September 18

John 14

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

(ESV)

September 17

John 13

13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

(ESV)

September 16

John 12

12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,


15   “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
  behold, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:


  “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,


40   “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart,
  lest they see with their eyes,
    and understand with their heart, and turn,
    and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

(ESV)

September 15

John 11

11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

(ESV)

Going Deeper

Going Deeper

The Good Shepherd  (9-13-14)

Going Deeper is a weekend devotion intended to help you go deeper into a scripture you spent time in during the week.  We pray this is simply another way for you to dig into God’s word. May your affections for Him be stirred and your soul sanctified for all He has prepared for you.

Grab your bible and let’s go deeper into John 10:1-16

Jesus has just had a lengthy exchange with the religious hierarchy of the day (the Pharisees) over the healing of a blind man in

John 9

9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

(ESV)

. Jesus is going to take the conversation to a different topic— a well-known topic in that day—one of “Shepherds and sheep!”

In that day the Middle East often referred to kings and priests as shepherds and their subjects as sheep.  The Old Testament text that many of the Jews grew up studying is filled with important men who were shepherds; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. So it was very fitting for Jesus to use this platform of sheep and shepherds as his metaphor for his next two proclamations.

Read: John 10:1-6   

The location he is describing is a Sheepfold!  A sheepfold was a roofless enclosure in an open field, most likely with a wall made of rough stones, and with a sturdy door for access.  A robber or a thief who did not belong would not have had a key to the door or access to go through it if the gatekeeper did not know him.  So to take what was not theirs, thieves would have had to jump over the wall.

IN THE MOMENT

Jesus is talking about the religious leaders who were trying to illegitimately gain mastery over the Jewish people.  They would have used a number of tactics to convince and sway the people toward them and in doing so avoid the door for access— and try to discredit the true shepherd from ministering to his flock.

Read: John 10:7-10   

Jesus is talking about his work to bring his people back to a restored life with Him!  He is saying, “I, GOD, am here to give you access to the abundant life that I originally made for you.” Jesus is making it very clear, in the midst of these thieves and robbers: “I am telling you the truth.  I am real, deep, lasting, Life!  Through me ‘the gate…the door’ is where you will find LIFE!”

How is this Good News to us?

JESUS IS LIFE! 

This understanding is everything! 

Why is it so hard for us to get this? One reason, I think, is the same problem Jesus fought against in his day—the religious institutions have taught for too long something else.  We have been raised to see Jesus as the Provider FOR life…instead of Realizing God’s pure design: that Jesus IS life!

Think for a second about those who have snuck over the wall and tried to convince you they were your shepherd.  Who are the thieves and robbers in your life?

  • a parent who told you weren’t worth anything by the way they treated you or treated themselves (drinking, drugs, gambling, workaholic)
  • a “Friend” who convinced you to make a lame decision that cost you a lot
  • a lover who used you for your care, your time, your body
  • a drug that has plagued your life with a lust for it instead of godly things
  • a form of media that has you entranced with its images or sounds and seems to consume you day and night
  • a career goal that has you trapped pursuing motorcycles, and awards, and paychecks that never seems to last or be enough

Jesus is saying, “Those people and things are not life!” Jesus is saying, “follow me and I will bring you to pasture…I am life…my motive is pure and my ability to keep my promise is golden.   The thief’s motive is wicked: it is to use you selfishly until you don’t provide any longer and then be done with you!”

Read again: John 10:1

  • The thief didn’t have the key, and didn’t know the gatekeeper…So why do we trust people like this in our lives?

Read again: John 10: 2-3

We love being called by name…we love being known, don’t we? Do you realize Jesus knows you better than your best friend, your very own mother?  He knows you better than you know yourself!  For many of you that is a frightening thought, because you don’t like what you know about yourself.

  • The good News is: HE knows YOU…and he still showed up to redeem you!   Why?  To bring you home.  To invite you to LIVE!   Are you listening to his voice?

Notice it says “he leads them out.”  He doesn’t drive us like most Shepherds do with their flock, HE leads and we follow!

Read again: John 10:4-5

Again, are you trusting a stranger?  Who are your going to for your guidance in life?

Read again: John 10:7

What is the function of a gate or a door?   Entrance!

Read again: John 10:9

THROUGH”   I want to focus on this very important word…

Again, Why is it GOOD NEWS TO US when Jesus says that he is the gate?  Because he is saying LIFE is found in me…THROUGH me!  It is vitally important that we all get this:  what seems simple and basic here is life altering.

Life is defined two ways: One is super misleading; one is everything!

  • Life #1: Physical Life (your birthdate until now.)
  • Life #2: Spiritual LIFE (the moment you enter the gate who is Jesus Christ and surrender to his leading until forever!)

We must STOP treating JESUS like he is an add-on to our already existing life…a get out of HELL free carda genie in a lamp to answer your most pressing problems…a supplier of all of life’s needed tools and resources.  START living life THROUGH Jesus every moment, Realize: HE IS LIFE!

“We must go to war with consumer Christianity”

Read again: John 10:9

When Jesus says come in and out, he is not saying, “Hey come and visit me sometimes, and at other times you can go off by yourself.”  He is saying that THROUGH ME you do life…the in and out…daily little and big things of life.  He is saying, “IN Me, THROUGH ME you are ALIVE…so live!  Enjoy the Pasture I am to you!”

Read: Romans 6:23

Read again: John 10:10

­Only through JESUS will we experience the abundant life.  I hope you see this like you have never seen it before.

The Abundant Life is not Heaven; it is not a prosperous temporary life in the here and now. IT IS LIFE WITH GOD.

He is our prize, our joy, our strength, our satisfaction.  He is all we need and could ever truly want! 

Read again: John 10:11-14

WHAT DOES THIS TEACH US ABOUT JESUS?

There are two very important things here in the text:

  1. I KNOW my sheep

Before we go further we have to acknowledge that if he is the Shepherd then We are sheep!  But, why sheep?

Of all the animal kingdom, which are you and I most like? There are several different opinions these days:

-Charles Darwin claimed that the monkey was the nearest animal to man

– Biologists tend to think that man is most like a mouse or a rat.

-Some scientists say that we are a lot like ants or bees because like humans they are social creatures that live in highly structured societies.

-Others have recently compared people to dolphins because of the similar ratio of brain mass to body size.

So why is it that in the Bible we are MOST often compared to SHEEP?  David, the psalmist, a shepherd himself, employed this analogy repeatedly.  In Psalm 100:3 he said, “…we are [God’s] people and the SHEEP of His pasture.”  In Psalm 77:2 he wrote, “God, You lead Your people like a flock…”  In Psalm 79:13says, “We, Your people, the sheep of Your pasture will give You thanks forever.”  In Psalm 23, his most popular Psalm containing this comparison, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd…” Throughout the Bible we see this same parallel drawn between man and sheep.  Isaiah 40:11 says that God, “…tends His flock like a Shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that are with young.”  I believe this God inspired comparison is in His word so often because, of all the animals God created, the species that most NEEDS guidance is SHEEP.

Now what do we know about sheep?

I- on the whole we know SHEEP are pretty stupid and stubborn animals.   Ask yourself, have you ever seen a group of trained sheep in a circus? Of course not. You’ve seen trained apes and even trained mice or rats or dolphins but not sheep.

And you probably never will because sheep are just too simple-minded.

II- Sheep are dirty and wayward.  Real sheep aren’t like those clean, fluffy balls of cotton depicted on greeting cards. And if you’ve ever seen the southern end of a northbound herd, you’ll know why. They can’t keep themselves clean, and they smell atrocious.  Plus, they tend to wander off easily, perhaps because they can’t see very far—less than 15 yards. And, no matter how many times you bring wayward sheep back, they are prone to wander off again because they don’t learn from their mistakes.

III – Sheep are defenseless and dependent. They don’t have much of a bite.  No natural defense, no claws, no horns, no fangs, not even a stink bag like a skunk. To make matters worse they are top-heavy and their legs are spindly. This makes them slow.

IV-Sheep are also susceptible to all kinds of diseases.  They will eat too much if you let them and get sick. They are definitely not your king-of-the-forest types.

V- Sheep are easily frightened and confused. It doesn’t take much to scramble the simple mental yolk of a nervous sheep. They’ve even been known to plunge straight over the edge of a high precipice in a panic, one following right after another.

Now, God doesn’t compare us to sheep so often in His Word to put us down.  He makes this comparison in His book so often because He wants to communicate one very important truth to us. He wants us to know that we are designed to NEED a Guide in life.  We need a Shepherd with a “rod and a staff” to protect us.

So when we read scriptures like

Isaiah 53:6   We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…

Mark 9:36  “When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

we should be reminded that we have an inborn need for a Shepherd.  So, When Jesus says: “I am the good Shepherd”   He is really saying:  I am the only One who is qualified for this task.

In

John 11:3

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

(ESV)

we read that Jesus knows us by name and in

John 11:14

14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,

(ESV)

we read that He knows us like no other guide could possibly know us!  He is not some stranger—some hired hand—some substitute teacher paid to do the job. NO, Jesus knows us.   And when we are honest with ourselves we want to be known by him!

Did you know the relationship between sheep and shepherds was different in Palestine than in other parts of the world? For example, in Britain most sheep are kept for killing and eating but in Palestine most sheep were kept for their wool or milk. So in the land of the Bible, the sheep were often with a shepherd for years—many times from birth throughout their entire lives. Those shepherds KNEW their sheep and gave them names!

This leads us to a deeper understanding of Shepherds; shepherds know their sheep and go to great lengths to acquire them and care for them.   WHY? Because their investment into a flock is their life.

It is super important that shepherds know their sheep well.  Sheep are the most helpless of the all the animals.  They are not smart at all.  They will follow each other like no other animal.  Most animals enjoy and grow in their freedom, but not sheep.  They lose direction and purpose.

So, what is Jesus saying by comparing us to sheep?  He is saying:   “We are utterly Spiritually Dependent!”

Just look at the way we do life!  We are constantly making lame choices…that reap harvests of failure.

One of the ways we get by in life is that we don’t know everything about each other—because if we did, if people knew the depths of who we are and the darkness of some of our life—people would turn on us.  So, out of fear, we keep a certain level of distance.  We don’t want to be known deep down for fear of not having anyone stand by us anymore.

Here is the kicker about Jesus being the true Shepherd…he knows his sheep…he knows us inside and out and instead of turning and running when he gets close to our baggage and stink he does the unthinkable…HE lays down his life!

Read again: John 10:11-13

  1. I LAY DOWN MY LIFE for my sheep

The hired hand runs, the true shepherd will go to great lengths to defend his flock.

Here is what we must understand about sheep: even though they were dumb, they were super valuable! Every part of a sheep can be used for great profit and utility! This is why it was not uncommon for a shepherd to leave the 99 and chase after the 1!

But Jesus says not me…when the wolves come…I love my sheep so much I become the LAMB myself!   I lay down my life for the sheep. The Greek preposition used here for the English word “for” means “in the place of.” So what Jesus is saying is not what it first seems. At first glance it looks like Jesus is calling us dumb lost animals incapable of anything. But what it is really saying is we are so valuable—so loved—he breaks all logic wide open and dies for us so that the wolves will not get us!

WHY?  So we can have LIFE!    Again who Jesus is to us…He is LIFE!

Now, we NEED a Shepherd, but God has also designed in us that we BE Shepherds to those around us. The same way that Jesus is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD!   When we have JESUS IN us we are called to be THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD TO those around us!  JEUS IS NOT HERE IN BODILY FORM, he has chosen to live in his people and move and work though this people!

I want us to turn to Ezekiel because I want us to see how we can tend to resist this amazing opportunity to lead as Shepherds to those around us.  As we read in Ezekiel 34, understand and remember the rulers of the people where often called shepherds.  They were to be strong caring leaders who guarded their nation like a flock.  But they were failing and so God sent his Prophet to speak against the false actions of the SHPEHERDS of the day.

Read: Ezekiel 34:1-3

False Practice #1—Selfishness: They did not serve the flock as their first priority.  They put their own interests first above those they were called to lead.   They had added to their wealth at the expense of the common people.

Read: Ezekiel 34:4

False Practice #2—Apathy: They treated the people harshly and failed to care for them and their health.  A good shepherd will lead his sheep to food, protect them from attack, nurse them to health and look for them if they get lost! Instead the false shepherds ruled harshly and brutally!

Read: Ezekiel 34:5-6

False Practice #3—Absence: They had complete disregard for their people’s whereabouts and let them be scattered without looking for them. In shepherd life the scattering of the sheep was the worse thing possible because they were so dumb and not able to find their way back together. Additionally they were so hard to round up!

In the old testament the rulers (shepherds) failed at keeping the tribes (the sheep) together. Israel and Judah were scattered all over by the Babylonian and Assyrian Armies.   Likewise today we have a culture that is scattered.  Whereas once we were part of a culture founded on Christian teachings and morals, today we have the first generation that has a major component not connected to the church or the ways of God at all. This is affecting our kids and the following generations in major ways!  We have to stop the bleeding and return to our first love…returning the flock to the good shepherd!

The fact that they were false shepherds meant that the flock had no real shepherd.  So there are three main ways the Shepherds were blowing it:

A False Shepherd:       1. Selfish           2.  Apathetic            3. Absent  

A Good Shepherd:       1. Sacrificial      2.  Caring                 3. Present

The Good Shepherd:               

  1. Lays Down his life
  2. Leads us to pasture and provision
  3. Isn’t just present but knows us at depths we don’t know ourselves

NOW, there are two other people we can choose to be lead by or be exposed to:

The Hired Hand – The hired hand is uncommitted!  He leads with the wrong motives.

Purpose: to put in the minimum effort in order to get by and get paid!

The Thief/Robber/WOLF – The three are all the same!   Nothing but a pure lie!

Purpose: to kill, steal and destroy!

Because we are sheep we will always end up following someone.  Soldiers!  As independent as you long to be, as strong willed as you are, we are still SHEEP in need of a SHEPHERD! The question is : Which of the 4 choices are you following?

-A False Shepherd- someone who has acted as a lead in your life but has lead you poorly

-A Hired Hand-someone who is put in a position over you in life but has no real interest in your growth or well-being.   Instead, he leads out of duty

-A thief/Robber/Wolf-someone who has lied to you and somehow gained your trust with all intentions to use you and then throw you out

-The Good Shepherd-the only one who knows you inside and out and still loves you with a greater commitment than anyone you have ever known. He proved his love by laying down his life so that you could live and grow and enjoy HIM!

What kind of shepherd will you be to those God has entrusted to your care?

a thief who will use and abuse those who follow you

a Hired hand who will run when it gets hard

a godly Shepherd who will lie down, who invests into others in a sacrificial, caring and present way!

Back in EZEKIEL … GOD Promised that because the rulers of the day failed in being Good Shepherds … he would step in and care for the Sheep himself!

Read: Ezekiel 34:11-16

Jesus says:   I am the Good Shepherd!

WHY IS THIS GOOD NEWS to you and me?

Read:  Psalm 23

“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD…”     Do you get the subtle emphasis there? GOD WON’T BE your shepherd until He becomes your LORD. Are you following and living for the GOOD SHEPHERD or someone else? Shepherds lead, sheep follow.   He won’t lead you until you commit your life to follow Him.

by His grace and for His glory,

-Shepherd

Soldiers for Jesus MC

Bakersfield CA