Message: Part 4: Jesus is Your Shepherd
Scripture Text: John 10:11, 14
1. We’re beginning the season of Lent this week,and throughout we will be in the Gospel of John.
a. There are 7 “I Ams” statements spread throughout John’s Gospel and they are the glue which holds it together.
b. We are going to spend each week through Easter looking at an “I Am” statement in the order they appear in John’s gospel and how they have the power to unfreeze your faith and draw you into intimate relationship with God.
2. The next “I Am” in our list happens in John 10.
a. Read John 10:11
b. Unlike the rest of the “I Am’s,” this one is intertwined with another: “I Am The Door” or “Sheepfold Gate.” They’re not just side-by-side, they overlap.
i. Jesus is both the place built for the purpose of protecting the sheep from thieves and predators AND the person charged with keeping the flock safe and together.
ii. A shepherd was employed to watch and protect sheep as they made their way to and fed in pasturelands.
1. This was challenging, as sheep have
a strong flocking instinct and a diet which makes them want to eat constantly.
2. Left to their own devices, they’ll obliviously wander and eat their way into danger
c. Like the other “I Am’s”, I think this one also makes a connection with the Old Testament story of Moses & Exodus: when God delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt and protected them on their journey home to the Promised Land.
i. Moses began life as an Egyptian Prince, but became a shepherd when he went into exile.
1. He functioned as a shepherd for the Hebrew flock throughout the Exodus, guiding them to safe pasture and constantly concerned for their protection.
2. He even continued to carry his shepherd’s staff during his 2nd career.
ii. Beyond Moses, God is portrayed as a shepherd throughout the Bible, guiding and protecting his people, often described as sheep constantly wandering into harm’s way.
3. So here’s Jesus claiming the role of the good Shepherd for himself. Just in case we missed it, he repeats the statement 3 verses later.
a. Let’s stop here for a moment and ask a question: Would you say you don’t really need a shepherd? Or maybe you believe you already have one?
i. Then it’s going to take some convincing to take Jesus up on his offer. Let’s see how he does with that.
b. The first time he makes the statement and adds the “lays down his life” part it’s hard not to see him hanging on the cross.
i. The key word in the statement is “for.” It’s the Greek word “huper” which means above and beyond.
ii. A key Christian belief is that Jesus didn’t just die an admirable, martyr’s death but one that went above and beyond himself: specifically to make a complete and perfect atonement for the way humanity has rebelled against and rejected God’s leadership.
iii. One commentator called this “the center of the center” of the cross: Jesus the Shepherd completely sold out for the salvation and deliverance of God’s flock to safety.
c. But it’s the 2nd time Jesus makes the statement that seals the deal for me, when he talks about the connection the shepherd makes with the sheep. He “knows” them and they “know” him.
i. The Greek word “ginosko,” is less about intellectual or objective knowledge as it is about experiential, subjective knowing.
ii. Humans are profoundly social, and knowing we are personally and relationally known makes a big impact on us.
1. Psychologist Willem Hofstee’s research showed that subconsciously we tend to be more influenced by ‘informants’ than we are by ‘self-reports.’
a. In other words, we seem to instinctively know that those we are close to know us better than we know ourselves.
2. Studies show that if someone believes they are anxious, untalented or dumb, but important people tell them otherwise, they’ll actually perform more like what their friends say than what they believe about themselves.
iii. So Jesus does the whole “I’m the Savior of the World” thing but doesn’t stop there: he looks at you and says “I know you better than you know yourself.
1. You think you’re in this alone. You think you’re a failure. You think you know best. I know different.
2. And if you know me you’ll also know and live the fullness of YOU.”
iv. As it turns out the still waters and green pastures, the fearing no evil in the valley of the shadow of death, is YOU. And Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has come to lead you there.
4. So I ask again: is this really something you don’t need? Have you found something or someone who can Shepherd you to the extent that Jesus promises?
a. And for those of you who let Jesus be your Shepherd – how has that worked out?
b. Also for those who are following Shepherd Jesus: don’t miss the fact that he has handed his staff to you.
i. At the end of John’s gospel, the Post-Cross, Resurrected Jesus took aside the disciple Peter and said “feed my lambs, tend my sheep.”
ii. Our task is to know each other, to help each other see our best selves and keep each other safe.
5. About this ever-present light is like a 100-degree sunny day for a block of ice. It has the power to unfreeze your faith.
a. Each week I’m going to give you three ‘thaw levels’ for Jesus to unfreeze you now and over coming week – if you’re willing to go there.
b. Warm: Who or what is your life’s Shepherd? Honestly evaluate how that has worked out for you so far.
c. Medium: Make a list of all the things which can be known about you – good and bad including things hidden. Now think about how Jesus says he knows all this and still went to the cross for you. Does this make you want to know him more or less?
d. Hot: How is Jesus using you to shepherd others? Do you make it your mission to “know” others as Jesus does? How you can make this a focus this week?