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The Good Shepherd, Part 2

From the series Jesus Is...

We all know the verse “The Lord is my shepherd” from Psalm 23. And those words probably conjure up an image of a mild-mannered Jesus gently holding a little lamb. But is that it? Are those ideas accurate to who Jesus really is? In this program, Chip will clarify this name for us as he picks up his study in the Gospel of John. Discover the ways Jesus cares for, protects, and guides us as our Good Shepherd.

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Message Transcript

We pick it up in chapter 10. “Verily, I say to you, Pharisees, anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs up by some other was, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has brought them out to his own, he goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they don’t recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Now get this, “Jesus used this figure of speech,” or this parable, “but the Pharisees did not understand what He was telling them.” And so, He’s going to explain, verses 7 through 10.

“Therefore Jesus said to them, “Verily, verily, I tell you, I am the gate,” or, “the door for the sheep."

And then He goes on and talks about the thief comes to kill and to destroy and to rob, “but I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

And so, He says: I’m a good shepherd. I want to help you. I want to deliver you. I want you to have someone that you can call on anytime.

Now, notice he’s going to say now he’s the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

And so, in your notes, I made three observations out of this passage.

The first is He offers his life for us. Jesus would later say in Mark chapter 10, “For the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and give His life for a ransom of many.”

Jesus would remind you that He had to be perfectly God and perfect humanity and that He would voluntarily go to the cross and lay down His life and die in your place – the word is atone – to cover your sin.

Of all the things I think that may take a lifetime to grasp and understand is just how much God loves us.

How, how do I actually see God? What is He like? Is He for me? Is He kind? Is He compassionate? Does He see where I mess up and where I struggle and where I get so frustrated? And is He patient? Is He fair? Is He dependable? Is He holy? Is He really just?

And then notice the good shepherd reveals His identity not only as Savior but as God. “The Jews who heard these things were divided.” So, it’s just like today, right? People hear this story of Jesus and His amazing love. And, yet, some people think He’s a teacher, a liar, a philosopher. And others would believe He is the Savior of the world.

And the Jews who were gathered around Him were saying, ‘How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’”

And notice Jesus’ response. He said, “I did tell you, but you don’t believe Me because you’re not My sheep. My sheep listen to My voice. I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; and no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than I; and no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” And then in verse 30, “I and the Father are one.”

He doesn’t say, “We are one person,” He’s saying we are one essence. This is, He is saying that, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.”

And then skip down to verse 39, “Again they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp. And then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. And there He stayed,” now notice, “and many people came to Him and they said, ‘Though John never performed a sign or a miracle, all that John said about this man was true.’ And in that place many believed in Jesus.”

And so, you have two very vivid responses. And what I’d like to do with the rest of our time is ask you a question. And then I want to walk through something really, really practically. Do you believe? Have you put your faith in Christ? And if you have put your faith in Christ, do you see Him as your shepherd helping you moment by moment, day by day where you have this ongoing relationship where when you have a struggle, when you have a problem rather than making a phone call, you actually have developed the means and the way to connect with Him so He can guide and direct you? That’s a really, really important question.

And so, let me tell you, when Jesus said this, the Jews were very familiar with the Old Testament, obviously. Memorized major portions. I would like to say Jesus wants to be your good shepherd and out of Psalm 23, which they would have all known on the back of their hand, let me share with you what that would mean.

Number one, it means Jesus wants to meet your deepest needs. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” or be in need. Your needs for significance and security and purpose and acceptance, we all have them, right?

And so, the world around us says your work and what other people think and success and fame and sex and power – we spend so much energy trying to, what, find significance and security and purpose and peace. And Jesus says: Let Me be your shepherd.

Second, Jesus wants to restore your soul. It says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” We get our word psychology, or the little word soul is their psyche. It’s the deepest part of you. He says to you and to me, “He’ll make you…” He’ll actually, at times, allow consequences and difficulties and struggles when you’re complaining against God, “Why did You allow this to happen?” He actually will allow certain things at certain times that you think are the worst in the world to get your attention to make you lie down to get you to stop long enough to actually think about, What are you doing with your life? Where are you trying to find life? In whom or what are you trying to find life? And He’ll pause and He’ll make you lie down and He’ll take you to a place where you can hear His voice.

And sometimes the way He does that is hard, but He wants to lead you to some quiet waters, to give you peace instead of anxiety and fear and insecurity and uncertainty.

We are human. We are going to have those things, but Jesus says: Let Me guide and be your shepherd. Jesus says: As your shepherd, I want to guide and direct your life.

It says, “He guides me in paths of righteousness.” And notice, “For His name’s sake.” He wants our lives to be one that as people get to know us, it would honor Him, it would reflect Him. He wants to help you make the right decision, He wants you to help to get connected with the right person and whether that’s a roommate or whether that’s the right boss or the right friends or perhaps the right mate. He wants to help you to get on the right path and His paths lead to life.

And then notice He wants to protect you from evil. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” it says, “I will fear no evil.” He says, “Why?” “Because You are with me.” You are with me.

Some of you are parents, some of us have been parents and now grandparents for a long time and when little kids are afraid in the middle of the night, what do they do? They climb in bed with you is what they do.

And what’s amazing is within usually about sixty seconds, they are asleep and then you’re not for the next few hours. But there’s just something about snuggling up to someone who is powerful and strong and who promises and you know loves you and will take care of you. Jesus said: Would you let me shepherd you like that?

It says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It’s a picture of a banquet. Really, it’s a picture of a feast. David has now taken this picture and he goes: Even in the midst of conflict and challenges and pain and difficulty, in the presence of my enemies, there’s going to be moments of feasting, of joy, of…

And he goes, “You have anointed my head with oil.” Like, if you would go to a big party, you would get all cleaned up. Like, in our vernacular, you take a shower, you put on some nice clothes, you put on some perfume, a little bit of cologne. You look sharp. And then you’re going to sit down to an amazing, lavish buffet and you’re going to do it with friends that you want to hang out with and it’s going to be just an amazing time.

And that little phrase, “My cup overflows,” it’s a picture of lavish abundance. And then he says, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

I think one of the greatest lies that we believe, at least I have struggled with and, you know, I’ve been pastoring at this thing now for about four decades and so I have – it’s crazy to think that you’ve had thousands of counseling sessions. But, you know, there’s just a pattern after all these years - “That’s a bad relationship. This is a good one,” “but I can’t let go of it.” “This is not a good pattern, this is not helping you.” “It’s this addiction, but I can’t let go of it.”

Something down deep in our brokenness is so afraid because we don’t believe God is good. We don’t really believe someone who is all-knowing, all-powerful, who laid down His life for you to demonstrate objectively His love, really has a better plan for you being around the right people, in the right job, in the right situation.

And when He asks you to make a decision that feels very risky with your future or your relationships or your money, we just sort of sluff it off because we fear, right? Of missing out. And so, we get distracted and we scroll and we stay busy.

My favorite verse, if you kind of hear me teach, it just keeps coming back. But, “The Lord God is a sun and a shield. The Lord gives grace and glory;” and the last line, what a promise, “no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

You don’t get God’s best by trying hard. You get God’s best by trusting Him deeply and obeying. And in a world that we live in, obeying Jesus and following Him will mean you live an upstream life, even among many Christians.

To be sexually pure in our day, are you kidding? To give the first and best of your time and your talents and your treasure? To give to others through Jesus, really? To give your life away in order to find it? To not think, Me, me, me, now, now, now, but have an eternal perspective?

If you don’t believe He is good, those are ridiculous things to do. And, yet, it’s the way to life. It’s the way to joy.

And, finally, He says: I want to meet your deepest needs, I want to restore your soul, I want to guide and direct your life, I want to protect you from evil, I want to fill you with joy. And I want to give you eternal life. He says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord,” you might circle the word, “forever.” Forever. Forever.

I think as a culture we have never been more close to someone you actually know dying. It’s jolting. It’s sobering. But we are all going to die. And I have seen the most hardened people that were anti-God in all the world near the very end of their life cry like little babies, “Is it too late? Is it too late? Is it too late? I’ve squandered my life.” People in philosophical arguments and intellectual moments can say all they want. Get cancer and hear you’ve got thirty days to live and you will think very differently about life, about God, about heaven, about hell, about future, about what you believe and why.

We’ve been brought up in a world that we are very pseudo sophisticated. Most of us have done very little research about truth claims and we have developed a little salad bar of, “I believe this of that and this of that and a little bit of that, a little bit of this.” And unconsciously, as one author puts it, we have developed the epistemology of what I call “the sovereign self.”

I know what’s best for me because obviously I’ve done all this research about everything in life. And I know all about philosophy and all the religions and all the issues. And the fact of the matter is we have a pop culture mindset and have thought very shallow thoughts about most deep things.

And Jesus would say in the midst of all that: Would you let Me be your shepherd? If you have never turned from your sin and followed Me with all your heart, would you do that today? That’s not me, that’s Jesus to you.

And if you are a follower of Jesus and just find, like every sheep, sheep are stupid, lonely, can’t feed themselves. I hate to say this, but God calls us sheep, right? They can’t find water on their own, they can’t defend themselves, they are in desperate need. And the only sheep that end up in trouble are those that aren’t dependent. The ones that stay close to the shepherd are in great shape. The ones that drift are the ones that find themselves in great danger.

And I, at least like many of you, have had many seasons of drifting. Sometimes God brings us together to remind you, you know, get back to some of those basics. Address some of those things that He’s been speaking to you about.

And so, our Father, we are so grateful that You are a good God. And we are stubborn sheep. And, Lord, You are well aware of every life, every heart, every issue, every struggle. Our hearts are laid bare before You. And so, I pray for those that, on this day, You brought into this room to let them know that You love them, You have laid down Your life for them, You have risen from the dead, and You offer them right now eternal life. That sitting in their chair they might cry out in the depths of their heart, Oh God, I need You. I am not perfect. I have done things wrong. I need Your forgiveness. Please, right now, forgive me based on Jesus’ work on the cross. Today I believe You, Jesus, died in my place. Today I believe You rose from the dead. I receive You. Thank You. Now, help me to walk with You.

And, Lord, for my fellow sojourners, some of us who have drifted and know that we need to realign our priorities, would You help us to believe that You’re good? And whatever it is that You’re speaking to us about obedience, would You help us to obey You? Because You said the Father loved You because You laid down Your life. And You said that we are Your friends because we obey, we trust. And that’s the conduit to get Your best.