You need Jesus to keep you safe.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus knows us by experience. He knows everything about us – how many hairs on our heads he even says! He knows us by name. He knows our needs, our wants, our desires and our pain. Most importantly, he knows how to save us!
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
In the gospel of John Jesus tells us, “I am way, the truth and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the vine. I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the gate of the sheep pen. And here Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” When Jesus used that expression, he was stating an eternal truth. He wants us to know something important about himself. He wants us to know him better. He is the same God who spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai and said, “I am who I am.” He wants you to know that he is God and therefore totally independent to do what he wants and when he wants He is always the same, constant and dependable. Of all the “I am” statements of Jesus in the Bible, “I am the good shepherd” may be the most familiar.
We have pictures of the good shepherd hanging in our homes. There are many poses: One is of Jesus holding a shepherd’s staff with a group of sheep huddled around his feet. Another pose is a picture of Jesus carrying a lamb around his neck. People who work with sheep can testify that sheep are inclined to stray. They are not the smartest animals on the farm. And they are willing to follow just about anyone or anything. Certainly, in regard to spiritual matters, people behave a lot like sheep! People stray from the truth pretty easily. People are often quite ignorant of spiritual truths. People are prone to follow any voice that sounds good to them. People, like sheep, need a Shepherd. There is none better than the Shepherd God himself has provided in his Son. Today, let us understand why Jesus deserves the title. So, let us remember today that
Jesus Is Our Good Shepherd because …
He died for the sheep
He knows the sheep
He lives for the sheep
“I am the good shepherd.” We can speak about a piece of cake tasting good. We can get a 92% on a test and call that good. But God doesn’t call anything good unless it is perfect. Jesus is perfect and therefore worthy to be called “Good” Shepherd. The Father had said as much when he declared at both Jesus’ baptism and his transfiguration: “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” Surely Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
There is no better shepherd! Listen to the words of Psalm 23 and you will know why: “The Lord is my shepherd 1) I shall lack nothing. 2)He makes me lie down in green pastures 3) he leads me beside quiet waters, 4) He restores my soul 5) he guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 6) I will fear no evil, 7) for you are with me; 8) your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” … and on and on! The Lord said in Isaiah (40:11) about our Shepherd, “he gathers his lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” The Lord says in the book of Ezekiel says,
“I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.”
“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Here is the test of a good shepherd! In a sense, you could say David was a dedicated and loving shepherd. When a lion and a bear threatened his flock, he risked his life and killed them to protect his sheep. Jesus risked his life when he faced the temptations of Satan over and over again to save his sheep. Ultimately, Jesus did die to save his sheep. Jesus fought sin, death and the devil even to the cross and proclaimed his victory in the most unusual of circumstances – in his dying breath. He died for the sheep, but that would have meant nothing if he had not risen three days later.
Jesus said, “The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the 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.” Note the contrast. The hired hand is in it for the money. He has no investment in the sheep. He has no love or affection for them. You can almost hear him complaining about the lousy hours, the poor pay, and the smelly working conditions. It is understandable that a hired hand would turn tail and run at the first sign of danger.
What happens to the sheep? They are attacked. You can almost see the blood dripping from the fangs of the wolf who snatches a defenseless lamb. The rest of the flock scatters and – without a shepherd – they will die one way or another. My friends, real life- threatening danger seeks to destroy your soul. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The Pharisees of Jesus day had such an indifferent attitude toward the people. They were consumed by greed. They did not care about the people. Such is the case today with religious leaders who have no love for souls but who work only for a paycheck.
If no one cares for the people, they are defenseless against their own sinful flesh, the sinful world and Satan himself. Loving people is mandatory! We have to love the people God has brought under our care! But how do we protect people from themselves? How do we help those who don’t want to be helped? How do we rescue our members from spiritual danger when they don’t want to listen? Should we turn them over to a hired hand? Should we leave them alone with the wolves? We were those people once too, you know. What did Christ do? St. Paul wrote (Ro 5:8), “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus says here: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Point the people to Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus knows his sheep. He knows those sheep that are weak and need to be carried. He knows the ones who are sick. And he knows those who are healthy and strong. We have all those kinds of sheep in our congregation. A little later in this chapter he said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus knows us by experience. He knows everything about us – how many hairs on our heads he even says! He knows us by name. He knows our needs, our wants, our desires and our pain. Most importantly, he knows how to save us!
Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” The “other sheep” are out there waiting for us to share the gospel message with them. They live in danger daily because they are not under the care of Jesus. Jesus is searching for them through the gospel message you share with others. We cannot rest easy until all the “other sheep” are gathered together through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus knows his sheep and wants us to search for those that are lost!
There is one flock and one shepherd. This one flock is the holy Christian church to which you belong by faith in Christ Jesus. It is not to be identified with any one congregation or church body, but the Holy Christian Church is the sum total of everyone who believes in Jesus. Jesus is every believer’s one Shepherd. Jesus deserves to be called the Good Shepherd because he knows every one of his sheep.
Most importantly, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he lives for his sheep. Jesus said, “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” Jesus died at his own time and in his own way. Because our Good Shepherd is our God he has authority over life. He can die; and he can rise again because he is the author of life. While Jesus walked the face of the earth, he lived to do the will of his Father. He still does! He has authority over all matters of life and death just as his Father has said. If the author and fulfiller of life is watching over our life, what have we to worry about? Our sins are forgiven. We are safe.
Jesus lives to keep his church safe. He wants you to live your life with real purpose and meaning because he has guiding your life on the path that leads to heaven. This week we have heard a lot about Barbara Bush and all of her contributions to society. One clip was shown many times this week. It was when she gave a commencement address. She encouraged her listeners to find the joy in your life. Let Jesus be the joy in your life. We really live because our Good Shepherd died for us, knows us and lives for us! How proud we are to say and sing: “I am Jesus’ little Lamb.”