By Following the Good Shepherd

Dr. Steve Viars May 30, 2021 John 10:1-21
Outline

4 reasons we follow Jesus our Shepherd

I. Jesus Is the True Shepherd (v. 1-6)

A. In contrast to thieves and robbers

B. He is recognized by His sheep

Psalm 23:1 - The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 80:1 - Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!

Isaiah 40:11 - Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

“But perhaps His most endearing and intimate title is that of Shepherd. Centuries before the Messiah came, the Old Testament had predicted that He would shepherd His people. In Ezekiel 34:23 God said, “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David [a reference to the Messiah, David’s descendant], and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd” (cf. 37:24). Micah prophesied that the Messiah would “arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God” (Mic. 5:4). Predicting Messiah’s death, Zechariah 13:7 says, “‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones.’”(John MacArthur, 2006. John 1–11, p. 423. Chicago: Moody Press)

C. He calls His sheep and leads them

Jeremiah 23:1-4 - “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord. “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 56:10-11 - His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber; and the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.

II. Jesus Is the Door to Eternal Life (v. 7-10)

A. In contrast to many false teachers who have come before

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

B. There is only one door to salvation

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Acts 4:12 - And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

C. The door leads to abundant life

III. Jesus Is the Good Shepherd (v. 11-16)

A. He lays down His life for the sheep

B. He is an owner and not a hired hand

C. He knows the sheep and He knows the Father

Jeremiah 50:6 - My people have become lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; they have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting place.

D. He is drawing together one flock from various folds

IV. Jesus Is Sent by the Father (v. 17-21)

A. Based on love and obedience

John 14:15 - If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 21:15-17 - So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

B. With all authority over life and death

Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

C. To heal the spiritually blind

Hebrews 13:20-21 - Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

- can you think of examples in the Bible this morning of people who were lost or blind and in need of guidance?...

- there’s actually quite a few when you stop to think about it (whether we’re talking about specific examples of just general metaphors), because that image is such a nature segue to our condition spiritually apart from Christ…lost or blind or in need of guidance…

- one very tragic one occurs in the life of a man named Samson…

- you could probably make the case that much of his entire life was a case study of being without guidance, or at least being unwilling to follow the guidance he had been offered…

- what’s amazing is that his parents were very godly people and when an angel first appeared to Samson’s mother who had been barren and revealed that she would have a son and gave initial instructions about how Samson was to live…

- she went and told her husband Manoah what had happened and here’s what we read next…Judges 13:8 - Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.”

- don’t you love the humility of that?...we need guidance…we need someone to shepherd us…to help us see this situation clearly…

- if we had time to study it more fully, we’d see that the entire chapter is a testimony to the godliness of Samson’s parents, and their desire to carefully follow the Word of the Lord as they raised their son…

- that’s why it’s somewhat surprising that Samson grew up to be such a wild, seemingly rudderless man…

- and a lot of it had to do with what he did with eyes…so we read in Judges 14:2 - So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.”

- those are the very first words we read in Scripture that came out of Samson’s mouth…giving into the lust of the eyes (he was spiritually blind and out of control) …

- then again in the next verse -- Judges 14:3 - Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”

- spiritually blind and out of control…

- sadly, towards the end of the story, when he gives it to Delilah’s repetitive questioning and reveals that his uncut hair was part of his Nazarite vow…and we read…Judges 16:21 - Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.

- what a sad picture of what happens to a man who will never accept guidance from the Lord…but you may remember the final act…Judges 16:25–27 - It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there. And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them.

- a man who was blind reaching out because he was in great need of guidance…

- and it’s true that God accomplished His purposes with the Philistines through Samson regardless…but how much better this story could have been had Samson reached out for direction long before he did…

- another example that might come to mind is much more positive at least in the sense that the person involved was going to be heading in a far better direction…

- it’s when Saul of Tarsus had been persecuting the church…in fact, the chapter begins by saying…Acts 9:1–2 - Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

- that was about to change, wasn’t it?...because Acts 9:3–6 - As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

- and what happened next?... Acts 9:8 - Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.

- and by God’s grace…this blinded former persecutor of the church was brought to a man named Ananias who shepherded him into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ…and then we read…

- Acts 9:18 - And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;

- Acts 9:20 - and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

- it’s a common biblical theme – people who were lost or blind in need of guidance…

- you may remember that just before Moses’ death, he said…Numbers 27:15–17 - Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”

- there would be no way that God’s people would be able to enter into the Promised Land unless they had someone to guide them…

- later, our Savior had a similar analysis of mankind...Matthew 9:36 - Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

- the reason I raise those examples this morning is because that’s where we find ourselves in our study of the Gospel of John…in chapter 9 which you studied last week, Jesus miraculously healed a man born blind…but then used that event to explain…John 9:39 - And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

- thankfully He immediately moves into the Parable of the Good Shepherd in chapter 10…no one ever has to navigate life in spiritual blindness…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to John chapter 10…page 80 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this morning we’re talking about Enjoying Life in His Name by Following the Good Shepherd

- please listen as I read beginning in John 10:1…read John 10:1-21

- the good news is – we don’t have to be like Samson…we don’t have to be like the pre-conversion Saul of Tarsus…or the Israelites without Moses…or the people of Jerusalem with a shepherd…let’s use this passage to find 3 reasons we follow Jesus as Shepherd

I. Jesus is the True Shepherd

A. In contrast to thieves and robbers

- as soon as the passage opens, we realize we actually have 2 challenges…

- we’re born spiritually blind…

- but there are many different voices out there offering to shepherd us and those we love…

- John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

- that’s why this is such a consistent theme in Scripture…you need a shepherd, but be extremely careful in who or what you choose…

- so we read things like…Ezekiel 34:2–3 - “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.

- or Matthew 7:15 - “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

- you read verses like that all over the Word of God…

- and just think about the different categories of people who offer to guide you somewhere…

- there’s a sense in which all advertising is an attempt to shepherd you…

- that’s certainly true when it comes to the issue of the media…

- it happens in education…or on jobs training…

- it happens informally with friend or family members…

- it’s clearly a dual challenge – we need a Shepherd…but a lot of them can’t and don’t enter by the door into the fold…they try to climb up some other way…

B. He is recognized by His sheep

- that’s why the great news is – it’s possible to have a relationship with Christ where His voice is recognizable to you…

- John 10:3–4 - “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.

- Now, just to be clear – we’re not talking about some sort of audible voice…we don’t need special revelation today because we have the completed Scriptures and the HS resident inside to help us understand and apply God’s Word to specific situations we might be facing…but the promise here is that…Jesus stands ready to be your Good Shepherd…

- back when communism was falling in Eastern Europe, we had the opportunity to visit several countries in that region because the interest was strong in receiving biblical counseling training…

- those trips were extremely memorable, and you often felt like you were going back in time because of the primitive conditions in which some of the men and women lived…

- one Sunday morning we had to wake up very early to travel to a church where we were scheduled to minister…and as the sun was coming up we were going through an expansive farming area…

- and at first I could make out a large flock of sheep and because there were no fences, I wondered what was keeping them all together…

- sure enough, when we got close enough, there was an actual shepherd who looked like he had spent the night with his sheep…

- and it was amazing because they were all gathered around him waiting for instructions on which pasture they were heading to for breakfast…at leas that’s the way I interpreted what was unfolding, but admittedly I probably was a bit hungry myself…

- I wish I had taken a picture of that scene…because that’s what Jesus Christ offers to be for you and me – where His voice is recognizable in a sea of conflicting and competing ideas…

- now, you might say – where does that start?...

- the answer is – making a decision to choose to come to Him by faith…

- that has been the consistent message of this book even in simple but profound places like John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

- some of us might remember the chorus…I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus…no turning back, no turning back…

- when a person makes that choice…they are saying, I want Jesus to be my Shepherd…I want Him to heal my blindness and then lead me forward…

- that’s also when you receive new life because the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and life…

- we’ll learn much more about in subsequent chapters…but now you have a divine resource to help you sort out the various voices trying to shepherd you…that’s an incredible blessing…

- a verse that was very important to both Pastor Goode and Doctor Smith was -- John 7:17 - If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.

- next is the matter of communing with Him so frequently that His voice becomes more recognizable…

- that’s why followers of Jesus Christ want to be immersed in the Word of God…to be saturated with it…

- because then as ideas are flying at us that are contrary to Scripture…we can easily ascertain…that’s not my Shepherd’s voice…that’s not my Shepherd’s voice…

C. He calls His sheep and leads them.

- John 10:5 - “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

- one of the delightful aspects of this time of year is hearing the announcements of so many people in our church family who are celebrating another wedding anniversary…

- I realize that can be painful for some…but we’re called to rejoice with those who rejoice…

- and many of those women and men would tell you – an important part of what got us this far was determining who our shepherd was going to be in this marriage…and then learning to tune out all the other voices that might try to tear us apart…

- that’s why I’m thankful for the older members of this campus who can be an example to college students who in some cases are thinking about establishing marriages that will stand the test of time…

II. Jesus is the Door to Eternal Life

- you probably noticed that in verse 7, the metaphor is slightly switched…or maybe we would say, expanded…

- because not only is Christ the Shepherd, but He is also the door into the sheepfold…

- this provided Him a second opportunity to draw…

A. A contrast to many of the false teachers who had come before.

- John 10:7–8 - So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

- Scripture is quite clear that…

B. There is only one door to salvation.

- John 10:9 - “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

- this is very consistent with what Jesus will explain a few chapters later…

- John 14:6 - Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

- we’ll see in a minute why that has to be true…but the early church was courageous enough to affirm the exclusivity of the gospel…for example Peter said in Acts 4 - Acts 4:12 - “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

- and I realize you might say – I don’t like that…

- that raises a very important point – often what the Shepherd says goes against our grain…

- it’s easy to follow a voice that always agrees with our own…

- the test of whether you’re truly following is when the Lord wants to take you in an entirely different direction…

- think back to what I just said about older members celebrating milestone anniversaries…do you think it’s their testimony that the way Jesus wanted them to function in their marriages ever conflicted with what their own flesh desired?...only every other minute or so…

- you realize, sometimes the biggest thief or robber could be the person you see in the mirror in the morning?...

- see, have you really decided to follow Jesus?...

- but please take heart because of what comes next…

C. The door leads to abundant life

- John 10:10 - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

- this is why it’s so important to truly believe that not only is Jesus willing to be our shepherd, but He’s our good shepherd…He will never lead us to a place, or in a way, that is not in our spiritual best interest…

- I hope there are other passages of Scripture that come to mind as you consider this beautiful Word picture…

- like Psalm 23?...

- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 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 have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)

- [develop Jeff Baker’s memorial service – it is so comforting to know that our brother accepted Jesus as his door to eternal life, that he followed Christ as his Good Shepherd through good times and bad, and that today – his Shepherd has led him and provided for him so that he may dwell in the house of the Lord forever]

- another passage of Scripture that may come to mind is …Isaiah 40:11 - Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

- don’t you love how those words were written 700 years before the birth of Christ…and now they are being fulfilled in precise detail…

- and don’t you also love how many if not all of us this morning could stand and give specific examples of how Jesus did this for us – tended us, gathered us in his arms, carried us in His bosom, and gently led us…

- you might say – Jesus is doing that for me right now…praise the Lord that He is a Good Shepherd…

- many of us could stand this morning and give testimony to how Jesus has provided for us in abundance….

- [develop – woman at First Baptist in Mentone who had a “rolling farmer’s market” in the hatchback of her car

- provision of Tim and Beca Pasma as mentors…

- firewood through Tom Mabe

- wish I could say I always trusted that – cf sale of trailer]

- none of this would be possible unless what Jesus explained next was the case…

III. Jesus is the Good Shepherd

A. He lays down His life for His sheep

- John 10:11 - I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

- had his listeners been more careful students of their old testaments, perhaps they would have thought about passages like:

- Zechariah 13:7 - “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones.

- Isaiah 53:5 - 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.

- you and I would follow the wrong shepherd, and listen to the wrong voice, each and every time were it not for a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit of God…

- this goes all the way back to what Jesus explained to Nicodemus…you must be born again…even as an esteemed teacher who knows and tries to follow your version of God’s law…

- you don’t just need a leader you would naturally follow because of your innate goodness and perhaps even superiority to others…

- you need a Savior, whose death, burial, and resurrection can give you new life, and a new heart, and the Holy Spirit that provides both the desire and the power to follow the Good Shepherd…

- that’s why He has to be both the Shepherd and the Door…

- then the Lord adds another piece to the puzzle…

B. He is an owner and not a hired hand

- John 10:12–13 - “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.

- anyone who owns a business understands that principle…you may have some great employees, but it’s just different when you’re the owner and ultimately responsible for what occurs…

- that’s why you want patents protected and not stolen…

- that’s why you want quality control to be A+

- it’s why you care about customer service and on and on…

- it’s just different when you’re the owner…

- and when you’re on the other side, having problems and can’t get satisfaction at a lower level…it’s often different when the owner gets involved…

- how and in what sense is Jesus our owner?...do you remember what Paul told the Ephesian elders?...Acts 20:28 - Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

- we can take heart because the Shepherd guiding and sometimes carrying us is also our owner…He has a vested interest in our nourishment and well-being…

- then Christ says that…

C. He knows the sheep and he knows the Father

- John 10:14–15 - “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.

- what we’re studying this morning has been the Father’s plan from the beginning…

- consider what the prophet Ezekiel foretold…Ezekiel 34:23–24 - “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.

- every time you choose to listen to and follow the voice of Jesus, you are a part of that amazing prophecy coming true…

- and then we learn…

D. He is drawing together a flock from various folds

- John 10:16 - I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

- that has outreach mapped all over it, does it not?...

- [cf Roseanne Griggs having the opportunity to lead a counselee to Christ the Monday before last…a sheep watching another sheep be born…]

- Develop - that’s why so many women and men signed up to serve in Children’s ministries…

- Develop - that’s why we are fired up about VBS, and the Community Picnic, and Fall readiness…

- Develop – why we are thankful this Memorial Day for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have the freedom to clearly proclaim the gospel…

- the questions that flow out of this passage are obvious but very important…

  1. Have you decided to follow the Good Shepherd?...
  2. If you are a Christian, is there evidence that you are seeking His voice, and genuinely following?...

- the morning I was preparing this message, part of my personal Bible reading was in Joshua chapter 9….which by that point in the conquest of the Promised Land, God had allowed His children to win some amazing victories…

- but then a group came and tried to fool the leaders of the children of Israel…

- they were actually near neighbors…but they didn’t want to be conquered so they wore old clothes and brought dry bread and said that indicated how far away they lived and how it shouldn’t be a problem to make a treaty not to defeat them…

- and what’s fascinating is – the text says – the men of Israel took some of their possessions…in other words, they carefully examined the clothes and the food…

- but what didn’t they take time to do?...

- they did not ask for the counsel of the Lord…

- they didn’t take time to consider what the Shepherd wanted them to do…and the results were catastrophic…

- let’s try to never make that mistake…

- instead, let’s stand with the writer of the book of Hebrews…Hebrews 13:20–21 - Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video