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. I am the Good Shepherd

“I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD”

John 10:11-16 (ESV) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

 

For the last few days, we have been looking at the topic of Jesus and His statement “I am the Good Shepherd” which He utters in verse 11 and verse 14. We studied His claim, He looked at Him in comparison to the false shepherds that are called thieves, robbers and hireling. We acknowledged that there are good Under Shepherds under Jesus Christ who are faithful, not in it for their own gratification, who are not consumers but who according to Jeremiah 3:15 fit the words of God: 15 “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” This is an interesting statement of God’s understanding of what shepherds after God’s heart’s primary task is. It is not to preach pop psychology, and to fill the lives of God’s people with programmes and gimmicks, but to feed them with knowledge and understanding.

 

So, we see a lofty claim in these words.  Jesus claims to be THE SHEPHERD, THE GOOD ONE, THE PERFECT ONE, THE GENUINE ONE.

 

But what does He base this claim on?  What characterizes this good shepherd?

 

I. The characteristics of the Good Shepherd

The question now is in what sense if He perfect and what sense is He good?

 

A. He gives His life for his sheep

 

This is the characteristic that He makes most prominent. The first thing that stands out is the repetition, that He gives us His life. Look how often He says this.

 

John 10:11 (ESV) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:15 (ESV) 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:17 (ESV) 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.”

John 10:18 (ESV) 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

 

What is true of this perfect shepherd is that He loves His sheep sacrificially.  He loves His sheep to the end, to the death.  Indeed, He is going to give His life to SAVE THEM.

 

What do we see in these verses?

 

The first thing we see is that HE GIVES HIS LIFE VOLUNTARILY. In verse 18 He says that no one takes it from me. Jesus was not the victim; Jesus was not some story of tragedy where men overcame Him and overpowered Him and took His life from Him was, He was sleeping at the door to the Sheep pen. No, He is the door, He is the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep. Nobody could do a single thing to Him that the Father did not plan. Listen what Jesus says in verse 18: “This charge I have received from my Father.”

 

The second thing we see is that HE GIVES HIS LIFE VICARIOUSLY. He gave His life in the place of, in the stead of others. “And I lay down my life for the sheep.” The sheep should have died, but the Shepherd is going to die in their place.

 

The third thing we see is that HE GIVES HIS LIFE VICTORIOUSLY.  He gives His life knowing that He is going to take it up again. We see this in verse 17. The resurrection was in view before He ever died. because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” Again, Jesus is not a victim, but a victor. He came to win redemption. He is going to win redemption on behalf of God’s sheep and will accomplish His purpose.

 

Fourthly, HE GIVES HIS LIFE SUBMISSIVELY. In verse 18 He describes it as a charge that He received from the Father.

 

So, what characterizes the Shepherd. He is the true Shepherd because He is going to purchase the sheep with His own blood. We are a blood bought people. That is why all true under shepherds cannot be compare to the True Shepherd, because all we do, is to serve the Chief Shepherd by shepherding people who belong not to us, but to Him.

 

The giving of His life is going to guarantee the safety of His sheep.

 

He contrasts that with the hirelings. When there is a hireling the sheep are overtaken by the wolf.  The sheep are devoured, injured, damaged, hurt, scattered and the sheep are snatched from the fold. True under shepherds love the sheep, false shepherds do not care about them. True shepherds will feed them knowledge and understanding. False shepherds will feed them with stories, pop psychology, false prophecies, new revelation that is no revelation at all, imaginations and dreams that are not from God.

 

Now, let us notice this contrast this with what Jesus says in verses John 10:27-29 (ESV) “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

 

Jesus died be raised from the dead, to save forever His Sheep. Because of our salvation, we are now in the hand of the Saviour and the hand of the Father and we will never be snatched from Christ’s hand or the Father’s hand. He died to keep us safe forever.

So, what characterizes the Shepherd is that He died for His Sheep, but there is something else.

 

B. He knows His sheep (vs.14-15)

 

John 10:14-15 (ESV) 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

 

Notice that the laying down of His life is not apart from this knowledge. The knowledge is in the context of His death.  Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know Him.

 

The knowledge that Jesus speaks of here is not just an awareness of THAT THEY EXIST.  The knowledge that Jesus speaks of here, speaks of His love for His sheep, and His intimate and personal knowledge of them, even before the world began. Let me give you a few examples.

 

Amos 3:2 (ESV) "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities." Surely God was not only aware of one nation namely Israel. That would be an indictment on God’s intelligence. No, this is not knowing about them, but it is about a special relationship with them. It is a saving, redemptive relationship. That is by the way the reason God punished them, it is because of the way He knows them.

 

We see the same when Jesus talks about the false shepherds or prophets and those who enter through the broad gate. What does He say to the condemned in Matthew 7:23 (ESV) “And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Does He mean that He was never aware of them? What He means is that He did not have a saving relationship with them, even though they claim to have prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name, and done mighty works in His name.

 

Galatians 4:9  (ESV) "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" What does it mean to be a Christian? It means to be known by God. So, when Jesus speaks about Him knowing His sheep and them knowing Him, He speaks about a special relationship.

 

Our purpose statement here at Logos is "to know God and make Him known." This fits with Galatians 4:9, doesn’t it? Jesus knows His sheep in that He has loved them and has disclosed Himself to them.

 

John 14:21 (ESV) “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." To make Himself manifest to them is to make Himself known to them.

 

In fact, the relationship that Jesus uses to compare to this one, is the relationship that He has with His Father. John 10:14-15 (ESV) 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” So, just as the Son and the Father have a love relationship, so He has a love relationship with His sheep.

 

I love what John Calvin said: – “It is as if He said, that it is no more possible for Him to be oblivious of us than for the Father to reject or neglect Him.”

 

A couple of things to note from this:

 

1. We are known by Christ individually.

 

All spiritual sheep are not the same. The shepherd can call them by name because He knows them all, with all their differences. Is it not wonderful to know that we are not all redeemed as a group, but that we are redeemed individually? He knows me!! Even though we according to Ephesians 4:4-5 (ESV) 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” we are all different, and the way God works with each one of us is different. He is doing something in your life today and something different in mine. He knows what we need.

 

James Montgomery Boice says: – “I sometimes think that half our problems in the Christian church come from our trying to be exactly like another person, or from other people trying to make us be like them.” My friend this is all pride and selfishness, why? Because if everybody is like you, you have no adjustments to make. Understanding that we all are different is to understand that we all are to grow. Because the image that we are to conform to is not our own, but His.

 

Another way in which we are known by Christ is:

 

2. We were known by Christ in his death.

 

This knowledge is put forth to us in the context of Him laying down His life for the sheep.  It is not just some sentimental line for a song when it is said that you were on His mind when He was on the cross. Many sing that song and then deny the doctrine of election. It is true that I was on His mind because He died for His sheep. He knows us by name. Through His death He has set us free from sin that would have devoured us, death that would have devoured us, judgment that would have devoured us.

 

  1. He cares for His sheep.

Unlike the hireling. John 10:13 (ESV) 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

 

Why does the hireling run away?  He runs away because he does not really care for the sheep, because He does not own the sheep.  He cares more for himself than for the sheep he is tending. But not our Shepherd. He saw the wolves come and He laid down His life for the sheep. Through His death He has set us free from sin that would have devoured us, death that would have devoured us, judgment that would have devoured us. He cares for us. No matter what you are going through, He cares for you. Sometimes He does not take care of the temporary need in a temporary way, because He knows that there is something more valuable, like the eternal weight of glory that cannot be compared with what we go through in this life. There is an incomparable working that we will see one day, realise one day. Suddenly you will see what He was doing all along, that He loved you all along, that He cared for you all along, and even though you were going through the shadow of death, the Good Shepherd was there for you.

 

1 Peter 5:6 (ESV) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

 

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Just because Jesus was sinless, does not mean that He was less than a man.

 

He has gone before you, He leads the way, He knows you, He knows what your struggles are and where you experience the weakness of humanity and He is your helper. Hebrews 13:6 (ESV) “So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" We are so fearful of man, what man can do, what man will say, how man will judge us, how they will perceive us, what they will think and what they will say. What can man do to you? The Lord is your helper."

 

I am the Shepherd, Jesus say, the Good one. Do you know Him as your Shepherd? Who are the sheep of God? Those who repent of their sins and believe in Him.

 

What a great Shepherd!  What a chief Shepherd!  What a good Shepherd, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 12 July 2020