Let me add my welcome to Rorries. It's lovely to see you. Lovely to be here. My name's Tom if we've not met before. Please keep John 10, 1 to 10 open as we'd be referring to that as we go.
I I for for my job, I work in for a payments business, and 1 of our clients which has got a lot of attention this week in the office, is a company that has invented the and manufactured this device which allows you to look inside your ear And so it's called smart buds. And basically, it's this long thin device with a camera on the end of it and a hook on the end. And basically, you look inside your ear and you can see all of your wax in there. And and the idea is that it's a safe way to clean and get all the wax south rather than shoving it all in within with a cotton bud. And I was thinking about this, and we are our spiritual ears are full of wax, aren't we?
You know, the distractions of the day, anxieties of conversations we've gotta have tomorrow worries about bills that we haven't we've forgotten to pay again. Whatever it is, we need the spirit to clean our ears, basically. So let let's come to to to God now and and ask for his help. Heavenly father, we thank you so much that you speak to us. Through your word, thank you for the work of your son, and we want to hear your voice tonight, lord Jesus.
But we need your spirit's help to hear. So please do that. We ask. We we ask that you would do only the work that you can do in helping us to listen, and we ask this in Jesus name, our man. We're surrounded in our culture by people telling us to follow them and follow their advice to have a full and satisfying life, whether it's radio or podcast hosts, YouTubers, colonists or social media influences, we are bombarded on a daily basis by people who wants us to to follow them.
And listened to their advice. There was a report released last year looking at influencers, and it showed more than half of the influencers on Instagram were involved in some sort of social media fraud in 20 20. More than half, Some of these would be fake accounts. Others will be false claims of beauty products that make you feel amazing or vitamins that help you shed a few pounds or exercise plans, diet plans, or even financial advice to help you beat inflation. These influencers claim to have their followers best interests at heart, but what happens when the storm comes, what happens when things go wrong, what happens when that diet that they've been pushing makes people seriously ill and destroys their bodies, what happens when the market crashes and people feel like they have been robbed, what happens when a 12 year old boy follows a influencer's blackout challenge and dies as a result, Where are all these influences now?
These people don't care about their communities. They don't care about their followers All they care about is funding their own lifestyles. Sometimes it feels exhausting having to deal with these empty promises that flood our culture from these modern day leaders we have. Well, in this passage, Jesus says that those people are like thieves and robbers who come to kill, who come to steal and destroy. And he shows us the difference between true leaders to follow and listen to true shepherds of God that genuinely have our best interests at heart and false shepherds who don't.
And he says, the main difference between true shepherds and false ones is that true shepherds enter through the gate. And in so doing, he's pointing to himself as the shepherd who truly cares for his sheep. Who gives his life to become the gate, the door, the way, that whoever comes through will have life and have it to the full. That's what we all want is net life and life to the full, not empty promises, not ponzi schemes, Well, my first point tonight, and I've got 2 points and then 3 bullets for each of them. My first point versus 1 to 1 to 5 True Shepard enter through the gate, false Shepard don't.
Best 1 to 5. A few months ago, we had our student weekend away, and we went over to Wiltshire, to a big house together. And during some free time, we were all sat around before dinner, Some people were were playing games over here. Others were just sat chatting. Others were doing a jigsaw together, and it in the meantime, she, 1 of our members, who's a very talented illustrator, was had a sketchbook out and she was drawing.
And you didn't know what was happening, but we went out to get got up and went to have dinner. And we're showing this this picture that cheese just drawn. And it's a picture that showed what had just happened. I think it was amazing you saw it and you saw the people over there playing games. The people over there chatting, the people there doing the jigsaw, and and it was a picture of what has just happened And I wanna say that in a sense, that's what Jesus is doing here.
What Jesus is doing in our passage immediately follows chapter 9. There's no break in the text. It's the same day. It's the same scene. And Jesus uses what John calls in basic a figure of speech, or the translation say an illustration, or you could say a word picture So Jesus draws this weird picture, and he's using it to show and reveal what's just happened in chapter 9.
So the context is crucially important for us to understand what's going on here. If you remember, in the last couple of weeks, we've been in John 9 and we've had this amazing story of a man who was born blind It's an extraordinary miracle. Jesus sees this man. We don't know his name, but we know he's a blind beggar He's blind from birth, he's never seen before. Never in his life, has he seen his mom and dad?
Never in his life, has he seen light and the sun, me and Ben were cycling this day morning early, and the sun was glorious, and we're praising God together saying, wow, is it light is sweet. It's pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. This man had never seen that. He'd never seen the sunrise. He'd never seen the sunset.
And he's he's not able to work. He's just all he all his life is is sat there begging. He must have been down in the dumps every single day feeling utterly worthless. Jesus met him. And Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud, put it on the man's eyes and said go and wash, and the man does.
And we know what happens, the man could see. He's healed for the first time in his life, he could see. He could see his hands, he could see his fingerprints. He could see his mom and dad. And and now he has spiritual sight too.
He goes from saying Jesus is a man. To saying Jesus is the son of man. Jesus is the god man and worshiping him as Lord. Wow. Jesus shows us that he's the 1 who opens blind eyes both physically and spiritually, and he shows us that by curing the incurable that he, the Savior of sinners, has all power in heaven and earth, to make the blind sea and bring them to God.
Rory mentioned earlier we're looking at testimonies in our summer home groups, and it's been amazing to hear God working through people's lives and understanding how they came to know the Lord, seeing what their life was like when they blind than what it's now like now they can see. Claudine Cholini, Craig and Laura. You know, this man this week, he was so angry that he swore himself to sleep. And now he's come to know the Lord, and you just wanna rejoice with them, you just wanna praise God, don't you? For these miracles of grace, but that's not the reaction of the pharisees.
The reaction of the pharisees, the religious leaders of the day instead are furious by what's happened because their religious privileges, you know, the way things have done around here, all the benefits they enjoyed as a result of ruling the roost, that's all at risk now. So they launch an investigation and they are mad. Because this man says, yes, I was actually blind. And, yes, Jesus actually healed me. And they are so unwilling to see.
They are so blind by their own arrogance and so determined not to believe, they choose instead to condemn this man and they throw him out and they shame him. How sad is that? The leaders, the very people who are meant to be leading people to God threw this man out because he had a true testimony of who Jesus was, frightening him. Well, that brings us to where we are now. So immediately after that's just happened, Jesus directly addresses the pharisees and holds up this drawing this weird picture and says, look at what just what's just happened.
Look at what you are like. You're meant to be caring for God's people. All you care about is yourselves? You're a bunch of thieves and robbers owe to be a fly on the wall at that conversation. It's quite incredible, isn't it?
Verse 1, very truly I I tell you. We've seen this before in John, haven't we? Jesus is saying, listen up. What I'm about to tell you is the truth about me, about my kingdom, listen. Very truly I tell you, Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in by some other way is a thief and a robber.
The 1 who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they hear his voice, but they will never follow a stranger. In fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.
There's a lot going on here. There's sheep, a sheepfold, a gate, a gatekeeper, a shepherd, and a stranger. And in order for us to understand it, we need to get our minds into first century sheep farming because Although these details, they would have made sense to Jesus' heroes and and John's readers to us in 20 first century Kingston, I don't think they do. But if we were near a first century eastern village, we would have probably seen a a a This area, a large square which is walled with stones. Right?
And it's a community courtyard. And that's that's that's the sheep pen, and it would be empty throughout the day because the sheep would have gone out to pasture. But at night, the Shepard would bring their flock back into these enclosures where the sheet would be shut in for the night, safe and sound. A few And a shepherd would either take it in turns to watch them, you know, as Shepard watch their flocks by night. Or they would employ someone else, so a watchman or a gatekeeper, a porter, whatever you wanna call it, that's someone there who's guarding the sheep basically.
Who knows who's who's sheep, these shepherds. Who's shepherds these sheep are. Right? So a few families would keep their sheep together in these sheep pens, the door, the gate would be guarded, and That would mean that thieves, if you wanted to steal the the sheep, you'd have to go around the gate because you couldn't go through. The the the man watching wouldn't let you in.
And Shepherding was very common in Israel, you know, the patriarchs They're all they're all shepherds. And Jesus is addressing these teachers of the law, who would have known their old testament well enough to know that God has referred to himself as a shepherd, Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd exactly. So that was that was an illustration of God's care for his people. God's care for his own people that they would have been familiar with.
They probably would have cited it and used it. Yet, Jesus reveals to them that they are actually strangers. He says in verse 5, and their behavior towards this ex blind man exposes their true nature, not as shepherds, but as thieves and robbers Imagine that, such strong words Jesus is using, he's calling out these false shepherds who are praying on the flock of Christ, that I've only come to steal and kill and destroy verse 10. It's really sad. We see clearly in the Gospels that the religious leaders were only ever interested in providing for themselves and protecting themselves.
They took advantage of people They didn't love the sheep, but rather they exploited them, abused them, and they they saw that Jesus was was threatening their privileges so they plotted against him. They wanted to kill him. And just like them, many have come to fleece the flock of Christ. Rather than feed them, and their ministry is 1 of power and control and the burdens they put on others. Jesus shows that the main difference between the true shepherd and the false 1, the hallmarks of true ministry and fake ministry is verse 2.
The 1 who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The shepherd enters through the gates. We'll see shortly that Jesus says he is the gate. He's the door. And so the genuine shepherd of souls, the true religious leaders in the ministry will always come through Christ.
They'll always be looking to Christ, pleasing Christ, making much of Christ, preaching Christ, working to bring people to Christ. The false shepherd is him who enters outside of Christ. Maybe they have worldly motives to extend their own name, excited about their own selfish gain, authority, power, money, Jesus says all they've come to do is steal, kill, destroy through imposters. There's no gate in the ministry. And very briefly, I want to highlight here how Jesus continues to build on this illustration he's used in these first 5 verses.
Because although it exposes the pharisees for being false shepherds and shows the marks of a true shepherd It also points us too as Jesus will soon describe himself as in this chapter, the Good Chapards. So 3 aspects here. The first bullet point, verse 3. The sheep listened to his voice. Back to the sheep pen illustration, the Shepard would come to the sheep pen, and the gatekeeper would let them in because they their sheep were there, And imagine all of the sheep, right, of the local flocks being mixed up in this big pen.
And as the shepherd began to call them, his sheep recognized his voice and will come over to him It's amazing if you've ever seen this or know what this means. A shepherd calls, the sheep who aren't his are just grazing away. It's as if they can't even hear him shouting. The sheep that are his. Look up straight away.
That's that's my shepherd, and they come to him. It's amazing. His sheep follow him because they know his voice. They don't follow a stranger. I was speaking to Tom about this, and he said, every mother knows the cry of their baby.
So if imaging is in creche and always always someone else and Laura is in in a shot, an image and starts crying, Laura knows instinctively that's imaging, even in a rat of crowded room Even in a room of all the crying babies, the mother knows the cry of her own because of that bond that intimate care, Laura knows Image's voice. It's a wonderful picture of Christ's elect hearing his voice knowing the call of their master. The man born blind was a lost sheep. Jesus sought him. He knew Jesus' voice.
He heard the call. He went and washed this mud from his eyes. He was blind and he could see. That's what Jesus was doing then. And that's what Jesus does today when his people faithfully preach his word, faithfully share his words.
And I think this is so exciting because it actually fuels our evangelism. If we are faithful to the words of Christ, when we share the good news of what he has come to do. We can trust that his sheep hear his voice. What's also interesting is that we don't know the the name of the man born blind. Do you notice that?
Not told that John doesn't include it in the story. But Jesus does. Jesus knows his name. And that's the next thing I want to highlight, the second bullet. Verse 3, he calls his own sheep by name.
So many things I wanna say here because there's so much beauty in this picture because names are intimate and personal and significant things aren't they? It's lovely when someone remembers your name. Mine's not that hard to remember, Tom Smith. But it is lovely when someone says, oh, yeah, Tom. And we love naming our pets, don't we?
Shepherds were no exception. You know, they they they had a long term commitment to the sheep. This isn't them rearing like What is it? Pumping chickens. You know, the average life of a chicken from being born and on your plate is 35 days.
That that that's that's not what this is. This is a long term commitment to the sheep. And so they had names to them? Fluffy, get over earmades. Alan?
Steve. And that's what it's like, isn't it? He leads them. They follow him. He knows them by name.
I'm an identical twin. And so growing up, people never knew my name, basically. So so much so that my my grandparents actually bought me and my brother captured our names written on them. And people would come up to us and say, is it Tom? He'd be like, Yes.
I'm wearing a cat that says Tom. But there's no guessing with Jesus. Jesus knows his own by name. Such a beautiful picture. And and also what's interesting about this is, you know, this intimacy of the shepherd and his sheep They really know their flock.
They're in amongst them and so they can spot if something's not quite right. I know you something's not quite right what's happening. So it's a massive red flag when a religious leader has no clue of who their congregation is. You know, the follow the Instagram influencers. They don't know who the followers are.
First 5 verse 4 and 5, the the last bullet here. He goes on ahead of them. His his sheep follow him, they will never follow a stranger. They run away from him and said. The sheep listen to his voice.
He calls him by name. He leads them out. He goes on ahead of them. And this isn't modern day chef shepherding where a, you know, you've got a a sheepdog, a border collie, leading from behind. This is first century shepherding where the shepherd would go on ahead of his sheep Come what may his shepherd is the the shepherd is there, storms, floods, heat waves, The Shepard is always there and his sheep follow him.
This is just such a beautiful intimate picture here. And that's also a reflection on what we are like as we follow Christ. We're called to follow a cross shaped path Every day, we pick up our cross, and we follow him. But when strangers come, the sheep don't follow them. Instead, they run from them.
Did you notice that? They run from them. This picture is 1 of the sermons So Christ's sheep, true believers have spiritual instinct to distinguish what is true and what is false teaching. If you had COVID and you lost your your sense of taste or smell, it's it's an awful thing, but you could have been drinking sour milk for weeks, and you've had no idea what it's doing to your body? If you're unable to see the difference between true teaching and false teaching, then I'm sorry to say but you're still dead in your sin.
You're in need of conversion. You need to come through the gates. But if we can discern, we must watch out for strangers and run away from them when they come. We're we're we're so thankful that our pastors make much of Christ. Our elders make much of Christ.
We praise God for that. We really do. But we also have to be on guard. We have to pray that the Lord would expose the false teachers in our nation. And we have to continue to pray for our own that they the Lord would guard them and protect them.
There's been some awful cases. You may have heard about some or know people who have been affected by them of of shepherding of of false shepherds taking advantage of of Christ flock. And we trust that God is a just God. We trust that to him. But we must pray that he would expose the thieves and robbers and that they would they would turn and repent.
And Jesus tells us in in in verse 6 that viracies didn't understand sorry, John tells us that the varices didn't understand what Jesus was saying. It's quite funny this, isn't it? Because the picture carried no meaning to them. Because they were blind, they couldn't see. They had they they didn't see that they themselves who pretended to be leaders who pretended to be teachers of the Jewish flocks.
They weren't shepherds, they were thieves and robbers, doing more harm than good. They didn't see a crucial flaw in their positions, which was that. They had no desire to know Christ and make him known. They didn't realize that no true sheep could ever be expected to hear and obey their teaching But the problem of the fallacies though, though it is obviously a huge problem of their behavior. That is a massive significant problem.
But the primary problem is that and the biggest issue is that they don't see who Jesus is. Because the distinguishing factor of the true and false shepherds is the gate. True shepherds come through the gate, false Shepard don'ts. So what what what's this about? The gates?
Second, name point verses 6 to 10. Jesus is the gate for the sheep. Therefore, Jesus said again very truly, I tell you I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate who ever enters through me will be saved.
They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thieves come only to steal and kill and destroy I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. What Jesus is saying here isn't only of massive significance. It's also hugely controversial, especially in a society like ours, which has the kind of default belief of what's called religious pluralism. Yeah.
You do you, man. Yeah. You know, God through Jesus Cool. Well, I've got my crystals. I've got my you know, what else what else elements to connect with the earth and energy and that's God.
But I wanna say that there's no option for that for the Bower believing Christian. There's no space for religious pluralism here. God's word is very clear on as it is on so many issues of our culture, John 14 verse 6. Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life no 1 comes to the father except through me. Jesus says that he is vergate the door singular.
No other way. No pharisees. No amount of law keeping. Or what you would call worship could ever get you right with God. The bible says, our righteous act are like filthy rags before God, our best efforts are disgusting before him because he is holy and we are not.
There's there's but there's nothing that we could ever do to earn our salvation. And notice here, there's no mention of And there's no mention of communion, there's no mention of membership, there's no mention of catechisms, Christ says it's himself. Remember the context of the true shepherds of God, Jesus is saying, through me and only by me true shepherds must enter the kingdom of God. Verse 9, I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. Other translations say door, And isn't it amazing that Jesus uses and he chooses to describe himself as something that everybody knows and understands?
We use doors all the time. You can't have come here without coming through a door, car doors, house doors, cupboard doors, doors are common, familiar things. We know What they do, it's even in our language, 1 door opens, another car door closes. Get your foot in the door. Don't exit through the back door.
Amazing simplicity here. Everyone knows what a door is, and the meaning is very clear. It's necessary to come to Christ for salvation, those who enter and come through Christ, through the gate, through the door, find life. And find it to the full. In Christ alone, my hope is found, and this invitation is open to all, whoever enters, whoever enters through me will be saved.
So come as you are No matter what you've done. No matter what others have done to you. Jesus came and died on the cross for broken and repentant sinners that whoever trusts in him will be saved, whoever enters will be saved. And what do you do with the door? You enter through it.
You don't admire it or knock on it and don't go in. You don't sit outside. This reminded me of 1 of my favorite childhood childhood books, what's it called. We're going on a bear hunt. You can't go around it.
You go under, you gotta go through it. Yeah. Enter through Christ. Trust in Christ. Then you are saved.
This is the the first benefit of entering through the door. The first bullet here were saved. And this word saved means delivered safe and sound. It was used it was used as a way to say that A person was saved from war if they came home alive or from a severe illness they they had or if you were a shepherd and you're out with and there and there's wolves or or thieves trying to trying to get the flock, and you came home, safe and sound, you were saved. Enter by me and you will be forever safe.
Safe from any enemy that would ever destroy you, saved. Don't have any doubts about it. There's no uncertainty here. There's no ambiguity. No amount of evil, no amount of sin trying to destroy you will ever change the fact that you are delivered safe and sound through Christ.
The second benefit of coming through the door, you will come in and go out. I am the gate verse 9, whoever enters through me, will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. And this is building on the meaning of of being saved to be delivered safe and sound. My brother is coming with his wife, they're going to see cole play in Wimbledon a few weeks time.
They said, can we stay with you? I said, of course, come and go as you please. There's a picture here of safety, of liberty, of freedom, and it's it's not just 1 of protection Because although that is crucially important that the sheep are safe. That's not all that the sheep are designed to do. They wanna go out and graze, they wanna go out to pasture.
So there's this wonderful picture of freedom to come in and go out. And that is what joyful life is, overflowing life, abundant life, and that's the third promise here. Christ sheep find pasture. And that abundant life, Jesus says, I have come in verse 10 that they may have life and have it to the full. Your your translation might say, have it abundantly.
Abandon life isn't about having stuff. It's about having peace. Having joy, having God. Knowing that no matter what happens Our sins are forgiven. Even though we deserve judgement, we deserve God's judgement for what we've done, we are saved by the blood of Jesus.
And the pinnacle of abundant life is the worship of Jesus in our lives. Living with a conscious enjoyment that we are accepted by God. We are loved by God. I am the gate who ever enters through me will be saved. That's how we know God.
That's how we come to God. We come through Christ. By his sacrifice for us on the cross. He's opened a way for sinners to have access to God. He is the door.
He is the way. No 1 can come to the father but through him. And he has come that we may have life and have it to the full, so that we enjoy him forever, safe, secure, flourishing, worshiping him. And I wanna say that abundant life isn't an easy comfortable life? Life to the full doesn't ignore the real world.
The hard realities of life trials we go through, suffering we may face. It's it's so confident, isn't it? When we read the scriptures, we see stories of loneliness and of disappointment and of grief. Abundant life isn't is is a life of contentment in those situations, contentment in Jesus, and the fundamental understanding of who we are as Christians, through life sorrows, through whatever storms, life may throw at us. There's an inner peace, there's an inner joy because of the sure hope that we are saved by Christ.
Paul says, doesn't he that he is sorrowful but rejoicing? And maybe you're in a season where the grass that you're grazing on is dry and parched The waters you're drinking from are anything but still? Kinda encourage you to keep going. Keep following him in and out. And even if it means you have to limp through the gates, Keep going.
If you are his, remind yourself that you are delivered, safe and sound, and reading Martin Lloyd Jones at the moment. It's amazing. He just says, you have to preach to yourself. I have to tell myself, I am delivered, safe and sound. Remind yourself of that.
Remind yourself of that time when you first heard his voice. Remind yourself that he knows your name. At the start, we looked at influences and all of the lies and the lack of care that comes with it. And I know they're not explicitly claiming to lead us to God, some of them, but they are explicitly claiming to lead us to a rich and satisfying and full life. And we've we've looked at true leaders who to follow and listen to true shepherds of God that genuinely have our best interest at heart because they point us to cry.
And we've seen Jesus the the good shepherd. I really hope that you can see how altogether different he is to the self absorbed influences our culture mindlessly follows. And I hope how you can see how that you can see how wonderful it is to follow him, to belong to him, to know him, to enjoy him. He offers a door that is open to all whoever enters it will be saved. So just to close, I wanna ask you, do you know what it is to come through the door?
To depend on Jesus, to give yourself to him, to rest on him, to know what it means to have your sins forgiven, and to live life and life to the full. Let's pray. Heavenly father, we praise you for the Lord Jesus. We thank you that he came and lived a sinless life. But became sin for us.
Thank you that through him in Christ alone, our hope is found. We pray that you would encourage us this week by how wonderful it is to belong to you and to be in Christ as our true shepherd. Please bless us. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.