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Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Good Shepherd – John 10:1-21 (Part 1)


          Jesus has been in a confrontation with the Pharisees who are the religious leaders of the Jews.  The Pharisees were trying to prove that Jesus is a phony. They were so angry at Him that they were plotting to kill Him. The Pharisees were also upset that Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees paid no attention to the blind man. He was just a beggar to them, but Jesus saw the blind man, had compassion for him and healed him. This angered the Pharisees even more. In John 10, Jesus will teach on the Shepherd and His sheep.
        Those who have read some of my previous teachings will know that I tie the Older and New Testaments together. Since Jesus came to fulfill the Older Testament and bring in the New, I show some of the scriptures Jesus fulfilled by His words and actions in the New.
            In this teaching, Jesus is teaching about the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is of course Him! The Pharisees were not good shepherds because they were leading people away from Jesus. The Older Testament speaks about the shepherds and sheep in Ezekiel 34. God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the shepherds of Israel that they are only taking care of themselves, not taking care of the His flock (God’s people – the Israelites). God and Jesus use the things of the earth to teach spiritual truths. Here God is telling Ezekiel to prophesy against the leaders of His people – kings, prophets and shepherds/priests. Instead of caring for the people and leading them spiritually, they were selfishly exploiting God’s people for personal gain. In contrast, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy that there will be a day when God will send a Good Shepherd after His own heart who would truly love and care for His people. In this scripture in Ezekiel, God said the shepherd would be David. David is a type and shadow of Jesus as the shepherd in his father’s field who became a conquering king with a kingdom. In the "natural," David was a good shepherd of his earthly father's flock. God will use David's life to point to His Good Shepherd (Jesus) who will save His people, gather them, tend to them and bring them eternal rest.
           First, the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the shepherds of Israel:

·                          “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves.
·                    “You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals,     but you do not take care of the flock.
·                          “You have not strengthened the weak or heal the sick or bound up the injured.
·                         “You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.
·            “You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd.
·                          “They became food for all the wild animals.
·                    “They wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no once searched or looked for them.
·                       “Because My flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered, and because My shepherds did not search for My flock I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for My flock.
·                          “I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”

        Then Lord gives Ezekiel the promises He will send through His Shepherd:

·                        He will search for the lost and bring back the strays.
·                      “I will save My flock, and they will no longer be plundered.
·                      “I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them.
·                      “I will tend them in good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel.
·                      “I Myself will tend My sheep and have them lie down (rest).
·                      “I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.
·                      “I will shepherd the flock with justice.
·                      “I will place over them one Shepherd, and He will tend them and be their Shepherd.
·                    “I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests of safety.
        “I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” 
·                        “I will save My flock, and they will no longer be plundered.
·                       “I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them.
·                       “I will tend them in good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel.
·                       “I Myself will tend My sheep and have them lie down (rest).
·                       “I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.
·                       “I will shepherd the flock with justice.
·                       “I will place over them one Shepherd, and He will tend them and be their Shepherd.
·                    “I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests of safety.
·                       “I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”

         The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all of this. The teachers of the Law – the Pharisees – were leading God’s people astray. Jesus will show that He is the fulfillment of the Good Shepherd who will search for the lost, save us, love and care for us, lead us to the green (life-giving) pasture of His Word. He will fill us with the Living Water of His Word and Spirit and give us peace and rest. He will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. He will judge righteously and make a covenant of peace with us. He will shower down blessings upon us and keep us safe. And most of all, He will give us eternal life.
            Ezekiel 34, along with some other scriptures regarding the shepherd like Psalm 23 and Jeremiah 23:1-4, will be the backdrop of Jesus’ teaching on the Good Shepherd. Jesus is comparing Himself – the Good Shepherd – to the Pharisees who are leading His flock astray just like God did in Ezekiel. God's ways don't change. If God said it, Jesus who is also God will fulfill it. The shepherds of Israel failed because they are human with a sinful nature, but Jesus will not because Jesus is holy (sinless). When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 There were times in the Older Testament that the Israelites were like sheep without a shepherd. (see Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Zechariah 10:2) In Matthew 9:36, Jesus had compassion on the crowd because they were “like sheep without a shepherd.”

The Shepherd and His Flock
          In this parable, Jesus is revealing that He is the True Shepherd of God’s flock in contrast to the false shepherds—the Pharisees. God is called the Shepherd of Israel in Psalm 80:1. In Psalm 68:7, God is the One who went before His people and guarded them. And, in Psalm 23, God is His people’s provider, place of rest, leader, restorer, guide, comfort, victor and anointer. In Jesus’ parable on the Shepherd and His sheep, He is showing that He is all of these things to those who love and follow Him. In other words, He is saying He is God which is considered blasphemy in the Law and punishable by death. (see Leviticus 24:13) The Law-keepers – the Pharisees – wanted to put Jesus to death.

The Way
          Jesus speaking, “I tell you the Truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.” John 10:1-2 Jesus always speaks the truth because He is Truth. Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 He is the bridge between heaven and earth. Even the Older Testament saints had to follow behind Jesus in His resurrection and ascension to the Father. (see Matthew 27:51-53; Ephesians 4:8)  Matthew 27:52-53: “the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” The only way to the Father is through following Jesus. He went first after paying the price for all sin including the sins of the Older Testament believers. He resurrected them from death to life and when He ascended to the Father, they followed behind Him.
            “The Man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:2 Jesus is the Shepherd and the Gate (Door).

Sheep Pen
          During biblical times, there were many shepherds because of the land being suitable for pasturing flocks. The Pharisees who were the religious leaders and had power and wealth looked upon shepherds as beneath them.
            The shepherd had to make sure his sheep had a field to graze in during the day (light). At night, the sheep would be put in a sheep pen to protect them through the darkness. A sheep pen had a wall/fence made of stone all around it with one entrance where the sheep would go in or out. The shepherd stands at the gate and calls his sheep into the protected place. The shepherd would lie down and sleep at the entrance so no thief or robber or wild animal could get in to attack or steal his sheep. Sheep were also prone to wander and get lost, so the fence and the guarding of the shepherd would keep them from wandering outside the boundaries of the fence. The sheep rested knowing that the shepherd was guarding and protecting them. Being a shepherd was a 24 hour a day job. It required a love for the sheep and self-sacrifice.
            Jesus, our Good Shepherd, does all of these things for His sheep – His followers. Jesus leads us to graze in the green (life-giving) pasture of His Anointed Word. The Word is our fence to protect us from darkness and keep us from wandering out of God’s will into the darkness. The Word is also our weapon against the thieves and robbers – Satan and his demonic host. We can rest upon the truth of His Word. Jesus and His Word will guard our hearts against the devil.
            Jesus sacrificed His all for His sheep. He will not leave or forsake us. He came to seek and save those who are lost. Our rest and peace is in His Truth and His love and protection. Jesus gave us the victory over the devil through His sacrificial death on the cross. He showed us through His actions and words that we are to wield the weapon of the Word against the wiles of the devil. Jesus said “It is written” many times in the gospels and then quoted an Older Testament scripture to show that He was fulfilling that scripture in their seeing and in their hearing. He also did this while being tempted by the devil. In so doing, Jesus is teaching us that the Word is our defense against the devil and darkness.
          (To be continued next week) To those who may be newcomers to my teachings, please be advised that I am doing a full teaching on the Gospel of John. If you are interested, you can go to my website: sandrakingministries.com to see all of my other teachings. Knowing the Word of God in its fullness is our greatest spiritual weapon against Satan who is a spiritual being. The Word is also our spiritual tool to know the Godhead in fullness and become spiritually mature.             

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