The Good Shepherd

John 10:1-18
Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor
Michael Gunn on March 25th, 2007

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Psalm 23:1

John has characterized Jesus as a bridegroom that would shed His blood as the “Bread of life,” and as an everlasting “River of life.” In our passage today, John continues to reveal the Christ that he walked with, and chooses an endearing metaphor of a “Good shepherd,” in whom we shall not want (desire) and in whom we have “Life and have it abundantly!”

Imagery of the “Shepherd” is huge in both OT literature and extra-biblical literature. God is known in the OT as the shepherd of His people (Psalm 23, 80, 100; Isaiah 40:10, 11), and the gospels go into details in the two parables of the shepherd to explain how God, as the loving shepherd, goes out of His way for even one lost sheep. There is no doubt here in John’s use of the metaphor that he is driven by OT thought and the idea that Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” of Israel (i.e. He is God). It is interesting to note that in this passage, Jesus is both the gate (way in) as well as the shepherd (the protector once in). Today we have an incredible picture of the unceasing nature of God’s love for His people!

From the Head…

John 10:1-6 A Sheep in Wolves Clothing
These verses come right off the previous verses and the Pharisees questions in regard to whether or not they are blind too. Jesus is here in our passage today answering the question, and the answer is yes! As acts 20:28-30 indicates there are many who come in to the church as wolves in sheep’s clothing. As Leslie Newbigin writes, “These self appointed messiah’, saviors, “benefactors” have one thing in common. They do not follow the way of Jesus, which is, as we shall learn, the way of total self giving.”

John 10:7-10 The Door of Life
The door is a symbol of entrance from one place to another. Jesus is that door; the one inviting you in to another world, another dimension. It is in this room that we find life abundant. This is a life that brings forth freedom and security; the security of a good shepherd watching over them, and the freedom to come and go in order to enact the shepherd’s mission in the world.

John 10:11-13 The Good Shepherd
When Moses came to his end he prayed, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” Obviously Joshua immediately fulfilled this role, but only as a type of the Christ that was to come. Jesus is that Shepherd, who loves and cares for His people. He cares so much that He is willing to lay down His life for them (see Romans 5:8).

John 10:14-18 Born to Love, Born to Die
Jesus is the good shepherd who “Knows” His sheep. This knowing is more than head knowledge. It is intimacy knowledge. It’s a knowledge that marks eternal life (John 17:3). What we see here is the Trinity in action. “Even as the father knows me and I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep.” There is a mutual love that the Father and Son have, and the Father sends His Son into the world (John 3:16; 20:31) so that the Son can lay His life down in response to His Father. This is glorifying to the Father, and is a self giving work of Christ in mutual submission to His father. Later we see the Holy Spirit raising Christ from the dead (“I have the authority to raise it up again”).

…to the Heart
Do we believe that Jesus is the “Good” shepherd that is concerned about our needs and protection? It is easy to drink the beautiful metaphor displaying God’s love for us as your shepherd, and not see how else it can pertain to us in a relevant way. It is easy to dismiss the apostle’s words here as either pertaining only to the ministry of Jesus or of the leaders of the church, but John sees all of us in the capacity to shepherd one another. As a matter of fact John writes to the church, “As the Father has sent Me, I send you (The church)” (John 20:31).

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” What an incredible thought to meditate on, and realize it is that concept that energizes us to do God’s will on this earth!

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