Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

04/29/12 Sermon

John 10: 11-18

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
 

I don’t know about you, but when we talk about shepherds like in today’s scripture reading one of the first things that comes to mind for me is David.

David, the shepherd boy who tended the sheep, carrying his staff, playing his harp, writing the many Psalms. We especially remember the 23rd Psalm and the imagery of the sheep and the shepherd.

David was truly the epitome of a shepherd; a shepherd who protected his flock, who wasn’t afraid of wild animals or wolves that threatened the sheep.
 

In  fact in the Old Testament when David was being questioned by King Saul about his ability to fight the great giant Goliath, David spoke of his qualifications of fighting bears or lions that threatened his father’s flock.

In fact he told King Saul:  "Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I'd go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I'd grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it”. (1 Samuel 17)

So if you were looking to hire a really good shepherd, David’s resume’ would certainly put him at the top of the candidate list.

But when we look at today’s scripture and read the words of Jesus there seems to be a discrepancy in the qualifications of what a good shepherd is.
 

Jesus talks about a good shepherd being someone who would lay down their life for the sheep.

Now David was obviously willing to lay down his life for the sheep, but Jesus’ job description for a good shepherd seems to have a different twist to it.
 
He talks about the expectation and the willingness to die while protecting the sheep.
 
I mean David had his weapons and his courage and his skill to kill wild beasts as well as to take care of Goliath.

But in Jesus’ portrayal of a good shepherd we read that His expectation wasn’t about going to battle to come out victorious in the gladiator way of the world.

Instead he was going to lay down his life in a way of submitting himself (for the purpose of defeating the ways of violence)……
 
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure I wouldn’t rather have David as my shepherd here than Jesus. After all, if I’m a sheep and my shepherd goes and gets himself killed….who do you think is next??!!

No, I think I’d hire little ole David with his slingshot, yanking up the wild animals by their hair, wringing their necks. I mean a good shepherd certainly isn’t a dead shepherd?

Jesus has to be mistaken here in his job qualifications---
 
For example, he also talks about a hired hand not being a good shepherd. But in this world hired hands can get you out of a lot of trouble.
 
Just ask OJ Simpson how his hired hands can get you out of trouble.

But then again,------ maybe Jesus is wanting to focus on something else when he speaks of what a good shepherd is.

Perhaps there’s more to this being GOOD than we think.
 
In fact, when I looked up the word good in the Greek that Jesus uses here, I found that it’s the word kalos.
 

And kalos means that a thing or a person is not simply good in abilities; but rather there is a quality of excellence in one’s nature and characteristics.

It’s about being noble, morally good and genuine. To say someone is the good shepherd is like you would say someone’s "the good doctor." 

When people speak of the good doctor, they are not thinking only of the doctor's efficiency and skill as a physician; they’re more importantly thinking of the compassion, the kindness and the graciousness of the doctor. 
 
And that’s what Jesus is pointing to here.
 

The Good Shepherd cares, is loving and kind, along with protecting us with strength and power.

After all, while Jesus submitted himself to the violent powers of this world, was crucified, he ultimately defeated them in his resurrection and has now given us an eternal protection.

But the main focus here with the Good Shepherd has to do with the care and concern that goes beyond skill and courage.
 
It’s about his goodness and care for us that has no limits.
 
His goodness isn’t based on success. It doesn’t go to the highest bidder, nor does it seek rewards or glory. He lays down his life willingly and completely.
 
There’s a true story about a preacher who was launching a new church start in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the initial stages, the attendance fluctuated, but never exceeded a handful.
         

One night, nobody showed up, and the preacher faced the fact that he might not be cut out for church planting, that he could fail.

As he flirted with quitting, he opened his Bible to John 10 and read  this same scripture of Jesus' words about the good shepherd that lays down his life for his sheep:
 
And as he read it, he suddenly heard God's voice.
 
God spoke to him and said "I know you are willing to be a success for me, but are you willing to be a failure for me? Are you willing to lay down your life for these sheep?
 
His opened Bible opened his heart and he prayed: "Yes, Lord, yes! I'll lay down my life for these sheep. If it is your will, this is the hill I'll die on, I'll fight to the bitter end."
 
You see it’s one thing to be willing to die to be a success, a brave and courageous martyr. But it’s another to be willing to be a humble failure to follow God’s will.

And that’s what Jesus is telling us in this scripture here today. He’s reminding us that a good shepherd is one that loves us so much that he is willing to lay down his life in a complete way. Even to be seen as a weak failure.

Our Good Shepherd goes to the extremes for us.
 
There is nothing that he won’t lay his life down for, there is nothing that he won’t sacrifice. His willingness to give absolutely everything shows that he will go to whatever extreme that we might be in.

Right now you may be going through a very difficult time.

You may have wandered off and find yourself caught in the thickets and thorns of life. You feel abandoned and lost. You may be kicking yourself for poor decisions. You may be beat up by people. You may have lost who you once were.
 

Things may seem hopeless (job, health, relationships), you’re stuck, depressed, angry and afraid.

But the good news is that wherever we find ourselves lost and threatened by the wild beasts of this world, our Good Shepherd by the name of Jesus comes to us and rescues us.
 

Now as we grow to comprehend this, we are given a gift of assurance. And it is a gift that Jesus knew all so well.

Jesus’ own assurance from his Father empowered him and enabled him, to be the Good Shepherd willing to lay down his life for others without the need of success or rewards or pats on the back.

Now as we begin to understand how much we too are loved, the only thing that can then happen is for that love to go out from us.

You see the very nature of Jesus’ love that we receive is a love that can’t be contained. You can’t keep that kind of love inside of you. That kind of love won’t allow it. Unconditional, extreme love wants to be given away.
 
We’re reminded of this in the lectionary epistle reading today from 1 John 3: 16-18: It says:
 

          16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

You see, once we embrace this self-giving love of the good Shepherd we can’t help but want to be self-giving shepherds to others.
 
We’re also reminded of this when Jesus appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee after his resurrection and he spoke to Peter. (John 21:15-17)

Jesus said to Simon Peter 3 times, "Simon, do you love me….?" If so, then "Feed my sheep."

In our love for the Good Shepherd, we follow his voice to become his shepherds to tend to those with an unconditional surrendering of ourselves, willing to lay down our life for others AND be a failure while doing it.----no pats on the back, no need for success, no rewards (not trying to fill the church up).
 
We are called to go into the world and personify the Good Shepherd as individuals and as a church.

Outside our doors are so many wandering sheep who find themselves caught up in the barbed wire of life. They are following after false voices that will not satisfy. They feel lonely, isolated, and hopeless.

What they long for is genuine community with people who are humble and vulnerable, who have found and know of a greater love because they themselves are wandering sheep too.
 
The question to us today is will we be good shepherds who follow his voice to feed those sheep that are lost and wandering?

Will we receive and embrace the love of our Good Shepherd and let his overflowing love spill over to others?.................................

In closing this morning, we’re being reminded that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who is willing to go to the extremes for us because he loves us extremely.
 
Wherever you find yourself today, know that Jesus wants you to find hope and healing. You are never too lost, never forsaken.
 

Jesus has laid down his life to give us eternal protection because of his unconditional love for us.

Let us be overfilled with that love, assured of our eternal salvation that we might follow his voice to be good shepherds to the lost sheep who are all around us.
 
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen