Sermon on John 10:1-10
Text: “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Today’s market is crowded with safety devices. As our world becomes more and more violent, the need for such things grows. There are dead bolts and lights with timers. Some people purchase security systems for their houses. Because we live in such a world, we are also careful to teach our children about safety. We don’t want any harm to come to them. We teach them not to say their parents aren’t home, when the telephone rings. We also tell them not to let strangers into the house. Don’t let strangers in. This morning, Jesus tells us a story, using the picture of sheep, a fold and shepherds. He warns us WATCH WHOM YOU LET INTO YOUR LIVES. 1. There Are Dangerous Intruders. 2. Only Let In The Good Shepherd.
Jesus told this story to people after he healed a man of blindness on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were upset that Jesus had done this. They felt that he was breaking the Sabbath Law. Jesus had not broken God’s law regarding the Sabbath. The Jewish religious leaders, over the years, had added other laws to God’s law. They said that these additional laws also had to be kept. In essence, the Pharisees were teaching that you got to heaven by what you did. Jesus told this parable to point out to everyone the Pharisees’ sin of leading others astray, so that the people would avoid their teaching. Jesus also told this story in the hope that the Pharisees would repent of their sin and follow him.
Jesus said in verse 1, “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” A sheep pen was a walled enclosure, designed to protect the sheep during the night. The walls were high and often had thorns on top to keep the sheep in and the wild animals out. There was a gate, which was guarded by a door keeper during the night to make sure that no unwelcome guests would enter. Obviously, because of that door keeper, if someone was going to steal some sheep, he would have to climb over the wall.
What does Jesus mean by the picture? The sheep are the Holy Christian Church, that is to say, all believers. The thieves and the robbers who try to steal the sheep are false teachers who try their level best to take people away from God’s kingdom. Indeed, there are many false teachers out there, who try to get you to wander away from God’s flock to become a part of their flock. These are the thieves and robbers that Jesus is talking about.
What is their purpose? Jesus says in verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” This is the goal of these thieves. Anyone, who does not correctly teach God’s Word, is out to “steal and kill and destroy.” Our minds might think of some of the more violent people like David Koresh or Jimmy Jones, who murdered all their followers. Yes, it is easy to see how they kill and destroy.
However, Jesus is also talking about those nice people that you know. He is speaking about the Mormon church or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not believe that Jesus is true God. He is speaking about some of the Christian churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches that God gives you the start on your road to salvation and it is up to you to do the rest. He is speaking about the Robert Schulers, the Billy Grahams, who only taught a part of God’s Word, but leave out whatever may offend people. There are many others that do the same things today. These are just a few examples of the thieves and robbers who surround us.
Yet, you might be thinking, ‘They’re such nice people. How can they be trying to steal and kill and destroy?’ Outwardly, they may be good people, but that is all part of Satan’s trick. You start to feel comfortable around them. However, those who follow them will find death and destruction. On the Last Day, when it says that Jesus will separate all people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, those who wandered off will be destroyed, along with the thieves who took them from the flock of God.
It is because of this that we must be very careful about whom we let into our lives. Jesus tells us that we are to keep away from those who teach contrary to God’s Word. He uses the picture in verse 5, “They (the flock) never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Often, sheep are pictured as being rather foolish animals. Yet, they have enough sense to run away from someone who is not their shepherd. May we also have enough sense to run away from those who do not teach God’s Word correctly, for they are dangerous intruders, who seek to steal, kill and destroy. May we be careful about whom we let into our lives.
However, there is one we are to let in and that is the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He is not out to kill or destroy us. Rather, as the Good Shepherd, he is there to protect us. Jesus uses two different pictures in the story to teach us about his care for us. He calls himself a shepherd and a gate.
Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and he proves that by the way he takes care of us. Immediately following our text, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Part of being a shepherd was the protection from wild animals, who threatened the flock. At times, the shepherd would place himself in harm’s way to protect his flock. For example, David told of how he had killed a lion and a bear with his sling to protect his sheep.
So also, our Good Shepherd risked his life, indeed, gave up his life, to save us, his flock from certain death. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross served to save us from the debt of sin that we owed to God. With his death, he crushed the power of Satan, who is no longer able to accuse us of sin. This is true because all our sins were paid for by Christ. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who gave up his life, so that we might have life, eternal life with God.
Jesus also describes the actions of a good shepherd. He says in verse 3, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Isn’t that comforting to know that Jesus knows each of us individually! So many times, in our busy world, we feel like we get lost in the shuffle. We feel like we are just a number in a computer’s memory file. However, Jesus knows each of us by name. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows when we are having problems in our lives and, as our Good Shepherd, he comes to help us. Because he knows each of us individually, he also knows when we are beginning to stray and goes out to bring us back to himself. We belong to the flock of the Good Shepherd, who knows each one of us and loves us. He loved us enough that he laid down his life for us. Jesus is our Good Shepherd.
Jesus describes himself in another way. He says in verse 7, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. We can learn several things from this comparison, as well. That gate of the sheep pen would keep out anyone or anything that would seek to harm the flock. Jesus acts like a gate when he keeps harm from us. He is our protection. Many are the times when the evil that would befall us is turned away. Jesus keeps us safely within his fold.
The gate was, also, the only way into the sheep pen. The sheep as they entered the pan at night or went to the pastures in the morning to graze, would have to go through the gate. This is also true with Jesus. The only way to become a part of God’s flock is through Jesus. There are so many people who try to find other ways into God’s kingdom, but they will never find one. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:16) We praise our God that, through the working of the Holy Spirit, we have been shown the way into God’s kingdom, and it is only through Jesus Christ. He is the gate to salvation, the Good Shepherd that laid down his life that we might be set free.
One of the favorite portions of Holy Scriptures is the Twenty-third psalm. What a beautiful picture it paints of our Lord’s loving care and concern for us. We praise our God for making us a part of his flock. May we act like the flock of God, fleeing when strangers’ voices lure us away from the flock. Let us obediently follow the Good Shepherd, listening to his voice as he leads us to the green pastures and still waters. Indeed, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1) Amen.
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