care of one shepherd, the shepherd who laid down his life for the flock. And you know why he's so good at shepherding? Because he knows what it's like to be a sheep. He came into our fold and laid his life down.

And it's why when John the Baptist saw him, he said, behold, the lamb of God, he takes away the sin of the world. Well, it's always easier to find your way with a little guidance and help. And that's exactly what Jesus provides as our shepherd. He'll help us get to where we need to go and he'll care and watch over us on the way.

If we think we can do it on our own, well, there are plenty of sheep who think the same thing, and some of them are never heard from again. And if you'd like a copy of today's teaching, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping. When you contact us at 1-800-922-1888 or when you visit or write to us at P.O.

Box 95707, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87199. Next time, we'll continue with our shepherd theme as we learn what makes the good shepherd so great right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connexion Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-19 01:53:57 / 2023-10-19 02:02:59 / 9

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