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Communion Presbyterian Church ARP

John 10: A Sheep Pen

INTRO = Picture and

 

ESV 1 Samuel 24:1 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi." 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. (explain)

 

John 10:1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 

à this figure of speech = has the elements of a parable, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  It’s not much of a story, but it has the effect of many parables, the people didn’t get it!  They didn’t understand the point.  And why should they, Jesus is talking to a bunch of city kids, religious leaders who never had to work in the fields.

à But here we see some more aspects of shepherding.  I was asked at a retreat by one of my mentors, “Kent, are you taking a Sabbath day’s rest in your work as a church planter?”  And my reply was, “When does a shepherd get to rest?”  My point was this” A shepherd LIVES with his sheep, he must constantly monitor his flock 24/7.  However, it is clear from John 10, that temporary help can be hired so the shepherd can take a break.  In fact, a few shepherds can herd their flocks together in a large sheepfold, and then hire someone to watch the sheep for a time.  When the shepherd returns, he just has to make is unique sound, and his sheep will follow him out of the sheep pen.  A shepherd’s voice is known to the sheep.  Shepherds of the east don’t use dogs to corral the flock or tag their sheep, they just make their unique call, and his sheep follow – they won’t follow the sounds of another.  And with that unique call, they just walk ahead, and the sheep trail behind.

à Since the people hearing this analogy didn’t get it, Jesus tries it again.  Same motif, different aspect.

 

7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

à So with our depiction on the family page, we get a clearer picture of what Jesus said about being the door.  It’s not about him getting unhinged, it’s about him being the only way in or out  to safety and pasture.  Jesus came so that those who go through him will have abundant life.

 

11 I am the good shepherd.

 

à You will recall that Shepherds were a despised lot, among the lowest on the social strata.  Jesus reminds them that he is a GOOD shepherd, in case they only thought the opposite.  He even uses an infrequently used word for GOOD to do it.  Remember the conversation about a rich young ruler coming to Jesus as saying, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus says, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”  Well the predominant word for good in the greek is Agathos == which means being morally upright.  But when Jesus says he is the GOOD Shepherd, he uses the word Kalos == which means the beautiful or noble.  For example, If I say Tiger Woods is good, you know that I’m referring to his skill as a golfer, not to his moral character – I’m not trying to impugn his character, I just don’t know anything about it really – all I know is that we graduated from the same HS, so he’s probably a little bit sleazy.   Well Jesus says he is the nobly Skilful Shepherd; which makes us recall the huge theme of shepherding in the scriptures and we can just see a battle between the Psalm 23 type shepherd which we sang about this morning, and the evil Ezekiel 34 shepherd which we read about this morning – Jesus is the good Shepherd…

 

11 The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

 

à vs. 16, Jesus says he has other sheep {Alla probate} in the GK.  I still remember the first person who introduced me to this passage.  A Mormon missionary who told me that the other sheep to whom Jesus was referring was the wandering Jewish tribes who had made it to Central America.  I was impressed; but confused, because it just made sense to me as a young man, that this was a reference to non-Jewish folks for whom Jesus would also die and rise for; which is the standard, historical interpretation of vs. 16

 

– This item will figure again prominently as we close.

 

à vs. 18, Jesus says he can lay down his life and take it up again.  This is a tremendous prediction of his own resurrection, but it is also a profound statement of his self understanding in the constellation of Jewish prophets.  Recall again with me the death of Moses.  He was unable to enter the Promised Land, and he was granted a final request, “God please establish a ruler over Israel to shepherd your people.”  Moses knew he was going to die, and that was that.  Jesus says, I’m going to die, but that is NOT THAT.  I’m not just lying in a sheep pen opening to rise up the next day, I HAVE the authority to rule and shepherd the powers of death and resurrection – this means I will ALWAYS be the good shepherd, because my life and ministry will not end – like Moses’ did, and Joshua, and David, and Etc, etc.

 

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?" 21 Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

 

à I like the tension here!  Because I know, as a clear thinking rational human, what Jesus says in the Gospels makes him a crazy man!  I don’t care how many people he heals, he says crazy things.  But since he backs up what he says be what he does, especially by the resurrection – JESUS RULES!  And whoever you are to refute him, I MOCK YOU!  You are no authority to me – until you show me something better. I’ll wait.

 

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

 

à The Feast of Dedication is Hanukah.  It is a celebration no where mentioned in the OT.  There are no winter feasts in the OT. Hanukah begins some 160 years before Christ as a commemoration of the Maccabean revolt over the Greeks – when the Jews, after 3 years of guerilla war, forced the Greeks out of Jerusalem, and they cleans and rededicate the temple which had been desecrated by the Greeks – this is the lowly temple rebuilt by Zerubabel under the supervision of Ezra – After the force the Greeks out, the Jews find some undefiled oil and light the menorah and it stays lit 8 days – festival of lights!

à Jesus is now walking in Herod’s temple (the third temple).  I can just see Jesus walking under the porches of Solomon, thinking, “Hmmm, Herod really embellished here – making the temple grounds twice as large as the original plans.”  But Jesus did a lot of teaching on these expanded grounds (in fact the early church meets in Solomon’s porch too). And again, another verifiable archeological touch point with reality.

à Jesus has told them sort of a parable, but now they want some plain talk, “are you the Christ?”  “It’s the Feast of Dedication Jesus, are you going to cast out the Romans like Judah Maccabee cast out the Greeks – we want some action from you!  Jesus reply is, “If you can’t tell by my actions if I’m the Messiah or not, you’re just not going to get it!  I have given you sign after sign, but you’re too sheepish to follow me.”

à But they finally do get Jesus’ plain talking when he says, “I and the Father are one!”

3 interpretive clues here to determine that Jesus is really claiming deity – that he is God!

1. GK construction:  read it literally, I and the father ONE are.  There is an emphasis  on the cardinal number one.  Most of the time, the parsing of a verb tells you if the verb refers to one or many – But HERE, the number is included to emphasize ONEness – not anything else but a set of ONE.  No one in purpose, NO one in influence == numero Uno!

2. Jesus leads up to the famous statement by showing how his hand and the father’s hand are the same hand – no one can take anything out of each hand, because they are the same hand

3. The Jewish response proves the interpretation – they wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy. ESV Leviticus 24:16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

They were about to carry out the procedure for a blasphemer, stoning

 

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" 33 The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."

 

à The original audience interpreted the statement accurately.  John 10.30 is a passage we must memorize, right with John 4.24, and John 8.58, which indicate Jesus identity as Messiah and God.  Again, Jesus has said throughout this chapter, I AM the door, I AM the good shepherd – he has been leading us into the deity discussion from the very beginning!

à But what about this Feast of Dedication?  This was supposed to be the time when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” as they light the menorah, right?  No, he just said this last chapter with the man born blind.  But the Feast of Dedication was not intended to be about lighting the menorah – that became a feature much later on.  It is really about how the Jews removed every defiling gentile influence and made the temple purely Jewish again – dedicated just to the one true people of God!  It is the most nationalistic celebration on the Jewish calendar à Hooray; we rid the temple of foreigners!  Only true Jews need apply.  And here is Jesus saying, “I have another flock that I am going to bring in – and they will be one under me!  I am the dedicated shepherd who will not stop until it is accomplished!  So while you Jews are rejoicing in a day of solitary unity – I, as the true shepherd of Israel, will rejoice in the reality of a unified flock, even from among the gentiles, and they will all hear my voice!  And all these sheep will know that I and the father are one, and these will be the sheep of my hand.”

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