Sunday, June 26, 2011

Giant (not Gentle) Shepherd

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Giant (not Gentle) Shepherd (John 10)
Message #15 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, June 19, 2011 (Notes are mine from the 9 and 19:45 am services, I pray that they will be helpful to you)

--- Faux Shepherds (v. 1-6) ---

Shepherds of religion, instead of truth, don't have the best interests in mind - more about performing for their God instead of receiving the gift of grace their God wants to give them.  If only we knew the Good Shepherd, we'd be able to follow him more profoundly.

The well-being of the sheep is not FOREMOST TO THEM.

So... yeah... not living in first-century Israel, how do we relate?  First, our perception of a shepherd is probably not quite right... Psalm 23 - a white-robed boy with a crooked staff surrounded by little white wooly lambs on verdant green fields near quiet ponds.  Or little kids wearing their dad's bathrobes in the Christmas pageant.  Or maybe a Precious Moments baby with bright big eyes.  Or maybe soft lilting tender songs.  Or paintings where sunset shines from behind.  Those are static, simple, boring.  In our minds, shepherds are wimps, tender, soft, couldn't cut it in a real man's job.

So when we hear "Good Shepherd," that's even softer, gentler.  "Come follow me.  I'm nice and kind and gentle."  Awwww.... Right?

Wrong.  We've done ourselves no favors.

--- Full Shepherds ---

1. ABRAHAM (Genesis) - led his family and animals because God said go - at least 800 miles.  More and more people followed because they saw him as a leader, eventually amassing an army that force-marched overnight 100 miles to take on (and defeat) an army led by 5 kings.  And he was also willing (courage and strength) to even be ready to sacrifice his own child but was fortunately stopped at the last minute.  Shepherds aren't wimps, they are warriors.

2.  MOSES - Spent 40 years leading, tending and guiding his father-in-law's sheep in the wilderness and grew the courage to stand nose to nose with Pharaoh to say "Let my people go.".  Was able to convince and lead the entire nation out of their relative comfort into the unknown.

3.  DAVID - eventually became king of the entire nation.  Became nationally acclaimed when he killed a large trained warrior, Golliath.  He had previously killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands when they threatened his flock.  He took five stones into that battle with Golliath because he expected to take on Golliath's 4 brothers as well.  He also outlasted, outwitted, outplayed and outmaneuvered a king's army for 20 years because he knew how to read the land.  He knew how to find food and water, how to find shelter and how to hide.  He learned how to be bold, strong and influential - and tender and wise, innovative.

A shepherd had to know good water from bad, good food for sheep from bad, how to identify and fend off snake, how to keep sheep well, safe, had to spend their nights only half-asleep, ever vigilant against attacks from other animals.  Shepherds were strong, innovative.

But some shepherds were more interested in sitting down on the hillside playing Zelda on their DSs.  They were wanna-be (or don't-wanna-be) shepherds. People knew the difference between good shepherds and bad shepherds.  The best shepherds became military generals, and kings.

Shepherds aren't WIMPS; they are WARRIORS!

They were actually considered an unofficial symbol of strength.

The few, the proud, the shepherds. (Ooh-Baaaaa!)

4. YHWH (God) - (Psalm 23:1, Psalm 80:1)
You've got God on your side? You're on the winning team.

5. THE MESSIAH (Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:23)
When the Messiah arrived, he would be well-known as the shepherd.  When he came, he would be so different from the other religious leaders of their day, that he'd be attacked.

6. JESUS (John 10:11)
When Jesus said this, people instantly knew Jesus was connecting Himself with prophecy.  So when leaders who heard that, they knew where he was going and since they didn't want to follow, that angered them.  They believed they had to act/perform/do in order to be considered worthy.  They were all about the attempt by man to earn worthiness (which we've said is impossible) instead of simply receiving the gift of grace and salvation.

--- The Shepherd of the Story (John 10:7-39) ---

1. Jesus is the shepherd who gives what NO OTHERS CAN GIVE. (v 7-10)

If you come to believe me, to follow me, I can give what a shepherd gives - piece of mind, security, pasture.  I give you what you need to grow.  You will not be disappointed in me.  I have chosen to be your shepherd.  I will give you life, I will give it to the full.

2. Jesus is the shepherd who SACRIFICED IT ALL for his sheep.  (v. 11-13)

Good doesn't mean nice.  It means excellent.  As opposed to a lazy shepherd. I will stand in the way of whatever was about to kill you.  Jesus Christ stands in the way of the sin that was going to take our lives from us.

3. He is the shepherd WHO IS DEEPLY ACQUAINTED with this sheep. (v. 14)

Jesus knows you deeply.  There is nothing about your life that you could ever surprise Jesus by telling him about.  He says He wants you to know Him the way He knows you.  Work towards that and you begin to take on His characteristics - you become more like Him.

Here we've got a Warrior Shepherd, surrounded by Warrior Sheep.  We are to sacrifice our lives for our family.  When we know Him for who He really is,  (Special Point made to men - Father's Day: We become like Warrior Shepherds to our families, our wives, our co-workers, everyone in our sphere of influence.)

4. He is the shepherd who guarantees SECURITY FOR ETERNITY. (v. 27-29)

When we do that today, we'll find cards and gifts from our children and wives because it's Father's Day. We won't later take out our wallets and give them money for the gifts. (Because they were gifts.). Also, even if we screw up as dads (and we will, again, humans) the gifts won't be taken away, they were gifts given without condition.

When you're in Jesus' hands, God's hands are wrapped around that.  You are very, very secure.  You can't be snatched out, you can't wriggle out.

It's not walking forward and saying "I Believe" - it's walking forward and believing. (It will change your life.  If you're not expecting that, then you're attempting to fool yourself and Jesus.)

There's nothing in here about being a good little sheep or about not bleating back.  Sheep like to follow, but they also like to drift.  They have the least reputation of the farm animals, because they destroy the land they're on, they pollute their own water sources, they bite, they get lost.  Repeatedly.  They can be mean.  But it's the shepherd's job to make sure the sheep are taken care of.

This isn't something you need to earn, something you need to keep trying harder and harder to be good, then you don't understand.

5. He is the Shepherd who can back HIS CLAIMS BECAUSE He is God. (v. 30-39)

He was not being ambiguous.  He wasn't saying "I am LIKE God," He said "I AM God."  For this, they wanted to stone Him because they were more interested in their religion than in God Himself. They were religionists - either Jesus was crazy or Jesus was/is God.

So we have a choice - push Him away like the religious leaders did, or draw Him close and proclaim that He is God.

--- About us sheep ---

You're not following some soft mushy weak wimp.

You may not always understand, but if you hold on, God will sustain and hold on to you.  Some complain that they've been treated differently than other sheep, drawn over rougher terrain than other sheep. Hold on tight, trust that you needed to and that someday you will understand why.

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