I AM the Good Shepherd

I AM  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:20
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Jesus is a Shepherd who can be trusted and deserves to be followed.

Last week we studied Jesus’ claim to be the Door to the safe Fold of eternal life. I shared this with you because in this time of uncertainty and fear, we all need to ensure that we are saved from eternal death.
The verses 7-9 last week are in a bigger portion that shapes today’s sermon, vv. 1-21. However, we will give greater attention to verses 10-21 and other Scriptures as we consider what it means to have Jesus as our Shepherd.
Jesus calls Himself “the Good Shepherd” because He is the genuine shepherd in contrast to the false shepherds and hired hands who over the centuries had exploited God’s people. Remember that civil rulers such as kings, princes, and governors were called shepherds, even though many of them were more like wolves and robbers (Isa. 56:9–12; Ezek. 34). To a people who had been abused by their leaders, they were looking for a Good, Benevolent, Loving Leader. This is the role that Christ came to fill.
Sheep are mentioned in the Bible over three hundred times, more than any other animal. It may be embarrassing to some believers to learn that sheep are defenseless animals and prone to go astray. (They have poor eyesight and tend to follow other sheep without thinking.) Sheep can also be very stubborn. They are ceremonially clean animals and were frequently offered for sacrifices. The Jewish people raised sheep primarily for the wool, milk, and lambs, and they slaughtered sheep for food only on special festive occasions. [i]
I want us to get the overall tone of the passage, then go back and highlight some significant thoughts.
John 10:10–18 ESV:2016
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. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Transition: When we as defenseless, stubborn near-sighted strays enter into His fold, a new relationship develops. The first dimension of that relationship is that we must admit…

The Shepherd Owns the Sheep (John 10:3-4, 14, 26-27)

John 10:3–4 ESV:2016
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.
John 10:14 ESV:2016
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
John 10:26–27 ESV:2016
26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
**Notice all the possessive pronouns of his or my.

Bought with a Price

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV:2016
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Hebrews 9:12 ESV:2016
12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
This week I watched an episode of Laramie, a western from the early 1960s. In this episode, Slim rescued an unconscious Native American Squaw from a burning shack. According to the law of that tribe she then owed her life to Him. The rest of the episode is devoted to Slim and Jess trying to figure a way that her devotion could be transferred to another without shame because of their distaste for owning another human being.
While our modern sense of justice has difficulty understanding the rights to own another person, the plot in the TV program illustrates our obligation to Christ.

He died substitutionally (John 1:29)

John 1:29 ESV:2016
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.
Warren Wiersbe insightfully writes, “Under the old covenant, the sheep died for the shepherds; but under the new covenant, the shepherd died for the sheep.”[ii]

He died willingly (John 10:11-18)

1. When we see an animal suffering, perhaps hit by a car or wounded by a poorly shot bullet, we feel compassion, but who of us would willingly trade places with that creature?
2. A human is worth more than a sheep, yet Jesus loved us enough to die for us.
3. Because He loved us so deeply, we are drawn to Him.
How many times have you seen a dispute over a pet where two people claim the same animal? One means of determining ownership is when the animal is placed between the two and both call the dog (because if you call a cat, hamster or fish you get no response) to see which person the dog chooses.
Transition: This leads to the 2nd dimension of our relationship with the Shepherd.

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep (John 10:14-15)

John 10:14–15 ESV:2016
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.

More than Comprehension

1. Those who have been Christ-followers for 30 or more years are likely to have read portions of the King James Version. (And some still prefer it as a beautiful translation of God’s Word into English as it was used at one point in history.) As early as the 4th chapter of Genesis we read that “Adam knew his wife”. This knowledge was more than an ability to recognize. It was an intimate bond with another.
2. Eastern shepherds knew the name of each sheep and could call it out of the fold each morning. But the shepherds also knew the nature of each sheep: those that were prone to wander, those that wanted their own way, those that delayed obeying their shepherd’s commands. Because the shepherds possessed this kind of knowledge, they were better able to care for the flock. [iii]
As a parent knows his or her own child, it is more than just “he’s one of ours”, it is a deep understanding of the likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and capabilities of that individual.
3. This is how our Shepherd knows us.

The Sheep also know their Shepherd

1. Yesterday I quickly googled “voice of the Shepherd” and found several video experiments of a stranger calling a flock with no results, then the shepherd calls and they come running from all directions.
Hopefully by the time you’ve been married 30 years, as Ann and I, the husband learns the various inflections of his wife’s voice.
I’ve learned to discern the “Da – ve” (2 tones dropping), the high pitched “Dave” (questioning if I can hear her), the swooping up (come here politely), and “David middle name” which indicates she wishes for some alone time.
2. Similarly, we learn when we read Scripture that some texts comfort us, while others challenge us to new obedience.
3. The shepherds had a loving relationship with their sheep, the kind of relationship we should have with our Good Shepherd. As we study the Word, worship, fellowship, and obey the Shepherd, we come to know Him and also ourselves better.[iv]
Transition: Based upon this intimate knowledge…

The Shepherd Calls His Sheep (John 10:3-5)

John 10:3–5 ESV:2016
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.”

A Gift of Grace

1. God’s call to us is totally an act of grace; we have done nothing to deserve it.
2. He calls his own by name (John 10:3)
a. Abram (Gen. 22:1,11)
b. Moses (Ex 3:4)
c. Samuel (1 Sam 3:1-10)
d. Simon (John 1:42)
e. Martha (Luke 10:41)
f. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5)
g. Mary of Magdala (John 20:16)
3. Today we rarely hear God’s voice as those believers did, but the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convince our minds and convict our hearts.

A Call to Follow

1. Some people get the idea that the Shepherd’s call is like the processing that ranchers do when they get a load of cattle. It is as if He gives us an inoculation that protects us from Hell, He puts his brand on us or tags our ear so we can be identified at the final round up, then he turns us out to pasture to do as we please.
2. Unfortunately, that is the description of Christianity that many cling to. “I got saved. I got baptized. When I die, the preacher can tell my people I’m in Heaven.”
3. BUT He calls us to discipleship. Disciple is an ancient word for one who follows in order to become like another. Our Shepherd calls us to live like He lived, to love like He loved, and to leave behind what He left behind (namely, other disciples).
4. We often sing of the Amazing Grace that He extends to save us, but what about the Amazing Gift that He wants us to be close to Him.
5. The call to discipleship is a call to closeness.
I think of parent who purchases a fishing rod or shotgun for a teenager—it is usually with the assumption that it will lead to many fishing and hunting times together.
I think of the parent who gives a crochet hook or set of knitting needles to a child—it is with the desire to spend time together learning the skills and refining the craft.
Likewise, when God grants eternal life it is with the expectation that we will enjoy doing life with Him now and into eternity.
Transition: This Call to Closeness is because…

The Shepherd Cares for His Sheep

Sheep that Flourish

1. The thief, robber or hired hand only look at the animals for what he can get out of them. The Shepherd views the sheep with a goal of flourishing.
2. If I were to hand you a Bible and ask you to find me a passage that describes God as a Shepherd. I suspect most would find Psalm 23 before John 10.
3. It’s unfortunate that this marvelous psalm is read primarily at funerals, because it describes our Lord’s loving ministry to His people all the days of our lives.
4. Green pastures, quiet waters, right paths, dark valleys, dangerous enemies—no circumstance is beyond the skill of the Great Shepherd of the sheep.
5. A true shepherd has a heart for the sheep and seeks the very best for them. He protects them and provides for them, and he also corrects them when they want to have their own way.
6. At the close of the day, when the shepherd leads the flock back to the fold, we saw that He would situate himself in the gateway to protect those in the fold from the predators outside. What I didn’t mention then is that normally a shepherd would examine each sheep for wounds or injuries and becomes a tender physician, anointing with oil. He wants the sheep to be comfortable as they settle down for the night.

Sheep that Mature

1. I’m learning that those who breed calves, lambs or swine prefer low birthweight because it is easier on the momma, but the ability to put on weight quickly is a desired trait.
2. A lamb knows its mother and has a desire for her milk (1 Peter 2:2–3), but as the Lord’s lamb matures it moves from nursing to eating solid food (Heb. 5:11—6:3). The Shepherd teaches His sheep how to feed themselves in the green pastures of the Scriptures.
This is why you have heard me say repeatedly during our time of physical distancing that the little ones need to be fed and that the New City Catechism is a great tool to provide a balanced diet. You’ve heard me say how important it is for you to be feeding yourself with God’s Word using a schedule like Our Daily Bread.
3. It is because I, as God’s appointed under-shepherd, desire you see you moving toward maturity as the Good Shepherd has designed.
4. Shepherds care for their sheep because they want each of them to mature and fulfill their purposes in God’s natural order. Rams and ewes should reproduce and help their lambs to grow up, and lambs should in time mature, reproduce, and enlarge the flock. If all of God’s sheep would reproduce, and if all the lambs would mature and the flock would obey the Shepherd, how different churches would be![v]


It isn’t difficult for Christian believers to confess that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We gladly claim Psalm 23 and rest our lives and future hopes on what it says. What is really difficult to confess is that we are sheep and desperately need a shepherd!
To claim to be one of His sheep and yet not follow Him is either to lie or to rebel, and both are terrible sins. Most of the trouble in our world is caused by people who ignore Christ and insist on having their own way.
When Jesus is your Shepherd and you follow Him, the future is your friend, and you don’t have to be afraid.
[i] Warren W. Wiersbe, Jesus in the Present Tense: The I Am Statements of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2011).
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Ibid.
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