How Good is the Good Shepard?

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I’m going to invite you to John Chapter 10 this morning. John Chapter 10 is where we’re going to be together as we continue through our series of the Gospel of John. And John 10 is sort of a conclusion section for the Gospel of John. It’s really one of the pinnacle chapters of the Gospel of John. If you talk to people about some themes that they may know about, John, most likely, if anyone’s familiar with this book, Chapter 10 is one of those chapters, you may not be able to recall the exact chapter, but you know this is the chapter that Jesus talks about himself being the Good Shepherd. This is a very powerful section of scripture. And this section of scripture comes at a conclusion point in Jesus’s ministry. And the conclusion point is at the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles.

We have been at this feast. This is a week long feast. We have been at this feast since John Chapter 7. And John Chapter 10 is the conclusion of this feast. And when you read the Gospels, one of the interesting things, if you ever engage in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, any of the Gospels, one of the interesting things you’ll see in those books, is that Jesus’s life is really just very quick snapshots described of Christ’s life. You really don’t get a whole lot about Jesus’s early years of his life. You get his birth, you get one story in the gospels about him getting lost at the temple when he was a kid. But other than that, what’s recorded about Jesus is really his public ministry, the last three and a half years of his life. That’s really what the Gospels contain. And John tells you why, at the end of the gospel of John. He says he writes particular stories about Jesus so that you can believe in Him and have life and life for eternity. That’s his desire for John.

So John’s not just picking out random stories that he thinks about Jesus and kind of telling you these stories as he can recollect from his old age, some of the things he encountered with Christ. John’s bringing very intentional types of stories he’s sharing with you about Jesus. He’s not just pulling these out of memory, he’s communicating something important about Christ that he wants you to recognize. But when you read in the Gospel of John, you kind of go through his life pretty quick through ministry, but then you get to this Feast of Booths or this Feast of Tabernacles, and it’s really, in this section of scripture, it’s kind of like John hits the pause button. And for several chapters, just records the course of events in Jesus’s life. And this does not happen again, until the end of Jesus’s life. When you get to John Chapter, really 13, John, again, slows down at the end of Christ’s life.

And I think in the life of Jesus, when John is sharing here, the reason John chooses to do this, is because he sees that these moments related to the Feast of Tabernacles, as really being the defining moment that puts the stamp on what’s going to happen to Jesus. And because this is where Jesus has clearly declared for us his identity. He’s demonstrated it to us, and he’s even used pictures of Jewish worship for it. And what I mean is, Jesus, at the end of John, if you remember John Chapter 8 and Verse 58, Jesus declared himself just plainly. He says, I am the I am. They ask, hey, Jesus… If you remember at the end of John 8, he’s talking about Abraham and they look at Jesus like, how do you know Abraham? Abraham died years ago. How could you even know Abraham? And then Jesus gives that statement, before Abraham was, I am. And the phrase, I am, is a declaration of His deity. It’s the name of God in the Old Testament.

And the response to the Jews, it was to immediately pick up stones to throw at Jesus to kill him. So Jesus is clearly giving this declaration of who he was, right? I am God. The I am statements really pick up in John Chapter 8, he does it twice. And then John Chapter 10, he does it twice again. The I am statements, I am the door, I am the Shepherd. Or the Good Shepherd, he’s going to do that today, we’ll see. So his identity is very clearly portrayed here. And then he demonstrates that by his healing hand, it’s a messianic mark. We talked about this a little bit last week, that he heals the blind man, he heals the man at Bethesda, at the pool of Bethesda. It’s a mark of who the Messiah was, and so he demonstrates that. And then in the same time period, when Jesus is at the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles, he uses the illustrations of the feast that God commanded his people to do, to say, this is a foreshadowing of me. Remember, this is where Jesus called himself the Light of the World, when the Jews are doing the torch dance to light the temple during the Feast of Booths. Every night, they would light the temple.

And Jesus is saying this light is a picture of me, I am that light, all of this is intended to point to me. Or during the same feast, there was a pouring out of water at the drink offering. And as the water is being poured out, Jesus comes in and he says, I am the living water. All of this is a picture of me. So Jesus is very clearly saying, look, the temple worship, it’s all about me. It’s a foreshadowing of everything that I will fulfill in your life. And so this declaration of Jesus is being made known. And you see at the end of John Chapter 9, that really, the one person that responds to it is the blind man. In the end John 9, that he is the one that worships Jesus. This is Jesus’s desire for us. Jesus doesn’t stop him from worship. But Jesus permits him to worship, because Jesus is God.

And this section of scripture, very powerful in what it communicates to us about Christ and the significance of who he is, so that we don’t miss it. And this also becomes sort of the death knell for Jesus, because I guess, pun intended there. But Jesus, this becomes a place where the Pharisees really decide that, yeah, we’ve got to put an end to this guy. In fact in John Chapter 7 Verse 25, they start talking about the death of Jesus. And it continues on. They talk about the death of Jesus nine times, really starting in Chapter 5 and then in Chapter 7, then it continues on from there. They’re just focused on killing Jesus. To the point where at the end of Chapter 7, the crowds just walk away from Christ. They see him as really a dividing person in their culture. And to follow Jesus, there’s risk to that. And so people are distancing themselves from Christ.

You see it again in John 9 with the blind man. That this man’s claiming Jesus, but even his parents reject their own son, because they don’t want to be ostracized from their Jewish synagogue, their Jewish community to follow Jesus, was to put you on the outskirts of community life. And so they rejected Jesus in order to align with their community. So this section of scripture, very defining moment for the people of Israel and where they stand with Jesus. And Jesus, in these last moments at the Feast of Tabernacles, chooses this one last illustration, to help us understand who he is, really. Following after him, there’s risk. As a Christian, that should be true for us. As Christians, we should recognize there is a cross to bear before us. But also, there is a hope beyond us. In Christianity, in pursuing Jesus, it can cost you. In fact, it should cost you. Because you let go of the things of this world to grab hold of the things of God. So there is a cross before you, there is a cross to bear. But there is a hope that endures beyond.

And Jesus wants us to see the sweetness of that in who he is. In John Chapter 10, he chooses this illustration. John 10 Verse 1, look at it with me. This is truly, truly, I say to you, the one who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way. He is a thief and a robber. But the one who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him, the doorkeeper opens and the sheep listen to his voice, and he calls his own sheet by name, and he leads them out. When he puts all his own sheep outside, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. However, a stranger, they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.

So what Jesus is doing in this story is very easy to pick up on. He’s contrasting the leadership that Israel has been under versus his own. And he’s picturing himself as the shepherd, and the others as imposters. And if you just think about the last couple of chapters, you see why Jesus is to this point. Chapter 8, at the end of Chapter 8, he called himself the I am, the Jews picked up stones to stone him, Jesus flees. They cast Jesus out. At the end of Chapter 9, you have one person choosing to follow Jesus, it’s the blind man. And what do they do to the blind man, they cast him out.

And on the backdrop of that story, Jesus then gives this story, I am the Shepherd. Everyone else who’s tried to lead your life, they’ve been an imposter, they’ve not come for you for the right reasons. I am the true voice that you need to listen to, I am the one that’s called here. And Jesus wants to distinguish who he is in our lives versus all other voices. Superiority of Christ made known for you. So Jesus, in the story, is contrasting all false shepherds, or all other imposers in this moment, in the life of the sheep versus himself. But then in addition to that, he’s comparing you to sheep. Jesus is the shepherd and you are sheep. And I think Jesus, in this story, is very intentional in choosing this illustration. I don’t think he’s just saying, you know what, I guess if I had to just compare you guys to something, maybe we’ll just talk about sheep for a minute.

I think Jesus is being very intentional in the way he’s illustrating this. And you don’t have to know a lot about farm animals to know something about sheep. I mean, sheep are probably not the most important animal, or I mean, impressive animal I should say, in the farm. If you think about what a sheep represents, it’s typically, there’s this gentleness about sheep. If you want to count something, you don’t want to count dinosaurs or bears, or things like that. Those are scary. You want to count sheep, because they’re sort of this vulnerable type animal. It’s very comforting. You could just see yourself laying your head down on a sheep, you can’t see yourself laying your head down on a bear. I mean, sheep are just kind of seen as those gentle animals. And the reason is because, well, they’re dumb. Let’s just be honest. They’re not real impressive in their trivia. Sheep, they’re in a class of their own.

They’re slow, they’re defenseless, they’re vulnerable, they’re innocent. They lack the ability to care for themselves. They can’t survive on their own. In fact, if I just showed you a little picture here, this is a picture of a sheep that came out of… maybe, [inaudible 00:11:12] pop-up [inaudible 00:11:13]. Well, maybe not. There’s a sheep in New Zealand, known as Shrek. And Shrek happened to wander away from its fold. And Shrek survived for six years on its own. Now, anytime a sheep survives more than a day on its own, it’s like a miracle. But here, this happens to be one sheep that in particular survived on its own. And the sheep survived by finding a cave, it just lived in a cave in New Zealand for six years. And finally, after six years, they located the sheep. And when they located the sheep… there it is. After six years, they located the sheep. When they located the sheep, the wool on the sheep weighs 60 pounds. 60 pounds of wool on the sheep.

I look at this sheep and I wonder, when you’re just a big giant cloud like this, how do you even bend over to eat anything? Like about this much of the sheep’s nose can maybe touch the ground, how does the sheep even get food? And how does the sheep even see to get food? This is miracle sheep. And this is like Jesus saying to us, you know what it’s like for sheep to go on its own? This is what it’s like, don’t do this. I let one sheep that happened to make it for six years, there’s been no sheep on its own that’s made it for six years. This is the miracle sheep, just to show with us, why Jesus is using such an illustration. Sheep are not made to live on their own. If sheep don’t have the right person leading them, sheep die. That’s the point, right? But if sheep have a shepherd that love them, sheep thrive.

And this is why Jesus chooses the illustration. It’s not to get to the end of this and say, are you telling me the whole point of what Jesus is saying is just to say to me that sometimes I can be dumb. That’s not the point. The point is for us to recognize how good the shepherd is. If we read a story like this and we think the point is about us, or we really read the Bible at all and think the main point is about us, we’ve missed the point. The point is really about the goodness of who he is. And when sheep that are made for him connect to him, rather than die, we thrive. And Jesus is using this illustration for our lives. In fact, in Verse 3, I want to highlight just a couple things for you that Jesus says, for us as it relates to his leadership in our lives. What it’s saying in Verse 3, is Jesus really leads us, he leads us intimately. And it says this, to him, the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep listen to his voice. And he calls his own sheep by name.

That’s a special thought and connection to thinking about all other people that have come before the sheep, to try to take the sheep. So you look at the the thieves or the robbers that are described in Verse 1. When they come before the sheep, they really don’t give a rip about your name. They don’t want the best for you. They want you for them. And they’re not going to take time to really care about the intimacy of who you are. But Jesus does. When we read, in terms of the Good Shepherd in this passage of scripture, it’s not to say generically, that’s just who he is. But specifically for you, this is who he is. And how do we know it? Well, he knows each of his sheep by name. Jesus knows you personally. Jesus cares about you intimately. In fact, different than the robber who wouldn’t even take time to give you a name, you’re just a thing to him. Jesus has named you.

Name in Jesus’s day was more than just granting someone something to call them by, it was an identity. In fact, in Jesus’s day, the mortality rate of children was considered so high, that some families wouldn’t name their children until they were two years old, because they didn’t want to give a name to a child they thought might not make it. But Jesus gives you a name. Because Jesus cares about you. He calls his own sheep by name. And then it says this about you in the second part of the verse, and leads them out. And he leads them out. Jesus isn’t just seeing you as a part of a crowd. He sees you. And his desire is to lead you. And that’s a beautiful thought, because maybe if we just more, contrast a little bit from the way, in Jesus’s day, they herd sheep versus how people might herd sheep in Australia.

In Australia, you get a dog, and the dog drive the sheep. But in Jesus’s day, the shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep. He gets in front of them, and he leads them. He calls them, because they know his voice. Because they’ve had intimate time with the shepherd. And they have opportunity to follow him. It’s the beauty of the way Jesus desires to guide your life. He doesn’t just push you out in the front, he already has walked the path before you. That’s the beauty of Jesus, when we trust in him as a sheep, we want to know, how do I know that my tomorrow is secure? And the answer is because he’s already been there. God’s timeless, he’s eternal. He already knows what tomorrow holds, because he’s already been in tomorrow. And therefore, when he calls you, he’s calling you where he’s already been on your behalf. And that’s the kind of leadership Jesus brings into your life.

It’s a beautiful contrasting of what the people of Jesus’s day, the leaders of Jesus’s day are demanding of them, versus what Jesus desires for them. But then you look in Verse 6 and Verse 6, it says, but we don’t understand. We don’t understand. So Jesus, in the next section of this verse, in Verse 7… By the way, if you have notes, there’s a couple blanks in your notes. The first blank was, he calls the sheep by name. Second blank, he leads them out. And then in Verse 7, Jesus starts to reiterate the story again. So they say, Verse 1 to 5, Jesus, we don’t understand. And Jesus says, okay, let me just dive a little bit deeper in this. I understand, maybe this is first time you’re hearing it, you’re not fully grasping it. But I really want you understand this, because this moment that I’ve spent with you at the Feast of Tabernacles, this has become the moment where the hatred for me has been so fueled, that it’s going to lead to my death.

And knowing this is leading to my death, I want this illustration to be on your mind. So Verse 7, this is what he says. Jesus said to them, again, truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. We’ll talk about that in just a minute. All those who came before me are thieves and robbers. But the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved. And will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came so that they would have life and have it abundantly. Jesus, in this illustration, he gives one of those declarations of the I am, which is the ego eimi, the identity of God. I am God. And the way I’m like God is I am a door. So Jesus is saying, I’m not just the Shepherd, I am the pen that protects the sheep. I am the door. Into this pen, there is only one way in and one way out. And this is what Jesus is saying to us. He’s saying, look, if you belong to me, I am God and nothing’s getting to you. I am God and I am going to protect you.

I am in charge of what goes around your life. And because it’s me, and because I’m God, what I say about you and what I do for you, it goes. No one can mess with that. If someone wants to come to this door and try to steal you, they’ve got to come through me. And they’re not getting through me because I am who I am. I am God. So when I talk about being your Shepherd, it becomes this place where you can rest comfortably in my arms. I encompass you. And he contrasts this thought to the idea of Satan. And Satan’s plan, it says, is to kill, steal and destroy. He’s saying, look, guys, there’s really two paths in this world. You can belong to me, because you were created for me. But if you don’t belong to me, you belong to the enemy. And here’s the plan of the enemy, to steal, kill and destroy. Now, knowing that about Satan is important. But I will say seeing that lived out through Satan doesn’t always happen.

What I mean is this. We’re not dumb, guys. If someone comes to you and says, look, I got a plan for your life. It’s all about stealing, killing and destroying you. You would say, I’m going to choose a different path. And if there’s only two, I’ll go with the Good Shepherd. But I’m not going to go with this path. And the point is to say this, Satan doesn’t make his plan for your life obvious. But this is his ultimate goal. All Satan has to do to get you there, is just twist the truth a little bit. That’s what he did in the Garden of Eden. He just questioned what God said. Adam and Eve, don’t eat the fruit. Serpent shows up, did God really say, did he really? Are you so sure? The twisting of the truth, just a little lie. And what does it lead to? Steal, kill and destroy.

But what it says in this passage, at the very end of Verse 10, is, Jesus’s desire isn’t just to give life, but to give abundant life. God’s desire for your life is not just life, but abundant life. This idea of abundant means, above and beyond. Whatever you can conceive what God desires for you, is really unimaginable for what God can do and will do for your life. It’s abundant life. I will say, in John Chapter 10, I don’t think Jesus’s closest disciples completely understood the picture of what this meant. I think as you read throughout the New Testament, you see the theology of abundant life articulated a little better and more deeply along the way. But I don’t think they fully grasped what abundant meant, because they didn’t fully understand what Jesus was saying to this point.

Jesus wants them to understand, so he just simply describes what he wants to offer them as abundant life. But I would say this, probably the best New Testament word to understand what this idea of abundant means, is this idea of adoption. What the Bible says is, when you belong to God, you’re adopted into his kingdom. You’re adopted as a child. Not everyone can call themselves as a child of God, that’s how John 1 starts in Verse 12. But as many as received him, to him, he gives the right to become the children of God. You’re not born a child of God. But you can become a child of God, by your faith and what Jesus has done on your behalf through the cross. And when you embrace Jesus in this way, then what Jesus delivers to you is life abundant. And the idea that abundant life is experienced through your adoption.

There’s this book written by a man named J.I Packer, he was a theologian. I think he actually died this past year. He was, I think, somewhere in his 90s, when he passed. But he wrote a book called Knowing God, it’s considered a Christian classic. It’s in the top 50 for Christian books ever written. And in that book, I remember this, because it just seared into my brain. But I have the 1993 copyright edition, if anyone has that. But in that book on page 207, he says something that has just stuck with me. He says, in church history, there was a time when justification was the theme of the church. And what he means is in church history, about the 11th century to about the 16th century, the focus of the church had gone away from justification by faith alone.

It wasn’t emphasized in the body of Christ, in some places, it wasn’t even taught. And this man named Martin Luther came along and he highlighted that thought, justification by faith alone, and it revolutionized the church. It put a passion back into the rear end of God’s people, to share the beauty of the gospel. Justification by faith alone. And what that meant is, it’s the idea that we don’t earn our salvation, that Jesus paid for it all. Because of what Jesus has done, we’re justified in him, justified by faith. We put our trust in what Jesus has accomplished. And we’re declared right, we’re justified because of Jesus, what Jesus has done on our behalf, a beautiful thought. That I’m saved because of what Christ has done. And that’s important. That’s the message of the church. That’s what evangelism is built on. That’s the gospel, right?

I get to go in this world and say, I’m loved by God, not because of what I’ve done, but because God loves me, he set me free, he’s pursued me in my sin. I have new life in him, I am justified. Jesus went to the cross while I was a sinner, and he died for me. And I didn’t make myself lovable for him, he loved me despite my sin, and he sets me free. That’s justified as beautiful. But it doesn’t end there. We’re also adopted, we’re set apart. We’re declared as children of the King, and therefore given inheritance in the kingdom. And now this means for me things like not just that I’m saved from sin, or rescued from hell. But also it means I have a position in Jesus for eternity. I’m a child of the King, at any moment, I can talk to him. I mean, think about what what a gift that is. In the Old Testament, in the Old Testament, they had to go to a temple to worship and they had to depend on a priest to intercede for them.

But now in the New Testament, we’re called priests because we’ve been adopted by God. And at any moment, anytime, anywhere, I can come before the presence of that King, and just meet with him. What a privilege. I find some people, when they talk about prayer, typically people ask me questions about prayer. And the basis of the question works like this, how can I pray to get God to do what I want? How can I make God my puppet? Because I know there’s this thing called prayer, and I want God to do things for me. So teach me the secret to praying better, to get God to do what I want. These are some of the questions people ask about prayer. But I think, before we even begin like that, the best attitude to carry towards prayer is just to stop and think, have you ever considered what a gift it is to even say, right now in this moment, you can bow your heads before your King and be in front of him? What a privilege, to be known by God.

He knows your name. And you can talk to him. Not only that, you can hear from him. That’s what his word is. It’s his love letter to you, written in his blood. That you can hear from him. The King who gave it all, that you can be adopted and belong and have relationship, you can know intimately about him because he’s revealed himself, John 10, that’s why we’re looking at this, right? How good are you as the Good Shepherd? You’ve been adopted to belong. And his spirit rest within you. In fact, in Romans, look at this, Romans Chapter 8, talking about this idea of adoption. It say this, but you have received a spirit of adoption, meaning God put his spirit in you. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God dwelled in the temple. In the New Testament, you have become that temple. God’s presence dwells in you.

That’s what adoption has brought to you, that God’s presence dwells in you. That’s why you can meet with God anytime, anywhere. Because God’s presence is with you. That’s the beauty. When his church gets together, we’re carrying God’s presence, as a community for his glory, that we can ignite a passion in each other and find ourselves joyously lifting up the glory of God. That when we walk out of this building, we carry that joy with us. Like you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry, Abba, Father, this word of intimacy in the shepherd, because he knows us and we know him. And having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies.

Let me just contrast why I put these two verses here in adoption. In Verse 15, he’s saying, look, being adopted, you have the Spirit of God right now. Right now. That’s the beauty of his adoption. That’s the abundant life. That the fruit of the Spirit be made known in your life. And not only that, Verse 23, we’re waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters in God. Meaning, not only do you have a piece of your adoption right now, but in the future, your eternal adoption will continue. And you’re waiting to experience the rest of what that adoption is all about. That is the abundant life, it begins both now in Jesus and for all of eternity. That’s what Jesus is describing in this passage of scripture. That you have abundant life in him. The thief is about taking, he doesn’t care about your name. He isn’t giving his life for your name. He’s taking your life for his name.

But Jesus is about giving. And Jesus is about giving abundantly. We can look at this illustration Jesus gives about Satan himself as being the only two options. And we can say to ourselves, I mean, that’s good, but isn’t that a little bit overboard? Jiminy Christmas, think about it, it says Satan and Jesus. Isn’t that just a little bit much? I’d say, yeah, it is. Unless it’s true. And if it’s true, because I don’t think we can emphasize it enough. Jesus is putting the stakes pretty high here. Because Jesus understands what’s at stake here. We’re talking about your soul, we’re talking about the God of everything who has given his life for your soul. How can you make little of something like that? Or why would you want to? And this illustration is powerful according to what Jesus is saying. But the reality is, we don’t like to feel vulnerable.

Because that’s what this passage is saying about you as a sheep. There is this place of choosing what to follow. Do you want to fall into the hands of Satan or Jesus? When you think about your soul in the middle of that, yeah, it’s a place of vulnerability, but it’s also a place where you’re called to abundant life. And so Jesus then answers this one more time. How good is the Good Shepherd, Verse 11. He goes on to describe, one more time, how a good shepherd can be seen in his life, in this story, in Verse 11. I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches them and scatters the flock.

He flees because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. We can look at this section, let me just ask it like this. If sheep can be so foolish, if sheep might be such a bad animal in this situation, why have sheep at all? Why have sheep? And Jesus is really answering that question here in these couple of verses. Verse 12 and 13, he answers from the higher hands perspective. And in Verse 11, he answers it from his perspective. Why then have sheep Jesus? If we’re capable of just making decisions that lead to destruction, it’s kill, death, destroy, why have sheep? Here’s the hired hands answer. Pound for pound, the most valuable animal you could have in Jesus’s day is the sheep. Its wool is worth something, its meat is worth something. There’s nothing on a sheep that went to waste. Pound for pound, the most valuable animal that you could have was the sheep.

And that’s exactly how the hired hand viewed the sheep. Not what I have to give, but what I want to get. And so the sheep, for the hired hand, was just a tool for their own kingdom and glory. But the minute adversity came, the hired hand wasn’t sticking around. Because the hired hand was only in it for his convenience. And so when a wolf would come, the hired hand would flee. In fact, in first century, the Mishnah actually had a law written that said, legally, if a wolf comes to attack sheep, and you’re just a hired hand, if it’s just one wolf, the law said you actually had to stay and fight the wolf. Because a hired hand could easily deter one wolf. But it went on to say, but if it’s two wolves, then well, let them have the sheep.

So for them in that moment, it wasn’t about the sheep, it was about them. They’re only there based on what they could get. But now, Jesus, look what it says in this opening verse about Jesus. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Religion will call you to do something, so that God will love you. In this passage, in Christianity, God is laying down his life because he loves you. What I’m saying is, it’s not about what he gets, it’s about what he gives, because it’s his nature. A hired hand is only doing it because of what he gets from you. But Jesus, I am the Good Shepherd, and you want to know why? Because I’m giving my life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. It’s not about what he gets from you, it’s about who he is.

Why do you have sheep, Jesus? Well, it’s not about who you are, it’s about who he is. And God is the God of love, and love is about giving itself away. That’s why when you look at the story, I say the point of the story is not about you, it’s really about him. And when you see who he is, then you see the goodness of why we would even want to follow. When you think about this idea of love, love, biblically speaking, is not efficient. Love is extravagant. Love is full of grace. And Jesus has given himself for you, not because of you, but because of him. I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Let me go on very quickly from here, but in Verse 14, says this, I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me. Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father and I lay my life down for him.

So here’s what Jesus is saying to you, and this is the last blank in your notes, is I know my own. But what Jesus is saying here, is more than he just knows your name. Jesus intimately knows you. Jesus is talking about relationship with you. You get relationship with Creator God. Not just you know God, not just you know about God, but think about this, God intimately knows you. God’s desire is to be known by you, and to know you. It’s a beautiful picture of the goodness of Jesus. And then Verse 16 it goes on, and says this, and I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also and they will not listen to my voice. And they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I might take it back. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I have received from my Father.

What Jesus is saying here is this, because I’m the Good Shepherd, I’m going to lay my life down for the sheep. That’s how you know I’m the Good Shepherd. He’s given this foreshadowing of what’s ultimately going to come for his disciples, so that when the disciples get to a hard moment, they still trust. You see in Verse 19 and 20, they start to argue over Jesus in this moment. But Jesus wants them to understand, I’m about to die for you, that’s going to be a hard moment for you as sheep. But just keep trusting, because I’m a good shepherd. Keep trusting because I’m a good shepherd.

Now, I’m going to close up this illustration and say this. There was a story in a book called Moody Antidotes of sheep in Scotland. And there was a doctor writing about sheep in Scotland and he said this about the sheep. He said, when the sheep get into the highlands, the sheep love to jump off the cliff, to the grass in the rocks. They love the grass that grows in the rocks in the highland and they’ll even jump off cliffs, in order to get to this grass. They’ll jump down 10, 12 feet to get to this grass. And they’ll just eat this grass, because they love the grass. It’s the sweeter grass. But there’s one problem that the sheep don’t consider. And that’s, how are they going to get back? And the sheep will jump off these cliffs, and they’ll eat the grass 10, 12 feet below them. And the shepherd has to just allow the sheep to partake of it. The shepherd can’t go get the sheep, when they jump down this cliff, at least not right away.

Because the shepherd knows that if he tries to get the sheep right after they’ve jumped down the cliff, and while they’re eating that grass, the sheep have a lot of strength. And the sheep are so dumb, that rather than let the shepherd get them, they’ll freak out and jump off the cliff to their death. So what the shepherd does, is the shepherd has to just sit and watch the sheep. And when the sheep have eaten all the grass, and now they’ve gone days without any more food, the sheep start to deteriorate in strength. And it’s when they’re weak, that the shepherd will lower a line down the tie it around the sheep to hoist them back up to safety. And what I say guys is, or what I mean, I should say, is we’re a lot like that, aren’t we? We see the goodness of God, but we think about the sweetness of the grass. And sometimes coming to Jesus, we freak out so much, that we would rather jump to our death than trust in the one who’s good, the one who cares for us.

Let me just ask you, if you look back over the last week of your life, what kind of sheep were you? Were you a sheep that understood what it meant to be in the beauty of abundant life in Jesus? Did you seek after the one who cares for you? Did you know him in his word? Did you seek him in prayer? Did you trust him, when you felt like you’re hanging on the side of the cliff? Did you see him as good? That’s Jesus’s desire for you in this passage.