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The Good Shepherd

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Broadcast)

(Second in this Series)


We welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life.  Life, what a precious gift life is.  We are glad you tuned in today for you might have a special need in your life.  You might have a special struggle and you might learn today how God can help you as you face the difficulties of life as well as the joy of life.

This is the second in a series of the broadcast dealing with the subject of the shepherd of the sheep.  In our first lesson, we saw that there was a threefold need, regarding having shepherds, as regarding human beings for we are seen as those who are scattered, as having no shepherd, being lost and in danger.  We found that human shepherds of themselves are inadequate in many cases and we need a greater shepherd then that.  Oh, and then we learned that often times there then come in false shepherds.  Those that will come in with error.  Those that will lead us astray.

And so, it is in the last days, when the days are growing more and more evil.  Jesus said that more and more that would be the case.  As we concluded that lesson we saw that there has been an entrance given by God called in John 10:9, a door.  And this door is none other than the person of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus.  And we can come in, we can enter in thru him and be in a position for all of the blessings that he wants to provide any one who will come.  This door is open   to those who are in need of guidance and blessings.

Let’s deepen our insight into this need for a shepherd and see the picture of the Good Shepherd as he is pictured for us in the gospel of John chapter 10.  Hear the reading of a portion of that scripture this morning and if you are where you can get your Bible and follow along.  Jesus is talking and he says this: “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that enters not into the door of this fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way is a thief and robber.  But he that enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the portal opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he has put out all of his own, he goes before them.”  That’s what a good shepherd does by the way, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  And a stranger they will not follow, that false shepherd that we talked about.  They will flee from him for they know not the voice of this stranger.

This is the parable, the story that Jesus spoke unto them, but many did not understand what he was trying to say.  Let’s try to understand what Jesus is talking about here.  The Good Shepherd, he gave his life in order that we might have life.  Five times in the 10th chapter of the gospel of John Jesus said he gave his life.  One of the qualifications of a good shepherd is that he must be in a position to die if need be and to die when that time comes.  Those who are guards for example the security team that guards the President of the United States or a King or Queen of another country.  Those people put their lives on the line to protect that person.  So, it is that our good shepherd, the Lord Jesus comes to do that for us.  For us to have this new life, there had to be a life given.  For the Bible makes it clear that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  You cannot wash away sin using lye soap, or scrubbing in a certain river or lake or pond or whatever it might be.

Listen to what Jesus says in the 12th and 13th verses of this chapter.  There is one who is a hired person.  He is not really a shepherd, he doesn’t own the sheep.  He sees the wolf coming and he leaves.  The sheep then run away and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  He flees because he is a hireling and does not care for the sheep.  No real care, no real love in this false shepherd.  This one who was serving strictly for the money.  So be careful today for those who are often times serving as church leaders, church pastor, church minister, who renders service for the prestige, for the money they can make and the terrible result.  The sheep are in trouble.  They do not have a good relationship with this caregiver.  What a life this is and how sad indeed.

Consider with me this picture that Jesus gives in verse 11.  He says that I myself am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  As we said to you earlier, he repeats that again in verse 15 and verse 17 and in verse 18.  Do we begin to understand that it is very important that Jesus gives his life for the sheep?  It is necessity that he would do that.

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says this “But we have beheld him the one made a little lower then angels even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with a glory and honor that by the grace of God, he should taste of death.”  For everyone, Jesus died in my place and in your place, because of sin we deserve to die.  We have no right to the life that God offers because we have sinned.  We have broken his law.  But Jesus has come to die and has taken the death that was ours to give.  The blood counts for everything does it not.

The very first gospel sermon in the book of Acts, chapter 2, if you have not read it recently may I urge you to do that and see what happened there.  In the 24th verse we read these words talking about Jesus, whom God raised up having loosed up the pangs of death because it was not possible that it could hold him.  Jesus died, he gave his life, but my friends on the 3rd day God raised him up.  And verse 32 continues and emphases that great truth.  This Jesus that God did raise up and we are all witnesses.  These 12 disciples did witness the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God raised him up.  At one time, over 500 people saw the risen savior.  It is a proven fact that Jesus gave his life but on the 3rd day was raised again.

But as the beautiful song says, we serve a risen Savior today.  He is the good Savior.  His death, the bloodshed, the life given in order that we might have life.  Any man, anyone can enter in saved.

The story is told of the great Scotsman, Robert the Bruce, as he was known.  He was a Scottish chief and liberator and he was hiding from King Edward’s soldiers who were after him.  He heard the baying of the hounds as they closed in on him and the hounds were on his trail and he was tired, yet he knew he must press on, go on, or he would be caught, be captured and likely be jailed or worse, put to death.  As they got closer, he came to a mountain stream.  He got into the stream and went downstream with the flow of the current.  As a result, the dogs lost the scent and he was saved.

This is somewhat the picture of what the gospel, the good news about Jesus is.  We are plunged into Calvary’s flow.  When we come through that open door of the Lord Jesus and confess he is the Son of God and confess that we are sinners and are willing to let him enter into our own lives by faith.  Our own sins have followed us into judgement.  We take them into Calvary’s flow and God takes them all away and we are freed from the scent of sin.  Life comes to those who will believe.

This is exactly what is pictured in the waters of baptism.  For example, it is a washing to cleansing.  It is a picture of what Jesus did   A person who is baptized has come to die to self.  And as we do with any who have died we bury them.  A person who comes to Christ for salvation, we bury them in the watery grave of baptism.  And we are then raised, as was Jesus, raised to walk in a newness of life.

In that chapter, we have been reading in John, chapter 10, notice what verse 14 says to us.  I, myself am the good shepherd, now listen, I know my own and my own know me.  Oh, my friend, God knows us.  He knows who has made that decision.  The 27th verse of that reading says “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life.  Paul repeated that phrase to the young man Timothy is Second Timothy 2:19, where he said, “the Lord knows those who are his.”  Oh, how important today when often we can’t tell who is a Christian is.  My friends, God can, God knows and in the knowing there is a guarantee of the salvation he offers, the life that he promises to give.

It is my understanding that a pastor went out to Roosevelt, Washington here in the western part of America.  He was going there to hold a revival meeting and he was staying with a farmer and as he walked around the farm with the farer he saw this rather strange looking thing, this lamb was running around and he appeared to have six legs or more.  The closer he looked it revealed he learned that this little lamb was an orphan and the mother ewe had lost her own lamb and she refused to have anything to do with this lamb.  So, they skinned the dead lamb and put the skin around the orphan and the mother on smelling it decided the lamb smells like my own little lamb and it’s okay for me to take care of it.

Would this not in a crude way picture us with God.  When we are apart from God.  When we are not in a relationship with God.  When we have strayed away from that we are refused by him because we are so full of sin and we refuse to let him have it.  So, what does God do?  He sent his own lamb, the lamb of God, John the Baptizer called him, who takes away the sin of the world.  And the person who comes to Jesus by faith, the person who accepts what he has to offer by faith, who is obedient to the gospel call.  That person is dressed then, literally dressed in Christ.  Dressed in the righteousness of Christ and God now recognizes us as one of his own.  We are dressed in the fleece of the lamb who died for us and we are now Sons of God.

The apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus says this in the first chapter and verses 6 and 7.  To the praise of his glory and grace, which he bestowed on us in the blood, that’s in Jesus, now listen in whom we have our redemption through his blood.  What does this mean?  The forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace.

I would love to preach a whole sermon on those two verses of scripture.  But it is the beloved Lord Jesus, the good shepherd to who we came.  Through hem we have our redemption, that is we have been bought out of the slave market of sin.  We have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and made new by what he did for us and with that made possible.  By the shedding of his blood, our trespasses, our sins, our iniquities, our wickedness have been taken away and forgiven by God and is all by God’s grace.  I don’t deserve it.  I don’t deserve it even after I come but he gives it to me as a free gift.

He knows us and secondly, we know him.  There is a Christian hymn that we sing that goes like this, to know him is to love him.  If you ever really meet Jesus.  If you really come to know him as he is.  Oh, my friend, you cannot but love him.  You will know from experience what he has done for you.  That forgiveness of sin.  Lifting that load from your mind and heart.  And the blessings that he has put upon you in dressing you in his righteousness, you can begin to understand what he can do and what he wants to do.  Then you can set aside your excuses for wanting to live a sinful life or a poor life of service.  His grace, his love, motivates us to be different people.

Let me ask all of you in this broadcast today do you know him?  Do you know my Jesus?  The song asks the question.  Oh, if you would do that.

Remember our reading in John: When he has put forth his own.  He goes before them and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.  And they will flee from a stranger.  They will not follow the voice of strangers.  Oh, we will recognize the voice of Jesus.  He will know our voice and he will lead us as we follow him.  There is a hearing that goes on.  There is an understanding and a following as we come in that decision.

Our time is about to run out in this broadcast today.  We are glad you have tuned in.  Remember that we have a truly good shepherd who has given his life that we might have life.  One who knows who are his and are known by them.  One whom we need to trust.  Hat trust that the 25th verse of John says: Jesus answered.  I told you plainly and you did not believe.  These people refused to believe and follow the Lord.

The story is told and is true and similar to a Biblical story that an Irish landlord decided to pay the debts of all the debtors of his kingdom.  So, he posted a notice that on a certain day from10:00 AM until noon he would be in his office and any who came to him in faith their debt would be paid in full.  Well that was too good to be true and there was much doubt.  Several members of his kingdom came to the building and had many thoughts that he really wouldn’t do that and he is trying to make fun of us.  Around 12 o’clock and elderly couple came and they asked the crowd out front.  Is it true that he will forgive you?  Well, the crowd said, he hasn’t paid anybody yet.  Oh, with tears they said nobody has cried.  They said you go in and you come tell us if he forgives your debt.  So, they went in and he said, yes because you have come in faith, I forgive your all and total indebtedness.  But they had to stay inside until the 12 o’clock hour.  And the sad group outside did not receive that great blessing.

Instead of accepting the love of God many will be like those who did not believe the landlord.  Many will be like the young lady who strayed from home who did not believe the Lord Jesus.  Oh, it is a time for us to awake out of sleep.  It is a time for us to accept the marvelous grace of God.  Grace rejected brings the judgment of God.  But grace accepted brings his life.

Lord God we thank you today for those who have listened to this message.  And would you bless them as they think about accepting Jesus and being faithful followers of him.  For we ask it in the name of Jesus.  Amen


                                                            Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.


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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4