Jesus’ Sermon about the Good Shepherd (Part 2)

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

John 10.11-15 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

12 “The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care 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.”

I was seated in a laundromat in New Orleans in 1971 when I first made the connection between Jesus’ sermon and Ezekiel 34. The words from Ezekiel were so profound that I still have a snapshot of that moment in my mind.

Ezekiel 34.1-4The word of the Lord came to me: 2 Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. 4 You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.

Ezekiel 34.11-12For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Ezekiel has a very strong message to anyone in leadership. If you are a church leader, a leader of persons in recovery, a parent, a teacher, or some other kind of leader, please prayerfully read Ezekiel 34. It is a serious warning that we should take to heart.

The good news is that when humans fail in their leadership role, Jesus steps in to serve the sheep. The outcast woman at the well (John 4), the healed paralytic (John 5), the banquet for 5000 pilgrims (John 6), the forgiven woman caught in adultery (John 8) and the healed blind man (John 9) all speak loudly of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, searching and rescuing his sheep.

You and I are part of Jesus’ sermon.

John 10.16-18“I have other sheep that do not belong to 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 in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

The “sheep that do not belong to this fold” (verse 16), is a reference to people throughout the ages who have entered into a relationship with Jesus. Hopefully, each person who reads (and multitudes more) has their own story of how Jesus searched for them, rescued them and brought them into a friendship-relationship with him.

One central theme in John is that Jesus does not do anything apart from the direction of the Father. My spiritual hero, Dr. Frank Laubach, counted 46 references in John to Jesus’ complete dependence on the Father. Verse 18 is another example of that fact.

Jesus’ power is rooted in his complete dependence on the Father. Complete surrender to and dependence on the Father’s direction is the pathway to our being shepherds who live like the Good Shepherd.

Confusion in the crowd.

John 10.19-21Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”

21 Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Jesus is the most loving Being to walk the face of the earth. He also has the best personality, the greatest amount of joy, and is the wisest person to grace our planet. Yet, he has been dividing people for over 2,000 years.

If we are willing to trust him and follow his direction, we will discover his immense love, joy and wisdom. If we resist his direction, we will find reasons to oppose him in both subtle and not so subtle ways.

Your Turn

Please look again at the passage from Ezekiel that I have included today. Actually, reading the entire chapter is the best thing to do. After reading, consider two self-examination questions.

(1) What kind of a shepherd (leader) am I?

(2) How can I best respond to Jesus being the Good Shepherd in my life?

Today’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, I want to be a better shepherd to the people in my life. I want to follow your direction and model my life after your example. Please supply the power and inner strength to do so, as I imitate your style of living. Thank you.

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