John 10:1-10 Abundant Life 5/4/14

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1 John 10:1-10 Abundant Life 5/4/14 Today s Gospel passage is from a portion of Scripture often referred to as the Good Shepherd - As Americans, we may be at a disadvantage when it comes to sheep and shepherds That is because if we know anything about sheep herding in this country it is probably nothing like what the Bible is describing here - Dogs are used to chase the sheep and herd them here or there That is probably more like the devil getting after you - Than it is like following the Good Shepherd - Austin Mansfield tells of a priest from New York City who went to Ireland to visit his relatives When it comes to sheep, it sounds like the good Father started out with two strikes against him - Not only was he American - But he was a city slicker as well While he was staying at his cousin s farm, they decided to have some fun with him - After doing some chores in the fields, they told him to come in for dinner just as soon as he was through rounding up the sheep into the pen After nearly an hour of chasing the sheep, trying to push, poke, prod, and even pull them with no success, he gave up and asked his cousins to help - They sent out their five-year-old daughter, who simply called out to the sheep, and within minutes they had all followed her through the gate into the pen 1 This young Irish girl s shepherding style is very much like the style of the Biblical shepherd - Dogs were not used - And sheep were not chased - Instead the shepherd would lead the sheep 1 Austin Mansfield, Page 1

2 The sheep pen was a place for the sheep to stay so the shepherd could be with his family - Towns or families would maintain the sheep pen and provide the gatekeeper It was often a simple enclosure - But in some places a cave was used - The shepherd would lead the sheep there where they would be safe - Unless some predator or thief breached with wall - And in the morning the shepherd would return to call the sheep out Jesus used these commonly known shepherding practices to tell the parable in the beginning of today s passage John 10:1-5 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. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger s voice. 2 In this parable, Jesus is the one true shepherd - The thief and robber are false teachers - In the original context, the Pharisees may have recognized that Jesus was speaking about them Many feel that the pen was the nation Israel - And Jesus the shepherd was leading those in it away from the legalism of that day to freedom The parable also has application today - That sheep pen may be seen as the world - And our savior is calling us out of the bondage of worldly things into the freedom that following Jesus brings 2 Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quoted has been taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc., (Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI) Page 2

3 I love the image that we sheep know our Master s voice - Jesus is calling us through God s Word, through the Church, and through other believers - We hear and respond by inviting the Lord to be our savior Verse 6 says that the Pharisees did not understand - So Jesus changed the imagery slightly - John 10:7-9 Therefore Jesus said again, Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. Joe Bertone writes of a small metal door painted white in the side of a tiny mission church in Johannesburg, South Africa - That door is changing lives - On it are painted the words door of hope That is exactly what it is for various babies within the city - On average, in the desperately poor sections of that city, some forty to fifty babies were being abandoned on the streets to die of exposure or starvation each and every month That was before the mission installed their door to a baby s crib allowing mothers to anonymously deposit their unwanted babies and have someone love them and care for them - Now the mission is saving over 100 babies a year 3 There is another incredible door that takes in the unwanted - And saves lives and brings hope - That gateway is Jesus Jesus is the gate for the sheep - He is the gate for salvation - Do not let anyone convince you that you should try to climb up the wall and sneak into the sheepfold 3 Joe Bertone, Page 3

4 Salvation is free - It is not something you need to earn - Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. That means you do not need to try to work your way into salvation - You do not need to try to attend Church or receive Communion enough or do enough good deeds to earn your way into salvation - Just enter in through Jesus, the gate I prefer the wording of verse 10 in the New King James Version of the Bible - In that translation John 10:10 says, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 4 God s Word does not get much more encouraging than that - Jesus has come that we might have abundant life! Dwight L Moody told of A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800 s who had reached the age of twelve and had never in all his life seen a circus You can imagine his excitement, when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town - He ran home with the glad news and the question, Daddy, can I go? Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the boy - If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time, he said, I ll see to it that you have the money to go Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best - His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill - The most money the boy had possessed at one time in all his life - The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town 4 The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1979, 1980, 1982, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN) Page 4

5 The boy was so excited, his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way - As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening Lo and behold, it was a circus parade! - The parade was the grandest thing this boy had ever seen - Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted face, brought up the rear As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill - Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home 5 The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade! Are you experiencing all that God has for you? - The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey - Be sure you enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised Our faith is not just about eternal life in paradise - It is about a day-today walk with our Risen Savior - Many would steal, kill, and destroy your walk with Christ if they can Don t let them get you down - Keep your eyes on Jesus - And not on the pain of this world - And our Lord will see you through even the toughest of times 5 Moody s Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight Lyman Moody, 2010 (Bottom of the Hill Publishing) Page 5

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