Sermon – November 17, 2019

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John 10:1-10 – A Metaphor of Sheep (mp3)

When people today call others sheep, they typically mean it as an insult. It is meant to indicate someone who is only capable of following, unable to lead or to have original thoughts on their own. Biblically, though, while sheep were known to be dull and helpless, being called the sheep of God’s pasture was not meant as an insult, but rather as a comfort. Truth is, we are fairly dull in knowing how to handle the world, and what’s more, we need a great deal of protection and care. Jesus in John 10 provides us with a metaphor, a figure of speech, that we will explore, that we may learn how Jesus protects us and his great love for his people.

1. The sheep
The people of God are often known as the sheep of his pasture. We, like sheep, often do not walk wisely in the world, and need protection. We hear the voice of our great Shepherd, Jesus, and respond to it. We hear his voice in Scripture, we know his position in authority, and we respond obediently. Not all of the sheep in the pen are his, but his do hear his voice and come out obediently. He is the shepherd who will lead us in wise paths, towards rich lands and clean water.

2. The door
Jesus tells us that he is the door. The door does two things for us: he gives us access to the pasture that we need, and protects us from our enemies. Jesus gives us access to the food that we need, to the manna that is truly from heaven. We don’t just get sustenance, but we get rich food for feasting. It is not just life, but life abundant! What is more, he protects us from those who are our enemies, from those who seek to do us harm. No harm from such animals can befall us if we are safe with him. But, you must enter this safety through him. Those who feel that God is for them, that he has a wonderful plan for them, but have no time for Jesus are fooling themselves. If you don’t enter through the door of Jesus, you are outside his protection, and the bears, wolves, and foxes of this world will get you in the end.

3. The shepherds
This brings us to the shepherds, the good and the thieves. Jesus, as the good shepherd, leads his sheep where their is abundant water and food. He gives us all we need. But there are others, who refuse to use the door. Friends, these you need to be aware of. Jesus loves you, but so do they. They love what they can get from you! So beware of those who don’t enter by the door. If they are not preaching Jesus, if they don’t make it their task to worship him, if they are more interested in courting you or in their own applause, it is likely that they have not come in through the gate. They are thieves and robbers, who have come only to steal, kill, and destroy.