Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 August 28, 2016
“Jesus: The Good Shepherd”
Text: John 10:11-21
This morning we continue in our current series on the I AM sayings in John. Remember that these seven says contain both implied comparison (Jesus is like or similar to…) and explicit declaration (God Incarnate, the…). So far, we have seen Jesus as the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), and the door of the sheep (10:7). Today we arrive at the text in which Jesus declares, “I am the good shepherd.” Let us give ear to God’s Word this day—and may the Lord fill our souls to overflowing.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The text cleaves nicely under three heads. First, we note early in the text that Jesus, the good Shepherd, lays down His life for the sheep (10:11-13). The sheep have no good thing apart from Him, and they have no life save in Him. Sheep are, after all, sheep; they are defenseless creatures who simply cannot thrive apart from a shepherd. We have not just any shepherd, but we have Jesus, the infinitely good Shepherd.
Jesus lays down His life for the sheep due to His Father’s love for Him. The Apostle Paul, in his Philippian correspondence, tell us that Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient—obedient even unto death on the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Jesus lays down His life also with us in view. He Himself says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Indeed, these are two significant reasons for Jesus to lay down His life for those who believe in Christ—His sheep.
Moreover, Jesus lays down His life for the sheep with authority to take it up again. Recall His final recorded words in Matthew’s Gospel, “All authority in Heaven and earth is given to Me” (Matthew 28:18). It is not as if anyone pries Jesus’ life from Him by force. In fact, none takes His life from Him; He lays it down willingly. Furthermore, none frustrates His resumption of life. When the time comes for Jesus to be raised, He rises. Neither death nor the evil one—nor anything else—can keep Jesus in the grave. He is risen—never to taste of death again.
Jesus’ placement of His very life in behalf of the sheep is in stark contrast to the hireling. The hireling cares chiefly, or only, about payment for services rendered. He cares nothing for the sheep. When the wolf’s attack comes, the hireling flees—because he cares nothing for the sheep. The shepherd, who owns and loves the sheep, behaves differently. He acts in their highest and best interest—though it cost him his own life. Such Jesus is to us.
Our text’s second section is this: The Good Shepherd has other sheep not of this fold (10:14-18). Do not lost sight of Jesus’ original audience: a group of Pharisees (a first-century Jewish sect) who noted the healing and testimony of a man born blind. When Jesus says, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold,” He includes not only non-Pharisees within the Jewish company, but also—and perhaps especially—non-Jews altogether, to wit, the Gentiles.
John, just a few years later, received an extended vision from God and wrote about it; we know the work as Revelation. He sees an innumerable company from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before Jesus, the Lamb, in glory worshipping Him (Revelation 7:9-17, esp. 7:9). Those who eventually will stand in that innumerable company will live on earth in every generation until Jesus returns. John’s Spirit-given vision is a glorious prospect, and it supports this claim of Jesus to have other sheep not of this fold.
The third part of our text teaches us that the Good Shepherd divides between His sheep and others (10:19-21). Jesus’ discourse ends at verse eighteen, and the final paragraph tells us of a division, apparently sharp, between two views held in the crowd. Some think very ill of Him. They call Him demon-possessed or insane—and, therefore, not to be heard. Others think well of Him. They think Him eminently sane and manifestly powerful. Likely, either that day or later, some in this group received Jesus by faith as Savior from sin and as Lord of life. What a blessing indeed it is know Him in this way.
David, Israel’s shepherd of sheep and sweet singer of songs, wrote, “The LORD is our Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). What inestimable comfort this is to the believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. See even more of Jesus, our good Shepherd. Shepherds feed their flocks, and Jesus feeds us, His sheep, both by His Word, read and proclaimed, and by His sacred Supper, at which He is spiritually present. Shepherds lead their sheep into good places. Jesus, likewise, leads us both into increasing likeness to Himself and into His providential future for us each and all. Shepherds defend their sheep from attack, and Jesus defends us both from the schemes of the evil one and his host and from undue straying from His side. Good shepherds grow to love the individual sheep of their flocks. Jesus loves us with an immeasurable love. He delights in us, and He carries us close to His heart. In times like ours, this news is delightful news indeed.
Jesus, the Lord, is our Shepherd. He is our Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:5), over both many under-shepherds and the sheep. Jesus is also our Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for the sheep. Therefore, receive Him by faith, if you’ve never received Him before now, and let who have so received Him continue to receive Him by faith—and, hence, to be eternally glad