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Portions From John - Part 3

"The Good Shepherd"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2011 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'It's good to be with you again in Scrabo as always, and I'll be here, God willing, the next three weeks as we continue to progress through the gospel of John. I think it was the last time I was with you when you were last in John, so we're turning again to John chapter 10 - we were in John 9, I'm sure none of you can remember that! It was way back in June, and you've been hearing a lot since then, but we will recap a little on the previous message.

The term 'shepherd' was also used and understood in this period of time that Jesus was teaching as a leader of any shape or form...

John 10 then, and we're looking at 'The Good Shepherd', John 10 verse 1 - and I'm reading from the New King James Version: "'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the 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. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers'. Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father'". Just down, please, to verse 25: "Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one'".

We don't have to contextualise the idea of a shepherd for us in the 21st-century, because we all know what a shepherd is...

Let us pray, and do pray together with me, that the Lord might come and speak and minister by the Holy Spirit and by His grace to all gathered here today. Do enter into prayer with me now: Father, we thank You for Your holy word. We thank You for the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, we thank You that we have the record of what He said, what He taught, how He lived, and how He died, and how He was buried and rose again for us, and ascended to heaven, and how He is at Your right hand now interceding for us, and He dispenses the power of the Holy Spirit to us for our need. We ask now, Lord, that You will come. We don't want to be preaching the word without power, we don't want the letter to go forth without the Spirit, and so we pray that what will go forth now, Lord, will be in the demonstration and the unction of the Holy Spirit Himself. Come and presence Yourself with us, and meet the needs of all gathered here. We think particularly of those who may not have yet believed in the Lord Jesus. We pray that You will, by the Holy Spirit, reveal Christ to them, and reveal their sin to them, and enable them, by Your grace, Lord, to just take that step of faith and repentance and be saved even today. Lord, we would long for that to happen, we would love someone here today, for the light to dawn on their spirit for the first time, and for them to realise the Good Shepherd that is the Lord Jesus, and that they would enter in and be saved this very morning. We pray for all Your people here, maybe some who are cold in their faith, some who are struggling with burdens, and we pray that, Lord, they too will get a glimpse of this Good Shepherd. We ask these things all in His marvellous name, Amen.

We don't have to contextualise the idea of a shepherd for us in the 21st-century, because we all know what a shepherd is. Even if you don't come from a rural community, and maybe haven't grown up on the farm, you know what a shepherd is, you know what he does. What you may not be aware of is that the term 'shepherd' was also used and understood in this period of time that Jesus was teaching as a leader of any shape or form. So if you were a political leader, you would have been seen as a shepherd. If you were a religious or spiritual leader, you would have been seen as a shepherd. Now the Pharisees were a very strict sect of the Jews who wanted to get everybody back to the Old Testament law of God, and they really put the hammers on people, and screwed them down as far as the laws of God were concerned, and took all the joy - if there was any in their religion - took it all away by the rules and rituals and regulations that they imposed on the people. But they claimed to be the rightful spiritual shepherds of the Jews.

Now chapter 10 we have just read part of is a lesson about what actually happened in chapter 9. I'm sorry if you weren't here when I was last preaching on chapter 9, but let me just recap for you, and hopefully - if you don't know anything about it - you'll get the gist of what chapter 9 is all about. There is a man born blind, he is blind from birth, and the leaders of religion were insinuating that he had to have sinned - how he did that in the womb, I don't know - or his mother or father had to have sinned, that he was born blind. He meets the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus heals him and gives him back his sight, and there is a great cross-questioning goes on in chapter 9, and the Pharisees question him about how he now sees, though he was born blind. The Pharisees had made a rule that if anybody confessed Jesus Christ, that they would be put out of the synagogue. This man, he didn't know all the theology of who Jesus was, but he knew this much: 'Once I was blind, and now I see, and it was Jesus who gave me back my sight' - and because he confessed Christ and His power, he was excommunicated from the synagogue, he was put out!

False shepherds, Jesus says, are like strangers: the sheep don't recognise their voice...

Now chapter 10 is all about the Shepherd leading people out and bringing them into His fold. The false shepherds, the Pharisees, threw this man who was once blind out of their fold, but the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, took him into His fold. Chapter 10 essentially teaches us the great difference between false shepherds and the True Shepherd. False shepherds, Jesus says, are like strangers: the sheep don't recognise their voice. They are like thieves: they want to rob the sheep, and kill the sheep. They are like hirelings, or hired hands, or paid workers, foreign labourers: they don't own the sheep, so they don't care for the sheep, so if there is danger coming they will flee from the sheep - because it's more than their life is worth! But Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and in verses 1 to 3 - it's so interesting, look at it again, chapter 10: 'I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper', or the watchman, 'opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out'

What Jesus is saying there is: the shepherd goes through the door of the fold, because he is the shepherd, and a watchman looking out for the shepherd recognises him as the shepherd and lets him in. What Jesus was saying here is: 'I am God's Shepherd, I am the True Shepherd, and I am coming in by the door, I am coming in God's appointed way that proves I am His Shepherd'. Now, what was God's appointed way for the Shepherd to come in? Well, part of that was His lineage, His birth. If you look at the beginning of Matthew's gospel and the beginning of Luke's gospel, you'll see that Jesus is in the Regal line, He's a King, the Son of David. Also there is prophecy that proves Jesus came in by the rightful door to prove that He is the Good Shepherd. He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. This book, as you've been travelling through John's Gospel, you'll know that it's all formed around signs or miracles. John tells us in his last chapter that these are all to prove that Jesus is the Christ, and that you might believe and be saved. So Jesus came the appointed way, through the door, and proved that He is God's Shepherd. He said: 'Anybody else has to climb over the wall and steal the sheep'.

Now this is what I want you to see this morning, first of all that the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads His sheep out of harm and into safety. Now one of the great differences between false shepherds and true shepherds is this: false shepherds don't enter the door, but climb the wall - we've seen that already in the first three verses. Jesus reiterates this again in verse 8, look down at it: 'All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them'. Jesus comes through the door, He's the only one qualified to go God's appointed way, the only one God has promised and anointed to be Christ and Saviour - and anybody else that came before Him were thieves and robbers, they climbed over the door, because they denied Christ by not going God's appointed way. They disqualified themselves. That was the Pharisees, was it not? Because the Pharisees, who were claiming to be the rightful shepherds of God's sheep, they were denying Christ, they were encouraging the people to disown Christ and actually hindering them from following Christ - and effectively, as you follow on in this gospel, and every gospel, you will find that they killed Christ on a human level.

Let me cause you to beware of deceivers - because there are millions out there, especially in religion, who are not transparent...

You see, false shepherds want to deceive the sheep. Now can I say to you this morning - I don't know if there's anyone who could class themselves as a searching and seeking soul: you haven't found the truth as far as you're aware, but you're searching and you're seeking, and maybe that's why you're in the meeting this morning. Well, let me cause you to beware of deceivers - because there are millions out there, especially in religion, who are not transparent. You find them in the cults, you find them even in churches, especially churches that emphasise rules and regulations, and they're not being straight with you! Now Jesus, the True Shepherd, always had candour, He was always straight up, He said: 'I am the truth'. He had nothing to hide. Now listen carefully to what I'm saying: false shepherds don't enter through the door, they came over a wall. They don't come God's appointed way, and they don't recognise Jesus Christ as the only way to God. If you're reading about anything, or dabbling in any system or organisation that does not recognise that Jesus is God's appointed and only way to God, it is not of God - they are false shepherds.

Another difference between the false and true shepherd is: false shepherds can't lead the sheep, so they must drive them and steal them - do you notice that? Jesus said: 'My sheep don't recognise the voice of a stranger, a false shepherd' - they only recognise His voice. Like the blind man in chapter 9, who heard Jesus, and he responded to Jesus, but he didn't recognise God's voice in the voice of the self-proclaimed shepherds of the people, the Pharisees. They were like strangers to him in his need. You see, the Pharisees ruled with fear: 'If you don't do what we say God wants you to do, we'll put you out of the synagogue' - and that meant many of the rights of community and society would be robbed of the people. Now listen carefully to what I'm saying: false shepherds can't lead the people, so they drive them - beware of leaders who want to control you, for that is not of God.

We see that in the whole spectrum of religion right throughout human history, whether it's from the Sword of Islam - Jihad - forcing people to convert by the sword, which the 'Christians' did during the Crusades to Muslims. Whether it's that militancy of religion, or whether it's even evangelical, politically correct politics in the church, where we throw our weight around and use position or rank to get our way - listen carefully: true shepherds lead the sheep, they don't need to drive the sheep, and they certainly don't need to steal the sheep. True shepherds never have to use force or coercion to get their way. Thieves steal power, they use the sheep to feed their need for power, and ultimately the goal is to fleece the sheep and slaughter the sheep. Look at verse 10: 'The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy' - that's what the thief wants to do, and the devil is behind it! You say: 'That would never happen in Christian churches' - are Christians not used, and at times abused, by dictatorial leaders? I repeat: the devil is behind that kind of leadership. It is a false shepherd - because he cannot lead the sheep - that drives them.

The third difference between the false and true shepherd - not only does the false shepherd not enter through the door, but climbs over the wall; and he doesn't lead the sheep because has to drive them and steal them - but when self-interest is not satisfied in leading the sheep, and the well-being of the false shepherd is threatened, that false shepherd will endanger the sheep. You see it in verses 12 and 13: 'But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep'. You see, a hired worker, he only serves for wages, that's what the Amplified Version says: he is only serving for wages, he's only in it for what he can get out of it - good living for a living, we might say. The Pharisees were like that, if you read the gospels the Pharisees were only interested in providing for themselves and protecting themselves. Luke 16 says they were lovers of money, Mark 12 says they took advantage of widows, in Matthew 21 we see the Lord Jesus going into the Temple and turning the tables upside down because, He said, 'They have made the house of God into a den of thieves'. This is what these false shepherds had done - because they didn't own the sheep and didn't really care for the sheep, when they didn't feed their need any longer, and when their own well-being was threatened, they ran and endangered the sheep.

The Good Shepherd leads His sheep out of such harm and into safety, His safety, His fold...

But the Good Shepherd loves the flock - what a difference! This is the wonderful thing: the Good Shepherd leads His sheep out of such harm and into safety, His safety, His fold. Now please notice this, in verse 1 this sheepfold appears to be Israel over whom these Pharisees leaders claimed to be shepherds. Now a sheepfold, in these days, was just an enclosure of rocks, four rock walls with a hole, a gap, in one wall which was the door - just an opening. Now I want you to see this, because I have never seen this before myself, and I imagine some of you have never seen it. Watch the progression here in the first couple of verses of chapter 10, look, verse 2: 'He who enters by the door', this opening, of Israel, this sheepfold where the Jews are, 'is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice' - now watch the direction here - 'and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out'. He is taking them out of the sheepfold. Now watch this, verse 4: 'And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice'. So He brings them out, leading them, going before them - now look at verse 7, look at the directional language here: 'Then Jesus said to them again, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters', goes in, 'by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture''.

Do you see what's happening here? He's bringing them out of fold where there is danger, He's calling them and He's leading them ahead of Him into a fold where they are safe - His fold, where they can go in and out and find pasture. Did you ever see that before? There are two folds: one of them Jesus is leading them out of, and the other He's bringing them into - away from the Pharisees, away from the danger, away from the stranger, the thief and the hireling, and into His safe fold.

Look at verse 27: 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me'. A traveller to the Holy Land on one occasion tells about stopping one day at a watering place, and he saw three shepherds come down to water their flocks - there was a total of about 100 sheep. Soon the three flocks got intermingled, and an outsider could never have distinguished between the sheep, who the sheep belonged to - but soon one shepherd walked away a little distance from the flock and then gave his call. When he called, his flock separated themselves from the others and followed him - that's exactly what you have here. Jesus is calling into the sheepfold of Israel where these people are being fleeced and destroyed and killed by dead religion, and He calls with His voice, and those who hear Him, those who are receptive to Him, move out to Him, hearing His voice.

Now I want to ask you here this morning: have you ever heard His voice? Is there someone here this morning, and you're that seeker or that searching person, and you're hearing His voice at the moment? Maybe even in this very message you are hearing the voice of Jesus Christ calling you to be saved, calling you to repent of your sins and believe in Him - to change your mind about the way you're living your life, and to come to the cross where He died for you and be cleansed, and be forgiven, and have the power of the Holy Spirit come into your life and give you victory over sin. Maybe, like the sheep, He's been separating you from the flock that you've once belonged to - maybe it's a religion, maybe it's a church where you don't hear the Gospel - but because He's calling you, you're moving toward Him. You haven't taken that final step of faith, but He's wanting to translate you from the kingdom of darkness - one fold - into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God's dear Son.

The Good Shepherd loves His sheep, and I want you to see in several ways how He loves his sheep...

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep. He speaks to His sheep, they're not like strangers to Him. He protects His sheep, so He's not like a thief. He gives His sheep life, so He's not like the hireling who runs away from danger. Now let's look closer at the Good Shepherd as we come to the end of the meeting. The Good Shepherd loves His sheep, and I want you to see in several ways how He loves his sheep. Now I want you, by the eye of faith please, to really try and see this Good Shepherd.

First of all we see that He loves His sheep personally, or individually. Look at verse 3: 'He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out'. Now these days, whether you go to the bank or you phone somebody up to pay a bill, we're all only numbers, aren't we? They don't know you by your name, but your number. It's so impersonal, but it's not like that with God. He knows you by name, which means He knows you personally, He knows you individually, He knows everything about you! Though you're only one sheep in a great flock, whatever that flock is, Jesus cares about you. His parable in Luke 15 would indicate - He told the story of 100 sheep, and the Shepherd finds out, counting them one night, that one is missing; and He leaves the ninety and nine that are safe in the fold to go out to the one sheep that has wandered into the wilderness. He goes and brings that sheep back on His shoulders through all the dangers, because He loves us individually - that's the Good Shepherd!

He also loves savingly, look at verse 9: 'I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture'. Now a door is an entrance, isn't it? It's a way into some place, it's a threshold that crosses a barrier. Positively it could mean that when you enter a door you enter shelter, you enter safety or warmth, or even home. Negatively it can mean when you enter through a door that you leave the cold, and the elements, and any danger or peril. Sure, when you're on a long journey and you've broken down, you couldn't get the car started, what do you look for? You look for a door, a light that is on, a place where you can get help - home! Jesus says: 'By Me, if any man enter in through Me, you will enter the door of salvation, you will come into spiritual shelter and security - it's a fire escape from hell and an entrance to heaven and home by Me, not by anyone else, only Me!', Jesus says. Don't look anywhere else but Jesus!

A wonderful illustration of this is the Old Testament Ark that Noah built. The Bible tells us that Noah was commanded to just put one door in the Ark - I don't know how many we would have put, but God said only one door. It was a picture of how there's only one door to salvation, through Jesus Christ. It's all looking forward to this day when He would say: 'I am the door'. I imagine that as those animals travelled to the Ark before the flood of God's judgement came, that there might have been two golden eagles in the sky flying and soaring in the heights of heaven, but they had to come down - they had to come right down to where the door was to go through. If there were two snails crawling along the dirt, they had to come up to the door. But whether it was the eagle or the snail, they all had to come the one way - through Jesus. Have you done that? The Bible says: 'Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is one name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved'. There can be many churches and many beliefs, but there's only one flock and there's only one Shepherd, and there's only one way to be saved: Jesus.

There can be many churches and many beliefs, but there's only one flock and there's only one Shepherd, and there's only one way to be saved: Jesus...

He loves his sheep personally, He loves them savingly - we see something else: He loves them sacrificially. Verse 11: 'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep'. Verse 15: 'As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep'. Verse 17: 'Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again'. Verse 18: 'No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father'. I don't think it's without significance that this Good Shepherd labours the sacrificial aspect of His love more than any other. He loves His sheep - that's why He's a Good Shepherd! He demonstrates His love for His sheep in that He lays His life down for them. He is not like a hired hand! An old hymn - and it is a very old one - but it captured this thought when it said:

'None of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
'Ere He found the sheep that was lost'.

Do you understand what Jesus suffered for you, that He might save you as a lost sheep? Do you know? Do you know about the cross? The sacrifice of Jesus as He took your sins, as He bore your shame? He loves you sacrificially.

We see something else: He loves His sheep satisfyingly. I love this, the end of verse 9, these sheep who enter through the door will go in and out and find pasture, and at the end of verse 10, though the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus says: 'I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly' - have it to the full. The Amplified Version says: 'have it till it overflows'! Is that the kind of life that you have? I think a lot of Christians don't have that life. They might have some kind of residual life within their breast, but it's not bubbling over and overflowing - this is pasture life! You can go in and out and get satisfaction! It's like Psalm 23: 'He makes me lie down in green luscious pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul' - that's what Christ does for you! It's not just getting your sins forgiven and escaping hell, but it's life that overflows!

Philip Keller was a Shepherd, and he wrote a book 'A Shepherd's Look At The 23rd Psalm', and he says in it: 'The strange thing about sheep is that because of their make-up it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met'. Here's the four he gives: 'One, due to their timidity they must be free from all fear' - that's what Psalm 23 says, 'I will fear no evil'. Are you free from fear? Is that your problem? Is that the thing that binds you? Some phobia, some paralysing anxiety? Christians, many of whom are shackled by this, don't realise how it is sapping from them their God-given right of a satisfying life filled with the Holy Spirit, overflowing in joy and meaning! The Lord wants you to lie down without any fear!

For the Christian, the grass can never be greener on the other side if you have this life to overflowing...

The second thing he said about sheep: to get them to lie down they must be free from predators, enemies. Are you free from the devil? Has the devil got his claws on you through habits, through your lifestyle, maybe even through dabbling in the occult? You're cursed? The Lord wants to free you from all predators. Thirdly, they have to be free from hunger to lie down - they have to have food. Are you hungry here? The Lord wants to satisfy you. There's a fourth thing that has to happen for the sheep to lie down, and it's more relevant to believers: they have to be free from friction with others of the flock. I'll maybe talk more about that tonight in the preaching, but you know: you will never be satisfied in your heart if you've got something against your brother or your sister. Pasture means freedom - people who are living a life of sin think they're free, they don't want Jesus because they don't want their freedom to be trampled upon, their style to be cramped - but it's not freedom at all! Because what the devil is doing is: he's wanting to fleece the flock, he's wanting to slaughter the flock and feed upon the flock - and that's what he's doing with your life. Yes, there is a buzz in sin at the beginning, the great magnetic attraction of it - but once he gets you in his sights, he destroys you - and you know that now, don't you? He wants to destroy your life, Jesus wants to give you life, He wants to give you true freedom. For the Christian, the grass can never be greener on the other side if you have this life to overflowing.

Quickly see: He loves His sheep personally, savingly, sacrificially, satisfyingly - but He loves them intimately. This is beautiful, verse 14: 'I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by sheep'. Not only does He know them, but they know Him. How well can we know Him? Look at this, verses 14 and 15 - the New King James and the Authorised Version I don't believe really translated this the best way - if you have the English Standard Version or the NIV you will read this, verse 14: 'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and am known by my own - just as the Father knows me  even so I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep'. What that is saying is that the same union and communion and intimacy that was always between the Father and the Son is now between the Shepherd and His sheep! That's incredible! You wouldn't think it to look at some of you folk here this morning! You can know your Saviour the way the Father knows the Son - now don't ask me to explain that, I haven't even begun experientially to explore that, but that's what that verse says! He loves us intimately, He's not withholding any knowledge of Himself from us - He wants us to know Him completely!

He loves His sheep intimately, but look also: He loves them by leading ahead of them. Verse 4: 'He goes before them'. Now in the Middle East, unlike here in our country, the shepherd does go before, in front of, the sheep. He calls them and walks before them and they follow him. He doesn't drive from behind, and he doesn't need a sheepdog. That's exactly the way it is in the Christian life: the Lord Jesus never asks us to go anywhere or do anything that He has not gone or done Himself before us. He's out in the front as our Saviour, the Man who lived life here as a man, apart from sin, who faced temptation and trial. He is one who can sympathise, and therefore He can lead and He can guide us, and He can be our example to follow. It's wonderful, isn't it?

Sheep are pretty dumb animals, perhaps the dumbest of agricultural beasts that we know - and yet they still recognise the voice of their shepherd. Do you?

See something else: He loves His sheep - I found it hard how to put this one, I thought of the word 'audibly', He loves them audibly, or He loves them communicatively - what am I talking about? Look at verse 27: 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me'. He is reiterating what He said already in verses 3 through 5. Now listen, sheep are pretty dumb animals, perhaps the dumbest of agricultural beasts that we know - and yet they still recognise the voice of their shepherd. Do you? I wish I had time to go into this, maybe another day, but God still speaks, and Jesus still communicates with His sheep - through the Word, yes, but also through the Spirit. I want to ask you here today: do you hear His voice? You may claim to be one of His sheep, but do you hear His voice? Does He communicate with you? You say: 'Audibly?' - well, I wouldn't restrict Him, would you? I haven't heard Him audibly yet, but often it is inaudibly, the still small voice - do you hear Him? That's how He loves you.

Finally, He loves His sheep personally, savingly, sacrificially, satisfyingly, intimately, by leading ahead, audibly, communicatively, and He loves them securely. Verses 28 and 29, look at it: 'I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand'. One of the greatest truths in the Bible is found herein. Some people think you can be saved today and lost tomorrow - you can't! That's not to be found in the Bible. As Jesus puts it here: with His sheep, He puts His nail-pierced hand over them to protect them in God's hand - His nail-pierced hand is over you. Then God comes along, and He puts His hand over Christ's hand, and over the Christian believer - which means that our security is not down to us. If you say that the Christian can ever be lost, you're saying that there is some force stronger than the hand of Christ and the hand of God. That's real protection, isn't it?

Can I ask you here today: do you have that? Are you secure in time and forever in eternity? George Adam Smith once went to the Middle East, and he saw one of these folds and a shepherd - just this stone wall with one opening. The shepherd was there, and he asked the shepherd, he said: 'There's no door actually on that gap that is the entrance'. He says: 'No, we don't need one'. He said, 'Well, how do the sheep stay in at night, and how do you keep predators out?'. This is what the shepherd said: 'I lie down in that gap, that entrance. I am the door, the sheep are safe and predators are kept out'. That's how the Good Shepherd loves the sheep.

There was once a little girl who was taught at Sunday School the 23rd Psalm. She was taught the beginning of it on her five fingers of one hand: 'The - Lord - is - my - shepherd'. She trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour and her Shepherd, and one day she was killed tragically in an avalanche, and was buried under tons of snow. When they dug her out they found that she was holding onto her fourth finger: 'The - Lord - is - my...' - Shepherd. Is He yours?

Let us pray. Maybe there is someone here, and you've never trusted Christ - well, why not trust Him now? The devil has tried to destroy you and wreck your life. Why not say: 'Lord, I repent of my sins', from your heart, 'and I believe in You, Lord Jesus, as my Shepherd, the One who died for me, and I ask You to save me now and give me life'. Can you do that? Is there someone who we would call a backslider here, you have gone astray as one of the sheep? Is there a believer here - I imagine the place might be full of them - who is one of the Lord's sheep but is not experiencing this life to overflowing? Maybe it is because of friction with other sheep in the flock? Will you come to the Good Shepherd this morning and let Him minister to you?

Father, we thank You for Your word, there is so much in it - we really are rushing through it, and we feel, Lord, that we are only dipping our toe into the edge of the water. But I pray that in the Spirit, people would have got a glimpse of the Good Shepherd. Amen.

Don't miss part 4 of Portions From John: "Aiming High By Stooping Low" Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins,
Preach The Word.
August 2011
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his 'Portions From John' series, entitled "The Good Shepherd" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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