The Good Shepherd

Knowing that Jesus is the good shepherd gives us eternal hope.

George Wright
May 10, 2020    33m
In his Mother's Day sermon Pastor George Wright teaches us that Jesus is the good shepherd, and those who believe are His flock. He explains that a shepherd will lay down their life for their sheep, just as Jesus did for us at the cross. He then shares scripture to help us understand what the depth of this promise means for those who believe. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Well, what a gift it is to join together and worship today. And on this very special day, let me say happy Mother's Day to all the moms who are joining in with us. We love you, and we are so grateful for you. And as I get to stand here and preach in this beautiful spot, I just want to thank you for the beauty that you bring into our lives, and for all that you do to love and to serve your family and those around you. We recognize today is certainly a very unique, a very different, Mother's Day, and I also recognize in that there has been a lot of challenges for many moms over these last few weeks and months. We thank you for all this you're doing, we thank you for the way you are serving, we thank you for the way you've been changing to a new normal to teach and to to help in ways perhaps that you never even thought you might have to be involved, but we are so grateful for you.

George Wright: 00:58 I do want to say too, I recognize that Mother's Day, while it is a day of celebration for many, for some it represents a day of of grief, or a day of hardship, a day where you're reminded of loss, or maybe a day where you're reminded of dreams that have not been realized. And so what I'd like to do right now, is I'd like to have a prayer just for our moms celebrating them, but also I want to have a prayer for those who struggle on this day, or who are reminded of things that might've been, or things that have not been. So let's have a word of prayer right now as we go before the Lord on this Mother's Day.

George Wright: 01:35 Father, it is a privilege to honor the gift of motherhood, and we are so thankful for our mom. We are so thankful for the blessings that you have brought into our lives through our mom. And, Lord, we really want to celebrate, and we want to say thank you to those who are serving so faithfully in this role of motherhood. But, Lord, we also recognize this year on Mother's Day, there has been grief. This has been a challenging, challenging season, and there's a lot of moms who are so stressed out, so worn out, because of all the responsibilities, unexpectedly, that have been falling on them in recent days. Lord, sustain them, give them strength, I pray your hand of blessing on them. And Father, for those who are joining with us today, who Mother's Day really represents a day of grief, or a day of loss. I pray, Lord, that your comforting hand would hold them close, even now. I pray that they would sense your love and your grace on them today, this day. And I pray, Lord, that you would guide us all as we turn our attention to you. It's in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 02:49 Let me invite you now to turn in your Bible to John's gospel, chapter 10, and we're going to pick right back up where we were last week. Last week we started in John 10, as we're walking through this series called who is Jesus? And we're looking at these great statements that Jesus makes about himself in the gospel of John, that gives us greater clarity into who he is and why he came. In the beginning of John 10 last week, we saw Jesus began to teach in terms of sheep and shepherding. As he talked about being the door for the sheep, the one who protects the way in and out for the sheep to find pasture, and for the sheep to be protected, and have all that they need.

George Wright: 03:31 And today we jumped back into John chapter 10, and we see what Jesus says about himself as the shepherd. And so in John chapter 10, beginning in verse 10, I'll read verses 10 and 11 today to get us started. We see this 'I am' statement of Jesus. And I would like to invite you, if you're willing and able, to stand with me even at home or wherever you are right now. So that we can all be reminded that the word of God is our foundation, our authority. And the word of God is what we stand upon as the people of God, needing to hear what God says is right and good and true. This is the word of the Lord, John 10 verse 10, "The thief, Jesus says, comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. For I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

George Wright: 04:35 Before you are seated, let's have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you for your word. We pray that you'd use it today in our lives. Speak to us as only you can, for we need to hear from you. Lead us, as we turn our attention to your Holy scripture. It's in Christ in my pray. Amen. And if you were standing, grab a seat, get comfortable and let's turn our attention to what the scripture is revealing.

George Wright: 05:06 Last week, if you were able to join us, we saw that Jesus began to talk about sheep, and shows us some things that we need to hear as we recognize the similarities between ourselves and the sheep. We talked about some of the qualities of a sheep, some things that we often don't want to think about in our own lives, but some things that often are very true of us. And we saw that sheep are defenseless animals, they need someone to protect them, they need someone to care for them. If a sheep does not have someone watching over them, that sheep is going to get in trouble, it's going to stumble into danger, it's going to wander away into a place that it never should have been. A sheep cannot defend itself. We also saw that sheep have very poor eyesight, and so here you have this defenseless animal that can't see very clearly and needs someone to guide them, to lead them, to show them the way. Here's Jesus, now talking about why this is so important. As he says, there is a thief, a thief that comes to steal and kill and destroy. A thief whose primary objective is to destroy the sheep.

George Wright: 06:32 So here you have a defenseless animal with no way of protecting itself, that has really bad eyesight, and oftentimes is not even aware that there is a predator lurking in the shadows to take it out. A defenseless, half blind, animal that cannot even see danger lurking around the corner. This is a sobering statement that Jesus is making. He's wanting to get the attention of those who are willing to listen, to open our eyes to see, there is an enemy. There is an enemy that wants to take out the sheep. Don't miss the clarity of verse 10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy." And then Jesus says, 'But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'.

George Wright: 07:36 You see, Jesus is showing us that there really are two possible outcomes for the sheep. And what a simple, clear way to put it. There are sheep that will be taken out, there are sheep that will be destroyed by the thief, the enemy, the predator. And there are sheep that will experience an abundant life. Two outcomes, two realities, that can be true of the sheep. You see, there is danger swirling all around, us and we need to be reminded of that truth. Oftentimes, like a blind defenseless sheep, were just unaware or unwilling to see the reality of what could be called spiritual warfare. But Jesus wants us to be aware, so that we can then recognize the beautiful gift he is proclaiming about himself, that if we trust the good shepherd, if we follow the good shepherd, the good shepherd leads us to an abundant life.

George Wright: 08:44 How do we experience what Jesus is talking about? Verse 11, I am the good shepherd. The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." If you're like me, you want to live an abundant life. If you're like me, you want to experience the best that life has to offer. If you're like me, you want to know that you are in good hands in this life. And Jesus is showing us exactly how it can happen in the statement that he makes about himself. Three aspects of the good shepherd I want to walk through, as we consider these next few verses in John chapter 10.

George Wright: 09:29 The first thing, is what we've just seen in verse 11, the good shepherd sacrifices for this sheep. The good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sheep. This is the foundational message of Jesus and why he came. For the son of man did not come to be served, Jesus says, but the son of man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. His life is given, so that the sheep who trust him can have abundant life, and anyone who is hearing Jesus say these words would recognize a good shepherd would in fact do this. A good shepherd feels responsibility and ownership of the sheep, they are his very livelihood, they matter to him. And he would do whatever it takes to protect them, to fight off an enemy, to fight off a predator, to run off a thief. A good shepherd is going to put his life on the line, day after day, to make sure that the flock is cared for. And here is Jesus saying, I am the ultimate good shepherd, I have come to lay down my life for the sheep. He shows us the lengths he was willing to go, to sacrifice, so that the sheep could truly experience abundant life.

George Wright: 11:10 I want to turn your attention now to one of, what I believe is, the most beautifully liberating passages of scripture about Jesus and why he came. Turn with me if you would, over to Philippians chapter 2. We see the apostle Paul talk about why Jesus came, and what Jesus has accomplished so that we might truly live. I want to begin in verse 5, Philippians 2 verse 5, it says, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." What is the scripture saying here? The scripture is saying the good shepherd is willing to sacrifice for the sheep. The good shepherd became like a sheep to lay down his life as the perfect sacrificial lamb, so that the sheep who trust in him can find true life. Not only does the shepherd protect the sheep, and provide for the sheep, but the shepherd is willing to give his life so that the sheep might live. What an amazing gift, what an amazing blessing to recognize this invitation into abundant life is given to us by one who was willing to lay it all on the line so that we might live.

George Wright: 13:03 But Jesus then holds this up, in sharp contrast, to those that he calls hired hands. Look back at John 10 verse 12 and 13 he says, "He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own 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 cares nothing for the sheep." You see, Jesus is wanting us to understand with even more clarity, Hey, you've got to see the difference in who I am, and who those others around you might be that are deceiving you or seeking new lead you astray. And Jesus is saying there are some who are like hired hands, and at the first moment of danger where they feel threatened at all, they're gone. They could care less about the sheep. A hired hand would not sacrifice his life for his sheep, because he's just there to collect a paycheck. He doesn't care about the sheep, he really just cares about himself, and he's more concerned with protecting his own life than he would ever be with protecting the life of the sheep. But Jesus is saying, that's not me at all, that's not why I came. No, I came because I do feel responsibility for the sheep, I am the sole provider for the sheep, and so I am willing to lay down my life that the sheep might truly live. The good shepherd sacrifices for the sheep, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

George Wright: 14:53 Near the end of John 10, verses 27 and 28, we see Jesus say, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and (listen) they will never perish, for no one will snatch them out of my hand." You see, the abundant life that Jesus is talking about is certainly the gift of true life, life of purpose and meaning and significance in this life. But it is a gift of life that is rooted and grounded in the promise of eternity, and the promise that if you trust your life to the good shepherd, there is no one and nothing that could ever snatch you out of his hand. The sheep that belonged to the good shepherd are sealed as his possession, sealed in his promise, and there is nothing that can separate the good shepherd from his sheep.

George Wright: 15:59 Think about the confidence of this. Here we are in this season of uncertainty, so many people telling us what to do, and how to live, and speculating as to what's going to happen next. And there's so much unknown, and there's so much confusion, and we're all seeking for clarity, and it can be overwhelming, and it can be frightening, and it can elicit anxiety, and it can be really, really difficult to navigate. In the midst of it all, is there a confidence that is the foundation of your life? Because Jesus is inviting us into a confidence that can serve as the foundation of our life, no matter what circumstance we face, no matter what difficulty we navigate, no matter how uncertain things are around us. Jesus is saying in me, in me, you can have confidence, not only that you will experience the abundant life here and now, but nothing can separate you from my love. No one can snatch my sheep out of my hand, for the shepherd has laid down his life for the sheep. The confidence of Christ.

George Wright: 17:30 Secondly, we go back to our scripture for today, verse 14 of John chapter 10. And we see not only does the good shepherd sacrifice for the sheep, but the good shepherd truly loves the sheep. This is not just about duty or obligation, this is about a love that the shepherd has for the sheep. Look at what it says, verse 14, I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." If we think about a life that is truly abundant, there is no greater gift than to know that you are fully known and fully loved, and that's what Jesus is talking about here. You see, this term 'to know' is actually a very intimate term. It's a term in scripture that was often used to talk about a marriage relationship, where a husband and a wife truly know one another, they know everything about one another, they know the real person. And Jesus is saying as the good shepherd, I know my sheep, I know every aspect of their story, I know everything behind the curtain, I know all about the way they've lived. I even know their thoughts, and the actions of their lives right now, and I love them. I know who they are, and I love them. And because I truly love my sheep, I lead them where they need to go.

George Wright: 19:18 Oftentimes, this is hard for us to wrap our minds around. Because sometimes the places we need to go and the things we need to say to see, are not the places we want to go and not the things we want to see. But I'll tell you, we're hearing story after story right now, in the midst of all this uncertainty, of God revealing things to individuals that they had never seen before. And then seeing things about God, seeing things about themselves, that perhaps they had been blind to before this experience that we're navigating now. And God, in his love, leads us where we need to go, he reveals to us what we need to see, because the good shepherd truly loves the sheep. I know my sheep, I knew everything about them. But that can be overwhelming at times to consider.

George Wright: 20:20 In a recent survey of church attenders around America, the question was asked, what's the first thing you think of when someone asks you, what do you think God thinks of you? And the number one answer was the word, disappointed. What do you think of when God thinks of you? The number one answer among church attenders was, disappointed. Is that how you feel? Do you think God is disappointed in you? It's easy to feel that way, because we know our flaws, we know our struggles, we know the things that are hidden in the dark that we don't want anyone else to see. And we think, if someone truly knew all this about me, they certainly would be disappointed. So if God really knows all this about me, he must be disappointed. I want to point you to one of my favorite quotes by a pastor named Timothy Keller, he says this, "Every day you are in the courtroom, every day you are on trial, and that's the problem. But do you realize that it is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance? The verdict is in, look at the cross, the verdict is rooted in love." What an amazing thing to consider, God, if you are in Christ, is not looking at your life based on your actions and constantly wagging his finger and frowning in disappointment at all of the things that you've done wrong, and all the flaws and missteps of your path. No, if you are in Christ, God looks at your life and do you know what he sees? He sees his son, he sees Jesus, he sees the gift of life that has come through the savior. And he looks at you as his child if you are in Christ, and he smiles, because the good shepherd loves his sheep. Knowing everything about them, he loves his own.

George Wright: 22:54 One of my favorite pictures of this, in the ministry of Jesus, is in Matthew chapter 3. When Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, it's a beautiful scene. And in verse 16 it says this, "When Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, (listen to this) “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The Father, who knows the son completely, who loves the son perfectly, looks down from heaven on his son and says, this is my boy, and I love my boy. He is my delight, my son, the pleasure of my life. I love my boy. Do you know, if you are in Christ Jesus, you are called a child of God, a son or a daughter of the Most High King. And as a son or daughter of the Most High King, all of the rights and the privileges of the son of God have been granted to you. And when the Father looks at your life, he sees the son and he is pleased. This is my boy, this is my girl, and I am pleased with my child. The good shepherd loves the sheep, the good shepherd knows the sheep, and the good shepherd has demonstrated his love through the sacrifice he has made for the sheep.

George Wright: 25:08 But finally, before we close this message today, I want to show you a third thing that is revealed about the good shepherd in John chapter 10. And that is this, the good shepherd unifies the sheep. Look at verse 16, Jesus said, "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." Now, we know from scholarly insight here, that the other sheep that Jesus is referring to are the Gentiles, those who are not the religious Jews. There was a belief at the time among the religious Jews, that when the Messiah came, he would come just for the Jews. And Jesus is saying, I have come not just for the Jews, but I have come for all who will trust in me. This gospel is available to all. And Jesus is saying, that even though the Gentiles are very different from the Jews, and even though the Gentiles have not been living like the religious Jews, and even though the Gentiles would have been seen as unworthy or unacceptable in the sight of the Jews/ Jesus is saying, they are invited into my fold, for there will be one flock with one shepherd. Think about the significance of this, two groups of people that seem to have nothing in common, the religious Jews and the pagan Gentiles. Jesus is saying, both are invited to trust and follow me, both are invited to the gift of abundant life if they will trust me, both are invited into the love of God. These two groups of people that seem to have nothing in common, are brought together as one flock, because there is one good shepherd who has sacrificed to demonstrate his love for all who will trust him. I love this verse because Jesus is saying, I am the shepherd who will bring people together from all walks of life, from all generations, from all places around the world, into one flock with one mission to lift high one name. The name that is above all names, is the name that unifies the people of God.

George Wright: 28:02 What a great reminder for us as a church, for sheep can be stubborn, and sheep can walk in blindness, and sheep can wander away, and sheep can become fixated on something that is not of most importance. And Jesus is saying to the sheep, look at me, I am the one that brings you together in my love, I am the one that has given my life for you. So live on mission, stand united, keep the name of Jesus above all else. For Jesus truly is the point. In the midst of all that is swirling around us, it is easy to become fixated and focused just on what we want or just on what we need. And yet, Jesus is here reminding us, keep your eyes on the good shepherd, he leads you where you need to go. He is your provision, he is your protection, and he is the very gift of God's love for you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, he is our leader, he is our provider, he is the answer, and he is the Lord. There is nothing more important than this, it is all about Jesus, so fix your eyes on Jesus and enjoy the abundant life that God has promised to his sheep. The good shepherd sacrifices for the sheep, the good shepherd loves the sheep, and the good shepherd unifies his flock, as we remember Jesus, Jesus is the point.

George Wright: 30:27 Let me pray for you as we close our time today. It's been a gift to share this day with you. Father God, we are so thankful for your love, and your grace, demonstrated to us through Jesus Christ. The beautiful gift that has been offered to us through the sacrifice that Christ made, going to the cross to offer his life for our sin. The shepherd becoming like a sheep, coming like a lamb, to lay down his life so that we could enjoy this beautiful gift of grace and mercy and forgiveness, granted to those who believe, Oh Lord, give us the faith to follow the shepherd. Give us the faith to go where you lead us. I pray, Lord God, that we would rest in the confidence of your love, that we would live in the gift of abundant life, and then we would join together for the sake of the mission to lift high the one name that is above all names, the name of Jesus. Oh Lord, may our eyes be fixed on you. We are reminded day after day of our need for you, our need for the shepherd, and we praise you for the incredible gift that you have given us through Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 32:08 Lord, I pray specifically for those joining us today who have never experienced a relationship with Christ in a personal way. I pray that today would be the day that they hit their knees, and they say, Jesus, I need you. They confess with their mouth, Jesus, I need you. And they invite the Savior to forgive their sin, to cover them and grace, to make them new, and to walk them into the abundant life that is granted to all who trust in Jesus. Oh Lord, we praise you for this beautiful gift, and we pray that more and more would trust in you as we look to Jesus above all else. Thank you for this time. It's in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 33:11 We're sure praying for you. We love you. We hope to be sharing a plan with you very soon about what we're looking forward to as we begin to regather as a church in person. But until that day, thank you for joining us online, and we look forward to seeing you again real soon. Happy Mother's Day, and God bless.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206