I I remember here. So please do keep your bibles open to to the passage we're looking at tonight. And we'll be referring back to that as we go along. Now just as as a as an overview, this we are at the moment in the middle of a dialogue that Jesus is having with the pharisees.
If you remember, the the passage starts off with very truly I tell you pharisees. And if you remember a few weeks back, we heard about Jesus healing, the man who was born blind. And we see that's throughout throughout that accounts, this man grows not only is he not able to see but he grows in his size of Jesus. He is able to see who Jesus is, in a sense, his spiritual eyes have been open. And then Jesus reveals that the pharisees, unlike this man, are actually the ones who are blind.
And then he goes on to tell us this metaphor to explain who he is and why he's come. And what he's come to do. And then last week, Tom took us through the first part of this image, telling us that, you know, Jesus is the gate. He is the only way to salvation, and Jesus contrasts himself with the religious leaders of the day, the pharisees. Unlike unlike him, these these religious religious leaders are trying to get over the fence.
They are thieves and robbers. That's how he he describes them. And today, we're taking a look at the rest of this image that Jesus paints for us. So before we we start, let me let me just pray again. Our heavenly father, we thank you so much for your word, and we thank you that you have been so gracious to us to give us give us the lord Jesus Christ We thank you for showing us who he is and what he has done for us.
And we ask that you would open our eyes this evening to see a fresh the work that he does for us as our good shepherd. We're asking your name, amen. I'm sure everyone in this room is familiar with the term key worker. In architecture circles, we've been using this term since about 2005. So I'm an architect.
And the the term key worker has been used to describe or back then, people in certain industries key industries. So we're talking nurses, firefighters, teachers, police officers, prison officers, and the like. Who were not able to afford a home near where they worked. And so we there were these these discussions about how do we house our key workers? And now in March 20 20, the world was turned upside down, turned on its head.
And the term key workers expanded greatly to to mean basically anyone whose jobs allowed our society to function. And we saw that, didn't we? In the face of trials and adversity, there were some people who allowed everything to function and without them, we would be we we would have been in a much, you know, worse place than than we were. These are people who stacks our shelves in the supermarkets. These are people who kept our buses running They they, you know, they cleaned the streets.
They picked up our rubbish. They kept our hospitals going. They kept our water supplies going. And we we came to see, didn't we? Just how essential they were?
And perhaps before that, some of these people, we probably wouldn't have even given them a second look. You know, we we probably didn't appreciate them as much as we should have. And now Shepard's 2000 years ago in Jesus' day were something similar to key workers really. They were not particularly appreciated, but but yet they provided a critical function for the society. So they shepherded sheep mostly.
And sheep were they are amazing animals. So you can use them for food as they did back in those days. For clothing, But essentially, they were also used in the sacrificial system that God put in place over Israel. So the shepherds were key in providing that, and everyone everyone knew that. Everyone knew that this is what the shepherds did, but still shepherding was a dirty smelly, messy, and unclean job.
It's not the kind of thing that people were necessarily aspiring to do. And in fact, normally in in in Israelite families, if you had a big enough family, the youngest person would be the 1 who became the shepherd who kept the sheep. In fact, King David was the youngest in his family. That's what he did. He kept the sheep.
So it wasn't the glory it wasn't the glorious thing. It's not something that people aspire to. People weren't going to university saying, I really really wanted, you know, pick up all kinds of nasty things that fall out of sheep. That's that's not how it went. And yet, this is the image.
This is the person that Jesus chooses to identify himself with. Someone who's the lowest lowest in in in society. And he calls us his sheep. So we're we're tonight, we're gonna look at 2 things mainly. We're going to look at the good shepherd, firstly.
We're going to try to look at him who he was, his identity, his mission, and then his character. And secondly, we're gonna look at the flock. We're going to look at their relationship with the good shepherd, and then we're going to look at who they are or their identity. So firstly, the the good shepherd. Who who who is he?
Who was who was this good shepherd? So if you look down at verse 11, Jesus says, I am the good shepherd. Now, in English, the word good can mean several things. Usually, we we use it to mean morally good, so think of good and evil. Another way we can use the word good is to to speak of something that is an adequate example of something else.
So if I said, the chair that Ollie is sitting on is a good chair. What's I mean is that it does all the things that you want the chance to do, namely, you know, not fall over or topple over or something like this. So it's a good example of a chair. But the original word good used here in in Greek meant something even more. So it also meant something moral, good good or evil, that kind of thing.
It could also mean something beautiful And lastly, you could mean not just an example, but actually something perfect. So if I use the word again with with all these chair and said, this is a good chair. I I might actually mean by that, this is the perfect chair. So if you were making chairs, this is the chair that you would have to copy All of the chairs should be modeled on this 1 chair. This is the good chair.
This is the chair. I think that Jesus is using the word good in exactly that way in all these 3 ways that he is the perfect shepherd He's the he's really the only shepherd, every shepherd should be modeled on him. Now growing up, I played lots of basketball. I probably should have spent more time reading or, you know, improving myself somehow, but I I played a lot of and then I start I enrolled in a basketball campaign. I was about 16 and I won the the coveted title of the most improved player.
And I won a basketball and I also won a 5 foot tall poster of back then, my favorite basketball player. So he joined the NBA, the National Basketball League when he was 17 straight straight out of high school, phenomenal player, this is Kobe Bryant, and he modeled his entire game on who everyone still considers the best basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, And so, I I wanted to be Kobe Brian. So, I did everything that he did. I did his turnaround fadeaway jumpers. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry about it.
But I I I tried all of his dunks. His 3 60 dunks and windmill dunks and the way he dribbled the bowl, I I tried to be just like Kobe Bryant. As Kobe Brian tries to be just like Michael Jordan. So he was my model. He was my role model in that sense.
And now I was trying to picture this. What would shepherd boys in ancient Israel have on their walls as posters, if they had walls and posters. You can imagine that they had maybe Abraham Abraham is the the father of the nation. You know, he's the great shepherd 1 of the greatest shepherd ever. Absolutely amazing.
Like, gosh, Abraham, number 1. Or he could have they could have had Moses right there, you know. Moses was, again, another fantastic shepherd. He shunned the riches of Egypt, and he led his people out of egypt as a nation. Or perhaps even David, David started off as a as a shepherd, lowly shepherd, and ended up king of the nation.
He brought the nation together, and he he secured peace for the nation. Maybe this is who they looked up to. But who do these guys look up to as shepherds? And actually, Jesus tells us they all looked up to him. Because he is the good shepherd.
He is the perfect shepherd. He says of Abraham, your father, Abraham rejoiced at the thoughts of seeing my day. He saw it and was glad. So Abraham looks forward to Jesus' day. And he says of of Moses that all the laws that Moses gave us as a nation, they were all about me, Jesus says.
And lastly, he says of of David, that Dave that Jesus David says that Jesus is his lord. So all these men looked up to the lord Jesus Christ as their shepherd. As their model. And and this image of a shepherd is very familiar. It's a very familiar picture in this time and and this part of the world.
And if you look briefly with me as Ezekiel chapter 34, which will come up on the screen versus 11 and verses 11 12 and in verse 15. So jeez, the the the the God of the Israelites Yahue says in in these verses that he is the perfect shepherd and he is the 1 to lead his flock. And lead them away from the false efforts who were really just there to exploit them. So in verse 11 and 12, I think will come up down there. So he says, for this is what the sovereign lord says, I myself will search for my sheep and look after them as a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep?
And in verse 15 of that same chapter, he says, I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declare us over in law. So This is god becoming the shepherd of his people like he promised. And later on in the passage, in verses 23 and 24, he says this. I will place over them 1 shepherd, my servant, David, and he will tend them, he will tend them and be their shepherd. I, the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.
Now this isn't the same David King David, who was a shepherd. This is David has already died at this point. This is someone else who's going to come in his line, 1 of his descendants. And he's saying this descendants will rule faithfully, will serve God faithfully and will lead his flock. Now, so so what what's going on here?
Is looking after the flock? Is it this descendant of David or is it God? And I think Jesus is basically telling us his He is both at the same time. He is the perfect shepherd, he is God, and he is also the descendants of David who is come to look after God's flock. Now, if you were far as you listen to this, this is explosive stuff because the idea that this man, is god, is is is really offensive.
And it's offensive today to to many people, to to to muslims, to Jews, They find this absolutely offensive and and as Christians we might the the shock might be taken away from this statement, but it is there that but God would come himself to take care of his flock. And that's exactly what he did. And this is exactly what Jesus is claiming. He's saying, I am the perfect shepherd. I am the model everyone else should follow.
So this is who he is. Jesus is God, the perfect shepherd. So what was his mission? So I looked down again at verse 11. He says, I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This good shepherd is is unlike any other shepherd. He's he's he's really strange because what Jesus does here is turns upside down the imagery of shepherding. So shepherds were there to produce to to shepherd their sheep. Produce as much sheep as possible so that they can sell for their families.
They could use in the sacrificial system. That was the point. The the the sheep gave their lives for the shepherd for the shepherd's livelihood, not the other way around. Jesus here says, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I noticed that he says that he lays it down.
This is an intentional action. This is him carefully planning something else and and and making it come about. So he says, again, just looking down a verse like before at verse 17 and 18, he says, the reason my father loves me is that I lay down my life. Only to take it up again. No 1 takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I lay it down of my own own accord. This is all according to his plan. His death was not kind of in the line of duty. Sheppers didn't go into shepherding because they knew that they would die. It might have happened, but they went into shepherding so that they could produce, you know, for their families, they could support themselves.
But here, Jesus is saying his plan was to sacrifice his life for us And again, notice that he says he that he lays down his life and he takes us up again. No no no human being can do that. Once you're dead, you pretty much can't do anything really. For him to say that I lay down my life and I take it up again, this is a picture of his death and resurrection. Again, in verse 18, he he says, no 1 takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have the authority to lay it down and the authority to take it up again. And like an author of a story, Jesus Jesus is the author of this story and he's writing this story, he he writes the rules. He writes the rules of this world. No 1 else could do this. No 1 else has the authority to lay their life down and take it up again.
And this is his mission the very mission that he came to establish, that he came to accomplish, to lay down this life for us. And to take it up again so that we might live. So what does this say about the character of of this good shepherd? Well, like I said at the start, tougher times can reveal lots of things. It certainly did of of our society.
It did of many people in our society. You can think of people struggling over your toilet paper at the start of a lockdown. And tough times, yeah, like I said, reveal character. So Jesus here in this in in this image contrasts himself as a good shepherd with the hired hands. And again, remember, he's talking to the pharisees.
So he's contrasting himself as being the faithful shepherd of his people. While the pharisees are hired hands who have their own interest of hearts ultimately. So that when trouble comes, they run away. So again, look down at him versus 11 to 13. Jesus says, I am the good shepherd the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons a sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. So again, tough times come and it reveals character. It reveals people's character.
Now reading this, I I I found myself identifying a bit with the hired hand because I was I was thinking, if I was a shepherd and I saw a wolf coming at me. And if you know anything about wolves, there's 1 person in this in this room who would disagree with me about wolves, but they can be vicious creatures. And if I saw a wolf coming barreling you're barreling down the hill at me, I would probably do my best impersonation of Usain Bolt. I would be halfway across the valley before you even know it. And in many ways running is just a pragmatic thing, really.
You you just want to preserve your life. And you might think, well, isn't that really a reasonable thing? You know, the life of of a human being versus the life of a sheep, Human beings are worth so much more. But contrast this again with the life of the good shepherd. And the life of the sheep.
The life of the good shepherd is worth infinitely more than any of a sheep. And again, he tells us that the reason he came was to lay his life down for us. He didn't think of his life. He didn't think of his security in this world. He knew what his life was worth.
And yes, he willingly laid his life down. This is just outrageous grace. The old theologian and writer John Calvin says of this passage. And he says of Jesus, that our salvation was worth was more precious to him than his own life. He didn't have to die for us.
He didn't have to come as a man. He didn't have to shepherd us. When our ancestors adam and eve sinned, he didn't have to launch a rescue plan. But, yeah, that's what he did. He came to die for us because our salvation was more precious to him than his own life.
And see, the shepherd here sees the the good shepherd sees his sheep in danger and he sacrifices himself. Right? There are many threats that we face as Christians. You know, obviously, the devil. But there is the ultimate threat of eternal death and judgments for our sins.
And the good shepherd steps in the way of that and takes all that on himself. The sheep haven't done anything for him. He's doing everything for his sheep. And in this, he shows us his character that he is faithful. He steps in for his sheep.
So the good shepherd is faithful. So that's the image of the good shepherd. What about the flock? Firstly, let's look at his relationship to the flock. So Shepard in Sheparding in Israel was a full time job, and Tom took us through this the first half of this passage last week.
And you showed us how, you know, shepherds would have started very early in the morning. They would have been they would have had to take their sheep out to pasture so that they could graze, so that they could find food. You would have to find them water and not just any kind of water, they needed water that was not still, not moving too fast. You have to be just right. And then you have to keep them safe throughout all of this throughout the entire day.
And then sometimes at night, he would also then have to watch over them just to make sure that no 1 stole the sheep or that they were attacked. Because cheap are domesticated, they really cannot survive in the wild. They can survive on their own. And because of this kind of intense closeness to his sheep. He knows them.
He knows each and every 1 of them. Tom was telling us last week. He knows their names and he calls them out. He's always around so he knows his sheep. And his sheep know him.
So look with me in verse 14 and 15. He says, again, I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me. Just as the father knows me and I know I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep. This intimacy comes from closeness with his sheep. He's with his sheep all the time.
He has to look over his sheep. It's a full time job. And if you if you were here last week, Tom gave the illustration of a of a mother who even in a crowded room, can distinguish the the voice of her child. She knows her voice over all of that noise. She recognizes the voice of her child.
And it's it's the same with with Jesus and us. He he already knows us And in fact, it's it's it's the the situation can actually be reversed. And there were there've been some some tests been done and and some some scientists have looked into this, and we know that babies not only prefer the sound of their this is how I should say, newborn babies, not only prefer the sound of their mother's voice. They can actually distinguish the sound of their mother's voice. So right from birth, they already know who who their mother is.
And Jesus says, in a similar way, we know the voice of our shepherd. We know him, and he knows us. Now this this level of intimacy, Jesus heightens because he says that in the same way that the father knows me, I know you, And in the same way that I know the father, you know me. And this is just this is he brings us into this relationship with his father, and there's this tight bond, which is totally unique to Christianity. And again, totally explosive, we have a personal relationship with our creator god, who shepherds us.
So this is our relationship with with him, his relationship to the flock. Now who who are in this flock? So if you were 1 of the religious leaders listening to Jesus speaking about this, you probably be, I would say, absolutely livid at this point. Because in a single sweep, Jesus has called himself God He's turned upside down the entire sacrificial system. He said that he is the 1 who's always been faithful to his sheep and they haven't.
So if you're not annoyed at this point, well Jesus just ups, you know, the pressure So look with me at verse 16. He says, I have other sheep but are not of the sheep pen. I must bring them also they too will listen to my voice and there will be 1 flock and 1 shepherd. Now, In a single sentence, basically, he has swept away the ceremonial laws that the the firacies would have been more than familiar with. You see, in the immediate context, when he says that I'm bringing other sheep into this flock, this flock means Israel.
Other sheep means not Israel. And so for them for for for anyone listening at this time, they they would probably have been thinking firstly, the Samaritans. Right? The Samararitans Jews in those days considered to be pretty much no better than dogs really, and dogs were all on clean animals. And gentiles were even worse.
I mean, Jews would go out of their way and not so interact with any gentile. And Jesus is saying that he will bring those into the flock as well. A notice is his emphasis here. He says, 1 flock, 1 shepherd. There there there are no other flocks.
There are no other shepherds. It's just the 1 flock and the 1 shepherd. It's 1 flock united to The 1 shepherd, the 1 people of God united in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows his flock. And as we saw again last week, that he is the gate.
There is no other way. An awful lowers of Jesus are united as 1 flock. So regardless of whatever differences that we may have, denominational or otherwise, wherever Christ is honored as the shepherd of his sheep, we can call those people brothers and sisters in Christ. So people from all walks of life under the 1 shepherd. I mean, just look around in this room.
This is a motley crew you know, monthly bunch of people. And for some for some of us, we probably wouldn't even know the existence of other people if it weren't for the Lord Jesus Christ. And here we are. We can go halfway across the world, meet someone who calls Jesus his shepherd, and We know that we're brothers and sisters. So what does this all mean then?
How do we respond to these truths? Look with me at the last few verses: 19 to 21. The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, he is demon possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?
But others said, These are not the words of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? And time and time again, we see this in the book of John, the people are divided. Jesus has told them who he is and they are again divided. So where do you sit in this?
Are you like the people saying, maybe, you know, Jesus is saying things that are just so outrageous? No. He must be demon possessed. Or are you the people saying, well, actually, no, this does make sense. This has the ring of truth to it.
I can hear the truth in his voice and what he says. So 3 things for us to consider. Firstly, come to the shepherd. Last week, again, Tom told us about how the shepherd knows each of his sheep, he calls them by name. And you might be hearing these words and and know that there's a ring of truth to them.
Maybe you've never heard it before, but his sheep can discern truth in his voice. The best advice anyone ever gave to me was actually that I should read the words of Jesus like he was an intelligent person who knew what he was talking about. And see what happens. And that's what I did. Searching through all the different religions and philosophies, I I read Jesus and his words did have a ring of truth to them, spoke directly to me.
I've I I opened up my bible and I've I've thought that he was literally talking specifically to me in some in some of these passages. It was an amazing thing. And that's why I'm here. So you know, we're we're having later on this week, testimonies in the Home Group Central. Why not come along to that and hear how Jesus has called out to people and changed them.
They've listened to his voice and he has transformed their lives. So come to the shepherd. If you Secondly, if you if you have already come to the shepherd and you're thinking, well, well, how does this apply to me? Well, I would say to you stick close to the shepherd. Again, Jesus is the good shepherd.
It's his duty to look after his sheep. It's a full time job. And this shepherd doesn't fall asleep on the job. He's always doing his work. He's always looking after his sheep His sheep who constantly go astray.
His sheep who cannot take take care of themselves in the wild. He has to look after his sheep and he does that faithfully. He is faithful. So we need to depend on God every day. We need to see our dependence on him.
And we need to come close to the shepherd every day. We need him for everything in our lives. So see your dependence on him and ask him to to give you your daily needs as he says in the lord's prayer. And also, on this point, and we although we are called individually, but we're called into 1 flock, you cannot have a flock of 1 sheep. This reminds me of those questions like how many greens of sand makes a pile?
I have no idea. But I I know what the answer is not and that's 1. You can't be a flock on your own. If if if you're thinking, well, my Christian life is really just me and God and no 1 else and that's it. I'm afraid to say that you are badly mistaken.
Because this is not what Jesus says. Jesus says, Jesus has rescued us so that we can be part of the 1 flock. And living together as Christians is hard, the people who will annoy you, the people who are smelly, The people who are always getting into trouble, the people who just say the wrong things all the time, it seems like. And we heard some of that this morning, didn't we? It it is difficult.
But in all these things, we have to look to Christ because he gives us grace, outrageous grace that we didn't deserve. So we look to him and then we relate to everyone else. And that's the way you should be. And lastly, pray for our shepherds. We have so many teachers and leaders in our church.
We have elders. We have preachers. We have the staff team. Sunday school youth group as well, creche. And all these people teaching are teaching us all of us.
We should pray for them. We should remember them in their prayers that they would be faithful like their good shepherd. Let's pray together as we close. Our heavenly father, we thank you for the law of Jesus Christ. We thank you for his example to us as the good shepherd.
We thank you for the truth that he is our our good shepherd, that he is the 1 who was faithful to us and remains faithful to us and will keep us. Throughout all of life's adversities, and it will bring us to you. We thank you that he has given us his life that we might live. And we might be protected from all of the trials, not all of the the dangers that are that are really threatening us. And we asked this as we go out, that we would remember this, we will stick close to our shepherd, and for those of us who don't yet know you.
Whereas, you would keep on calling as we hear you were being preached day in day out, every Sunday in this church and everywhere else. That's in all the in all these things, We would respond to you and that you would be our shepherd. We're asking your name, amen.