John 10:1-21

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There are times where we can be surrounded with people, but feel absolutely alone.
Some look forward to that. Go someplace away from home and then you can be whoever you want to be, someone different than who you are at home, where you can be a new person and develop a new identity.
For some, It’s the chance for a new start. You can make a new name for yourself. For others, it’s the temptation to be anonymous, to get away with something that they would never think of doing at home, because nobody knows who you are.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd.

For some, it’s the chance for a new start. You can make a new name for yourself. For others, it’s the temptation to be anonymous, to get away with something that they would never think of doing at home, because nobody knows who you are.
Sometimes we want to hear our name mentioned by others. We want to be well known, cool, respected, or famous. We want people to associate our names with something good.
Others of us don’t need a crowd, but simply long for that one person, a friend, a spouse, some body to know us. Someone who loves or cares for us. Someone who doesn’t run away when we aren’t our best selves. Someone who seeks us out not only because they love us—because they feel they have to—but they like who we are and they want to spend their time with us.
At the deepest part, if we’re honest, whether it’s a lot of people, or maybe just one or two we want some one to know us, to know who we are and still love us. We want people to know us by name. We have that in Jesus, so remember...

Listen for the voice of the gatekeeper.

He knows your name.
In the text, we read from chapter 10, but it’s helpful to know a little bit about what is going on in chapter 9. Jesus has just healed a blind man. Not only that, Jesus explained that this man was blind, not because he was a bad person, or even that his parents were bad people.
Jesus says,
John 9:3 NIV
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:3-4
Ultimately, Jesus isn’t concerned with reasons. He simply says that this man’s blindness would lead to God’s work being displayed through him.
That’s what Paul means when he writes:
Romans 8:28 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
However that’s not the main point today, but it sits at the foundation of chapter 10. As the man proclaims his healing, the pharisees find him and interrogate him. The man and the pharisees go back and forth about how it is possible this has happened and who would be able to heal him.
In the end, the pharisees aren’t satisfied with the reasons for the man’s healing. They are sure that there has to be some “sin” that made the man blind, so we read:
John 9:34 NIV
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
John 9
They threw him out. They didn’t care about this man. They wanted to know the means of his healing, but didn’t want to celebrate his healing with him. They did not care for him, just like they didn’t care for others.
They didn’t want to know the people that they tried to keep in line. They only wanted to hold on to their power and enforce their view on how people should live their lives. If you didn’t fit or comply, you were out.
The pharisees thought they were gatekeepers. They thought that they had the authority to decide who was in and who was out. We know people like that. We’ve been playing that game our entire lives. Who fits in? Who can be in our group? Who is out? Who do we either intentionally exclude or don’t even try to see, because they don’t fit, they get in the way, they make us look bad, as if they are a piece of clothing that doesn’t match the style we’re trying to accomplish.
Instead of seeing the damage it causes, we are tempted and give in to the game ourselves—picking and choosing who is in and out, or not speaking up for others, because it’s easier just to go along with it and be glad we aren’t the ones being left out.
Jesus resets that perception. It isn’t the pharisees who get to decide. It isn’t you or me who get to decide.
Whether you feel on the outside looking in or you are the person or people keeping others out—remember this...
Jesus is both the gate and the gatekeeper. Listen to his voice.
And this gate is not something to fear, instead

The gate is a doorway to new life.

Jesus uses three images for himself, he is the gatekeeper, the gate, and the shepherd.
Jesus, the gatekeeper, is the only one who has the authority to open and close the door to salvation.
Jesus, the gate, is the only way into salvation—there is no other way.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the faithful shepherd who guides and protects his flock.
Why should we care? Every thing else in life will give you what you think you want as long as you have the money to pay for it, or the strength or ability to get it done.
No matter where you live, people are going to evaluate you by how much money you make, what you look like, what your abilities are, and so on. As long as you fit their expectations you’re in. The moment you mess up or don’t fit, you’re out. It’s a losing game.
Some of your here feel like square pegs trying to fit in round holes. You love your family and whoever your friends are, but as for the rest, you don’t fit—and you can’t wait
Jesus says that those kind of people are thieves. They don’t care for you. They care only for what you give to them.
John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The pharisees were like the evil shepherds we read about it Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 34:2–4 NIV
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
Let’s go back to vs. 10.
John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Let me tell you, as long as we put our value and self worth in anything else than Jesus, we will always feel like outsiders.
Seeking out and living in relationship with Jesus brings life, breathes life back into you. there is no substitute. Be assured that...

We are known and loved by the Good Shepherd.

John 10:11 NIV
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Here’s the simple truth. We, and the world along with us, often can’t get our minds around this. We are like the hired hands in vs. 12.
John 10:12 NIV
The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
All is good when things are easy and fine, but when troubles come—that’s when you find who your friends really are, or maybe even friends you didn’t know you had—people who reach out to you, when others you’d expect to help keep their distance.
On the other hand, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for us, His sheep. Followers of Jesus should follow that same model. Let’s put it this way, there should never be a person who feels pushed away by those who follow Jesus. Because Jesus followers know that we all have to enter through the same gate. We all need to walk through that gate and it should be open when people hear the call the call of the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Young people, both now and in the future, there will be many voices calling for your attention. Take some time to discern where those voices are coming from. Unless they come from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they are thieves and they will only take you places you won’t want to go and will take and take from you draining your soul.
Listen to the voice of Jesus. He knows your name. He has given his life for you. He is your protector, life giver, and Savior. He is the Good Shepherd.
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