I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11 NASB)
Many years ago, one of England's leading actors was asked to recite for the pleasure of his fellow guests. He consented and asked if there was anything special that his audience would like to hear.
After a moment's pause, an old Pastor present said: "Could you, sir, recite to us the Twenty-third Psalm?"
A strange look passed over the actor's face; he paused for a moment, and then said: "I can, and I will, upon one condition; and that is that after I have recited it, you, my friend, will do the same."
"I?" said the Pastor, in surprise. "But I am not a professional actor or stage speaker. However, if you wish it, I will do so."
Impressively, the great actor began the psalm. His voice and his intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound; and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guests.
Then, as it died away, the old Pastor arose and began the psalm. His voice was not remarkable; his intonation was not faultless. When he had finished, no sound of applause broke the silence—but there was not a dry eye in the room, and many heads were bowed.
Then the actor rose to his feet again. His voice shook as he laid his hand upon the shoulder of the old Pastor and said: "I reached your eyes and ears, my friends; he reached your hearts. The difference is this—I know the Twenty-third Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."
DO YOU KNOW THE SHEPHERD?
1. Our Shepherd Cares For Us.
But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.
Jesus Christ makes it abundantly clear that He is not only the door to the sheep and He knows all those who are His sheep and calls them by name, but He also is the good shepherd. He is the One that leads His sheep in and out of the pen. He is the One whose voice the sheep will recognize. The doorkeeper opens up to Christ because He is the rightful shepherd of the sheep.
For thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing around will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will fee My flock and I will lead them to rest," declares the Lord God.
Notice the consistency of Scripture as Jesus, the eternal God in human flesh, speaks as God does in Ezekiel and identifies Himself as the One who will seek out His sheep when He identifies Himself as the "good shepherd." By calling Himself the good shepherd and by equating Himself with the Father and with God, Jesus is claiming to be and to do all those things that God is and can do. Thus, Jesus is the God of Ezekiel 34 that claims that He will seek out His sheep, He will lead His sheep, He will find His sheep, He will feed His sheep, and He will lead them to rest. Only God can do this and Jesus as the eternal God is the Lord God that can lead His sheep to rest.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11 NASB)
Notice that one of the primary acts of the good shepherd is to lay down His life for His sheep. Only the real and true shepherd would do this and it is because of His love and care for His sheep that He would be willing to do anything up to and including laying down His life for the sheep.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21-25 NASB)
Notice that in 1 Peter we get a deep insight into just how Christ, in fact, did lay down His life for His sheep. The need for which He laid down His life for the sheep was for their sin. It was because of our sin and our spiritual deadness in sin that we needed a Savior, a sacrifice for our sin, a justifier, and righteousness that is not our own. Only through the shed blood and death of the Lord Jesus Christ can one be given a righteousness that truly saves because God has fully accepted the sacrifice that Christ made as an atonement for sin for all those who repent and believe.
Notice that it says in verse 24 that "He Himself bore our sins." The word translated "bore" means to carry up or offer up to God Almighty a sacrifice and He did so on the cross. Because of what He did in laying down His life for us, we can die to sin and be made alive in Christ. And it is by his "wounds" meaning stripes or marks left by scourging, that we can have our souls healed and our sins are forgiven. When we are made alive in Christ we are adopted into the family of God and we are brought near to God through Christ and now have a good Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:4-6 NASB)
Notice also here that what is dealt with in 1 Peter finds its root in Old Testament Scripture once again. In Isaiah 53, the writer is looking forward to the coming of the "Suffering Servant" who is the Messiah and the Christ to come. He states of this servant that he will bear our griefs, He will be pierced through for us, He will be scourged for us and we are healed by His sacrifice.
We are the ones who are like sheep. The "Suffering Servant" is not only the one who takes the penalty for our sin and lays down His life for us, but He is also the good Shepherd who will lead us to eternal life. It is our sin that needs forgiveness. It is our sin that needs atonement. It is our transgressions that need to be dealt with. Thankfully, we have a good Shepherd who laid down His life for us because He loves and cares for His sheep.
2. Our Shepherd Protects Us.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10:11-15 NASB)
Jesus, as the good shepherd, not only loves and cares for us, but He protects us as well. There are 2 primary ways in which He protects us: From predators and from our own sin.
Jesus contrasts Himself as the good shepherd with the hired hand who not only is not the rightful owner of the sheep but is not concerned about the sheep which explains why the hired hand runs away when danger comes. Jesus never leaves you when the wolves come. He will protect His sheep.
Notice that it states in verse 14 that He knows His own sheep and His sheep know Him. There is a very personal quality to election and to God's sheep because of the fact that He elected them before the foundation of the world. The sheep of God's pasture are not some random bunch that God has no knowledge of. They are personally and intimately known by God for He created them all and protects them personally from predators like false shepherds, false teachers, false Christ's, and false truth.
FROM OUR OWN SIN
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NASB)
Notice in 2 Thessalonians that it is the Lord that is faithful. We are not faithful. We fail, we sin, we fall short. God, however, is perfectly faithful and it is God who strengthens us to be able to fight against the devil. We largely do this by daily putting on the full armor of God (Eph. 6). The necessity for this is found in 1 Peter where it talks about how Satan roams around like a lion looking for his next victim, his next meal.
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, then much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:7-14 NASB)
David was very concerned about his sin and grieved over his sin. One simply has to read any of the Psalms that he wrote dealing with his sin and you will find this to be true. In this particular Psalm, David makes it clear that God, Jesus Christ, the good shepherd protects us from our own sin through His Word. It is by reading, studying, praying over, meditating over, submitting to, and practically applying the Word of God to our lives that we will be made strong in Christ, our good shepherd, to fight the sin in our lives.
Notice that it is only in having the Word of God rule in our hearts that sin will not rule over us. By walking in Christ and obeying His word, we will have a Christian life that is blameless and demonstrates the righteousness of Christ lived out in us. Our ultimate goal should be for the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts which will show up in our actions, that they will be acceptable to our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Our Shepherd is worthy of our worship.
O come, let us sing for you to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Our Shepherd is worthy of worship because our Shepherd is the eternal God. He is our Maker and He is our salvation. Notice in the psalm that it states over and over "Let us, let us, let us." We are the ones who are to bow down and shout joyfully and come before God with thanksgiving. We are the ones who had the sin that needed to be forgiven and we are the ones who are to be thankful for our sins having been forgiven in Christ.
God is the King. God is THE GOD! He is the One who made the land and the sea and He is the One who is the rightful owner of the sheep. Because of what He has done for us, He alone is worthy of our worship. We need to come and bow and kneel before our Maker and worship Him for who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do on our behalf in the future.
DO YOU KNOW THE SHEPHERD?
ARE YOU WALKING WITH HIM?
ARE YOU FOLLOWING HIM?
DO YOU LOVE YOUR SHEPHERD?
Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ loves and cares for you, He protects you, and He is worthy of your worship because of who He is and what He has done for you.
He is the good Shepherd!