When you think about Jesus, what comes to your mind? For me, one of the most powerful pictures is Jesus as a shepherd.
In the ancient Near East, the protection, the caring, the nurturing, the patience. If you want to know what it's like to have that kind of intimacy with Jesus, stay with me. That's today. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this daily discipleship program, Motivating Christians to Live Like Christians.
I'm Gabe Drew. In this program, we head into the final stretch of our Jesus Unfiltered series as Chip illustrates another foundational characteristic of Christ that we can learn from the Gospel of John. There's a lot to cover today, so let's get started.
If you have a Bible, turn to John chapter 10 for Chip's message, Every Sheep Needs a Shepherd. In all the time the earth has ever been, the most important thing that ever happened wasn't simply the birth of Christ, as wonderful that is, and not simply His life, but the fact that being fully God and fully man, He died, rose from the dead to give life. Now, here's the question in light of that. Consciously or unconsciously, we all ask a question or two as we go through life, and what I want you to know is how you answer these two questions will determine the course of your life.
I'm not overstating that. If you'll notice, I put a teaching hand out, I put the two questions there. Question number one is in light of this resurrection, this man who claimed to be God, all of history, B.C., A.D., how do you see God? I mean, what comes to your mind when you think God? What's He really like? Is He harsh? Is He down on you? Is He kind? Is He angry? Is He mildly ticked off? Is He sort of distant? Is He really engaged in what's going on or kind of impersonal?
Did He just sort of set this whole thing up and, you know, whatever happens, happens? I mean, when you think God, what comes into your mind? When you pray, what's the visual image of what God is like who's listening to you?
The quote I put there by Tozer, I think, is profound and accurate. What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about your whole life, because what you think about God, there's an invisible law of the soul you'll be drawn to or repelled by the image or the picture that you have. And I would guess, for most of us, who we think God is and who He really is are two different people.
The second question might even be more important. How do you think God sees you? I mean, imagine, if you will, long before computers, long before, you know, servers, long before Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, anything, the infinite mind of God who knows all things about all people, every moment, your thoughts, your behavior, your motives. When the picture of you comes up on the screen of this infinite God, how do you think He thinks about you? I mean, what's His response?
How does He feel? Is it like, man, I wish you'd get with the program? Or how come you're never doing enough?
Or, oh, brother, still working with this one. Or is it you're cherished, you're special, you're loved, you matter, I designed you, I've got a plan for you, there's a special purpose here. How do you think God thinks about you?
Because what I can tell you is most of us don't answer that question very accurately as well. In Matthew chapter 9, toward the end of Jesus' life, He comes into Jerusalem and He sees a multitude of people, not unlike in this room. And when He looked at the people, and He wasn't just looking physically, He looked at their heart, their motives, their lives, their marriages, their singleness, their work, their pain, their hurt, their cancer, the betrayals, the struggles, the infighting, the division. He says He looked at the multitudes and seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them. Would you circle the word in your notes, compassion?
I don't think most of us know what that means. He felt compassion for them for two reasons. Because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Put a line under distressed and a line under downcast. Distressed that doesn't take a lot of explanation, right?
I mean, stressed out, worn out, burned out, struggling, relationships not working, looking for purpose in life. But the word downcast is a little bit different. Downcast is a shepherd's term. Sheep wander around and they lie down and sometimes they get where the grass is very soft and there's a little indentation and it feels really good and they will lean over. And if a sheep leans over a little too much and gets almost upside down, it can't get up. It can't get up. You know what happens to what's called a cast sheep?
One hundred percent of the time they die unless a shepherd comes and lifts them and gets them back on their feet. When Jesus saw the multitudes, when He sees us, He sees our distress, He sees our hurts, He sees our struggles, He sees our insecurities, He sees our pain, He knows our past, He knows what people have done to us, He knows the mistakes we've made, He sees our distress and He sees us as downcast, that we're in a situation that we can't solve on our own because we're like sheep without a shepherd. And guess what it stirs in Him? This is how God thinks about you. Compassion. Not down on you, not get with the program, not do more, not what's wrong with you. Why did you make that mistake?
Why did you make that decision? It says He saw the multitudes and He felt compassion. The Greek word here means literally from the innermost parts or the bowels.
The Hebrews thought that the seats of your emotions were visceral. Even if you've ever had your heart go out to someone where almost you watered up just when you saw someone's pain and it was almost like something down in your stomach hurt that you had to do something to help them, that's this word. In fact, in English, I put a good definition there, it's a deep awareness and understanding of another person's struggle or hurt or pain that compels you to want to help them. Sympathy and compassion are very different.
Compassion is you are compelled and you just long to help solve it and make it right. I had a, probably one of the most compassionate moments I've had in the last maybe 10 years or so. On Tuesday I have a little grandson, his name is Noah. So we've gotten really close and Tuesday his mom was just kind of mopping the floor and he came running behind and just slipped in a very unusual way, came down on his knee and he broke his femur. And I mean when he hit, Teresa got a call from Annie, Mom I don't know what's wrong, he's crying and no matter what I do.
I mean he's uncontrollable, it's like he's in terror. So they took him to ER and then they took him to the orthopedic guy and by the time I heard about it, you know I drove over to the orthopedic guy across from Good Sam's and I walked in, as I walked in the orthopedic doctor had put up his x-ray, you know I saw this bone, it had this diagonal fracture in it and I mean he was just beside himself and if it moved at all he just, his poor little kid that I'm so close to and Annie had been in there for a couple hours and so she had to go get a drink of water and the doctor and everybody left and I just sat there this little guy and he looked at me with like terror in his eyes, like fix me, papa what's wrong? And everything in me I just, something happened, has this ever happened to you? I mean something happened now deep inside of me like I just wanted to say it's gonna be okay and it's gonna heal up and you know probably five years from now you won't even remember and of course he's 19 months old, he can't understand anything and then he just looked at me like papa, why don't you help? Here's what I want you to know, what I felt inside when I saw his need is how God feels about you when he sees your need, splotchna is the word, when he sees the divorce in your past, when he sees the strife in your marriage, when he sees the depression and the anger, when he sees the conflict that's happening at work, when he sees whatever need, the cancer that you're battling, the parent that's dying, the kid that just doesn't seem to get with the program, your deepest hurts, needs and mistakes are like a magnet that draw Jesus' love and compassion to you. That's what the Bible teaches God. Now I don't know about you but that's not the picture I've had of God most of my life and I've been a pastor for over 30 years and I can tell you that that's intellectually the picture I know is true but I have this default mechanism.
Anybody have that? Like on any given day I can think I don't think I measure up, I don't think I'm doing very well, God's probably kind of mad at me and it's none of that's true but I act that way and part of my family of origin, part my personality and so we have to be reminded. Why did he come?
It was compassion. So Old and New Testament, sometimes a word picture helps people grasp it especially if it comes out of the culture so we can take sort of these concepts and get them into real life and so 200 times in the Old New Testament God makes the metaphor of sheep shepard, sheep shepard because that's their world and sheep are dependent, vulnerable. Has anyone ever seen a wild sheep or a documentary on a wild sheep? You know why? They don't exist. They don't exist. They don't.
I mean a sheep without a shepard, here's the game plan. Die. They can't find water on their own. They're vulnerable. They can't, if they're not moved to get new food they'll sit and eat the grass there down to the roots, kill themselves. If they roll over or cast they can't pick themselves up.
They have to be led. Don't take this personally. God calls us sheep. Pigs are way smarter than sheep.
Sorry. And orangutans are way up there. And so sheep are these not that intelligent animals but they're super valuable. They're wool.
They're milk. Whole villages, whole nations have lived on the great value and specialness of what a sheep bring. And so all through scripture God helps us understand compassion and what he's really like by the shepard and the sheep.
There was a time where Israel had you know just to use a vernacular blown it big time. And you would think God would be just like you know what I'm just going to start over. And Ezekiel 34 after speaking to a group of shepherds who were fleecing the sheep literally and using them and just messing up things. This is God's word to them in Ezekiel 34 11. He says for thus says the Lord God behold I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out.
And here's the metaphor or the simile. As a shepard cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep so I will care for my sheep and I'll deliver them from all the places in which they're scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. You know I myself it's Yahweh Elohim I mean this is God the Lord and he looks at his people and he says I myself I'm going to go after them like a shepard goes for scattered sheep and he doesn't stop he says I will feed my flock and I will lead them to rest.
I mean like anybody here like need rest. I don't mean just physical I mean in your soul declares the Lord God I will seek who's he after the lost I will bring back the scattered I'll bind up the broken and I will strengthen the sick. Even David when he was trying to express the intimacy that he had with God remember what he would say I mean here's a guy that was a king and the psalmist and powerful and then on a really really weak moment on a bad day commits adultery and then covers it up and commits murder and yet the New Testament looks back on this very flawed person that was very gifted and said he was a man after God's own heart not because he never messed up but because of the tenderness of his heart what he understood was here's what David got I see how God sees me I see that God is a God of mercy and compassion and forgiveness and wants to restore and so the Holy Spirit led him one day to say the Lord Yahweh is my shepherd and I won't be in want he makes me lie down in green pastures and what he does he's going to lead me by quiet waters because he's going to restore my soul and he says even though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death I won't fear evil because he's with me his rod his staff they comfort me he'll lead me in passive righteousness he's going to direct my life and there'll be a day when I come through all these difficulties and there's going to be this victory banquet and he's going to allow me he's going to set a table a buffet if you will in the very presence of my enemies and then just like in the big buffets in the huge moments he will anoint my head with oil like happens on these marvelous celebrations and then instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop and something bad to happen his mercy and his love will follow me and the word literally is pursue me come after me chase me all the days of my life do you think of God like that so good so kind so loving these he's trying to chase you down to say would you let me give you the best and then maybe the last thing and I know he says I'll dwell in the house of the Lord forever and so Jesus in John chapter 10 is speaking to a group of people that they just can't figure out some believe in him and some have rejected him and he wants them to know even those that are trying to kill him about his compassion and his love of why he came and you pick up the story in John 10 open your notes if you will and as you do John chapter 10 we're going to get the story of Jesus speaking to a mixed group of people some trying to kill him and some who believed and so he gives them this metaphor and what you're going to see first is you're going to see some you're going to see a parable because he longs for people even those that want to kill him he longs for them to understand God's compassion so he gives them a picture in their world that they can understand I tell you the truth Jesus says the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber the man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep the watchman or the porter opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out when he's brought them all out his own he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice but they will not follow a stranger in fact they will run from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice Jesus used this figure of speech or parable but they did not understand what he was telling him now I don't know about you and I didn't grow up in the church and grew up reading the Bible but if I wanted to know about God's compassion and I heard those six verses about parable about sheep it didn't do a lot for me okay if you understand the culture you understand what he now says later what he basically said was look you all understand how life works with sheep it's an agrarian culture they're shepherds they can't grow a whole lot the land isn't all that good so if you're the youngest son your job is to be the shepherd and and then in the village you lived off the wool you lived off you could sell the wool the milk occasionally you would sacrifice one and so I'm a shepherd you're a shepherd he's a shepherd she's a shepherdess and so at the end of the day we would go to the village and in our village would be a shepherd's pen if you will it often would be about four feet high all made out of stone a large area and there would be a gate and so I would bring my sheep and I would stand and I would put my rod and I would count them and maybe I've got 53 sheep and then the next shepherd or shepherdess comes and they've got 35 50 40 and so this whole big area is filled with sheep and there's an entrance he's just describing their everyday life but now he says some things that they really get and if you've ever seen the documentary or this still happens today shepherds name their sheep and sometimes it's you know striped legged or bad attitude or stuff like that or white spotted face but they name all their sheep and they know them personally but they build this intimacy and relationship it's why Jesus uses it so when a shepherd would come at in the next morning all the sheep are there they're safe he would might come and they almost have like talk he might go yo yo yo and all about 50 sheep they look and he walks and they follow him none of the other sheep move and then another shepherd comes goes oh another 35 sheep and they walk out so he's explaining how it happens and then he says thieves and robbers see at night there's this it's about four feet or so stone and some might be a little bit higher a thief would come during the dark and he would climb over and have a couple friends slit the neck of a sheep and then get as many as they could robbers didn't just steal they would beat up who was on guard often kill them and try and get the whole herd so he's just describing a world about the relationship between sheep and shepherds now listen carefully because now he applies it to himself we pick up the teaching in verse 7 through 10 verse 7 says therefore Jesus said I tell you the truth I am the gate or the door for the sheep all whoever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep didn't listen to them I am the gate here's his offer whoever enters through me will be saved he's talking about spiritual salvation in the context of this book he will come in and go out and find pasture so come to me and believe in me I will provide for you and I'll protect you the thief comes only to steal and to kill and destroy and then he gives his purpose statement for why he came I came that you might have life and have it to the full or have it abundantly literally the word means to excess and to overflowing and so the teaching here Jesus is saying that door the entranceway in and out and relationship I'm the answer I'm the shepherd in fact what he says you might jot it in your notes he's saying Jesus is the good shepherd and what they knew in their day that's what you need a good shepherd this is the part of your view of God my view of God most people's view of God I think is completely skewed we don't believe he's good and you can't trust someone that you don't think is good we don't think if we left the decision about a future mate to him he would make a very good decision we don't think we left the decision and and wanted his guidance about what job to take or where our kids ought to go to school or is it this roommate I should live over here or there or we down deep we want to control we think we know better and so he wants them to know because the barrier to believe is you got to trust and he wants them to know I'm the good shepherd now the teaching goes on and he's going to say let me prove it to you and he's going to say the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep in other words greater love has no one than this that one lay down your life for your friend and it says I want you to know I'm going to lay down my life and as I read this you'll count maybe three four different times he talks about laying down his life laying down his life and as he does he's going to say why he does it he's going to say that he offers this for all people and then he's going to say I'm doing it voluntarily what you'll learn in this passage is Rome did not kill Jesus and Jews did not kill Jesus follow along as I read let's pick it up at verse 11 I am the good shepherd the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep the hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep so when he sees the wolf coming he abandons the sheep and runs away then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it the man runs away because he's a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep I am the good shepherd I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the father knows me and I know the father repeated I lay down my life for circle the word for will come back to it I lay down my life for the sheep and then he's speaking to Jews here but he expands I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen I must bring them also he's speaking of us Gentiles the reason my father loves me as I lay down my life only to take it up again no one takes it from me I lay down my life of my own accord and I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up this command I received from the father now notice the response either gone oh come on are you kidding at these words the Jews were divided many of them said he's demon possessed he's raving mad why listen to him and others said these aren't the sayings of a demon possessed man and and can a demon open the eyes of the blind in the last chapter he opened the eyes of man blind from birth and says his offer for life is that little word for I give my life I lay down my life for the sheep in Greek there's two words for for one is sort of on behalf of I do it for you the other is I'll do it on behalf of you but in place of you that's this word in other words what he's saying is I'm going to lay down my life for you as a substitute and what you deserve for your behavior and your sin and what I deserve for my behavior and my sin and how I've treated people what I've done instead of me receiving that he says I'll lay down my life and I'll take what you deserve and you can have what I deserve before God's presence and then he says I'm offering this to whosoever will believe and then finally says it's voluntary no one's making me do this there's no group to blame I have the power to lay my life down I have the power to lift it up. Chip will join us here in studio with his application in just a minute you've been listening to the first part of his message every sheep needs a shepherd which is from the second volume of his Jesus unfiltered series titled follow when Jesus called his disciples he used two simple words follow me and that phrase has since changed the lives of countless people throughout history so what does it look like to follow Jesus today in the second volume of chip series Jesus unfiltered we're continuing our study of the Gospel of John in chapter 6 through 10 Chip dives into topics like living without shame understanding the miraculous and finding true contentment and how those subjects relate to the practice of following Jesus you're not going to want to miss a single program for complete information about our resources or to check out the other volumes of our Jesus unfiltered series visit Living on the Edge org app listeners tap special offers well before we go any further here's Chip with a quick word I just want to say thanks to every single one of you who partner with us at Living on the Edge you know some of you pray some of you give and some of you do both you may not know it but we meet as a staff Monday through Friday and we pray I mean we have staff all across the country and we time it where we come together we pray over you we pray over the teaching that goes out we pray over the projects we have so many people that call in and say this is a specific need and we pray for specific needs we pray over relationships we pray that God will use the ministry here and around the world I have just one question if the teaching on this program is making a difference in your life would you get on board would you commit to pray for us would you commit to give in fact regardless of the amount if you could give monthly it would make a world of difference we have so much ahead of us the needs are so great and life is short would you go online or give us a call and become a partner with the ministry I'm not discouraged because I know God's in control but I believe he's calling us to step up and really make a difference and we need your help to do that thanks chip if joining the Living on the Edge team is an idea that makes sense to you we'd love to have you your support multiplies our efforts and resources in ways that only God can do so if you'd like to be a part of that let me encourage you to become a monthly partner just go to Living on the Edge org and tap the donate button with a few clicks you can set up a recurring donation and help others benefit from this ministry or if it's easier just give us a call at triple eight three three three six zero zero three that's triple eight three three three six zero zero three to learn how you can become a monthly partner with Living on the Edge app listeners tap donate as we wrap up today's program this is a very very familiar passage and one that I hear people quote a lot but down deep I'm not sure we relate to it that much I don't know anything about sheep personally I've been around a few and I've read that they're you know kind of dumb that they're helpless and they smell and I guess there's a parallel with people there but you know the fact of the matter is the point is is that sheep are followers and sheep are helpless but I think many of us feel very self-sufficient a lot of the time and I think this parable what Jesus taught really rings home when you're out of work when your spouse walks out on you when one of your kids is an ICU or when you get a biopsy report and it says cancer you see that's when we're helpless that's when we realize I can't change things I need a savior I need God and Jesus is saying I am the good shepherd and he says whether you've wandered from the truth or whether you're drowning in alcohol whether you're sick on drugs or whether you're stalled in selfishness I want you to know that I want to rescue you that great psalm that people read at funerals it says the good shepherd he says he'll rescue your rod and your staff sometimes he corrects and sometimes he pulls us out of the ditch but today is the day for you to know there's someone who cares about you there's someone that knows everything in your life if you will admit that you're helpless if you admit that you need help if you cry out for help and run to him the promise of God is very clear draw near to God and he'll draw near to you today whatever it looks like would you take a moment would you maybe just go to a park maybe five minutes in the car and would you bow your head and just draw near to God and let him draw near to you. Just before we close would you pray for those who are feeling challenged to respond to Chip's encouragement right now there's always a spiritual battle when we feel prompted to draw near to God thanks for taking a minute to do that and if there's a way we can pray for you let us know call us at 888-333-6003 or email chip at livingontheedge.org we'd love to hear from you. For everyone here this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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