TEXT:         John 10:11-17


INTRO:       Probably nowhere else in the New Testament do we see Christ’s desire to save His people more than in John 10:11-17 where Jesus states that He is the “GOOD SHEPHERD.”


The picture of Christ as a shepherd invites us to consider the great love He has for those who are part of His flock.  The life of a good shepherd was not an easy one!  Beside the difficult task of keeping watch over many many sheep, the shepherd was also responsible for finding proper water and adequate nourishment for sheep that by their nature were very afraid of nearly everything!  Sheep are so easily frightened that they won’t drink from rapidly moving water even when very thirsty; hence David states that the Lord who was his shepherd led him beside “STILL WATERS”.  Then there were issues of disease, exposure to the elements, robbers to contend with, wild animals who would devour the sheep if given a chance.  There was even the issue of dealing with hirelings who when danger presented itself simply ran away to preserve their own life rather than the sheep, to them it was only a job.


           The call of shepherding can be hazardous!


ILLUS:    Overlooking the city of Budapest is a statue, with a cross held high in its hand. The statue is that of a martyred Catholic bishop. The very hill on which it stands is named for him, Gellert Hill. When Stephen, the first king of Hungary, decided to adopt Christianity, he sent for missionaries and Gellert came. Upon Stephen's death there was a battle between the Christians and some people who had remained pagans. Gellert was put into a barrel and rolled down the hill to his death in the year 1046. The statue commemorates the event and the man. So there is a cross on the skyline of Budapest! -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


PROP. SENT:   The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the ultimate GOOD SHEPHERD who so love His sheep that He gave His life for them as a sacrifice!




      A.  Sacrifice Provided!    10:11

1.   This first statement by Christ is an interesting one, He not only states that He is the “good shepherd”, but that the “good shepherd” will lay down his life for the sheep!

a.   This is a twist! – Sheep were raised in the area around Jerusalem for sacrifice in the Temple!  The area between Jerusalem and Bethlehem was where the shepherds herded the sacrificial lambs and sheep used for worship …it was these same shepherds that the angels had appeared to announce the birth of Christ in Bethlehem … the birth of the sacrificial lamb of God!

b.   The twist is this:  Instead of the sheep being sacrificed, it is the good shepherd that offers Himself as the sacrifice!!!

c.   Hence Jesus bearing two titles:  the “lamb of God” while also being called the “good shepherd!”

2.  There is a sense of irony here that the shepherd would sacrifice himself for the sheep that were to be sacrifices themselves!

3.  While many shepherds truly loved their flocks, only the “GOOD SHEPHERD” would go to the extreme to make himself a sacrifice if necessary for the sheep who themselves were to be sacrificed!

                 a.   Christ is not the usual shepherd; He is the “GOOD SHEPHERD!”

                 b.   Christ alone would bear the sting of death to save His sheep.


ILLUS:     A boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon, when a bumblebee flew in the car window. The little boy, who was allergic to bee stings, was petrified. The father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. The boy grew frantic as it buzzed by him. Once again the father reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to his palm. There stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. "Do you see this?" he asked. "You don't need to be afraid anymore. I've taken the sting for you." We do not need to fear death anymore. Christ has died and risen again. He has taken the sting from death.  -- Adrian Dieleman, Waupun, Wisconsin.  Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 1.


4.  The other religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not lay down their very life for the sheep.


      B.  Selfish Protection    10:12-13

1.   What a stark contrast Jesus portrays between Him and the other so called shepherds!

a.   The religious leaders of the day were more like “hired hands” than shepherds, as soon as trouble or danger presented itself, they would run off to preserve their own lives and positions.

b.   The “hired hand” only saw caring for sheep as a job, not his life … so if there was too much danger he would depart and leave the sheep to whatever fate was going to take place.

2.  How different was Christ’s love for people, His attitude was to do whatever was needed for the sheep, even if it meant sacrificing Himself to save them!

a.   Like the hired hand’s attitude, this spirit of self is still in the world today!


ILLUS:    I don't want anybody to die for me. I've had a few drinks and a few girl friends. If that's going to put me in hell, then so be it.”  -- Ted Turner in a 1993 issue of USA today, quoted by Bill Hybels, "Christianity's Toughest Competitor: Moralism," Preaching Today, Tape No. 115.


                 b.   The spirit of our age is to take care of #1 – self before anything else!

           3.  The hired hand’s attitude is to make shekels, not preserve sheep.

                 a.   There can be too much of this attitude in the ministry today too!!!

b.   The Greek term “poimen” is often translated “shepherd” (as in the text here 10:11), it is also translated “pastor” – the Biblical sense of a pastor is that he is a shepherd.

c.   There can be too many “hired hands” serving God’s flock today too, what the church needs is shepherds like the “GOOD SHEPHERD!”

4.  Most hired hands ran at the first sign of serious trouble.  When we are called to serve God’s people we need to learn to be committed rather than run!

a.   This goes for sheep too; there is danger in floating around from flock to flock all the time!

b.   The shepherd and the flock stayed together and built strong relationships … this bond of strong love made shepherding more than just a job, it became the life of the shepherd, so much so that he would die for those sheep he loved.  This is the picture of Christ we have!

                 c.   God has never had a casual relationship with anyone!




      A.  Savior’s Plan    10:14-16

1.   The fruit of such commitment and love by the shepherd creates the dynamic we find in 10:14, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me--”

a.   The growing bonds of love between a “good shepherd” and his flock provide all the sense of security sheep will ever need in order to always feel safe and secure.

b.   The sheep were not dumb; they could tell the difference between a hired hand and a good shepherd!


ILLUS:     A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm.  The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it.  The actor's recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause.  The preacher's voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished.  But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.  When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied "I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."


2.  Jesus states here that just as He and the father know each other because of perfect love, the sheep and He as the shepherd know each other too because of His perfect love toward the sheep.

3.  Jesus makes clear here too that it is His plan to add to the small flock that now existed by bringing in other sheep, a clear reference to the Gentiles inclusion in God’s plan of salvation.

a.   This too was so different from the “hired hands” of Jesus’ day, all they were concerned with was their own select group of sheep, and they cared nothing about the “filthy” Gentiles!

                 b.   The good shepherd desires to save all the sheep, not just a few!

                 c.   So Christ died for all.


      B.  Shepherd’s Power    10:17

1.   The power of a “good shepherd” comes from his willingness to sacrifice himself for the flock!

                 a.    It is not the title, it is the example!

b.   The Father loved the son because He was willing to die for the sheep, this is the kind of a shepherd the Father wanted for the flock of God.

c.   This is still the kind of leadership God wants for His flock, to lead and have the father’s blessings requires a willingness to lay down one’s life for the sheep, not just be a hired hand.

(1.  This is not just true for Pastors, it is also true for Sunday School teachers, Elders, Deacons, any leadership position in the church!

(2.  The power or authority needed for ministry is gained through death, not demands, by example not by edicts, passion not just position!

2.  No one took Christ’s life away by force, He laid it down willingly, and He took it up again, this is proof of His great love, it was all done with His approval to save the sheep and by His willingness to die for us!

3.  Christ did not see His position as such to demand that others follow Him, rather, by example of sacrificing Himself He bids us to come follow after Him.

a.   His humble spirit to give Himself for the sheep demonstrates the heart of God toward us.

                 b.   He did not see Himself above suffering for the lost sheep of this world.

            4.  Do we understand the call to sacrifice pride and self for others?


ILLUS:    Donald Grey Barnhouse told the story (supposedly true) about Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. When he moved to Washington, D.C., to take up his duties as chief justice, he transferred his membership letter to a Baptist church in the area. His father had been a Baptist minister and he also made a profession of faith in Christ. It was the custom for all new members to come to the front of the sanctuary at the close of the worship service. The first to be called that morning was Ah Sing, a Chinese laundryman who had moved to the capital from the West coast. He took his place at the far side of the church. As the dozen or so other people were called forward they stood at the opposite side of the church, leaving Ah Sing standing alone. But when Chief Justice Hughes was called, he took his place beside the laundryman. When the minister had welcomed the group into the church fellowship he turned to the congregation and said, "I do not want this congregation to miss this remarkable illustration of the fact that at the cross of Jesus Christ the ground is level." Barnhouse commented: "Mr. Hughes behaved like a true Christian. He took his place beside the laundryman, and by his act he prevented embarrassment to the humble Chinese; he showed, too, the love of Christ--he had this gift of standing by." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 295.


5.  The “Good shepherd’s” example and love made possible our salvation and eternal life, have you become a part of God’s flock, and if not, why not?

                 a.    Become a part of the great flock of God!

b.   There is a shepherd who loves you more than anything else in this world!


CONCLUSION:    Throughout history there have been those who have led great nations but always in their mind is how they can stay in power and rule over others.  Only one came to sacrifice Himself though He had all power already!  He came to give Himself so that others may live and have power over sin.  Christ is the only “GOOD SHEPHERD”, are you part of His flock?