OUR COMPASSIONATE SHEPHERD
The Lord Jesus has been given many names, He is called……..
- The Amen [Rev 3:14]
- The Alpha & Omega [Rev 22:13]
- The Advocate [1 John 2:1]
- The Author of Salvation [Heb 2:10]
- The Bread of Life [John 6:35]
- The Cornerstone [Eph 2:20]
- The Great High Priest [Heb 4:14]
- The Lamb of God [John 1:29]
- The Son of David [Matt 12:23]
- The Son of God [Luke 1:35]
- The Son of Man [John 5:27]
- The word of Life [1 John 1:1]
- The Resurrection and the Life [John 11:25]
- The Son of the Blessed One [Mark 14:61]
But none quit describe the term of endearment that Jesus has towards sinners like the name that He has been given “Great Shepherd” See! A shepherd is someone who guards, guides, protects, tends and generally cares for the well-being of what they are overseeing. The Old Testament predicted this truth about Jesus. “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them.....” Eze 34:23. In Micah 5:4 says “And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth;"
Who does the Shepherd care for? According to the New Testament, the Church is compared to many things in the Scriptures. It is described (among other things) as a Bride, a Body, a City, a House of Living Stones and a flock of sheep. If you could pick an animal to characterize who are you are, what would that be? I don’t think anyone would choose a sheep. Why? What are sheep like? For one thing, raising sheep has been an important way for people to make a living for thousands of years especially up to and during the time of the Jesus. We as humans have so much in common with sheep….whether you like it or not!
Sheep aren't very smart. If a sheep tries to go through a hole in the fence, and the hole is too small, he will just keep on trying to go forward instead of backing out. Like sheep, we aren't very smart either. We keep on doing the same things over and over and expect different results.
Sheep are followers. If one sheep moves, the others will follow even though it may not be a good decision. If the lead sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Sometimes we are followers too. We follow what other people are doing, even though it may be harmful to us.
Sheep sometimes wander. They graze without paying attention to where they are going. They may be unable to find their way home even when it's within sight.
We sometimes wander too. We stray away from what God has taught us to do. Like the sheep, we sometimes can't find the way home even when it is in plain sight.
So we can summarize that sheep…..
- Are creatures of habit
- Have limited intelligence
- Are prone to listless wandering
- Can be very timid and stubborn
- Easily frightened by the most ridiculous things
- They are absolutely defenceless if ever attacked
As one writer said “the existence of the sheep was the prime evidence against the theory of evolution, there is no way sheep could have survived.” Let me ask you…….Can you relate to some of those character traits that describe a sheep in your life?
- We are people of habit, do the same thing over and over again.
- We are people who are limited in our understanding.
- We are people who are prone to wander.
- We are people who are shy but aggressive when we want something.
- We are people who scare easily.
- We are people who are defenceless most of the time, 9/11 proved that.
This is why the Shepherd came, to save us from entering the wrong door because we are just like sheep! What door?
- The door of deception
- The door of false promises and dreams
- The door of misguided truths
- The door of false religion and religious leaders (v8, v10, v12-v13)
“Hired hand” represents the religious leaders who perform their duties but don’t sacrificially care for the sheep. They stand in contrast to Jesus because they truly don’t care about the sheep at all….and their job is to shatter the sheep. Paul told Timothy “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Tim 4:1-2. False shepherds whose consciences are cauterized and hardened to the truth of God’s word. See according to Jesus there are certain individuals [religious leaders]. Who will try to steal your hearts affections and they will do whatever it takes to destroy your soul, even if it means removing you from the flock. Many will try to deceive fallen sheep from entering the right door! Many will or try to pull the wool over your eyes, so that you don’t see or taste the truth of the gospel.
In Eze 34:1-31 proclaims this clear warning against the false leaders “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. Ezekiel goes on to say for the LORD 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock" therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them." But we see the promise from the true Shepherd ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord GOD. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment." Eze 34:1-31. This is who Jesus is warning us about and to be aware of. Jesus said "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (v1) And then Jesus goes on to say “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (v10). This is a clear warning to all who would listen…….including the Pharisee’s about the clear warning of entering the wrong door or way.
"Thieves and robbers!" What does Jesus mean by this statement? They rip-off the church or into an office, and rob God or Christ of their power and authority; and such were the Scribes and Pharisees….and we see this up front and center today in churches, not just in North America but also around the globe. As this one pastor David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation, was found guilty by South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption of 13 billion won (US $12 million), after stealing from his church family! To that I say “listen to the warning of the great Shepherd” because they stand behind pulpits every Sunday deceiving people, robbing people of the true beauty found in the gospel of Christ. Treating people as numbers and not as people created in the image of God. Listen to the heart of a shepherd named Robert McCheyne, a preacher of the 1800 as he warns the people of his day “You know, dear brethren, this is Satan's great object in the world; it is to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. This is the object of Antichrist. This is the object of the world. This is the object of all false ministers. This is the object of your enemies, little flock, for whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Satan comes to rob God of your souls; Antichrist comes to rob God of his throne -- to rob God of his laws; and the world comes to rob God of his Sabbath. So with worldly ministers in like manner, they come to rob you of your soul, of peace, of joy, of holiness. Antichrist robs you of the true way to the Father. And the world comes to rob you -- that pleasant world which says, 'Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant, (Proverbs 9:17). And so with worldly ministers - this is their object, to rob, to steal, and to destroy. 0 my brethren, be warned to flee; be warned to flee from Antichrist; be warned to flee from an ungodly world! See, a shepherd’s responsibility is to teach the sheep how to hear the voice of the Lord. We want to be sure we are following Him and not listening to the voice of a stranger or a counterfeit. This passage, this chapter displays for us what a true shepherd does for His flock! Jesus wants to protect us from people who are selfish and untrue. Who deny the true promise of the gospel! A shepherd cares for his flock, his people! This leads me to the first point!
A SHEPHERD CARES AND PROTECTS HIS FLOCK (v1-v10)
This, first of all, shows the complete knowledge he has of the sheep. Remember of Zacchaeus? When he was a stray sheep, Christ said to him when he was in the tree, “'Come down; for today I must abide at thine house'” (Luke 19:5). Jesus says “I am the Door of the sheep” Go back to the sheepfold imagery once again. The sheep are with their shepherd inside the stone enclosure during the night. There was no door of any kind in these enclosures. In place of the door there was just an open space. At night after the shepherd called in his sheep and herded them within the fold. The shepherd himself lies down across the opening and entrance into the sheepfold…..literally the shepherd was the door. No sheep could get out and no enemy could come in except over his body. In a very literal sense, the shepherd was the door. There was no way in or out except through him. What picture of our Lord Jesus Christ who is one who cares and guards our souls for all eternity. Jesus is saying, “I, and I alone, I and no other am the Door of the sheep.” (v7). Jesus is the one and only gate into heaven. Jesus Christ is the sole way to God. There is no other way as Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. Remember! If there is no Christ, there is no way to God….(PERIOD). If He is not the Door, there is no entrance into God’s presence. As the Door, Jesus is, the one way of entrance into salvation and rest with the Father.
A SHEPHERD HAS COMPASSION FOR HIS FLOCK (v11-v18)
He will lay His life down for the sheep according to (v11). Where else have we seen this statement about Jesus? Paul wrote “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Eph 5:1-2. That’s the gospel, which is filled with love and compassion for lost, prone to wandered sheep. Where do we see the compassion for lost sheep in the gospels? A prime example of this is found in the Luke 15 when the one sheep wanders off and the shepherd searches endlessly for that lost sheep. And what does he do when he finds the sheep that wandered? Luke pens these words “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Luke 15:5. See shepherds who tend their flocks according to Jewish custom, did not tend the sheep in order to slaughter them, unless they were used for sacrifice. Shepherds tended them that the sheep might give wool, milk and baby lambs. The bible says “"I am the good shepherd” which means according to scholars, Jesus is “fundamentally good, beautiful or fair” It described Jesus, as the model that others may safely imitate. To call Jesus “good” is to call Him “God”(v11). In Mark 10:17-18 we read “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” We see this affirmed by Jesus himself in(v17-v18) and in (v30) He is a God who cares and has compassion for lost sheep who are prone to wander and fall! This is why He came to please the father’s wrath for our sin by becoming one of us to lay His life down as a ransom for us. As the Good Shepherd He is the One who cares for the sheep and provides for their salvation at the cost of His own life.
What am I supposed to do with this passage? You must believe on Christ and trust in Him personally to save you. We are never to trust in possessions or ourselves as a means of salvation. Remember you are a sheep! See, the Door is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ; the only thing necessary for you to do is believe, repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. So my only Sunday question for those who have not tasted that grace of the gospel……………Have you believed or trusted in Him for everlasting life? As for the believer, find great comfort in this passage as the GOOD SHEPHERD leads you along the story book path of your life that He has written for you. Though it’s easy for sheep to wander and leave the God we love as Robert Robinson said in his song “Come Thou Fount” But we also know in his song “Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger,” Though we will face and walk through cold, dry days down some ugly dark valleys as helpless sheep, we can find great comfort in the GOOD SHEPHERD! As David said “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23