Text: John 10:1-16, 27-29
Summary: When you listen for Jesus’ voice and follow Him, Jesus Himself promises many things to you in John 10.
- He will save you (10:9)
- He will lead you (10:3-4)
- He will feed you (10:9)
- He will give you abundant life (10:10)
- He will lay down His life for you (10:11)
- He will never leave you nor forsake you (10:12)
- He will fight for you (10:13-15)
- He will look for you when you’re lost (10:16)
- He will keep you for all eternity (10:27-29)
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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.
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.
Father, we thank you for these words. And today, as we sang, we want to focus on Jesus. He is our Good Shepherd. Jesus is our Great Shepherd. Jesus is our Chief Shepherd. And so we want to bring all of our attention and our focus on the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. We are sheep who listen for the Shepherd’s voice. Today, Lord, all of us as sheep are listening for your voice. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen
Well, thank you, Matthew, for the singing. You really confirmed the message already. And if you were not at the talk on Wednesday, I will post the message along with the recording of everyone’s brainstorming. This is part two of what we covered on Wednesday at the prayer meeting.
Jesus is our capital ‘S’ Shepherd. He is our Good Shepherd. He’s our Great Shepherd. He’s our Chief Shepherd. He is the capital ‘S’ Shepherd. One question I want to pose is, what’s the difference between Jesus our Shepherd and human leaders, the lowercase ‘s’ shepherd, like pastors, elders and overseers?
There are 18 occurrences of the word ‘shepherd’ in Scripture. Four of them are literal shepherds. Remember at the birth of Christ, you had literal shepherds coming to celebrate the birth of Jesus. So let’s just scratch those. So there’s a remaining 14 references to shepherd. There’s one reference to a pastor who is called a shepherd in Ephesians 4:11. But the other 13 references to shepherd. Guess who it’s talking about? Jesus.
Jesus is the main person we are to think about when the word “shepherd” is expressed. In John 10, there are many places where Jesus describes himself as a good shepherd. In Hebrews 13:20, Jesus is described as a great shepherd. The word for ‘great’ in the original Greek is ‘mega’ which is where we get the English word ‘mega.’ He’s the Mega Shepherd. And then you have the Chief Shepherd in 1 Peter 5.
So Capital S Shepherd, that is who we’re supposed to think of when the word shepherd is used. Even in 1 Pet 2:25, Jesus is the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul. And so there are pastors, elders, and overseers. There are lowercase a shepherds. But we must not confuse what our role is and what His role is. He is the Good Shepherd for all of us. He is the Great Shepherd for all of us. He is the Chief Shepherd for all of his sheep. We are all his sheep.
Before we focus on the Chief Shepherd, let’s talk about the lowercase ‘s’ shepherds – the pastors, elders and overseers.
5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
The qualifications of elders and deacons in the church are almost exactly the same. The one distinction is in the area of teaching. We must be able to teach sound doctrine, and we must protect the teaching of the church by rebuking and correcting those who are not teaching properly. Those who are introducing chaos and disorder and strange teachings were to stop that kind of teaching within the church. So the ministry of a pastor or an elder and overseer is a teaching ministry and a protection of God’s teaching in the church.
What is the content of our teaching?
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
And so what is the content of our teaching as lowercase ‘s’ shepherds, as pastors, elders, overseers? It is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And so if somebody says, I have a new revelation, you already know that’s a false teacher. Or, I have something that God uniquely taught me and no one else in the church knows about it, then you already know that it is a strange teaching. Get away from that person. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same apostles’ teaching that is recorded for us in the New Testament is our teaching. It is about Jesus. He has never changed and the content of our teaching is about Jesus Christ.
In addition to being a teacher, protecting the teaching and teaching the content, which is Jesus Christ who has never changed, what else do lowercase ‘s’ shepherds do?
1 Pet 5
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…
In addition to teaching and protecting the teaching, defending and rebuking false teaching, and keeping the content of our teaching clear, as it is Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever, the one additional thing that Peter does as a fellow elder is that he does not raise himself as an apostle. He could have said, I’m the number one elder. He doesn’t do that, he says, I’m a fellow elder. If you pressed him a little more, I think he would say he’s a fellow believer. He’s a fellow sheep.
He is not the shepherd of God’s sheep. If you see Peter’s life, it is clear that we are not to focus on Peter the person. He is not the shepherd. He’s like one of us. He is frail, he is weak. He gets lost at times, he says foolish things at times. He is not the focal point of the church. Peter would say, I am a fellow elder, a fellow believer, a fellow sheep. We’re all on the same level. I have some duties and responsibilities in the church, but don’t look to me for everything.
1 Pet 5
3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
One of the best things that I can do and Matthew can do in this community is to be an example. We’re not bossing people around. We’re not telling you, this is what you should do. Or that’s what you should do or you made a mistake here. We’re not to be that kind of a domineering presence in your life.
We have already been a part of a church like that. And we had no ability to make our own decision because our leaders were constantly interjecting themselves and saying, this is your decision. Here’s your decision. Do this. Don’t do that. That’s how we were trained for so many years. And it was as if a thief came in and stole all those years out from under us because we did not learn how to hear from the Chief Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd. We didn’t know how to hear His voice and follow His lead because we had all these other people who were saying I am the shepherd, listen to me.
And that lowercase ‘s’ is on their mind. And in our minds, it was a capital S, and they were saying, look to me, I will make all of your decisions. Peter was not that kind of a shepherd. He just showed by his example to the rest of the people, here’s how I am following Jesus. Here’s how I’m hearing His voice. And you may have a decision that you bring to the rest of us and maybe even to the elders. But it is not our job to say, here is the decision that you need to make.
You can ask for our opinion. We will pray with you. We will support you. But ultimately you have to hear His voice for yourself. And if you hear wrongly, that is a great lesson for you. If you hear wrongly and you make a serious mistake, that is a good lesson. Then the second time you have to make a decision, you’ll hesitate. Last time I thought I heard the Shepherd’s voice and how did it turn out into such a mess? You’ll have less confidence and maybe more humility. You’ll wait on decisions and you’ll bring decisions before other people and you’ll wait for many confirmations before stepping out. That is how we learn to hear.
And in my earlier years I inserted myself too often. And if I helped somebody to not make a bad decision, they will not remember that I helped them. But if I lead them in the wrong way, they will remember, and I will get blamed because it is my responsibility. If I said, do this, and it turned out to be terrible, it is my fault, it is my burden because I led them there. I’ve learned the hard way. It is better to remove my voice and give room for the Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd’s voice.
And if you ask me and I pray with you, I may give an opinion. If you don’t ask me, I would just pray with you and allow you to make either the right decision or the wrong decision. If you make the right decision, there is a blessing for you there. If you make the wrong decision, there is still a blessing because you will learn not to trust what you think is the Shepherd’s voice. Maybe it’s your own voice. Maybe it’s a stranger’s voice. You have to learn the Shepherd’s voice and nobody can teach you that. You have to learn it for yourself.
And Peter is simply an example. He is saying, here is how I am hearing the Shepherd’s voice. Here is how I manage my family. I’m not telling you how to manage your family. Here is how I am managing my family. Here is how I make decisions. And you’re just modeling for the flock. Here is how I am staying on the path of salvation.
That is the three roles. As far as I could tell in Scripture, the lowercase ‘s’ shepherds, those God has put in leadership in the church, it is a teaching ministry, it is a protection of the teaching ministry, and it is being an example to the flock. That is all that I can see in the role of elders, pastors and overseers.
And we have to be clear about this because there is only one Good Shepherd. And there’s only one Great Shepherd. And there’s only one Chief Shepherd, and all of us as sheep have to hear His voice. And if you hear His voice and you follow Him, there are amazing promises of God shown in John Chapter 10 that Jesus himself promises to you as His sheep.
So let’s go back to John 10, our main text. When you listen to Jesus’s voice and you follow Him and Him only, Jesus Himself promises many things to you. And let me just share with you the 9 promises that I see in this text.
He will save you.
He will lead you.
He will feed you.
He will give you abundant life.
He will lay down His life for you.
He will never leave nor forsake you.
He will fight for you.
He will look for you when you’re lost.
He will keep you for all eternity.
These are the promises of God. If you hear the Shepherd’s voice and if you follow Him, these promises are yours in Christ Jesus.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The first promise of God is that if you hear His voice, you will be saved. And isn’t that how salvation begins? You hear His voice. There is a moment in time when you heard His voice calling you by name. You’re not saved because you grew up in a Christian home. You’re not gradually saved. There is a point in time when you heard the Shepherd’s voice. I pray all of us can locate that first moment when Jesus himself called you by name. That is the beginning of salvation. That is initial salvation. If you hear his voice and you follow Him, He will save you.
Next, He will lead you.
3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
If you want to be led in your life, if you want to be led to make the right decisions in your life, you have to hear the voice of Jesus. And whatever he says, you have to follow Him, even if it’s something you do not want to do. If you hear it, you must follow Him, even if it goes against every fiber in your being that this is going to be difficult. This is not what I want to do. If you hear His voice, you must follow Him. He will lead you if you allow Him to lead.
Who is the leader of your life? Who is the Lord of your life? Who is a master of your life? Is it you? Do you make decisions and then ask God to follow you and bless you. Or is Jesus the one leading and you follow Him? We must first hear His voice. You must wait for that voice. And once He speaks, no matter what He says, no matter how difficult the assignment, you must follow it and let Him lead you because He knows best.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The pasture is where the sheep graze and eat. It’s where they are nourished. Jesus is the one who will feed you.
In John 21 when Peter is being reinstated by Jesus after the threefold denial, Jesus asks Peter, do you love me? And Peter says, yes, I love you. And then Jesus answers, feed my sheep. And pastors today will be confused by that passage and say, I am the one who feeds the sheep. I have this teaching. I am the source of the feeding. I have the food because it’s through the preaching and teaching.
And while that is partially true, I actually have nothing to give to you. I am not the bread. I don’t really have food. I can introduce you to the Person who is the Bread of Life. I can introduce you to the Person who will feed you. I think that’s what Jesus is saying to Peter, feed my sheep. It’s not really about you feeding. It’s you about pointing back to me, the Great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd of the sheep. And Jesus, if you allow Him will feed you.
How many pastors misinterpret this and think it’s my burden and I have to feed the sheep? All of the decisions, I have to make and lead the sheep. It is my burden. I have to save the lost. All of these burdens that lowercase ‘s’ shepherds put on their own shoulders. No wonder pastors fall apart.No wonder there’s burnout in ministry because they think they are the capital ‘S’ shepherd and they think it is my burden and I have to save the lost. I have to grow this church to 150,000 or one million people. That’s my mission.
It’s my burden to save every person. Whoever comes to me with a decision, I need to lead them and point them in the right direction. And they come to me, they’re so hungry. I’ve got to feed them. It’s all up to me to give them the right teaching so that they could be fed. And all the while, Jesus is saying, have you forgotten who the Good Shepherd is? Have you forgotten who the Great Shepherd is? Have you confused who the Chief Shepherd is?
Jesus says, I will save. We may have a part to play, to evangelize, to minister, to plant seeds, to water the seeds. We may have a small part to play, but let’s not forget who saves. Only one Person saves. It is Jesus. There’s only one Leader in the church. There’s only one Head of the church. There’s only one Person who can lead individually each sheep within the church. It is Jesus Christ. And he is the only One who can lead you to pasture, to feed you what you need for that day. Jesus will save you. Jesus will lead you. Jesus will feed you.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
In the first few years of my Christian life, I had abundance of life. There was an abundance of life because I was so simple in my thinking. I was just so excited to meet Jesus and to pray to Him and to read about Him and to fellowship with Him. It was so simple. And I had abundant life in the first few years. And what happened in my senior year is I became staff. I joined the leadership team and that was the beginning of my downfall. And that lasted for many, many decades.
And all those years I can describe it as a thief came in and he stole my life because I was looking to lowercase ‘s’ shepherds and they were the ones who thought they could feed me. And I was not being fed. They were the ones who thought they could lead me. I was not being led properly and those years were lost because I was looking to the wrong shepherds. There’s only one shepherd and Jesus says, look to me because He alone can give you abundant life.
You can be somewhat content serving in a church, being part of a leadership, or teaching. You can find a lot of fulfillment there. But to have abundant life, Jesus himself has to give you His life. His joy. You have to fellowship with Him. You have to become one with Him. He is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd who alone saves you. He alone leads you. He alone feeds you. He alone gives you abundant life.
Is there any human shepherd who can do what Jesus did in verse 11?
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Is there any shepherd who lays down his life for you? Even if I lay down my life for you, it does nothing for you. Jesus alone. The fact that He laid down His life for you, that is significant. That makes all the difference. That paves a way to the Father. That covers over your sin. In His death, burial, and resurrection, His laying down of His life actually accomplishes something spiritually for all of the sheep. He alone can do this.
We can imitate the Shepherd and lay down our life, sacrifice and suffer and do those things. But really, we’re pointing to the One who really did it all. He laid down his life, which makes us His sheep.
12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
Jesus is talking about two flocks. We read about that in John 10. There are two flocks. The first flock is the nation of Israel. The second flock He says, I haven’t gotten to yet. I will bring them in to this flock and make one flock. He’s talking about the Gentiles.
But in terms of the nation of Israel, He says, all those who have gone before me are thieves and robbers. Meaning everybody who is a religious leader over all the synagogues in the nation of Israel, He says every single one of them are hired hands and thieves and robbers. That’s His point. There’s not even one who is a proper shepherd.
And such people when the going gets tough, you think they’re going to be there for you. If they’re just there for the money, you think they’re going to be there for you. When the wolf comes, when there’s a bigger opportunity and a double paycheck if they go to the neighboring city’s synagogue, do you think they’re going to stay there for you? No, they are hired hands. They’re there for the money. They don’t care for you. If the going gets tough and a wolf comes, they are the first to go into self preservation mode. They don’t care.
And you know people like this and I know people like this that as soon as you leave their church, it is like you’ve left Christianity. It’s like they don’t care about you. They cut you off. That happened to me. I thought these people loved me, I was so committed for many years. As soon as I leave, they cut me off, which shows they never loved me from the beginning, they never loved me.
If you really love them, like for my kids, I will love them to the end. They can make a mess of their lives. They can rebel against me. They can disrespect me. They can hurt me. It doesn’t change. I will love them to the end. But if you don’t, if you’re only loving them because they’re adding to your number, if you’re only loving them because they’re good to you, you only love them because they’re loyal, and they’re just a pawn in your game of this chessboard of my ambition. As soon as you leave, it becomes clear they never loved you.
But Jesus is not like that. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is a Shepherd and Overseer of your soul. And He never stops seeking you and pursuing you and fighting for you and protecting you. That is His mission. He has not lost a single one of His sheep who comes to Him. He has not lost one. He lays down His life. He never leaves nor forsakes you.
13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Jesus is not going anywhere. That’s His point. He is not going to flee. When the wolf comes, He’s not going to leave nor forsake you. He will stand there and fight for you. He will allow the wolf to attack Him and bruise Him. He will be there to defend you to the end. He will take the beating for Himself so that you and I can be protected. He will fight for you.
16 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.
There’s only one flock. There’s only one Shepherd. There’s only one church. There’s only one Head of the church. It started with the first flock Israel. Jesus is completing His mission. He has brought Gentiles into this one flock. Now the two flocks have become one. There’s one flock and Jesus, He will fight for you and He will also look for you when you’re lost.
Even before you knew you were lost, He already had a picture of the full flock in mind. He already knew every Gentile believer by name. He already new us by name. Even before we were born, before the foundation of the world, He knew us. And before we even knew we were lost, He was looking for us.
The promises of God are many. He will save you. He will lead you. He will feed you. He will give you abundant life. He’ll lay down His life for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will fight for you. He will look for you when you’re lost. And lastly, He will keep you for all eternity.
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.”
If you are Jesus’s sheep, you hear His voice and you follow Him and you keep coming back to Him again and again because that is what His sheep does. You keep hearing His voice, you keep following Him and you make that the pattern of your life. The promise is that you will never be snatched out of His hand.
It doesn’t speak to those who deliberately choose to disbelieve or not believe or stop coming to Jesus or shut out His voice. It doesn’t speak to that person. But to the sheep who hear His voice and keep hearing His voice and keep coming back to the Shepherd to lead you, to feed you, to give you abundant life, to lay down His life for you, to defend you, and to protect you. If this is the pattern of your life, the promise is that you will never be snatched out of Jesus’s hand and the Father’s hand because they are One.
That is assurance that those who begin the salvation journey with Jesus and keep following Jesus, the promise is that you’ll finally be saved and you’ll follow Him all the way. You will endure to the end. And it’s not because our faith is so strong. It’s because Jesus is so strong, His grip on us is so strong. Even if you let go, He will come looking for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you and we can take great confidence and assurance.
Our grip may weaken at times. But Jesus, His grip on us is unchanging. Not a single one in all the generations has been taken out of His hand, not even one. Meaning, if you are sheep in the Shepherd’s hand today, you should believe, I am going to make it because He is so strong.
Father, thank you for sending to us Jesus Christ, who is described as the Good Shepherd, as the Great ‘mega’ Shepherd, as our Chief Shepherd. And you give the role of shepherding, even the title of pastor, shepherd, elder, overseer, You give such responsibilities in the church. But Lord, help us never to make the mistake that people will look to us human lowercase, frail shepherds to lead Your sheep.
The sheep do not belong to us. They’re your sheep. You own the sheep, they belong to you. And so Lord, our job is to point everyone of the sheep back to the Shepherd so that you can save us. So that you can lead us. So that you can feed us. So that you could give us abundant life. So that you can lay down your life for us. So that you will never leave nor forsake us. You will fight for us. You will look for us when we’re lost and you will keep us for all eternity.
These are the promises of God of the Good Shepherd to every one of his sheep and so, Lord, we rest in every one of those promises. When we’re confused, we look to you to be our leader. When we’re hungry, we look to you to feed us. When we’re under attack, we hide and we find shelter in you and you will defend us.
But we have nothing in ourselves to feed ourselves, to defend ourselves, to lead ourselves. We cannot do it, Lord, we’re so unqualified. But we know the One who is ultimately qualified. And we point every one of our attention to Jesus Christ.
So we ask that you would meet us in the partaking of the Lord’s supper. Your body that was broken for us and your blood that was shed. We pray that you would feed us and we remember what you did, how much you suffered in laying down your life for every one of your sheep. That life that was laid down makes all the difference.
None of us can take that place. None of us can demand that kind of loyalty just because we sacrifice for one another. For everything, we look to you, Lord Jesus. Because you lay down your life for the sheep in a meaningful way, in a spiritual sense, and it makes all the difference. We give you all the glory and praise. Meet us now as we repent and we humble ourselves before you and we fellowship with you. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen