The Good Shepherd is Calling You

The Good Shepherd is calling you… Do you know Him?

Two men were called on, in a large classroom, to recite the Twenty-third Psalm. One was a professional actor,  trained in speech technique and drama. He repeated the psalm in a powerful way.

 

Psalms 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

When he finished, the audience cheered and even asked for an encore that they might hear his wonderful voice again. “Then the other man, who was much older, repeated the same words–‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…’ But when he finished, no sound came from the large class. Instead, people sat silently in a deep mood of devotion and prayer.

 

“Then the first man, the orator, stood to his feet. He said. ‘The difference between what you have just heard from my old friend, and what you heard from me is this: I know the Psalm, my friend knows the Shepherd.'”

You probably know the Psalm… But do you really know the Shepherd?

 

This morning I want to look at Jesus the Good Shepherd…

 

John 10:2-6

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 

Throughout the Bible leaders were frequently described as Shepherds. Kings, prophets and holy men were considered shepherds. In Ezekiel 34, the Lord condemns selfish shepherds who exploited the flock for their own ends, who abuse and mistreat them and who scattered them leaving them open to attack. He says He will remove them, and replace the, with Good shepherd, who will lead with integrity and honour, caring for  the sheep, laying his life down for them. David was the expression of this shepherd, pastors should also be that type of shepherd, and of course, the ultimate expression is Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

 

Ezekiel 34:31

You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

 

WHY SHEEP, HE SAYS SHEEPISHLY

 

1 Peter 2:25

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

 

Why would God call us sheep? I use to have sheep, so I can tell you how stupid they really are. No child pretending to be an animal ever chooses to be a sheep. Can you think of a sporting team mascot of a sheep?

 

Let’s face it, calling us sheep is not exactly romantic or complimentary is it? So why would God liken us to sheep? Think about what sheep really are…

 

  1. Stupid and stubborn-

 

I mean, have you ever seen a trained sheep at a circus? They are simple-hearted, not the brightest bulb in the box, and if you try and lead them anywhere, they stubbornly stop.

 

  1. Dirty and Wayward-

 

They easily wander away, do their own thing, get lost and never learn from their mistakes. The follow the crowd, like a sheepish mob mentality, and will blindly follow their leader, even if they are being led to certain death.

 

  1. Easily frightened and confused-

 

Easily led astray, known to panic and be irrational, known to plunge off cliffs in their fear and confusion. They stubbornly wait and resist, then panic and freak out.

 

  1. They are well known for clinging to habits, often walking the same track until it becomes a rut, or staying in the same paddock even when all food has disappeared.

 

  1. Desperately need guidance and protection.

 

They do not fend well for themselves. They don’t find good pastures, they don’t fight off predators.

 

Hang on, did I say sheep were stubborn, stupid, irrational, confused, wayward, fearful and in need of guidance and protection? Does that sound anything like human beings?

 

Ok maybe calling us sheep is not too far from the mark! We are all those things, and while the illustration may not be too complimentary, I think we can agree that we share many of the stubborn, foolish, pig headed traits of sheep.

 

So enough about the sheep, what about the shepherd? Let’s look at those chapters in John to learn more…

 

ABOUT THE GOOD SHEPHERD

 

In ancient Israel, caring for sheep was a lot different compared with shepherding today. Back then, they did not have sheep dogs to round up sheep. They didn’t bark and scare the sheep and drive them. Back then, they called, and the sheep knew the voice of the shepherd and they came running.

 

So what is the Good Shepherd actually like?

 

1.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS THE ONLY DOOR OR GATE

 

John 10:1-3

“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. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeepers opens.

 

In ancient Israel, they would often house the sheep in a natural pen.  So they might have a gully, for example, where they build a fence at one end, and then the shepherd would lie across the opening like a door to protect the sheep.

 

Jesus says that if someone is a bad guy, they will not try and get in via the shepherd but will try and sneak in, and when they do this they are bent on destruction.  The only way to get into the pen legitimately is through the gate guarded by the shepherd.

 

John 10:9

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

 

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

No great philosophy , no other religion, not being nice to people, or kind, or not sinning very much is enough. Only Jesus can save you. Only a relationship with the shepherd can lead to eternal salvation. You can’t earn it, you can’t fake it, you can’t get it pushing a plow… Matter of fact… You need to come to Jesus now!

 

So Pastor Darin, are you saying that Muslims, Buddhists, Charity leaders and nice people don’t get to heaven? YES! But I’m not saying it, Jesus said it, and that’s good enough for me.

 

If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, today the Good Shepherd calls you to enter into the gate of eternal life!

 

2.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS THE SHEEP WELL

 

Ancient shepherds were born into the job, which means they grew up with the sheep and knew them, with all of their little eccentricities and odd ways, intimately. The young shepherd trained for the position all his life, so it wasn’t just a job, it was a passion.

 

That’s why the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

 

Obviously Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but there are other shepherds or leaders who should show the same dedication.

 

Bill Newman often talks to pastors and says, “Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to give you a job.”  So as your pastor, I need to model myself on the true Good Shepherd and work hard, love lots and lay my life down for you.

 

The Good Shepherd know his sheep. He knows them by name, He knows their faces, their habits, good and bad, their characters, their natures. And they know Him, and His voice…

 

John 10:3-5

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

 

In ancient Israel, shepherds would often join several flocks together in the pen for the night. Have you ever joined a bunch of sheep together. We use to have a small flock, and they would just huddle together, shaking and non responsive! They are almost impossible to separate in any kind of ordered fashion!

 

All the Good Shepherd does is call. No matter what other sheep are there, they recognise His voice and He recognises them. Strangers they run from, the Good Shepherd they run to!

 

Do you know His voice. Are you reading His word every day?

“I can find ten men who will die for the Bible for every one who will read it!” –Charles Spurgeon

 

Can you hear the voice of the Good Shepherd? Will you run to Him this morning? This very morning the Good Shepherd is gently calling you. That still small voice in the heart, that word of a sermon or song, that Bible reading that leapt off the page at you… All these are the voice of the Shepherd.  And this morning He is saying His favourite word… Come!

 

 

3.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS THE NEEDS OF THE SHEEP

 

 

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

Life abundantly, that’s what the Good Shepherd promises, and He know exactly what you need each and every day!

 

Matthew 6:31-33

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

Why worry about the things of this life? Do you worry about the next dollar coming in? About what someone thinks of you? About paying bills, fighting for your rights or arguing with family members?

 

The Good Shepherd knows, He understands, He is listening and willing to care for you. He knows what you need, that’s why The psalmist says,

 

Psalms 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 

The Hebrew word for “not want” is HASER, which means I shall not be in need, I shall lack nothing or I shall not decrease. He know the needs, can you trust the Good Shepherd to care for you and provide for you?

 

We’ve seen it in this church in recent days. I cannot believe that the God who prospers us as a church family will let me or you down. We stand testimony to the love and care of the Good Shepherd!

 

 

 

4.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD LEADS THE SHEEP

 

Psalms 23:2-3

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

 

The Good Shepherd is a leader, and He will lead you if you will let Him.

 

At times He leads you into battle, and He leads you to triumph. At other times He knows you’re tired and weary, in pain and in distress, and He leads you in these moments to lie down in green pastures. Green pastures are lush, they have abundant food, they are cool, they are soft. The Hebrew word used here means fresh shoots.

 

He also leads you beside the still waters… Waters of peace, of gentle not turbulent flow. Why gentle waters?

 

Did you know that sheep cannot drink from noisy, running water? A sheep’s nostrils are so close to its mouth that if it starts to drink and the water is moving, it will choke and could perhaps drown.

 

To provide for the sheep, it is necessary for the shepherd to dam the stream until a quiet pool is formed, and the moving water becomes still. Then the animal can put its muzzle into the water and drink without choking and gasping for air.

 

“He leads me beside the still waters.”

 

Some of you here need to find the still waters this morning. You love the Good Shepherd, you hear Him, you trust Him, but you need to find the peace that passes all understanding. You need this morning to sit a while at the still waters.

 

 

5.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD PROTECTS THE SHEEP

 

The Good Shepherd values every single one of you. In John 15, He leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one who has strayed. Is that you this morning? If you have strayed, if you have sinned, if you don’t know the Shepherd are have walked away, this morning the shepherd is calling your name. He’s out looking for you. Don’t run, don’t hide, come.

 

 

Psalms 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

 

We all face valleys of darkness like this at times. When all seems hopeless, when everything seems lost, when everyone and everything seems to conspire against you. When you’re hurt, discouraged, let down, lonely, miserable, on the verge of giving up.

 

The Good Shepherd walks with you through these times.

 

The rod was an instrument of authority that was also used by shepherds for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting sheep. The staff was an instrument of support.

 

The ancient shepherd also used his staff to guide the sheep, directing them and setting boundaries for them. He also used his rod as a weapon against predators. By guiding them into safe places and by fighting enemies, the shepherd’s rod and staff were a comfort and protection for the sheep.

 

Whatever you face in life right now, the Good Shepherd walks with you. He doesn’t transport you over or around the valley, He walks it’s you thought the darkest vales, protecting and comforting you, caring for you.

 

Do you need the Good Shepherds comfort and protection today?

 

6.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP

 

John 10:11-13

 

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

 

If I am to shepherd you, I must lay my life down and pay a price. The Good Shepherd laid His life down for you. He didn’t run. You’re His, so He fought for you, and died in your place.

 

Jesus chose to die in your place because He loves you. He is the Good Shepherd, and you are the ones He loves.  He hung on nails for 6 hours one Friday to pay for your sin and mine. He suffered unspeakable agony to purchase our souls back, that we might spend eternity with the Father.

 

He gave up the riches of Heaven to come to earth and die a criminal’s death. Nails did not hold Him to the tree… It was the love of the Good Shepherd. He laid His life down for you.

 

 

7.     THE GOOD SHEPHERD PROVIDES A HOME FOR THE SHEEP

 

 

Psalms 23:6

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

 

Yes, heaven awaits. Eternity with the Good Shepherd beckons us.

 

John 14:2-3

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

 

Heaven awaits those of us who follow the Good Shepherd, but why wait? Why pray for pie in the sky when we die by and by when we can experience life to the full and a taste of heaven right now?

 

Today, the Shepherd calls you out. Today, He leads you in paths of righteousness. Today, He walks with you no matter how dark and terrifying the road you face. Today He protects and cares for your needs.  Today He prepares a table in the presence of your enemies. Today His arms are open to invite you to His eternal home.

 

Today, the Good Shepherd says come! Come to me you who are weary and burdened. Come to me those who hurt. Come to me those in need of encouragement. Come to me those who need a Saviour.

About Darin

Pastor Darin Browne is the Senior Pastor of Coast Church in Woombye, Queensland. He is an international speaker and worship leader and has toured all over the world, produced 8 albums and authored several books.