Who are you following?
With Peter Veysie
George Methodist Church
8am and 10am
We are in a world where there are so many voices and so many people saying follow me or follow this or that. I want to start by making a firm statement that we are to follow the Good Shepherd and with deep theological intention we need to check out things by asking what would Jesus do or say in a specific context ?
John 10 comes in the story where Jesus is confronted by the religious voices of the time, the Pharisees, and he is adressing them. He has freed up the woman caught in adultery, he has healed the blind man on the Sabbath and they are trying to trip him up. He has been in Jerusalem for the Feast of the dedication of the temple and it’s winter. He has challenged the teachers of the time of being thieves and robbers (quite a harsh statement) and reminds them of Ezekiel 34: 1-12 Prophecy against the shepherds of Israel – not those that are looking after sheep but rather those that are meant to take care of the flock (people) !!
Ezekiel had prophesied about a good shepherd Ezekiel 34 vs 11 and 12.
164BC restoration of the temple and he is walking in amongst the collonades of the temple and they are asking him whether he is the Christ or not?
Jesus makes it clear that if you are not a follower of the Good Shepherd, you won’t get it.
1. Biblical references
Right throughout the story of the bible there are many references to sheep and a shepherd :
1 Kings 22:17 speaks about sheep without a shepherd.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd – rod and staff they comfort me.
Isaiah 40:11 He tends His flock like a shepherd.
Jeremiah 31:10 He will watch over us like a shepherd.
Ezekiel 34 – both the bad shepherds and the Good shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 25 – the sheep and the goats.
Hebrews 13:20 a benediction declaring Jesus as “The Great Shepherd to the sheep”
1 Peter 2:25 “like sheep we have gone astray but now we are returning to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 5:4 “when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
2. Sheep are not stupid !!!
When Jesus refers to us as sheep and him as the Shepherd, he is not saying that we are stupid.
Sheep are not stupid and this is most unfair to call them that.
Intelligent – they have a remarkable memory and have recognition skills.
They build friendship groups and stick up for each other.
They were domesticated roughly about 11000 years ago.
They can see behind them without turning their heads due to the slit in their eyes.
There are approximately 1.2billion sheep in the world right now. Watch out !!
They also protect each other from both the sun and cold and elements of weather and will stand in small group facing the same way and in the same direction from north to south. Crazy !!! I am sure you have seen this when you are travelling from Cape Town to George or the other way around.
Sheep can definitely go astray without a shepherd and they can be led astray by the wrong influence. They are also super sensitive and get emotional and sad during slaughter time.
Anyway the point is that we are compared to sheep which is not saying that we are stupid but definitely that we can be led astray if we are not following the Good Shepherd.
3. So how do we do this?
- I am the gate vs 1 and 2 – we need to acknowledge that Jesus is the gate or access point through which we enter into a divine and beautiful relationship with God – Father Son and Holy Spirit. It is interesting to me that Jesus has to explain himself to the Pharisees again because they don’t really get it the first time.He warns those that are challenging him that there are those who try to climb in or over by another way who are not the true Shepherd and he refers to them as thieves and robbers.(quite harsh). It is evident to me that there is a lot of teaching out there that is misleading and misguided and actually leads to people being robbed of the beautiful Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be sure of which gate you enter – it’s a tough call
- Know his voice verse 3– in order to follow the Good Shepherd, we need to know or even more importantly discern his voice and listen carefully . I am discovering more and more the need to ask the question again and again. What would Jesus say and do? When it comes to interpreting and that’s part of listening. Don’t just take the commentaries or google as the the truth but discern and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into ALL TRUTH !!! He is with you and me to bring guidance and direction and discernment.
- He knows you – He calls you by name vs 3. I find this so reassuring that we are known. You can sit with a shepherd and he/she will know if one is missing – we all know the story about leaving the 99 and going after the one.
- He leads you out !!! – he goes ahead of us and he leads us and we know His voice. Verse 4. Jesus is not about a comfy herd mentality of staying locked up in the pen but rather he leads us out. Psalm 23 A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
e. Don’t follow a stranger – follow Jesus. I think there are too many strangers out there – then the Pharisees and now theologians and pastors. In John 10:10 Jesus emphasises the fact that the thief comes to steal,kill and destroy but I (He ) has come to bring life to the full”.
f. Life in all it’s fullness – Jesus offers us fullness of life – boundaries,care,council,ability to share in the needs of others, opportunities, but remember from last week that when we are called to be disciples or followers there are consequences clearly stated in the breatitudes that at times it will be tough !!!
g. The Good Shepherd lays down his life. He’s not a hired hand.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.”
Jesus is obviously referring to the fact that as much as this is an analogy, it is the very real truth that he will also be laying down His life for us. He also makes them aware of the fact that this is not just for the Jews but also the gentiles. Verse 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.
He also makes them aware that he has authority to lay his life down or to take it up again. It’s of his own free will that he chooses to sacrificially be at the mercy of humankind for the sake of truth and freedom.
As you journey on in the story you will see further conflict with the religious leaders to the point of syaing that he is guilty of blesphemy. They even try to stone him but Jesus escaped their grasp verse 39.
I have to ask deep questions of myself each day and maybe you will join me.
1. Who am I following?
2. Do I know His voice ?
3. Who are the strangers in my life that I need to silence ?
4. Am I living life to the full as a Christian or only halfheartedly?
5. How do I respond to the Good Shepherd today who has laid down His life for me?
Next week is my birthday and a thanksgiving service – bring non-perishables and tinned food for our outreach ministries.