Jesus: My Good Shepherd
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he 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 he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the
doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by
name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them,
and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply
will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of
strangers." This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not
understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So Jesus
said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the
door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep
did not hear 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 that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 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
them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father
knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have
other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will
hear 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 may take it again. No
one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have
authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This
commandment I received from My Father."
seriously doubt that very many people of today understand and appreciate all of
Jesus' teachings in this statement. I am sure that I do not. Sheep, shepherds,
security of the flock, the relationship between a quality shepherd and ancient
flocks, and sheep cotes are just not a part of our background. There are some
lessons in this statement that would have been quite obvious to Jesus' audience
that are not obvious to us. It simply means we have to be open and try harder to
The relationship of a quality shepherd with his flock of sheep was centuries
old. The image of a shepherd fit Jesus' work and mission in many ways. I find it
fascinating that Jesus did not compare his earthly mission to the work of the
wealthy, but to the work of a shepherd.
- To us, the role of a shepherd was a noble calling, but not so even to
- In scripture the image of a shepherd is used both metaphorically and
- Metaphorical shepherds:
- God is called Israel's shepherd stressing the truth that they were
"in good hands," had no reason to be afraid, but had every reason to be
a people of faith.
- Rulers are called shepherds of their people emphasizing their
responsibility to care for those whom they rule.
- Literal shepherds:
- For centuries in the ancient world wealth was measured in
livestock--flocks and herds.
- There was no stock market as we know it, no banks as we know them
today; no financial institutions as we know them today; no forms of
investments as we know them today.
- A person's wealth and financial well being commonly was measured
in what he actually possessed, what was actually his at the moment.
- Consider the wealthy person:
- He might own a lot of sheep (and other livestock as well), but he
could not be their actual shepherd--and likely had no desire to be.
- So he had to hire someone for the job, someone trustworthy he
could depend on.
- However, he likely only knew what he was told.
- The key would be if the man hired had primary interest in the
sheep given into his charge or in himself--would he care for the needs
of the sheep, or would he use the sheep to prosper himself?
- Consider the common person:
- His flock would be small--he would not own many sheep.
- Yet, each sheep was critical to the family's well being.
- Shepherding usually fell as a job done by a family member.
- While it was an extremely necessary job--the sheep had to be
constantly fed, watered, and cared for--it often was a very
undesirable, lonely job.
- Let me ask you to consider the work and life of a shepherd.
- First, let me ask you to consider a shepherd's work.
- Remember, there are no barns, no special equipment, no pastures as
we know them today, no fences--thus there are no prepared, protected
places to fed the sheep in secure circumstances.
- Sheep, like most livestock, have to be fed and watered every
day--there are no vacation days or comp days for a shepherd.
- Every day all in the flock need to be examined. Who is sick? Who is
weak? Who needs treatment? Who needs help and special attention?
- Yet, the shepherd needs to know more than where he or she can take
the sheep to graze and be watered; he also must be the sheep's security.
- If one of the sheep gets lost, he must find a way to make the rest
of the flock secure and go find the lost sheep.
- If the weather turns cold and wet, he must find shelter for the
- At night, he must find a secure place for the sheep to stay--with
the only way to the sheep through him!
- If a sick sheep is too weak to walk, he must help it or carry it.
- If wild animals are near, only he stands between the danger and
the death of the sheep.
- It was a very "hands on," demanding, dirty, dangerous job.
- It was not the occupation any of us would aspire to!
- Second, just think about how lonely that job would be!
- Understanding that the key question was, "How important is the sheep's
well being to me?" and understanding that shepherding was a dirty, demanding
job, focus on what Jesus said in the first part of John 10.
- There were occasions when it was necessary to take your flock
temporarily to a public sheep cote (enclosure) where several flocks might be
present in order to provide temporary security for your flock while you took
care of something essential.
- These enclosures had one way in which also served as the only way out.
- It had a keeper of the door (entrance) who permitted only shepherds
with flocks in the enclosure to enter the enclosure.
- Jesus said he had a relationship with his sheep--they were not
merely dumb animals he had to care for.
- He drew a obvious contrast--a shepherd goes in at the entrance; a
thief seeks another way in.
- The sheep knew the difference between the unfamiliar thief and the
- With the thief, the sheep sense danger!
- With the shepherd, the sheep sense security!
- The sheep knew the shepherd's voice, and would follow that familiar
voice and only that familiar voice.
- Though the people who heard did not understand the meaning of what
Jesus said, he was declaring he cared about them above all else.
- He was their security because of his unselfish interest in them and
their well being!
- They had nothing to fear from him! He was of no danger to them!
- The analogy Jesus' made in verses 7-10 still focused on the shepherd and
- Because they did not understand his point previously, he used the same
analogy with a different comparison.
- This time he compares himself to the door of the sheep cote.
- Those who came to the people of Israel before him claiming to seek
the people's best interest were not concerned about the people but their
- These previous people who claimed to speak for God were people who
exploited--but not him!
- He did not seek to use them, but to give them security!
- If the people wanted to have the security God promised, they must
(a) recognize who he is and (b) approach security through him.
- They need to ask themselves a question and pay attention to the
answer: do people who call for you to follow them want to use you or
give you security?
- Others come to exploit you.
- Not me!
- I come to give you life in its fullest sense.
- The emphasis is the same--he is the source of their security and seeks
to provide for their security.
- The contrast that follows is the contrast between a good shepherd who
cares about the well being of his sheep and the hired shepherd who accepted
a job, but not responsibility.
- Jesus was a good shepherd who would willingly die for the well being
of his sheep.
- The shepherd who just took a job,
- Who had nothing personal invested in a healthy flock,
- Would not put his life on the line to protect the sheep.
- Instead, at the first sign of danger he would run.
- He would put the lives of the sheep in danger instead of putting his
own life in danger.
- The sheep meant nothing to him!
- They certainly were not worth dying for!
contrast, Jesus is the good shepherd who is totally committed to the well
being of his flock.
- He personally knows his sheep.
- His sheep personally know him.
- He would not hesitate to die to protect his sheep.
- There are other sheep in another flock that are his sheep--he had
sheep among the gentiles just as certainly as he had sheep in Israel.
- The moment would come when he would combine flocks.
- He would be the shepherd over this one flock of Jewish followers
and gentile followers.
- God loved him because he cared about all the people who belonged to
- He would die for all of them.
- However, his death would not be permanent.
- His life would not be taken from him against his will--he would of
his own decision die for the good of all God's sheep.
- He could choose to give his life for the security of the sheep.
- He could choose to live again.
- This would happen because of the will of God.
- His words caused a serious division in his Jewish audience.
- Some said he was an insane, demon-possessed man--"These are the words of
a person speaking for the devil!"
- Others said, "These are not the words of the devil! You certainly cannot
give the devil credit for the things Jesus does to help people others
The issue for all of us remains the same for a thousand years: "Who is Jesus?
Is he really alive from the dead? Did God really resurrect him from the tomb?"
I would like to close by focusing you on Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised
from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the
dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been
raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your
faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God,
because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise,
if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even
Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is
worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in
Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of
all men most to be pitied.
If Jesus is who He said He is, live for Him. Only He is your security!
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 27 November 2005
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