Reframing Shepherding | John 10:1-21
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 10:1–10:21
Introduction | What do we all basically need?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What do each of us basically need in life? What do we need to survive? How can we have an opportunity to thrive even in the midst of an imperfect world?For the last 60+ years western thought has been highly influenced in our understanding of “need” based on Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, expressed in a pyramid starting with physiological at the bottom, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization at the top. The reason it’s popular and influential is because there is a lot of truth in it. Internally, you have to breath, basic food and water to keep your body running. We are in a world that hostile to life so you need safety from external threats to life (bodily harm, economic forces, etc). But life is more than having a heart beat and not being beat up. We NEED a place and a people to belong to and participate with these are relationship and community. We are made for relationships. Ok, I am part of a group I have other people around me, but who am I in this group? How am I seen or interacted with? And what does it look like when I’m functioning as I am intended to be, gifting etc. There is truth here, but the problem is needs terminate on the “self” who am I? What is my “best self” what can I achieve? Meeting these needs is put on us. So we feel the pressure and are responsible to navigate this pyramid like we’re scaling Mount Everest. You’ve got to be pretty strong, but the reality is we’re weak and the external threats are greater than we can deal with and internally when we actually take some time to look inside ourselves, we find out what is in here isn’t all that great. We’re insecure, we fear, we are part of the problem in threating the belonging, esteem, etc of others. And we wonder why we feel like we’re stuck in various point or only see moments/glimpse of a summit while constantly tumbling back down the mountain.
But, what this idea get right is some fundamentals we all need for life. I’ll try to simplify them down to three key but comprehensive elements. What does everyone need for life? Protection, Provision, and Purpose. Take away any one of these and you don’t have human life as it’s intended that is sustainable in anyway. If we require these constantly and we do not possess them on our own, we are dependent creatures in a state of great need. So where do you go to find these, or experience, these elements? What are your answers for how you experience protection, procure provision, or pursue purpose? What threatens each of those? We need someone to give us and lead us to these things. In Jesus we are Reframing Shepherding.
PART I | We are Sheep |John 10:1-6
John 10:1-6 |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.
Following the healing of the blind man, Jesus is still teaching to people who have been blind to who he is and what He’s here to do. They (we) are people who whether known it or not are in great need and Jesus has come to meet our greatest and deepest needs, even those we’re unaware of.This teaching is sincere and robust, Jesus says “truly, truly” I tell you the truth, this is serious. It also requires some clear tracking because there are several similar yet decidedly mixed metaphors all around sheep and shepherding which is not anyone of our daily lives. But there are three significant categories the Good (Shepherd/Door) The Bad (thieves, wolves, insurrectionist, things that are sneak and come into the midst of a flock of sheep nefarious reasons.) The Bah!Sheep, vulnerable sheep What are sheep? Are they powerful independent lions who are kings of their domain? Are they even ants or bees that seem to frantically and collectively be working towards self-sustaining?No! All Sheep need a shepherd for protection and provision.
In all of them who are we? You could be a tool of evil, but most likely. You, me, we, are Sheep. Dumb. Dirty. Disheveled. Distressed. If we’re sheep who are going to have a chance at protection, provision, purpose, we need powerful leadership. Leadership that takes us to provision of the pasture and who will protect us from what is evil that seeks to turn a safe pen it to a slaughter house, and give us purpose.
Sheep are in the pen. Context matters. There would be a collective sheep pen where many different flocks would be kept together. There were under shepherds (gate keepers) hired hands who would oversee the pen where all the flocks were kept together. They would only allow the shepherds and owners to come in and get their sheep by the door to take them to pasture for provision. If someone is coming in and avoiding the gate keeper, coming in unannounced they had ill intentions towards the gathered sheep.
Shepherd calls His sheep. The shepherds would have unique calls to help their flock know to come out and separate from the other sheep. If you were part of a specific flock you’d respond to that call. It was collective call unique to the flock but not the individual sheep that make up the flock.They will hear and obey the voice of the true shepherd who knows and cares for them (not a stranger or thief). Good for the flock! But the shepherd Jesus is talking about is more specific. He doesn’t just have a general flock He knows and who are identified with him, he knows each and every specific sheep in in the flock. He calls his sheep by name. That is next level shepherding! That is individual, that is personal. When Jesus comes to call His flock yes there are general calls to follow but for those who are truly His sheep, when he’s leading His flock out of where they are, it’s not “hey is anyone interested in being one of my sheep, just wondering, no? ok, no big deal” It’s clear and specific, requiring an individual response. Chris you are my sheep come out of that crowd and follow me. I am your shepherd who will protect, provide, and give you purpose.
These are GOD’s Sheep!! HIS Flock that He’s called. Jesus comes and says “You’re corralled in a pen you don’t ultimately belong in, but that’s not where life is. I’m going to call you out of confinement for the purposes of leading you to a fuller life than being stuck in the pen.” Specific to the audience He’s talking to He is saying, “I’m coming to the flock of Judaism of religion (stay in the pen) to lead you out of it for the purposes of no longer being in a holding pattern but being led by Jesus on a journey to the promised pasture. OT in Numbers 27 the people have a transition of leadership with Moses handing not continuing and He prayed God would not leave his people like “sheep without a shepherd.” Because they need one.
People follow Jesus because they’re Jesus’s sheep. We follow Jesus for our own good, because that is how He’s leading us. He leads so we follow. This is different than today when herds/flocks are driven (whipped, cajoled) Jesus doesn’t come and say go (yah!) but follow me.. There are strangers to the sheep/flock who come in to take and steal, Jesus sheep will not listen to strangers because they do not know them.
What voice are you following? Are you following a strangers voice or the one who knows you well enough that He’s called you out by name? Is the voice you’re following looking out for your protection and provision?Do not follow the voice of a stranger who is a thief and robber (insurrectionist) Some didn’t understand or follow His voice? Why? Not Jesus’ sheep. They’re confused Jesus continues for clarity.
PART II | The Good Shepherd | John 9:13-34
John 10:7-16 |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.
Mixes metaphors. Jesus is the door to the pen.There is exclusivity here that makes Jesus distinct from all other ways you think you’re going to find protection, provision, purpose. The only way you’ll pass to provision and protection is with Jesus. He is the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father (saved, brought to pasture) except through him. So you can enter THE flock with THE Good shepherd only through the door. You can go THE great pasture only through THE door. Now there are other options on who you can listen to or who you can follow but they won’t ultimately meet your actual needs. If not Jesus, then what/who you’re following is more than mere ineffective or neutral but actually a harmful enemy?
There is an enemy whose intentions are to steal, kill, and destroy us. This enemy takes many forms. That’s why Jesus talks about strangers leading falsely, thieves who steal/take, robbers (insurrectionist) who sow discord among the flock. There are false messiah who claim to come in order to lead sheep to provision and protection. These are religious leaders who’s primary purpose is to fleece sheep rather than to care for them. To lead them astray rather than to green pastures. For their own gain rather than God’s glory. There is a great thief in our own heart that is constantly manufacturing ways for us to find our protection, provision, and purpose apart from God, on or own. Left without a shepherd we’re vulnerable to the enemy.
Enemy comes to consume. Thief is driven by selfish motives… to consume. I can consume the resources of the flock (now I am not talking about sheep in need of provision, care, etc.) This is, I’m here and I’m content to divide, devour, discourage, leaders, members, resources, not for greater flourishing of the flock but for my personal agenda. Jesus comes not consume but to contribute.
Enemy comes to kill and destroy. To take what is life giving, to remove protection, to starve out provision, and to demoralize our true purpose.Enemy (wolves) comes to scatter. Brutal tactics to kill and destroy… No of this is good at all! The results are devoured sheep and a dispersed flock.Wolves like scattered sheep because they’re not protected. Jesus comes not to take life but to bring life. Jesus the good shepherd comes to gather and unify. Part of the problem is… We like wolves, thieves, and insurrectionist. I want provision, protection, and purpose and I want to find it in anything, anyone else, beside Jesus.We listen to and follow terrible leaders including ourselves. This happens politically (terrible dictators etc… why? We want protection) this happens personally with dysfunctional relationships…why? We want belonging and so we’ll find it any way we can.With addictions we want the feeling of provision of fullness High/or escape numbness. I’ll get what I deeply need from this political savior I’ll get it from this other person. I’ll get it from this substance. It will take what is valuable, discard life, break apart what has been put together. These thieves/enemies etc leaders of people/sheep aren’t good leaders they’re users of people. They lead people to places of great conflict, of war, difficulty/suffering, and even bondage and slavery all while tempting and promising you that real freedom and fuller life will be found following them. What is devouring your life?What is enslaving you?What is robbing you of abundant life?Where do you need a good shepherd to drive away wolves in your life?
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. – Abraham Lincoln
Jesus draw clear contrasts between Himself as the good shepherd and the thief/wolf. The good shepherd knows what abundant life is because He’s the one who created life. A wolf will lie and say life isn’t found with the Good Shepherd and you’ll have more “liberty” away from the flock, away from the Good Shepherd then you’ll be free….. You can have more freedom if you reject the leadership of the Good Shepherd. You can have greater protection if you’re free to defend yourself. For the wolf that is there to pick you off from the flock to steal kill and destroy this is only good news for him. Good news for us is there is a Good Shepherd who drives away the wolf.Good means noble, genuine, authentic.Shepherds weren’t soft they were tough. Because it was difficulty and dangerous work. No cute Jesus holding a cuddly sheep. This is a wolf killing, thief terrorizing, insurrection crushing tough leader of tender sheep.
Good Shepherd is Presentto Protect. Jesus has come to be with and dwell with His People (we experience His presence now with the Holy Spirit. The reason Jesus came He says, is to provide. To provide recognizes there is a need that has to be filled. That there is something lacking that only Jesus can provide. Jesus presence who drive away the wolves means we are people who are protected by a shepherd strong enough to not be overwhelmed by everything that seeks us harm internally and externally. Good Shepherd protects. He doesn’t flee when there is conflict, but he pushed into the conflict to protect the sheep from harm. Hired hand is in it until it’s difficult or a challenge arises. But once his own life is at risk he’s out.
Good Shepherd provides and gives purpose. How does he provide? Life and life abundantly. Life and life to the full. This is more that sustenance, this is fullness. It says abundant life. This is a comprehensive statement. Life full is rich, is fulfilled, is it’s not that you get more life (if life is purposeless then what is the point of having more of it?) it’s life that is so fantastic it is eternal/everlasting but it’s also rich, full contented, because it’s life that is purchased by and provided by the Good Shepherd. Who has made us, knows everything about us as a people (flock) and individually (sheep). Jesus knows why you were born. We were made to bring Glory to God (The Shepherd) but also to enjoy being His sheep forever. That doesn’t mean settling for simple sustenance, but it’s also doesn’t mean searching for self-actualization. It’s following, as yourself, and as part of a flock, Jesus. Jesus came to bring protecting, provision, and purpose.
Good Shepherd has ownership of his sheep. They’re his. Unlike a hired hand who doesn’t care about the sheep but what they can provide for them. He’s just there because he’s paid to be there. “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” There is a real relationship between the sheep and their shepherd that is birthed out of genuine concern for the sheep’s safety and well-being that cannot be imitated by mere hired hands. Hired hands have no ownership, no responsibility, and no relationship. This is not where our hope is. Good Shepherd has a clear relationship with the sheep. Jesus says the closeness between God the Father and Son is the same as that between the shepherd and the Sheep. Jesus knows US. As sheep accepts us, and then leads us. There is a mutuality between the sheep and the shepherd. What greater sense of belonging and purpose could you have then actually being in communion and relationship with the God who made you?
Good Shepherd sacrifices Himself for His sheep to purchase a new flock. He not only knows, speaks to, and leads His flock; but will purposefully lay down His life for His flock. Not as an example. but purposefully. To purchase a flock, a new flock, from all other flocks in the world. The Good Shepherd unifies brings together sheep from so many different flocks into a new and better flock because it has a better shepherd. Different races, flocks tribes, tongues all to bring about a new flock. I’m sometimes weirded out about this text being used for leaders. While Leaders are to be under-shepherds, Jesus is a(THE) model of good and faithful leadership, and the NT does use shepherding metaphors for pastoral leadership… No pastor, leader, or teacher is this shepherd Jesus is talking about. The reality all pastors are just sheep. We need a shepherd as much as anyone. Jesus isn’t talking here about how pastors are to be. That we’re to lay down our lives for sheep. There is only one true shepherd, there is only one shepherd who is “good” there is only one who has laid down His life for yours. The best any “Pastor/Shepherd” can do for a flock is point them to the Good Shepherd, and keep pointing us to the fact we are part of one flock with one shepherd.
Jesus is our Good shepherd who is present with us, provides life for us, and protects us from the evil one giving His life for ours. In turn, we love and care for others, requires knowing and sacrificing for others. Regardless of our background, in Christ we are all part of one flock with one shepherd.
PART III | Our greatest Need Met by Jesus |John 10:17-21
John 10:17-21| 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.” 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Jesus isn’t an accidental martyr killed by people, He’s an intentional messiah who laid his life down for people.
A good shepherd doesn’t just go off a cliff as an example and say “See how much I love you!” NO! I am laying down my life because of the threats to the sheep if I don’t! It means He’s willingly entering in to the danger that seeks to destroy us. Jesus giving his life, laying it down on the cross is not an unexpected tragedy but an intentional mighty act of God to provide for His sheep the greatest need we all have, to be redeemed by (and reconciled to) God. The reason we need protection, provision, and purpose is because of our sin that separates us from God who gives us these things. To suffer it in our place, to provide protection from Satan who seeks our destruction, sin that seek to kill us, and death that seek to be our just consequence for our sin. Jesus is the good shepherd who provides perfect obedience in our place to establish relationship with our God the Father. Protects us from wrath, from shame, gives dignity and purpose. Jesus sacrifice is only as great as the fact it’s accompanied by His resurrection. (Easter Plug) I lay it down…. So that I can be taken up, risen again. Jesus has risen and is alive so He can lead us our Good Shepherd today.We are all sheep need a shepherd. Don’t listen to the stranger, be taken by the thief or devoured by the wolves. Follow the Good Shepherd who protects, provides, and gives purpose when we Trust Jesus.