John 10:11

Sermon preached on October 16, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you're asked to trust someone and you're not really sure you should trust them—but it would be embarrassing for you not to?

When I was 19 and in university in Halifax my grandparents were visiting the city and they picked me up at my dorm and we drove about 60 miles to visit one of my grandfather's nephews. They lived on a farm in a heavily wooded country area. I had never been there before. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and were going to spend 5 or 6 hours there. It was hunting season, October or November and about 45 minutes before dark the father of the family suggested that his son, who was about 14 or 15, take me and go up to the back field to see if there were any deer there. So my cousin took a rifle and we went up to have a look. I had never met the young fellow before and I can't even remember what his name was. I didn't have any hunting gear. I didn't have warm clothes. I didn't have a compass. I didn't have matches. I didn't have a flashlight—nothing. My cousin didn't either. But what did it matter, we were only going up to the edge of the field? When we got there we waited awhile but there were no deer to be found. After a few minutes he said,

"There's another field just through the woods a little bit. We'll have a better chance of seeing some deer there."

He had told me that there was a path we could take to the other field but since that path was so far away, he suggested that we go cut through the woods. He said it was only a five or 10 minute walk. I asked him if he was sure he knew the way and when he said yes, we headed through the woods. After a few minutes I started to lose my bearings so I stopped him and asked if he knew for sure how to get to the other field. At that point I thought I could find my way out but knew if we went any further, I would be lost. He assured me he knew the way and even though I was a little uneasy, I thought,

"This is his backyard. He should know his way."

So I kept following him. After a few more minutes we still hadn't found the field. I stopped him and said,

"It'll be dark soon, let's forget about the field and get out of here."

He agreed and he started leading us out, or so I thought. After about ten minutes, just as it was getting dark, he turned to me and said, "I'm lost."

That was discouraging. That meant I was lost too. Every other time I was in the woods I had a compass and knew the general layout of the land. Before we would go in the woods we would check the map and know that if we got lost we would know what direction to go to find a road. But that time, I didn't have a compass and didn't know what direction to go. I was completely lost and complete darkness was just minutes away. I had made a mistake in trusting my cousin to be my guide.

It's important that the people you trust are reliable. It's even more important when you consider the fate of your soul. In Mark 8:36–37 Jesus said,

"What good is it for a man
to gain the whole world,
yet forfeit his soul?
Or what can a man give
in exchange for his soul?"

You need to make sure you have a reliable guide. What kind of guide is Jesus? Is He reliable, can we trust Him? Those are questions of the utmost importance—because the fate of your soul hangs on them. In our text Jesus answers those questions. This is a wonderful passage and we should pay close attention. The great truth revealed here is that

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

Jesus said,

"I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd
lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand is not the shepherd
who owns the sheep.
So when he sees the wolf coming,
he abandons the sheep and runs away.
Then the wolf attacks
the flock and scatters it.
The man runs away
because he is a hired hand and
cares nothing for the sheep."

There are two things especially I want to draw your attention to.

The first thing we should understand from our text is that

the Good Shepherd is absolutely, totally and irrevocably committed to His sheep.

The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. In contrast to the hired hand, who runs away when he sees the wolf coming, the good shepherd is absolutely committed to His sheep, to saving them. He loves them so deeply, He cares for them so intensely that He will give them will give His life for them.

Notice how Jesus puts it here. Jesus said that the Good Shepherd,

"lays down his life for the sheep."

A normal shepherd might die in defense of his sheep but that would always be an unintended consequence. When young David was a shepherd he risked his life for the sheep. When King Saul told David that he was not able to go out against the Philistine because he was only a boy, David replied that he had killed both a lion and a bear when they came and tried to carry off a lamb. David risked his life for the sheep but he hoped to live. Indeed, what good is a dead shepherd to his flock?

But Jesus is no ordinary shepherd. When Jesus said that the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep He is telling us something exceedingly wonderful. Iain D. Campbell tells us that in this verse Jesus, (I Am: Exploring the 'I am' sayings of John's Gospel, Kindle Location 537).

"takes us from the world of shepherding into the very heart of the atonement."

The fact is, we needed a shepherd who would die on our behalf. As fallen human beings, we are all sinners and we are all under the curse sin— which is death. What we needed, what was absolutely necessary, was someone to die in our place. Otherwise we would have to suffer eternal death ourselves.

Thus when Jesus tells us that He will lay down His life for the sheep it's the exact news that human beings need. No other news would do. Jesus expanded on this in verses 17 and 18 of John 10. He said,

"The reason my Father loves me
is that I lay down my life—
only to take it up again.
No one takes it from me,
but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have authority to lay it down
and authority to take it up again.
This command I received
from my Father."

Jesus came to save His sheep. He came with the authority, the commission and the blessing of the Father. John 3:16 says,

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."

When Jesus was baptized, when He identified Himself with His people, as soon as He came up out of the water, heaven opened and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. A voice from heaven said, (Matthew 3:17)

"This is my Son, whom I love;
with him I am well pleased."

Before the creation of the world, long before Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, the Triune God decided on the plan of salvation. Sin required death. The only way that sinners could be saved was though Jesus and His death. He came to die for our sins. As Colossians 2:13-14 says,

"When you were dead in your sins
and in the uncircumcision
of your sinful nature,
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins,
having canceled the written code,
with its regulations,
that was against us and
that stood opposed to us;
he took it away, nailing it to the cross."

Thus when John the Baptist saw Jesus as Jesus was beginning His earthly ministry, he said, (John 1:29)

"Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!"

Jesus came to lay down His life for us. Jesus spoke about this in John 12:27–33.

"Now my heart is troubled,
and what shall I say?
'Father, save me from this hour'?
No, it was for this very reason
I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!
Then a voice came from heaven,
'I have glorified it,
and will glorify it again.'
The crowd that was there and
heard it said it had thundered;
others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus said,
'This voice was for your benefit, not mine.
Now is the time for judgment on this world;
now the prince of this world
will be driven out.
But I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men to myself.'
He said this to show the kind of death
he was going to die."

You'll remember that when they came to arrest Jesus, John 18 tells us that He went out to meet them and asked them who they wanted. When they told Him they wanted Jesus of Nazareth, He told them that He was Jesus. At that, they all drew back and fell to the ground. Jesus could have run away. He could have avoided capture. But He stayed there and allowed them to arrest Him. Iain D. Campbell says of Jesus, (I Am: Exploring the 'I am' sayings of John's Gospel, Kindle Location 577-579)

"He does nothing to avoid the cross; he sets his face like a flint towards Jerusalem; he hands himself over to those who will bind him to that cursed tree."

Our Shepherd came to lay down His life for us. John Murray said,

"Death was not His fate, it was His deed."

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He took the curse that was against us and satisfied it. As we read in Galatians 3:13,

"Christ redeemed us from
the curse of the law
by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written:
'Cursed is everyone
who is hung on a tree.' "

The second thing we should see from our text is that in claiming to be the Good Shepherd, Jesus is claiming to be the shepherd of Israel from the Old Testament.

Jesus is claiming to be God.

There are two things that show us this—both words in the phrase, "Good Shepherd".

First consider the word 'good'.

When I was attending seminary in Scotland I had a fellow student come up to me one day and say,

"Larry, you're the best person I ever met."

I really didn't know him that well, and I knew he didn't know me that well, so I wondered what he was getting at. So I asked him what he meant. He said that whenever he asked me how I was, I replied with the phrase,

"I'm good."

He went on to say that he found it remarkable that I was always good. He understood 'good' in a moral sense. To me, coming from Canada, I used 'good' to mean, 'Fine,' or, "I'm feeling good," in the sense that I'm not ill, that I'm not tired or worn out. But apparently in Scotland, they didn't reply to "How are you?" with "Good". To them, 'good' had a moral sense meaning that someone is claiming to be ethically pure.

In Jesus' day it was like that, only it went much further. We see this in Mark 10:17-18. We read,

"As Jesus started on his way,
a man ran up to him
and fell on his knees before him.
'Good teacher,' he asked,
'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
'Why do you call me good?'
Jesus answered.'
No one is good—except God alone.'"

William L. Lane tells us, (Mark, NICNT; p. 364-365)

"In the OT and subsequent Judaism only God is characteristically called 'good, although it was possible to speak in a derived sense of 'the good man' … The designation of Jesus as 'good teacher,' however, is virtually without parallel in Jewish sources and should be regarded as a sincere tribute to the impression he had made upon the man…"

The point Jesus made in Mark 10 is that the term 'good' really only applies to God. So when Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd one of thing things He is claiming is that He is God.

The second word that Jesus used, 'Shepherd' also points to Jesus claiming to be God.

Who was the Shepherd of the Old Testament? It was God Himself. We see this in a great passage from Ezekiel 34, verses 11-16. We read,

"For thus says the Lord GOD:
Behold, I, I myself will search
for my sheep and will seek them out.
As a shepherd seeks out his flock
when he is among his sheep
that have been scattered,
so will I seek out my sheep,
and I will rescue them from all places
where they have been scattered
on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
And I will bring them out from the peoples
and gather them from the countries,
and will bring them into their own land.
And I will feed them
on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines,
and in all the inhabited places of the country.
I will feed them with good pasture,
and on the mountain heights of Israel
shall be their grazing land.
There they shall lie down
in good grazing land,
and on rich pasture they shall feed
on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep,
and I myself will make them lie down,
declares the Lord GOD.
I will seek the lost,
and I will bring back the strayed,
and I will bind up the injured,
and I will strengthen the weak,
and the fat and the strong I will destroy.
I will feed them in justice."

God was the Shepherd of Israel. In Psalm 80:1 Asaph said,

"Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock;
you who sit enthroned
between the cherubim, shine forth…"

And in Psalm 23:1 David said,

"The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want."

Yahweh was the Shepherd. God led the people in the Old Testament. He led them to the promised land. He protected them. He rescued them.

Jesus takes that title. Our shepherd is none other than God Himself. No one can thwart Him. No one can snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28-30)

For you Christians,

what peace, what assurance, what comfort ought to be yours.

Jesus has secured your salvation. He died for us. He took away the curse. He rose from the dead. Death has no hold on Him or on us. He defeated our great enemy. He has brought us into God's family. (Ephesians 1:5) We are co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) He has told us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He is preparing a place for us and will one day come back for us so that we will be with Him. (John 14)

He loves us so much. He would die for us rather than lose us. What peace we should have! We have the good shepherd taking care of us! How comforting that should be to you. It ought to make all the difference in the world to you, how you react to things.

Yet often we Christians act like we don't have a good shepherd. We doubt. We worry. We get discouraged and lose hope.

Your shepherd is with you. He is leading you though the valley of the shadow of death. He is leading you to glory. His presence, that you have right now, ought to give you get assurance. J. Douglas MacMillan, a shepherd who became a pastor, tells this story, (The Lord Our Shepherd. p. 74)

"I can remember Dusk, the little sheep dog, barking furiously one morning when we had all our young lambs down in the park in the front of the house. Now Dusk hardly ever barked, but here she was at about half-past six in the morning, as it was just getting light. I was not very happy about this... so I got up and went to my bedroom window intending to give her a real scolding. My eyes looked down the park, and there were two strange dogs worrying the lambs and the young sheep. That was why Dusk was barking. Now what did I do? I went down there as quickly as I could. All these young sheep were disturbed; they had been raced all over the park. Some of them had been bitten, and there were bits of wool lying here and there. Some of them had blood on them, and would have been slaughtered had Dusk not barked. As soon as they saw Dusk first of all, and then saw me trotting along behind her, things calmed down. Why? 'Thou art with me.'"

The presence of the shepherd made all the difference. The sheep knew they were safe in His presence. Dumb sheep know that.

Why don't we know that? Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Why don't we live with confidence, with hope, with peace and joy—knowing that our shepherd is with us, protecting us, and that He is surely leading us to glory?