The Good Shepherd: What He is Doing, Why He is Doing It, and How it's Going to Get Done

The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 4

As Jesus' ministry on earth continues to unfold and His character and ultimate mission come into greater focus, the dividing line becomes increasingly well-defined. With clarity, hearers will either become more devoted or more entrenched in their opposition. For Jesus to call Himself the Good Shepherd is a comfort to many but an outrage to others. Who do YOU say He is?

Todd WagnerMar 25, 2012John 10:1-21; John 9:35-10:21; John 3:16-19; Matthew 11:7-14; Micah 2:1-13; Proverbs 15:2; Malachi 4:5

Father, thank you for a chance to be together this morning. I pray you would teach us now from your Word, that you would drive us to clarity. We thank you that because you love us, you speak truth and the intention of you speaking and revealing truth is to set us free.

Those of us who are not able to discern truth because our lives are prone to error, all our rationalizations and reason and enlightenment will not lead us to true light, but you will, you who are the light of the world. We thank you for your grace. We thank you for a chance this morning for clarity to come to each of our lives. In Christ's name, amen.

Well, we are making our way through the book of John. It is God's greatest effort to bring clarity to you on the person of Jesus. Jesus was God's greatest effort to bring clarity to you on his own person. He is, as we've entitled this entire series, The Visible Image. Do you want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus.

He says, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father…""If you've heard me, you've heard the Father. If you know the Father, you would know that I am from him. If you love the Father, you would love me. If you love me, you love the Father. I am the visible image of the invisible God. All that the Prophets and the Law have ever revealed to you points toward me."

He is there to give you clarity about the nature and character of God. The book of John is unique amongst even all the Gospels in trying to make the case who this Jesus is. The book of John is pure propaganda. Propaganda, by the way, can either be errant or true. It can be an argument for. It typically has a negative connotation, but let me just say this.

The book of John is the Holy Spirit's effort to make a case that this Jesus is who you must trust in, follow, love, adore, and worship. There is no hope apart from him. That is either flat crazy or it's the only thing that you need to know. I'm not going to tell you what I think. It doesn't matter what I think.

When I communicate, I'm not up here to try and convert you or convince you of anything. Because if I can convince you of something, somebody else can convince you of a different thing. My job is to do the best I can to represent what I think God has revealed in his Word. You must study the Scripture on your own.

You must be like the Bereans to test it to see if it is so. At the end of the day, you will be accountable for what you decide. Not about me, not about Watermark, but about Jesus and who he is. "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it." Jesus, in trying to bring clarity, often uses simile and metaphor. He speaks in story and parable. He does everything he can do to illustrate.

He says things like this. "I am the bread of life…" We've already talked through that in John 6. I explained to you what he is saying there is, "I am the one who can ultimately satisfy you." Jesus said, "I am living water," where if you will come to him and drink of him, you will never thirst again.

He said, "I am the Light of the world…""All you who are left in darkness, all of you who are stumbling around. You have the bruises and the scars and the despair to show that you don't know where to find life and light." He said, "I am the Light of the world…" Jesus is now going to continue to just up his clarity.

So today he is going to say, "I am the door…" He is going to say, "I am the good shepherd…" We're going to find out that in the next chapter, he is going to say, "I am the resurrection and the life…" All of these are leading up a culmination of the ultimate statement of clarity where he says, "I am the way, and the truth…" Not, "One of the many different people who will reveal truth." "I am truth embodied. I am God. I am "…the truth, and the life…" You can't have a relationship with the Father except through me."

There is increasing clarity and that is kind, very kind. Now I'll tell you what happens when there's clarity. There is either radical belief or people go really ballistic. In other words, "Why can't we just all get along? Why can't we just all have our own ideas and love each other and care for each other and help each other out and everybody just get along?"

When somebody is saying, "No. Listen, I'm going to be kind to you. I'm going to be loving toward you. I don't need to pronounce judgment on you. You're going to make your own judgment based on your own decision about what is right and what is wrong, but I do need to be clear."

I often say this, "If the way that I say something offends you, for that I will seek your forgiveness all day long and look to improve in the way that I communicate." Solomon observed rightly, "The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly." I want to say what I can say as well as I can. I realize I get in the way of truth a lot.

I tell people, "Look, if the way I'm saying it is a problem, I will ask your forgiveness, but if what I say is what offends you, no matter what my bedside manner is, it's just the clarity of the truth of the message is what bothers you? For that I will not seek your forgiveness because I think it's loving to be clear."

I say that because you're going to find that God is infinitely clear. He has made one man unique, and it was because he wasn't just a man. This is what we believe. We're going to love you if you disagree, but I'm going to tell you that you will be under judgment based on what you decide. I'll say it again. "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it."

So what's the increasing clarity and truth? What would you do if you had just got through saying that you are the light of the world, that you can shepherd people who were used to making their way through the dark and banging their shins and falling off ledges? What would you do to show that you don't just make a claim, but you have the means to back it up?

Well, what Jesus decided to do was to grab a blind man and give him sight. Now what happens when he has done that is that this blind man, who was nameless and devoid of hope, who was at his very creation and nature unable to see, he, by grace, sought him out and found him and gave him what he otherwise could not have.

He further illumined him in his understanding. He let that man give testimony of him. He let that man suffer hardship in giving that testimony. I titled that little message that we did on John 9, A Blind Man You'd Better See Yourself In. If you haven't had a chance to listen to that or go back over it, I would encourage you to go back and listen to John 9, because it is the clearest picture of what a true believer is in your New Testament.

The other thing you can say about John 9, is that he was the first of the little lambs of the Good Shepherd where he is calling out from this scattered and abused and tortured flock those who are under false shepherds and bringing them back underneath the Good Shepherd. Even as I said a while back, I will repeat again. This is what we all are. We are lost. We are unable to find anything on our own. We are then sought out by grace, by a sovereign deity.

Even though we're outcasts, we're brought near. We are healed. Then we stand faithfully. We give testimony to our Savior and we grow in and continue in our faith. That is the man in John 9, and that is what is true of every part of God's family. You'd better see yourself in that little man in John, chapter 9. What I want you to see yourself in also this morning is in a conversation with Jesus where he is calling you to make a decision.

There was no middle ground then in John 10, where we're about to be, and there is no middle ground now. You either think Jesus is insane or you think he is the incarnate one. You think he is crazy or Christ. You think he is a demon or you think he is deity. There really is no other option. He is going to drive that question home.

When Jesus got done with his little interaction with the blind man and the interaction with the Pharisees and the people who were watching what was going on… Let's go right back to John 9. There really is no break between John 9, and John 10. I've said this many times. We just put chapters and verses down there so we can all run to the same place quickly together.

We don't have to unroll the scroll and just read it to you. We all have our own scrolls or in the case of 2012, our own iPhones. So open your Bible app or hopefully, you have a Bible. Open that up and let's take a look. We're going to start in John 9. We're going to continue through this theme.

What you're going to see in John 10 is a drive to clarity. What you're going to see is John 10, is very red. The words of Christ as he says, "I love you, and so I'm going to let you know the truth. I think that the truth will set you free. It will give you eyes to see." I will tell you that when you look at metaphors that God uses for himself in Scripture, the one that he uses more than any other is the idea of Father.

I've heard a guy say recently, who had an absent and an abusive dad, "I think that's a marketing mistake." For God to position himself as a Father is a marketing error in America in 2012. Because a lot of folks when they hear the word father, are like, "No, no, no. My daddy is a self-seeking man. He loved his own pleasure. He loved his own designs for greatness and meaning more than he loved me, more than he loved my mom. So when I hear the word father, that does not draw me to God."

So let me just say this. That is not how God intended it to be. There are lots of people who are called to be image-bearers who don't bear that image very well. Father is still an excellent metaphor for God. A loving Father, a self-sacrificing, servant-minded, do-nothing-from-selfish-or-empty-conceit father makes it very easy to say, "Let me tell you. I'm a tainted picture in all my love for you of the perfect loving Father."

Let me give you God's second-favorite metaphor for himself. This one is not a marketing mistake. Because there's really no place in the world that anybody sees this particular profession at work who doesn't go, "That is good." It's the profession of shepherd. It's not a well-thought-of… You don't go to college to study shepherding.

You might study bovine development and animal husbandry, but you don't really go study to be a shepherd. Shepherd is something you just choose to be: to be present, to love, to give your life for the flock, to lead them by still waters, to let goodness and mercy come over them. Sheep are the most helpless animals in all the animal kingdom.

Sheep can't dig. They can't camouflage. They have nothing to fight. All they do is grow wool and baa. They are the most helpless animal in the world. It really is almost a trick question. One guy said this, and I agree with him, that when you ask the question, "What is the most helpless animal in the world?" The answer is sheep.

"What is the most powerful animal in the world?" The answer is sheep, when they're with their shepherd. Sheep are completely helpless, but when you put them with a shepherd, lions and bears and wolves have absolutely no means to get to them because the shepherd, who is greater than the wolf and the lion and the bear, is aligned with him.

One would say they are symbiotic with their shepherd. They're as strong as their shepherd or as vulnerable as their shepherd. We are called sheep. We are helpless. We aren't good for much unless we have a shepherd who cares for us. Jesus is going to say, "I am that shepherd." Now when you go back and you read in your Old Testament, the idea of God being a shepherd is thick through your Bible. Jacob says, "The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…"

David said, "The LORD is my shepherd…" The psalmist writes about how God led his people like a shepherd through the wilderness, out from bondage and into life. You'll find that Jesus hates the false prophets and false teachers and false shepherds of Israel. He says one day he'll show up. He'll judge the false shepherds. He himself will be the Great Shepherd in Ezekiel 34.

What you're about to see is the fulfillment of prophecy right here in John 10. Jesus has no illusion about who he thinks he is. He is not deluded unless he is a lunatic, but he is absolutely certain who he thinks he is. He thinks he is the Great Shepherd. He thinks he is the Chief Shepherd. He thinks he is the Good Shepherd.

He thinks he is the prophetic fulfillment of all that God's people have always looked for. Some thought he was insane because he said it. Some thought he was that Shepherd. You have to decide. Let me read this for you. I'm going to pick it up actually in John, chapter 9, and we'll pick it right up there in verse 36. Jesus had gone back to this blind man. He was going to give him more insight. He found this guy.

"He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' He answered, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.'" It is me. I am the Son of Man. It's a messianic claim. It is a claim to be one with God. "And he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshiped Him."

That's what followers do. We don't admire him. We're not fans of him. We don't just follow him from a distance. We worship him and we say, "He is my King and my Lord." "And Jesus said, 'For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.'"

I just want to stop right here. I'm going to read when I get to John 10, all the way through. Then I'm really going to come and teach and just focus on almost the first part of that, but let me explain something to you here when he says this. "For judgment I came into this world…" This seems like a contradiction from something that he said earlier, but let me show you what he is doing.

We're going to go back to John 3, for just a second. I'm going to read you in John 3, and see if you see a contradiction here. You all know verse 16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Now listen to verse 17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

Now way back there in John 9:39, he says, "For judgment I came into this world…" What does he mean? It says that he didn't come, "…into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." But John 9:39 again one more time he says, "For judgment I came into this world…"

What Jesus has said between John 3 and John 9 is this. "Look, I'm not going to judge you. You're going to judge yourselves. All authority has been given to me. All judgment has been given to me." In John 3, he is saying, "Look, it's good news for you that when I come, I'm not coming to bring ultimate judgment. Make no mistake. I am the lion of Judah. I am the God of righteousness and wrath and holiness, but I'm also the God of goodness and mercy.

The reason that I'm coming as a Lamb to give my life for you is I'm the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, who wants his sheep to find life. I'm not coming now just to clean house. I'm coming now to establish a true house. What you do with me now if you reject me? That will bring judgment on you. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son, does not have life." John, chapter 5, verse 24.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment…" What Jesus is saying in John 9:39, is he is not contradicting that he didn't come into the world to judge. He wasn't here with a rod of iron. He wasn't here to separate the wheat from the tare, the sheep from the goats at that moment. He was here to call his sheep out from abusive shepherds, to call his people out of darkness into light.

In John 9:39, all he is saying here is this. "Look, you're going to be judged based on what you do. You're going to stay in darkness. You're going to come to life." That's all he is saying. It's a pivot point. "You're going to know God's goodness or you're going to reject God's goodness. You're going to follow God or you're going to not follow God. It all comes down to me." Those are the Pharisees who are with him when he said this. They said, "You're not insinuating that we don't see clearly, are you?" "We are not blind…"

Jesus says in verse 41, "If you were blind, you would have no sin…" In other words, "If you said, 'I don't see who you are. Explain to me who you are,' then I would explain to you who I am, but because you say you see who I am and you think I'm a nut, you're blind, and you're in judgment. That's not going to work out well for you."

Chapter 10 is clarity. What he is going to do, he is going to continue to talk to the Pharisees and all who are listening because there is a division, it says, that arose and a discussion and a debate. That's exactly what I hope happens this morning. There is going to be a division in this room. There are going to be people who walk out of here this morning and go, "I want to worship Jesus. I want to order my life the way Jesus wants me to order my life."

Now look, this is very important. You can be deluded, you can be for Jesus, you can go, "Yeah, I think Jesus really was who he said he was and I think he is the right God," but you don't follow him. You don't trust him. You just have an opinion about him. He says, "Look, you have to do business with me." But some people are going to just say, "I want nothing to do with Jesus. I think he is crazy." That happened then. It'll happen now. Watch this. Let's just read John 10.

"'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.' This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of 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 is not concerned about the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.'"

Let me just stop right here and tell you I just basically walked you through three major parts. We're going to stop probably largely after the first one. I'll trickle a little bit into two today. Basically what he is going to do right here is he is going to say, "Let me tell you what I am doing. Let me tell you why I am doing it. Let me tell you how I'm going to get it done."

Let me say that to you again. You might want to write in your Bible. It's okay to write in your Bible. The words that are in print in your page? Those are inspired words of God accurately handed down through history. What you write in ink in your own handwriting? That is not inerrant. So don't be afraid to write in your Bible.

Verses 1 through 6, this is what he is doing. Then he is going to just throw out a figure of speech, and it's going to confuse them. He is going to go, "Well, let me 'splain it to you, Lucy." In verses 7 through 10, he is going to tell you why he is doing it. Then in verses 11 down through 17, he is going to tell you how he is going to get it done. Very simple. Very simple outline.

So let's just real quick touch on this, and I'll come back and teach it. What is he doing? What he is doing is gathering his sheep, just like he said he would in the Old Testament. "I'm going to come and when I see my people like sheep without a shepherd, I'm going to come myself and shepherd them." Why is he doing it? Verses 7 through 10. Very simple.

Because he is the Good Shepherd and he wants goodness and mercy for his sheep. That's Psalm 23, and it is John 10:10. "I'm doing this because I want them to have life and have it abundantly." Can I just say this to you real quick right here? Most of you (not all of you; there's a few…I hear from you) believe that God exists. You don't struggle with whether or not there is a God, but I want to tell you where you struggle. A lot of you struggle with the idea of, "Is God good? Is he really good?"

This is what the Enemy has always done. Let me just take you back to the very beginning. God said, "I'm good. You don't need anything but me. You don't need to know what good and evil are. You need to know me. If you know me, you know good. You don't need to decide what to do on your own. Just trust me. Look to me. Fellowship with me. Abide with me. Follow me. Love me. Look, is there anything lacking? This is Paradise. It's perfect for you and very good because there's nothing here that you need or want that is lacking."

We didn't believe that because we didn't believe God was good. The Enemy came and said, "God is not good. He doesn't care about you. He doesn't have your best interests in mind. His Word isn't true. Disobeying his Word is not that big of a deal." It's the original lie, and it's the one that still works.

Here's the reason you and I this week brought pain and struggle and bruises and difficulty into our lives. Because we, in our own blindness, believed that God wasn't good so we didn't look to his will and way. We didn't follow his Spirit. We didn't follow him. We still thought to find life in things separate from God or in ways that seemed right to man, so we sacrificed relationship, we sacrificed integrity, we sacrificed order, we sacrificed Sabbath because we really didn't believe that God was good.

When the Enemy can convince you that which is good is evil, he has you right where he wants you, which is to say he has you right where he can slaughter you because he is going to give you a false shepherd and a false shepherd always steals, kills, and destroys. There's only one Shepherd who cares about you. When he can convince you that Jesus isn't good, that his way is not the right way, the life-giving way, then you're going to look to another way and it's always going to bring pain.

Every time you give into temptation it's because you don't believe God is good. You think this way: "If God was good, he would let me do this. If God was good, he would give me this now. I don't have this now; therefore, God is not good; therefore, I have to come up with my own strategy to get it no matter what the cost. Peace in my home? I don't have peace. I'm going to use anger, intimidation, or abandonment to get peace. God says that's not the way to get it, but we think it is? Off we go. God's way isn't good."

Jesus is telling you what he is doing. "I'm calling you out of darkness. Why? Why am I doing it? Because I'm good. I'm not trying to rip you off. I'm trying to set you free." That truth will change your life. How is he going to do it? He is going to do it by not just laying his life down. Any fool can do that, but only God can lay it down and take it up.

He says twice, "I am the door." He says twice, "I am the Good Shepherd." He says four times, "I'm going to lay my life down. No one is going to take it from me. I'm going to lay my life down. No one is going to take it. I'm going to lay my life down. No one is going to take it. I'm going to lay my life down."

Now any fool can lay his life down, but he says, "I'm going to take it back up." That is why, in two weeks when we gather in here and we focus on him taking his life back up, we're going to sing. Because if that isn't true, then he is just like a lot of guys. Any mortal man can sacrifice themselves, but only God can make himself undead.

So Easter is a bit of a big deal. We don't wait for Easter to celebrate it. We live in that reality. By the way, what good is dead shepherd to sheep? Not much good. A lot of folks are following dead shepherds. They will usher you right into the teeth of the wolf. Jesus says, "I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Chief Shepherd. I am the Great Shepherd. I am the Living Shepherd. I will never forsake you. Follow me."

Watch what happens when he gets done with this in verse 18. We get to verse 19. I'm going to read down just three more verses then I'm going to come teach you something. "A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words." Just like then. Just like now. "Many of them were saying, 'He has a demon and is insane.'" Some of you think I'm crazy. I'm okay with that.

"'Why do you listen to Him?' Others were saying, 'These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?'" So let me just tell you. John 10 is to drive clarity. You're going to be on one side of the aisle or the other. Insane or incarnate? Demon or deity? Crazy or Christ? You have to choose. Not just with a vote, but with your heart.

Are you going to follow him? If this is God and he is a Good Shepherd, he is saying, "Hey man, goodness and mercy? Over here. Come on! Come on! Come on!" By the way, how loving is it that he brings clarity to where life is? It is incredibly loving that his message is so narrow. It's not like there are a bunch of guys who rose from the dead and we have to get through there and play a great game of Who Am I?

There is one who is risen from the dead whose words were affirmed by his works. Follow him. Look here. John, chapter 10, verse 1. "All right, boys. Do you want to see why your sin remains? Listen to me." "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door…""By me, who comes in through the only way that God said, you folks, those people are not real shepherds. They are folks who broke in who came another way. They are thieves and robbers."

When you try and get people to get into a relationship with God or when you tell others that you're in a relationship with God other than through the means through which God provides, the gate, the one way, which is going to be through goodness and mercy… It's always been… You go back to the very beginning, and every time humans have relationship with God, it is never through religious doing. It is not through attentiveness to detail or self-abasement. It is by throwing yourself upon the mercy of God.

I wore this shirt on purpose. First, I just got it; it was free. Secondly, it's clean..And, thirdly, it works well with what I'm talking about. There is a Mercy Street. This comes from our partner in West Dallas where kids are abandoned by their daddies. They are sheep without a shepherd. They are scattered everywhere. So a bunch of us jump in with them, put our arms around them, and we love them and we lead them. We care for them.

We want nothing from them but for them to escape the cycle of despair that typically defines their community. We're saying, "There is life out there. I know you're not in the middle of it, but here comes goodness and mercy to you at no cost to you. All you have to do is enter into a relationship with us, and all we have to do is shepherd you the way the Good Shepherd would shepherd you, and mercy awaits."

Jesus is saying, "I am the mercy street. If you try and get to God through any other way but me, then you are jumping over a fence and you are in there as a thief and a robber. You will be driven out." He goes on to say right there in verse 2, "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep."

Now I think what Jesus is doing here… This is, again… He is using a figure of speech. There are two things that are happening. One, I think Jesus is saying, "Look, I am the door and I am the gatekeeper." In other words, "I am God. I am judge. I decide who is righteous and who is not." I also think it's equally as true… Some theologians think he exclusively meant this. I can't be sure. It doesn't matter which one is right because they're both true.

God is the ultimate judge. He said he has given all judgment to the Son. In that sense, Jesus is the gatekeeper. I also agree that what Jesus is referring to here is something we've already seen. There is somebody who has already said that this Jesus is the one who you need to know. Who is it? It is John the Baptist.

See, here's what would happen. We have this over here for a reason. We'll light it up. When a shepherd who is always with his sheep would go away from his sheep for a while, he would put his sheep inside a pen. He'd tell them all to go in here, and they would be cared for like this. There would be a doorkeeper or a gatekeeper who would be told to stand here. It would be typically a young boy.

The shepherd would say, "Look at me. Remember me. Know me. Those are my sheep. Don't you let anybody in there to get them except me. I'll come. I'll open that. I'll call them, and because they're mine, they will come out. No one gets in there except me. No one comes out except my sheep because they'll know my voice."

Now if you don't want to be exposed and you want to get in there and be a sheep rustler, you're going to have to go somewhere outside around this little pen and jump the fence. Because if you get in there this way, that little boy is either going to be dead and they're going to find out who killed him or the boy is going to say, "There is somebody who came here and bullied me and took those sheep out."

There are folks who jump the fence who don't come through the gatekeeper. If you were a Jew, you listened to the prophets who spoke from God who told you about what God was going to do. The Old Testament closes with a little book called Malachi. In Malachi, chapter 4, you have this verse right there in verse 5. It says this. "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.""Before I come, before I reveal to you who I am, Elijah the prophet will come."

Now remember this, when Jesus came, he said something really funny. "I didn't come to be a great and terrible God who consumes you in your sin. I am the Good Shepherd. I came to seek and save the lost sheep of Israel and sheep who are not of the fold of Israel." Now it's interesting because you'll find in the second coming of Christ, it says that Elijah will also come before him, but there is a time in Jesus' ministry…

It comes in Matthew, chapter 11. I'm going to put it up here for you so you don't have to turn there. In Matthew 11, verses 7 through 14, he is talking about John the Baptist. He is teaching men about John the Baptist. He says,

"As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John [the Baptist] , 'What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, "BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU."'"

What's Jesus saying? There's someone who knows who the Good Shepherd is who will go before the Good Shepherd who will tell the people, "This is the Good Shepherd, sheep. Listen to him. Get ready for him. He is about to speak and when he speaks, you will recognize his voice. It will be the voice of God. It will be the voice of the Holy Spirit. He will draw you back into relationship with God."

He says, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!" Because it's the greatest role that a human could have, which is to be a person who gives testimony to the person of God. But he says, "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom…" Because what Jesus makes you is even greater than any human role you could ever have.

He says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.'" In other words, people try and break their way in. They don't come in through goodness and mercy. Then he says this. "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is [the gatekeeper] Elijah who was to come."

He was to tell you, "Okay, there's the Shepherd. Go ahead. Listen to him. Prepare yourself. Here comes his voice. This is the Lamb of God who is also the Shepherd. He's going to take away your sins, O sheep, all of you who have gone your own way. Each of you has turned to your own way. The Lord is going to cause the iniquity of you to fall on him because he is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep so the defenseless sheep who can do nothing can live."

Do you see that? That is what is called clear. What Jesus is saying right here is, "Look, John told you who I was. The gatekeeper said, "Sheep, listen up!" Check it out. It says, "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." What is he doing? He is gathering his sheep. Verse 4: "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice."

Now look, this is what's so great about studying your Bible. What does it mean that ashepherd goes out in front of them? I'm going to tell you. Whenever God used an illustration in the Old Testament to talk about how he rescues people who are victims, he uses this metaphor shepherd, again and again and again. In Micah, chapter 2, whenever God would pronounce judgment to the prophet Micah, he always ended periods of judgment pronouncement with a reminder of mercy.

"Mercy is coming. Pay attention." That's what John did. "Prepare. Judgment is coming, but here is going to come a Merciful One. Listen to him." Now in Micah, chapter 2, verses 1 through 11, he is just saying, "You guys are all listening to false prophets. You're listening to false teachers. They're telling you it's going to be a time of peace and prosperity when it's not. They are deceivers and flatterers and you're in trouble if you listen to them.

Look what he says in verses 12 and 13. In verses 12 and 13 of Micah, he says this. He says, "I am going to be the one who shepherds you and who leads you out." "I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in the fold…" Then verse 13. Watch. Remember in John he said, "The shepherd goes out in front of the sheep?" In verse 13, he says, "The breaker goes up before them; they break out, pass through the gate and go out by it."

What is a breaker? Well, breaker is another name for a shepherd. I looked up breaker this morning just because I'm a genius and I wanted to know. This is the definition of a breaker. "A breaker is one who breaks." I thought to myself, "You get an F right now from your high school English teacher, because you're not supposed to use a word to define a word."

A breaker is one who breaks. Meaning he pushes you through where you cannot go. Watch what happens. When you're a shepherd, you don't drive your sheep. Butchers drive sheep. Shepherds call their sheep and their sheep follow them. I told you sheep are defenseless. There are going to be lions up there that are going to try and devour you, and the shepherd will take them out with his rod and his staff. He will have wounds from that battle.

He will walk along a dangerous way, and he will go first. If it is not a solid piece of ground, he will slip and he will fall. He will scrape himself. He will get up. He'll make that way clear and firm or he'll find another way. He'll take his rod and he'll beat his way through the thorns and the brambles, because sheep will get stuck in that.

They'll be just sitting there waiting to be devoured by coyotes and wolves, so he himself will go through. Our Shepherd who goes before us is a bloody Shepherd. We follow one who has broken through. What are the obstacles to our green pasture? Sin. Death. Judgment. Enmity with God. This is what I love about some of the old saints, guys who wrote back in the thirteenth and twelfth century. You read some of what they say about stuff like this.

They make incredible observations like this. They say, "All of our hands live in rebellion against him, so his hands were pierced for us. Our feet have gone astray, so his feet were wounded for us. Our heads have thought differently of God so his head was pierced with a crown of thorns. Our hearts stray from him so his side was pierced."

We follow a bloody Shepherd who has gone before us and all the obstacles who keep us from God. He has made the way. That's what Jesus says. "I'm the breaker. I'm going to go out in front of you. Your greatest problem is you're at enmity with God. You are children of wrath." So what did our Good Shepherd do? He took your forsakenness. "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

See, that's an obstacle to life. Being enemies with God. What Jesus is saying, "I'll tell you what I'm doing. I am here to call people to me. I am here to give them life. I am that prophetic fulfillment of what a Good Shepherd does who makes clear the way. The breaker." It says in verse 4, "…he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice."

That's how a shepherd forms his flock. That's what the Scripture says. "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined…and these whom He predestined, He also called…" Do you know what's happening this morning? Some of you guys are out there and you're locking in. You're going, "Phew, that makes a lot of sense to me. My life is battered and torn and broken. I don't know how to get out of despair and the hopelessness I'm in. I am at enmity with God, and he is preaching life to me."

You know his voice. You are listening and you are in your seat ready to get out and worship him. Some of you guys are going, "What's he talking about? That's crazy." Are you going to sit here and kind of be okay with it or are you going to move on and mark it indifference. You know what? All I have to do is rightly represent what's here.

If you're his sheep, you're going to hear his voice. I'm not trying to convince you. I'm just trying to be clear. Am I being clear? I hope I'm being clear. I hope you hear his voice. I pray you do. "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." Do you want to know what? "That little blind man in John 9 isn't intimidated by you. He doesn't really care what you say you're going to do to him. You're going to put him out of the city, out of the temple. He couldn't care less because you're not his shepherd. He follows my voice."

That's what Jesus said. "Do not fear those who kill the body…" *"You just follow my voice." *"…rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." I go, "That's me. That's me." Then he goes and he says this in verse 6. "This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So Jesus said…""Let me just make it clear for you." "…I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers…'"

"These Pharisees? They're thieves and robbers. They're jumping over the side. They are devouring widow's houses. They are tying up birds and heaping them on your shoulders and they're calling you to things that they themselves don't even do. When they read God's Word, listen to them, but don't live like them.

They don't know goodness and mercy as the way to God. I am goodness and mercy. These guys are false shepherds. They are here to destroy you and kill you, and I am here to judge them in the sense that I'm going to pronounce upon them what is right and true, but I am the Good Shepherd, and I'm going to give my life for you. Now who are you going to follow?"

Folks, that is John 10, verses 1 through 6. Let me just close with this. A number of weeks ago, it was a Saturday and I got up and it was a great day because it was between sports seasons. My youngest son wanted to have a friend over and I said, "That's great. We have Saturday. We have lots of time. Let's just spend some time in the Word together. Let's talk about it."

Other things kind of got in the way, so his buddy came over there. He still hadn't been in the Word and so I said, "Hey, Camp, have you had time yet to be..?" "No." "That's okay. Just grab your buddy, and let's get down to getting in the Word together." I knew I had a moment because I knew that this young man was not typically around environments where we have these kind of conversations.

The three of us sat down, and I took them to Proverbs 4. It happened to be the fourth day of the month and so it was easy. We sat down with Proverbs 4. Proverbs 4 talks about how wisdom would have you listen to your father. Always a good devotional to lead if you're a dad. It just talks about how the reason that a father wants you to listen to him is because he loves you.

Because lots of people are going to tell you what to do, but a father only tells you what to do. This young man is on a lot of teams I coach. I said, "Let me ask you a question. What happens when you run routes the way I tell you to run routes? What happens when you field grounders the way I tell you to field grounders? What happens when you're in the batter's box and you have this stance and hold the bat this way and look at the ball and how the swing goes through this way?"

They go, "You get hits. You make outs. You catch passes. You throw to us." I go, "Does it work out well for you when you listen to me?" "Yes." There's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. I was like, "Can I tell you something? There's a lot of wrong ways to do things. Let's just turn to Matthew." We turn to Matthew, chapter 7, verses 13 and 14.

In Matthew, chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, it says, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." I just said, "Look, you guys have to learn the right way. That's what coaches are for. That's what dads are for. To help you find the right way.

Now is it a big deal to know how to run a route? Yeah. Big deal to know how to hit a ball? Yeah. Big deal to know how to field a grounder? Yeah. There's even a bigger way, a bigger deal, more important than that." I told him. I said, "Do you know what? Wouldn't you want to know if there was only one way to have a relationship with God what that way was?"

That young guy goes, "Well, yeah." I go, "Well, guess what? A loving father wants to make sure you don't miss that." I said this to him. "What's two plus two?" The kid goes, "Four." "Camp, what's two plus two?" "Four." "You just both gave me the same answer. Why did you both give me the same answer?" They go, "Because that's the right answer."

I said, "Are you telling me there's only one way to add two plus two? And any other way… Give me a wrong answer." He goes, "Seventeen. Nine. Twenty-three. Four thousand. Six million nine hundred and twelve." Then they had all this fun. I go, "How long could we go back and forth with all the wrong answers?" They go, "All day." I go, "But, what's the right answer?" "Four."

I said, "What's the right way to have a friendship with God?" I looked to the buddy. He goes, "I don't know." I said, "Guess what?" I took him to John 10. We read John 10, verses 1 through 7, and this little boy went… I said, "Hey, what's John 10 say is the right way to God? What's four in the two plus two to get into intimacy with the Father?" He goes, "It's Jesus."

I go, "That's right, and if you want to get through, where is the door? The door is Jesus and there is no other way in." He has been your breaker. He has gone before you and he has bloodied himself that you, O sheep, may not be devoured by sin and death and enmity with God. I'm either crazy or I know Christ. He is either insane or the incarnate one. What do you think?

Father, I pray that you would drive clarity into our hearts and we would respond to the truth that we have heard, and not just with intellectual assent, but we would do what little lambs always do. We would worship. We would fall at your feet. We would evaluate our week. We would look at our lives. We would look at our resources. We would look at our words, and we would say, "Not my will, but your will be done."

Father, deliver me from myself. We would run to under-shepherds that you have put out there for us and we would follow them that they would encourage us to know our Good Shepherd, Jesus. We thank you that you are the breaker, that you are filled with goodness and mercy. You haven't just called us to the way and winked at sin, but you have bloodied yourself that you might be both just and righteous and holy and still a justifier of those who need mercy and goodness. We thank you, O Jesus, for your love for us.

You know, I wore this shirt today for a couple of reasons. One is because it was new and clean. The other reason is because it represents what this is, man. This is the Mercy Street. There are not a lot of others. It's the shirt I got from one of our partners downtown where we're mentoring kids who are in oppression and darkness, who have been abandoned by false shepherds.

Some of us are just jumping in there and loving them and just saying, "Hey man, this is the way out. You don't have to repeat the cycle of destruction that's in this community. There is another way." So we are under-shepherds trying to represent the Good Shepherd on this street they call Mercy Street.

It's just a picture of the big merciful street that God has created through Christ alone through his cross. You know, you can decide to be mentored down there or not. You can decide to be mentored by Jesus, not just mentored, but be transformed, be made new. If you try anything else, anything else, there are many other ways to go, but they all lead to destruction.

There is one way, Jesus said. There is one way, the Bible says. There's one way, I believe, to get to God. I don't have to convince you. We just have to be clear. He is calling you out. If you're his sheep and you want out of the pen or you want into protection, I don't care which way you want to go, you can go in and out. You can find safety and security and restoration.

You can be free to walk in the world as a reconciler, as a person who can be light in the midst of darkness, as a person who now can see where everybody else was blind. You can walk among wolves and not be led astray because you listened to his voice. In and out, in and out. All because of Jesus, but you have to decide he is your King.

You can call him insane if you want. That's okay, but you'll be judged by your own decision that he has made very clear. You have to "…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…" Don't just intellectually agree. Worship him. That's what little lambs always do. Little lambs don't live in isolation. They are a part of a flock.

Right now, there are folks up there ready to help you assimilate, ready to get connected into community and shepherded, but you have to want it. You have to say, "That's what my Shepherd says. That's where I'm going. I'm not going to try and manage my life." Sheep without a shepherd are meals, but sheep with a living Shepherd are safe and secure. They go in and out and there is life there.

If you've never trusted in Jesus as your Shepherd, will you do that this morning? If you have, will you go call other sheep into the fold? Will you connect with others and seek him? He is waiting. Don't leave. Let us serve you. Let us seek him with you. Let us rejoice in what he has done together. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.