Sermons

Jesus Is The Good Shepherd

June 9, 2024 Speaker: Josh DeGroote Series: The I Am Statements of Jesus Christ

Topic: Jesus Christ Passage: John 10:10–18

We come to the fourth “I Am” statement of Jesus. Although all of scripture is equally inspired and fully God’s word, we feel a special sweetness when we hear the words our Lord spoke while he was on the earth. We hear the words of Jesus ring in our ears here in John 10, “I am the good shepherd”. In the bible, shepherds are seen often. And spiritual leaders are called shepherds. Moses and Aaron were called shepherds of Israel (Psalm 77). So was David (Psalm 78). Our English word pastor comes from the Greek word for shepherd. A pastor is a shepherd of a local flock or church. Peter calls the elders to:

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you… (1 Peter 5:2) 

The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that God would raise up shepherds after his own heart to feed his people with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15). So the idea of a spiritual shepherd is seen throughout the bible. But ultimately the Lord is seen as the shepherd. Psalm 23, the most beloved of all the psalms begins with these timeless and precious words,

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… 

The reason why these words and the rest of the psalm resonates so much with God’s people, and have for millennia is because it doesn’t take long for us to realize we need a Shepherd. Sheep need a shepherd. Lions don’t. Snakes don’t. But sheep do. And in the metaphor, we are sheep. We need a shepherd. Well, all of the human shepherds and every allusion to God as shepherd comes to the fullness of its expression in the Lord Jesus Christ. He declares:

I am the good shepherd… (v. 11, 14)

Jesus is the Lord of Psalm 23 who is our shepherd. Who leads us beside still waters, into green pastures,and on righteous paths. He is the One who goes with us through the valley of the shadow of death. He’s the One whose rod protects and whose staff disciplines. He is the One who prepares a banqueting table in the midst of our enemies. Who pursues us with his goodness and mercy all the days of our lives and will lead us into God’s house forever.

We are sheep and Jesus is just the shepherd we need. But what does Jesus say about himself here in John 10? What reasons does he give us for the claim, “I am the good shepherd”? Three things: The good shepherd has perfect knowledge, made a perfect sacrifice, which has a perfect result. 

Perfect Knowledge (v. 14-15)

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. (v. 14-15)

Jesus says, I know my sheep. I know them. This is more than mere mental grasp or cognitive remembrance. Certainly Jesus is saying, “I know who they are and where they are”. But the word “know” in the scriptures often refers to something far more significant. It is used in the context of sexual relations. In Genesis 4:1, it says, “Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived and bore a son (Cain)”. My point is that when a person knows another person, it means far more than knowing information about someone. So when Jesus says, “I know my sheep”, he is making a profound statement. He knows his sheep in a loving and redemptive and saving way. He knows his sheep in a covenantal and faithful way. 

In fact, one of the most sobering passages in all the bible is Matthew 7 when Jesus describes a group of people who claim to do all sorts of things in his name (prophesy, cast out demons, and mighty works), but in the end he will say to them,

I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:23)

Those are the worst words that will ever be heard… words that will ring in the ears of many for eternity. It is far more important that we can say “the Lord knows me” than to say, “I know the Lord”. Jesus knows his sheep. He knows them in an intimate, redemptive way. But then consider what Jesus compares this knowledge to:

I know my own and my own know me, just as the father knows me and I know the father…

Astounding! This is one of those mysteries that can never be plumbed completely! But think about this. How long have the Father and Son known each other? For all eternity. Is it possible that Christ has known us as his sheep in a saving way for all eternity? I think it is! Of course it is! We are told in Ephesians 1 that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). In other words, if you are a sheep. If you are His… He has loved you forever. But then, how well do the Father and Son know each other? Well, perfectly! There is nothing hidden, nothing unknown.  If you are one of Christ’s sheep, this should be a great comfort to you. He knows you inside and out. He knows you far better than you know yourself. 

Sometimes we go through life longing to be known and understood. Christ knows. He understands. 

He knows your name, where you are right now. He knows your thoughts, doubts, temptations, and sins. He knows your weaknesses. He knows your peculiar trials. He knows your battles and the scars you bear. He knows all of your losses, griefs, and pain - even the ones nobody else is aware of. He knows your tossings and the tears you have shed. Psalm 139:1-6 about sums it up:

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

He knows us. This can be daunting and even unsettling. To think that big brother knows everything about us is unsettling. But who are we talking about here? The good shepherd. The good shepherd has loved and known me for all eternity, knows me inside and out, and he calls me to follow Him and trust Him. The good shepherd has perfect knowledge

Perfect Sacrifice

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep. (v. 11)

Jesus made the perfect sacrifice. It’s perfect because it was done so willingly. Imagine if Jesus would have died in a reluctant way. Or if he had been forced to against his will. But no! Jesus said, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. In these words, you hear Christ’s personal, willing involvement in His death. He says it more forcefully later in verse 18 when he says,

No one takes [my life] from me. I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

He laid his life down because of the joy set before Him. He did so willingly. We need to have a way of thinking about biblical truth that is not one dimensional or two dimensional… but multi-dimensional. There are places in the scriptures that say Christ died at the hands of wicked men. That’s true. Then we see that Christ was delivered up by the Father to the cross. That’s true. But here the note that is struck is the willingness… dare I say, even the eagerness of the Shepherd to lay his life down. 

And it makes sense. Who did he lay his life down for? The sheep! The ones he knows so well and loves eternally and is faithful to covenantally. He laid his life down for them. Remember Jesus said, “I know my own just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay my life down for them.”  There is particularity in this. Jesus, the good shepherd did not merely make salvation possible with his sacrifice. It is not a hypothetical atonement or a potential atonement. No! The sacrifice of the Shepherd was perfect and effective for the sheep. 

In other words, his death didn’t just potentially save the sheep, but actually accomplished their salvation. It bore the wrath of God in their place, removed their sin, and accomplished redemption. We sing about: “My name was graven on his hands, my name was written on his heart.” Can people who reject Christ their whole lives and go to hell say that? I don’t think so! But the sheep can. These words are out of Isaiah 49:15-16, where God says:

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

This is beyond the pale. When the Lord Jesus Christ, the good shepherd went to the cross… when the nails were punched through his hands and feet, He had his sheep on his mind. He had you on his mind. As he hung on the cross gasping for air, He was there on your behalf. He was paying the ransom for your release. He was bearing wrath in your place. And when He uttered, “It is finished!” Paid in full. For His sheep it was paid in full. The good shepherd made a perfect sacrifice. 

 

Perfect Result

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (v. 16)

This is an interesting verse, packed with glory. Jesus, speaking to a Jewish audience says, I have other sheep not of this fold. I must bring them in too. What is this? Well, Jesus is a Missionary! His intention is made clear in this text that He plans and fully intends to bring in all His lost sheep wherever they may be scattered in the uttermost parts of the world, among all the nations of the world. David Livingstone. 

David Livingstone was the first European to cross the African continent from west to east and to discover the Zambesi River, the Victoria Falls and several major central African lakes. His publications about his explorations made him famous up to his death in 1873.

But he was a missionary too. He had a passion for the unreached peoples of the continent of Africa. Livingstone was buried in Westminster Abbey in London and written on his tombstone are the words of John 10:16: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; Them also I must bring.”  This verse provides a great foundation for understanding and trusting God’s missionary purpose in the world. Christ uses people to do the world, but it’s clear from this verse (and others), that will be successful. It is not ultimately dependent upon human beings.  Jesus says, “I must bring them, and they will listen to my voice”. Christ will be successful in his purpose of bringing in all His ransomed sheep in every nation under heaven. It’s why we hear this great song that begins with these words:

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…

Verse 16 verse also provides a great foundation for you, that you will make it to heaven if Christ is your Shepherd. I read these verses last week, but it is fitting to bring them in again because Jesus means to keep his sheep and for his sheep to trust their Shepherd can do so. Verses 27-30 say,

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 

And if any sheep tries to jump out, the Shepherd will grab that sheep. We were hiking in the Black Hills when I was 6-7 years old. I was walking way too close to the edge. My dad told me a couple times to get away, but I didn’t listen. Eventually, I slipped and started sliding down a pretty steep decline. What did my dad do? He came over and grabbed me - like every good parent. Jesus Christ, the good shepherd will accomplish a perfect result. All of his sheep will hear his voice and follow Him.

 

The good shepherd knows his sheep perfectly, offers a perfect sacrifice for them, and will get all of them and keep them eternally. I have two points of application. 

First, if Christ is your Shepherd, consider how blessed you are. He is my shepherd who knows me inside and out… cares about my battles and scars. He laid his life down for me. He will keep me and join me with all the other sheep as part of one flock. If you find yourself in the midst of a severe test of faith, let this truth rise over you like a mighty banner: The Lord Jesus Christ is my good shepherd, I shall not want

And if you are facing a strong enemy, don’t fear. What does the good shepherd do? He prepares a table for you in the presence of that enemy. And when you are near the end of life, entering the valley of the shadow of death, don’t fear. Your shepherd will be there with you. But in the meantime, he will hound you with goodness and mercy all the days of your life. Consider how blessed you are!

Second, if Christ is your Shepherd, be sure you are following Him. I fear there are many who would call themselves sheep, but have no interest in following the Shepherd. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me”. And whether he is leading in green pastures or through a storm, follow Him. Whether he is leading beside quiet waters or through what seems like a parched land, follow Him. 

So are you following Him? Is it your desire to be following the Lord Jesus? Daily trusting and obedient? You can be sure that he will always lead you according to his word, and never contrary to it. He will certainly lead you contrary to your fleshly desires, but never contrary to scripture. You can also rest assured that he will never lead you into sin, but on the path of holiness. He leads you into truth and holiness. Are you following Him? This is an all-important question. 

And if you find that you are not following the good shepherd, stop what you’re doing. Repent. Trust the good shepherd. For all who trust him will find him to be the good and perfect Shepherd and Savior. Let’s pray. 

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