Sunday, April 14, 2024

“I Am the Resurrection and the Life” [Matt's Messages]

“I Am the Resurrection and the Life”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 14, 2024 :: John 11:1-53

We’ve reached chapter 11, which tells the story of Jesus’ last major public miracle in the Gospel of John before His arrest. 

And it’s a doozy! 

This is probably a story that you know, at least for many of us. Many of you have known it all of your life and heard it told many many times. I’ve preached it at many a funeral over the years.
But try, if you can, to read this with fresh eyes. Listen to this story as if all you know about Jesus is what you’ve read so far in the first ten chapters of John.

And then you read this. John chapter 11, verse 1.

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” (vv.1-3).

What do you think is going to happen? Knowing Jesus, what do you think is going to happen?


So, what do you think is going to happen?

This man, Lazarus, was sick. We don’t know what ailment he had. My guess is maybe cancer? Maybe it was something else. A virus?

Whatever it was, it was serious. His family was worried. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha, and all 3 siblings were friends with Jesus. Mary and Martha get mentioned in the other gospels, Lazarus, only here. Mary (v.2 says) is going to figure prominently in a story in chapter 12, tune in next week for that. They lived a couple miles outside of Jerusalem in a town called “Bethany.”

Lazarus was sick, and the sisters knew that Jesus would care, so they sent him an email (or a text message) or actually probably a courier of some kind with the message, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

What do you think Jesus is going to do?

Well, from what we’ve read so far in the Gospel of John, I expect Jesus to heal him! Maybe from a distance. Maybe with some creative application of mud. Maybe with just a word. But I expect Jesus to heal Lazarus.  And that’s what it sounds like He’s going to do according to verse 4.

“When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.’” (v.4).

Familiar themes! This sickness is not for death. It is for God’s glory. Like the man born blind. And not just God’s glory, but for the glory of God’s beloved Son! The monogenays. God’s One and Only Son is going to get ultimate glory from this healing.

And the one who is sick is not just some random person who applies to Jesus for help, but someone that Jesus already knows and loves. He loves the whole family. Verse 5.

“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”

What? Did I read that right? "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days."

Huh. Many translations are even stronger. They say, “So...he stayed where he was two more days.” Or “therefore.”

I don’t get it. It says that Lazarus is sick. It says that Jesus loves Lazarus. But then Jesus does not rush to Lazarus’ side.

Maybe Jesus knows that He’s not really that sick. Or maybe Jesus is scared to go because they want Him dead down in Jerusalem? No, that doesn’t sound right either. And in verse 7, Jesus says, “Ok. Now, let’s go.” V.7

“Then [after the two days] he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?’

Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light’” (vv.7-10).

So Jesus is not scared. (We didn’t really think He was.) He says, in effect, “Now is the time to go. Today’s the day. It’s daylight now. Let’s go; I’m on a mission. Because I am the ‘Light of the World.’”

“And nobody can kill me when it’s not my time to go.” Jesus is not scared. He’s going to go and heal Lazarus!

Except that Lazarus has already died. V.11

“After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. [They are so prone to misunderstanding.] So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him’” (vv.11-16).

The goal of this sermon today is to awaken and to strengthen your faith in Jesus. 

That is, of course, the goal of all of my sermons, especially these ones on the Gospel of John because that’s the whole point of this whole book. John said he wrote it so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31).

But today, I especially want to awaken and to strengthen your faith in Jesus in three big ways.

After studying John 11 today, I want you to believe like you’ve never believed before that Jesus loves you.

#1. BELIEVE THAT JESUS LOVES YOU.
 
I want you to come away from today’s message more convinced than ever before that Jesus loves you.

Even when it does not seem like it.

Because it probably didn’t feel like it to this grieving family. 

I was struck this week as I meditated on this passage how many times and how many ways John insists that Jesus loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.

We’re only up to verse 11 and how many times have we seen it so far?

Verse 3. “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Verse 5. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
Verse 11. “Our friend [same word for love, our loved one] Lazarus has fallen asleep.”

Jesus loved Lazarus.

And yet He did not rush to His side. He did not heal him from nearby or from afar.

Was it because He couldn’t heal him?

This must have been so hard for them. Sometimes it really seems like Jesus does not care. You might be going through a season like that right now. You feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back down. Where is Jesus? It seems like He’s holding back.

This is especially true when we encounter sickness and death. 

There is a pernicious lie going around that if Jesus loves you then you will only experience health, wealth, and prosperity. 

That’s a lie.

Tell that to Job.
Tell that to Paul.
Tell that to Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.

Jesus loved them, and Lazarus still got sick and died.

Heather and I are empty-nesters this weekend. All of our kids are either living and working out West or visiting those who are living and working out West. So we came to church by ourselves today. Thankfully my folks are nearby and Dad’s sister is visiting them this weekend, so we have some kinfolk around the table for family dinner.

But 25 years ago this month, we came to church then without any kids because our oldest child, a daughter, was stillborn at 6 months gestation. It’s still pretty much the hardest thing that has happened to me yet. I feel it in my bones every time April rolls around. 

Death. Grief. Pain. Sorrow. Heartache. Death in the womb.

Where was Jesus?

Heather and I believed then, and we believe now, that Jesus loves us.

But to believe that, we have to believe that Jesus loves us in a way that is deeper than we can truly understand. We must believe that Jesus cares more about our faith than our health and even our very lives.

So that Jesus stayed back those two days for a reason, and it was not indifference. It was love.
And see what He said in verse 15. He said, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you believe.”

He doesn’t mean that He’s glad that Lazarus died. We will see that very clearly in just a few verses! But He is glad he missed the death itself because He cares about something even greater than our health and life.

He cares about our faith. “So that you may believe.”

Jesus wants us to trust Him even to the brink of death and then beyond. Jesus wants us to believe like never before that He loves us. That He is our Good Shepherd. That He knows us. That He calls us by name. That He wants good things for us. That He cares. And that He knows what He’s doing.

Jesus loves you. Do you know that? Jesus loves you.

And then He says, “But let us go to him” (v.15).  “Let’s go to Lazarus.” As if Lazarus would care if he had visitors!

Look at verse 16. “Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’”

Thomas may be more famous for doubting but he should be famous for his courage. He knows how unpopular Jesus is with the authorities, but he’s like, “Oh well, let’s go die with Jesus! Let’s run towards the trouble.” And he was right, they are going to get Jesus before too long, though (spoiler alert), he isn’t going to die with Him. So they head down to Bethany. V.17

“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.”

In this time period, the Jews mourned for at least a month. They are still in the first week of that. Lazarus has been dead and buried for four days. 

He was long gone before Jesus arrived. And everybody is grieving and grieving hard.

One of the sisters, Martha, hears that Jesus is coming (finally), and she goes out to greet Him. Verse 20.

“When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’”

Do you feel her grief? It’s not quite a rebuke. She doesn’t say, “Where were you?!”  But she is feeling it. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

I don’t think she’s expecting Jesus to heal Lazarus now, she’s just saying,  “I still believe You are powerful. I still believe in You even though I don’t understand You. And I don’t understand why You let this happen. I still believe you love us.” Verse 23. 

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ [Does the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you hear that? ‘Your brother will rise again. He doesn’t say when. Martha thinks she knows when. V.24] Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ [She believes her Bible. She knows her eschatology. She has read Daniel chapter 12. But Jesus is talking about something much bigger and much nearer! He’s talking about Himself. Verse 25.]

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

There’s our title for today and it’s also the fifth “I Am” statement of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Jesus said:

“I am the Bread of Life.
I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

What an amazing thing to say!

Notice that He doesn’t just say that He gives people life. He says that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Personally! Himself! In Himself.

It’s another claim to deity. It’s like saying, “I and the Father are One.”


“I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is the thing itself. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Here’s the second of three things that I want you to believe today like you’ve never believed before:

#2. BELIEVE THAT JESUS WILL RAISE YOU FROM THE DEAD.

Believe that Jesus loves you even when it really doesn’t seem like it.
And believe that Jesus will give you life again even if you die.

You see Jesus is the cure for death.

Jesus promises to kill death and to give new resurrection life to those who believe in Him (see Revelation 21:4). I think verse 25 is talking about resurrection to physical life and verse 26 is talking about spiritual life.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies [that’s resurrection] and whoever lives and believes in me will never die [that’s spiritual life, eternal abundant life, life that never ever ever ever ends].”

“Do you believe this?”

That’s a big question. That’s a big question that Jesus asks Martha. He has made a bold claim, and He asks her very simply, “Do you believe this?” What is your answer?

A lot rides on it. Have you heard the phrase, YOLO? “You Only Live Once.” People who believe that often take risks but it’s because they think this is their one shot to really live. But Jesus says that if you believe in Him, you live twice. And that will change the kind of risks you take in this first life.  You will take risks that affect the life to come.

You will live for Jesus’ Kingdom instead your own.
You will head out to Kansas City on a Challenge Trip.
You will jump a plane for Malawi.
You will talk to your neighbor or your co-worker about Jesus.

You will grieve over your dead loved ones because they’re gone for now, but you grieve with hope.

You will lean on the “everlasting arms.” And your anchor holds. Your “anchor holds.”

You really believe that Jesus really loves you and that one day He will really raise you from the dead.

We should be fearless.

“I am the resurrection and the life...[Martha,] Do you believe this?”
 
Matthew, do you believe this?

“Do you believe this?”

Look at verse 27.

“‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’”

Woohoo! Way to go, Martha! That is THE right answer. That’s John 3:16. That’s the way to life in Jesus’ name (20:31). That’s faith.

“‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’” That's John 1:9, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”

“Yes, Lord, I believe.”

“I believe like never before that you love me and that you will raise me from the dead.”

That’s not a metaphor. I expect to die and to be buried in some way, and then, one day, for Jesus to bring me back to life.

Remember what Jesus said in chapter 5?

“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out...” (Vv.25-28).

“Yes, Lord, I believe.”

And with that, Martha goes and fetches Mary. V.28.

“And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him” (vv.28-29).

These two sisters are very different in some ways and very similar in others. They both were grieving really hard. V.30

“Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. [“Oh, we’re going to the graveside to mourn with Mary at the tomb.”] When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’”

Same thing as Martha said. Same grief. Same bewilderment. Same belief in the power of Jesus to heal. Same sorrow. She’s weeping away.

And then Jesus starts to get emotional! V.33

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Those words are hard to translate into English to really get the sense of hem

The King James says, he “groaned in spirit.” The Greek word is “embrimaomai” and it comes from the sound that a horse makes when it’s angry. It’s almost a snort of indignation. It’s a release of air from the body in such a way that expresses extreme outrage and emotion. And the word for “troubled” has the idea of his body shaking with it. Jesus was rip-snorting-mad and distressed at...what?

He wasn’t mad at these people. He was mad at death. Jesus hates death. Death is an enemy. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Jesus loved Lazarus. And Jesus loved Martha. And Jesus loved Mary. So Jesus hated this death. He hated that they were grieving. He hated that they were ripped apart as a family. It made him cry and shake to see them weeping like this.

And so now He’s going to do something about it. And He’s going to prove that He is the Resurrection and the Life. V.34.

“‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”

Shortest verse in the Bible, but so meaningful.

“Jesus wept.” In those words, we see how human Jesus was. He was really human.  And He was as manly as they come, and He cried. And He was full of compassion. And He was full of grief. And He was a man of sorrow. He shows us how to live as a fully human person, not afraid of our emotions.

Men, don’t be afraid to cry. Ladies, don’t be ashamed of tears. Don’t be afraid to cry when you love someone and they die. Verse 36.

“Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’”

And He loves you! Jesus loves you. This is how He would feel at your graveside. Or the graveside of the one you love. V.37

“But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”

They don’t believe. Yes, He could have done that. He’s not crying because He couldn’t heal Lazarus. He’s crying because His friend is dead, and because He hates death. And because loves these people so much. Here’s that word again. Verse 38.

“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 

‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’

Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’”

I believe that if Jesus had not specified Lazarus, then there would have been people coming out of their graves all around the world!

Jesus had told the disciples in verse 11 that He was going to wake up Lazarus, and now Lazarus awakes. Verse 44.

“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”

He’s alive!
Lazarus is alive! He was dead. Totally dead. And now he’s back.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life!

Oh, the questions we have! I wonder all kinds of things like if Lazarus was disappointed that He had been brought back (only to die again another day down the road). 

But we don’t get to ask those questions yet. 

We just have to sit with the question Jesus asked Martha in verse 26.

“Do you believe this?”

Because not everybody did. Even people who were there did not believe in Jesus after that! Look at verse 45.

“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”

They even saw the miracle and they just wanted to get Jesus in trouble.

And He did get into trouble. I told Jenni we’d stop at verse 46, but look what happens next. V.47

“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’”

Oh, how terrible it would be if they believed in Him. V.49

“Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’ [We’re going to have to kill him.] 

He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”

Here’s the third and last thing I want you to believe like you’ve never believed before:

#3. BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED FOR YOU.

Caiaphas had it all wrong, and he had it all right. Jesus did have to die for the nation. Just not like Caiaphas thought. And Jesus had to die not just for the Jewish nation but for (v.52) “the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.”


Jesus had to died for you and me. The Good Shepherd had to lay down His life for His sheep only to take it up again. 

Jesus had to die for you even though you did not deserve it.

Jesus had to died for you and me.

So that He could give us forgiveness.

And so that He could give us new life.

Do you believe this?

I do. You know why? Because Lazarus walked out of His tomb.

"Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the resurrection and the life."

***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13
24. "I Am the Good Shepherd" - John 10:14-21
25. "I And The Father Are One" - John 10:22-42

Sunday, April 07, 2024

“I And The Father Are One” [Matt's Messages]

“I And The Father Are One”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 7, 2024 :: John 10:22-42 

What would you do if you were surrounded by a big group of angry men who were picking up rocks to throw at you?

What would you do if an antagonistic group of men had encircled you and were so enraged by your words enough to pick up stones to kill you with them?

In today’s story, that’s exactly what happened to our Lord Jesus. And here’s what He said right before they picked up those stones:

“I and the Father are one.”

That’s what Jesus said, and it’s what made them so angry and what can make us so happy forever.


This story took place during Hanukkah. Also known as the “Feast of Dedication.” Let’s start again in verse 22. 

“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.”

The Feast of Dedication was a newer festival. It wasn’t one of the ones that was prescribed in the Law of Moses. It was created in the time between the testaments, between the Old Testament and the New Testament, during the time of Maccabean Revolt. The Jews had surprisingly defeated their Greek oppressors and had rededicated the temple which had been desecrated by Antiochus IV. This was about 165 BC. 

So for about 200 years, the Jews had been celebrating this Feast of Dedication right around the time of year we that we celebrate Christmas. And the Hebrew word for dedication is “Hanukkah.”

And at this same time was the Festival of Lights. With the menorah and everything.

So here we have the Light of the World during the Festival of Lights walking through the rededicated temple (which also points to Him) during  the eight-day festival to celebrate the great heroes and saviors of Israel.  And He’s the Hero and Savior of Israel!

But the leaders of Israel do not believe it. Instead, they gang up on Him. Look at verse 24.

“The Jews gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’”

Do you see how they have surrounded Him? That really jumped out at me this week in my study. They have encircled Jesus. They may feel, in fact, like they have Jesus trapped.

For some time now, they have been sparring with Jesus in a war of words. And a few times (we saw in chapter 5, and chapter 7, and chapter 8), they have tried to grab Him and kill Him.

Last week, a bunch of them were saying that Jesus was insane or a had demon possessing Him because He was claiming to be the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (His people) only to take it back up again–resurrection. 

Here, they are trying to get Him to unambiguously incriminate Himself. They want Jesus to say something about Himself that really gets Him in trouble once and for all.

“If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” “Enough of these metaphors.”

“I am the bread of life.”
“I am the light of the world.”
“I am the gate for the sheep.”
“I am the good shepherd.”

“No more metaphors! Tell us straight up, who are you?”

But, remember, they do not actually want know. This circle of impatient men has already heard enough to clearly know Who Jesus believes He is. And they have seen enough, too. Verse 25.

“Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep” (vv.25-26).

Jesus says that He has given them all of the evidence they need. His message about Himself has been consistent, and His deeds, His works, His miracles say all the same things, too.

Water into wine. Time to celebrate.
Healing the official’s son long-distance with just a word. “Your son will live.”
Healing the lame man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. “Pick up your mat and walk.”
Feeding the five thousand men with a happy meal of loaves and fish. With twelve baskets left over!
Walking on the water. “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
Healing the man born blind. “I was blind but now I see.”

All of these miracles say the same thing about Who Jesus is.

They are signs. They point! And they all point to the same thing. John says that’s the big reason for this whole gospel. These miraculous signs are written here...“that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:30-31 NIVO).

Jesus says, “The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me...” Notice that Jesus does the miracles, but He does them in His Father’s name. By His Father’s authority. They are working together in unity.

And the greatest miracle was yet to come. The Good Shepherd was going to lay down His life for the sheep only to take it back up again. And the Father was going to love Him for it!

All of these miracles point towards Jesus being the Christ. The question that this gang of men is asking Jesus to answer once again. But these guys do not believe what the signs are saying. V.25 again. “Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep” (vv.25-26).

What scary words to hear! I pray that no one within the sound of my voice ever hears Jesus say those words to them. 

“You are not my sheep.” It was clear that these men were not His sheep because they didn’t want to be His sheep. They didn’t want to believe what the miracles said. They didn’t want to believe what Jesus said. They didn’t want to belong to Jesus as their Good Shepherd. So they were getting what they wanted. But I want the exact opposite for me and for you.

Because look what you get when you are His sheep! Verse 27.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

There’s our title for today. Our mind-blowing title. “I and the Father are one.”

You know that those are big strong words because in the very next verse, this circle of men picks up big stones to kill Jesus with.

“I and the Father are one.” What does He mean?

Well, He doesn’t mean that they are one Person. There is clearly two Persons mentioned here. “I” and “the Father.” The Son and the Father. But there is also unity here. “I and the Father are ONE.”

That’s One in essence. One in substance. “We are one thing (the thing we call ‘God.’)” There is only one God. And the Son is that one God, and the Father is that one God. (And when we get to chapters 14, 15, and 16, we’ll learn that the Spirit is that one God, too.)

You know, by now in the Gospel of John, these ideas should sound kind of familiar.

They will always be mind-blowing, but they should also be familiar, because this is just chapter 1, verse 1, isn’t it?

What does John 1:1 say? “In the beginning was the Word [that’s another name for the Son], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1 NIVO).

The Son was with God. He has with-ness. “I and the Father” Two Persons different yet intimately related. And the Son was God. He has was-ness and oneness. “I and the Father are ONE.”

The Son has everything it means to be God.
And the Father has everything that it means to be God.

And their unity of essence leads to a unity of action. Everything they do, they do perfectly together. You can’t divide these two. In their essence or in their works.

And that is such good news for you me!

Let me show you. I’ve only got two points to summarize the implications of this message this morning, but they are both such good news! 

Here’s the first one. What it means for Jesus (and for us) when Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

#1. MY SHEEP ARE SAFE.

Jesus says that because He and His Father are one, His sheep are utterly and completely and totally and eternally safe.

Isn’t that good news?! Look back up at verse 27. And revel in the first two words, “My sheep.”

Jesus has sheep that are His that He knows. We’ve emphasized that the last few weeks. He knows His sheep. He doesn’t just know about them. He doesn’t just have a database or names in a binder somewhere. 

He knows them. V.27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

If you want to know if you are His sheep, that’s a good place to start. Listen to His voice. Follow His lead. Do what Jesus says. But this passage is not mostly about what we do but what He does.

He knows us. And He gives us eternal life. Verse 28.

“I give them eternal life...” It’s a gift! You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. You can’t become worthy of it. It’s all by grace. The Good Shepherd won it for us by laying down His life for the sheep only to take it up again.

“He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart.”

“I give them eternal life...(v.28) and they shall never perish...” Same word as from John 3:16. “They shall never perish.”

Now that is taking shepherding to a whole other level!

These sheep become undying sheep!

Imperishable sheep.
Indestructible sheep.
And un-snatchable sheep. V.28

“...no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, holds onto us in such a way that no force on Earth can grab us and wrench us out of His safe hands. 

If you belong to Jesus, then you are safe as safe can be.

By grace through faith He gives you eternal life, and you will never perish. You will never die the eternal death of Hell. And you are safe in Jesus’ hand.

“No one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Can it get any better than that?!

Yes, it actually can! Because Jesus and His Father are ONE.

So there isn’t just verse 28, there is also verse 29! Jesus says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” Isn’t that wonderful?! Look at it again. V.29

“My Father...” Isn’t it wonderful?! He isn’t just a Shepherd that has sheep. He’s a Son that Has a Father. He says it over and over again. “My Father.” 

“My Father, who has given them to me...” Who is that? That’s the sheep. That’s us. The sheep are the Father’s gift to the Son. The Son gives the Sheep eternal life. We go through Him as the Gate and we get the life. The Son gives us life.

But the Father gives us to the Son. So the Father values us and gives us as a present to the Son. And He protects His gift! And there is no one who can take it away from Him.

“My Father...is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” 

Whose hand are these sheep in? Are we in Jesus’ hand or the Father’s hand? Both, right? Because, “I and the Father are one.”

This is you. If you belong to Jesus, if you are His sheep, you are safe in His hand. And no one can grab you out of it. I’d like to see anybody try.

But there’s another hand, inseparably operating, at the very same time with the very same omnipotent power. The Father’s hand! And there’s no one stronger than the Father. “No one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” No one!

“[N]either death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 NIVO).

Because “I and the Father are one.” “My sheep are safe.”

By the way, that safety means that we are safe to follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads. We are not safe to disobey Him. We’re safe to obey Him. Because that’s what His sheep do. We listen to His voice and we follow Him. Don’t take this safety as a license to sin but as freedom to follow the Shepherd wherever He leads.

But feel safe. Feel utterly, totally, completely, eternally safe in these hands because Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

That should make us so happy! But it made these men so mad. They understood exactly what this meant, and they picked up some sharp stones to do something about it. V.31

“Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’” (vv.31-32). 

He’s not scared at all, is He? He’s spunky in the face of this stoning. “I’ve done these great miracles from the Father...[notice that it’s from the Father, they are one in their miracles.]...For which of these great miracles do you guys want to stone me? V.33

“‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’”
 
It’s in the law. Leviticus 24:16 says, “[A]nyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death” (Lev. 24:16 NIVO).

“You have just said that you are and God are the same being. Therefore it is time for the jagged rocks to come out.”

What would you do if you were surrounded by a big group of angry men who were picking up rocks to throw at you?

Well, if you were Jesus at Hanukkah, you would calmly show them all where they were wrong and walk right out of there.

Jesus makes an interesting argument from the lesser to the greater from Psalm 82, verse 6. Look at our verse 34. “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?”

That’s Psalm 82, verse 6, where God calls the leaders of Israel “gods” with a small “g.” He doesn’t mean that they have super powers, but that they super responsibilities to “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps. 82:3-4 NIVO). 

These men have been raised up to a level to dispese god-like justice, so He calls them “gods” (small “g”) in Psalm 86 which is God’s Word.

So Jesus carries that logic through in verse 35. “If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came–and the Scripture cannot be broken–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?” (vv.35-36).

Do you follow His logic? “If these guys were legitimately called ‘gods’ (in some true sense), and they were just men, then what should you call someone Who is like me?!”

I and the Father ARE ONE!

And that means:

#2. I AM SET APART AND SENT.

I am set apart by God the Father and sent by God the Father into the world! 

In other words: It’s not blasphemy if it’s true.

“Those guys in Psalm 82 are called “gods,” small “g.” But you know what, guys, I don’t care if you have sharp rocks in your hands. I and the Father are one.” The titles don’t matter as much as the realities do.

“I and the Father are one.” Do your worst.

“I and the Father are one.” Go ahead, if you dare.

“I and the Father are one.” I invite you to believe. I invite you to become one of my sheep. V.37

“Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’”

Their unity is so perfect, their operations so inseparable, their oneness so absolute, that they are said to be “in” each other. 

“The Father is in me, and I in the Father.” We’re going to revel in that even more when we get to the Upper Room in chapters 14, 15, 16. And then we’ll get the Holy Spirit in the mix, too.

Think about Who Jesus says that He is. He is One with the Father, in the Father, and set apart by the Father and sent by the Father into the world. 

Those words “set apart” could be translated “sanctified” or “made holy.” What it means is that the Father has considered the Son His Special Son who has been set apart as special for a special mission.

The Father loves the Son, and that’s why He sent the Son.

He didn’t send the Son because He was disappointed in the Son. He didn’t send Him into exile or to redeem Himself. “That’ll teach Jesus a lesson.”

No, the Father sent the Son because the Son was special to Him and He had special mission for Him.

And we know what it was, right?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only [beloved] Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [never perish, never be snatched out of His hand] but have eternal life [“I give them eternal life.”] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3:16-17 NIVO).

The Son is set apart and sent...to save.

V.39  “Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, ‘Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.’ And in that place many believed in Jesus.”

And were saved! If you believe in Jesus, you get life. Life in His name.

Do you believe in Jesus?

Come through the Gate and into the abundant life He offers.

Because if you are His sheep, then you have everything.

You are safe as safe can be.

Because the Son and the Father are One.


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13
24. "I Am the Good Shepherd" - John 10:14-21

Sunday, March 31, 2024

"I Am The Good Shepherd" [Matt's Messages]

“I Am The Good Shepherd”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Resurrection Sunday :: Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 31, 2024 :: John 10:14-21  

What did He say to get that kind of a reaction?

What did Jesus say to get the people around Him thinking that He must be insane? That he was stark raving mad. That He must have a demon inside of Him!

Verse 19 says, “At these words the Jews were again divided.”

Some thought that Jesus made a lot of sense and was a great miracle-worker. He had just given sight to a man who had been born blind.

But others heard these words that Jesus said about Himself and thought, “This guy is ‘Cukoo for Cocopuffs.’ This guy is not playing with a full deck. This guy is bonkers.” 

What did Jesus say to get that kind of a reaction?

This is what He said. It’s in verse 14. 

“I am the good shepherd.”


Now, obviously, that might sound weird but not crazy to us today.

Jesus likened Himself to a shepherd, a person who takes care of sheep. Jesus already said that in verse 11. We looked it together last Sunday. 

And He meant it as a criticism of the religious leaders of His day. They were supposed to be good shepherds, taking good care of God’s good flock (the people of God), but they were miserable failures and had done a horrific job of it.

Jesus likened their shepherding to being a hired hand who doesn’t care one whit about the sheep. They wouldn’t lift a finger to help the sheep if the flock was attacked. They’d just run away.

And that’s on their best day. On other days, they were like thieves and robbers who steal, kill, and destroy the sheep. Steal, kill, and destroy.

They were bad shepherds, but Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd.

Now that word translated “good” doesn’t just mean “good.” Like 3 stars out of 5. “Not bad.” That’s not good enough.

The Greek word can also be translated, “beautiful” or “noble” or “true.”

It’s hard to get across, but it’s more like the “Perfect Shepherd.” Or the “Wonderful Shepherd.” Or the “Real Deal Shepherd.” “The Shepherd Par Excellence.”

Maybe, “The Goodest Shepherd?”

Is that a word? It is now!

This is the Shepherd that fulfills and embodies all of what a shepherd is supposed to be. “10/10 No Notes.”

If you’ve ever read the Twenty-third Psalm, “The LORD is my Shepherd / I shall not be in want,” and you see how King David felt about His Shepherd, that’s what Jesus is claiming to be here for His people. 

Because if He’s the Shepherd, then we are the sheep.

Today, Landen, Treiton, Keagan, Maria, and Katie are all going to get up on this platform and declare that they are Jesus’ sheep and that Jesus is their Good Shepherd.

It takes some humility to admit you are like a sheep. Because, as we said last Sunday and as I shared with the Egg Hunt families yesterday, sheep are kind of dumb. They are clueless and helpless and needy. It takes humility to admit that you are a sheep and you need someone to care for you, provide for you, protect you, lead you, and guide you and keep you from true harm.

But it’s true, right? We are needy, as people. We are spiritually helpless. We are clueless and need a good Shepherd to guide us.

And that’s what Jesus says that He is. 

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.”

And in this passage (verses 14-17), Jesus says three big things about what that means for us, that He is the good shepherd. How He takes shepherding to a whole new level. Here’s the first one:

#1. THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS HIS SHEEP.

We heard that last Sunday, too, up in verse 3, 4, and 5. Jesus said that His sheep will hear His voice as He calls to them by name, and that they won’t follow a stranger’s voice.

Now look how He says in verse 14 and 15: “‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father...”

Isn’t that wonderful?! Jesus says that He knows His sheep. That means personally. He doesn’t just know that He has some sheep on a hillside somewhere. He knows our names. He knows our lives. He knows our hearts. He knows our hurts. He knows our joys. He knows our sorrows. He knows our needs.

He knows our sins.

If you are Jesus’ sheep, then Jesus knows you. He knows you intimately. And He knows what’s going on in your life that is hard right now. He knows what you’re struggling with. He is your good shepherd.

In that day, a lot sheep were kept for wool. Some were for sacrifice and some for mutton, but most were just for wool. So the sheep might live a long time and have the same shepherd that knew them inside and out for their whole life.

If you are Jesus’ sheep, then Jesus knows you.

And you know Jesus! This is an invitation to become intimately acquainted with your Savior, with your Shepherd. To know Jesus. 

And look at how deeply we can know Him! Verse 15 says, “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father!” That’s an unbelievable amount of knowing! That we could know Jesus in some way like God the Father knows God the Son and God the Son knows God the Father. That is just mind-blowing!

The Good Shepherd knows His sheep.

He knows Landen, Treiton, Keagan, Maria, and Katie.

And today, they proclaim that they know Him!

Do you know Him?

Jesus is the good shepherd.

#2. THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP.

He doesn’t just know them. He loves them. And here’s how much He loves them. He sacrifices Himself for them. Look at verse 15.

“‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Now, that is taking shepherding to a whole other level. And you can begin to see why it sounds a little crazy. Because a sheep is worth far less than a shepherd. Shepherds could take some risks to protect the flock. They were valuable. But if the choice is save the sheep or save your life, “Goodbye, Sheepie!”

But Jesus says that as our Good Shepherd, He plans to “lay down” his life “for the sheep.”

What’s He talking about? He’s talking about the Cross. He’s talking about how He was going to be nailed to a piece of wood and hung up on pole. And struggle to breathe for three hours and then die.

Why? He was laying down His life for His sheep.

The Bible says that, He “was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6 NIVO).

The Good Shepherd saves His sheep by laying down His life for them, in the place of His sheep.

That’s what brings us into life! 

Last week, Jesus said that He is “the Gate,” that is, He is the way into life, eternal life, life to the fullest. 

And we get that life by believing in Him, by putting our trust in Him as our way in.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [who laid down His life for the sheep], that whoever [sheep] believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).

Is that you? Jesus is on the hunt for new sheep to be in His sheepfold. Look at verse 16.

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” [That’s Him! See also Ezekiel 34 for more on that promise!]

I love this verse, because you and I are in it. Jesus is talking about us.

"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. [Meaning of the Jews. Jesus has other sheep that are Gentiles. That are not the group in front of Him that day.] I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."

There’s a sheep pen over here in Israel in the year 0033 or whatever. And there’s another over here in central Pennsylvania in the year 2024.

And Jesus says, “I’m not content with just these sheep. I’m looking for a bigger flock. Other sheep. “I must bring them also.” 

That’s us! Like I told the families at the Egg Hunt, Jesus isn’t just searching for eggs. He’s looking for lost sheep to bring them into His sheepfold and give them life to full. And He will rejoice over them when they come. “Rejoice with me!”

Verse 16. “They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

Today, Landen, Treiton, Keagan, Maria, and Katie, are proclaiming that they have listened to Jesus’ voice and been brought into His one sheepfold.

How about you?

He has laid down His life for you! And the Father loves Him for it. Look at verse 17.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life...”
 
Now, that doesn’t mean it’s the only reason why the Father loves the Son. He loves the Son just because He’s the Son.

But He is such a good Son! The Father always looks at Jesus and says, “Oh how pleased I am with my beloved Son!

Look how obedient He is!
Look how submissive He is!
Look how He accomplishes His mission!

I am so pleased with Him.

Look at Him lay down His life for those sheep we love!"

Sometimes we can get the idea that the Father and the Son were in conflict with one another about our salvation. Like the Father hated us but the Son stepped in the way to save us from His meanness. But that’s not quite right. Remember John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave His Son. He sent His Son. They were working in perfect unity to save us from the just wrath of God. And so at the very same time as the Son in His humanity was feeling the hot righteous anger of God poured out upon Him on the Cross, the Father was also saying, “That’s my boy!”

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.”

Now that is taking shepherding to yet another level!

It’s one thing for a shepherd to take a risk for a sheep.
It’s another thing for a shepherd to die for a sheep.
But this shepherd says that He is going to come back from the dead for His sheep!

#3. THE GOOD SHEPHERD TAKES UP HIS LIFE AGAIN FOR HIS SHEEP.

Here’s the idea: A dead shepherd is not a good shepherd.

What good is it to have a dead shepherd? If the shepherd is dead, where does that leave the flock? The sheep are in trouble if the shepherd is dead.

How would Psalm 23 read?

“My shepherd is dead. I will never have what I need. 
I can’t find the green pastures. I can’t find the quiet waters.
My soul is destroyed.
I’m lost. I can’t find the paths of righteousness.
I’m all alone in the valley of the shadow of death.
I fear every evil.
I have no comfort.
I have no blessings.
I can’t eat. My enemies are after me.
My head is cracked and dry.
My cup is empty.
Surely evil and disloyal hatred will chase me all of the days of my life, and I’m headed to Hell forever.

Because my shepherd is dead.”

That’s what would happen to us if Jesus stayed dead.

But Jesus said that He would lay down His life “only to take it up again.” That could be translated, “so that” He would take it up again. He died in such a way as to earn a victorious resurrection. Jesus claimed that He had the authority to do this. 

No one was doing it to Him. V.18 “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord [willingly]. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Yes, the Jews put Him to death. Yes, the Romans put Him to death. Yes, it was our sin that held Him there. But in the end, it was His choice and no other human’s. He had the right to lay it down and the right to take it up again.

And He did both! On the third day, He rose again.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

He is no longer a dead shepherd. He is a living shepherd. An unstoppably living shepherd. He has conquered death.

The choir sang, “Death is conquered! We are free! Christ has won the victory!”

The kids sang, “Alive! Alive!”

Our good shepherd is alive again and forever.

That, I think, is what they thought was crazy. That this guy was claiming to be the kind of good shepherd that not only dies for His sheep but comes back to life. “At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’ But others said, ‘These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

What do you think? Which side are you on? Do you think He’s crazy? Or are you listening to Him?

Landen, Treiton, Keagan, Maria, and Katie have decided that they believe that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows them, laid down His life for them, and took up His life again for them, so they have listened to His voice and come into His one flock, by faith.

Praise God!


***


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13

Sunday, March 24, 2024

“I Am The Gate” [Matt's Messages]

“I Am The Gate”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 24, 2024 :: John 10:1-13  

“Therefore Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.’”

That’s verse 7. And it’s where we get our title for this morning, and it’s the third big “I Am” statement in the Gospel of John where Jesus tells us Who He truly is.

In chapter 6, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Jn. 6:35 NIVO)

In chapter 8, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8:12 NIVO) Bread of life. Light of life.

Here in verse 7, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.”


It’s been a while since I talked about our sabbatical last summer. 

You might remember this picture from my report. That’s not Israel. That’s Scotland. I haven’t been to Israel.

Last summer in the UK, I become much more familiar with the ways of sheep and with gates.

There are sheep just everywhere in Great Britain. It seemed to me like we were never more than 10 miles from sheep no matter where were in the United Kingdom except for maybe London, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find sheep there, too!

There was just always sheep nearby. And because of that, there were gates just about everywhere, too.

This one is on the south shore of England. You can barely see the English Channel through the opening.

Sheep have to be fenced in because sheep are dumb. They are wonderful animals, cute, and great for wool (the wonder-fiber that my wife adores), but they are dumb. They are helpless. They have to be cared for.

My favorite thing I ever learned about sheep, and the thing I almost always share when teaching about shepherds is that some sheep are so helpless they can get lost in an open garage. They wander in through that big opening, and then they can’t figure out how to get out.

But that also means that sheep can’t be trusted to NOT go where they are NOT supposed to go. They will wander out of just about any opening.

So unless you want sheep drowning in the English channel, you put this gate there to keep them on that side of the fence.

Here’s a picture of that gate from the other way.


There are gates all over Great Britain. You can walk and walk and walk on what they call “permissive paths” across fields and coastlines and all kinds of places, but every so often you reach a gate, and you have to open it and go through and make sure it latches behind you.

Or the sheep get out.

Or predators get in to attack the sheep.

There is life and safety on the right side of the fence. And that’s why gates are so important. They are gates for life. Gates to life.

And Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep.”

Now, in that illustration, you and I are the sheep. And that is not especially flattering for us. When Jesus calls us sheep, He’s not saying that we are cute and cuddly and good for wool. 

He’s saying that we are helpless and needy and kind of dumb on our own.

We need help. We need care. We need a shepherd.

And the Lord has promised to send a Shepherd. If we had time this morning, I would read to you the whole of Ezekiel 34 where God promises to send a Shepherd for His people from the line of David. In that passage, the LORD pronounces “woe” on the leaders who had shepherded Israel so horribly up to that time.

Do you remember when He said something like that Jeremiah chapter 23?  We studied it back in 2022. “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” (Jer. 23:1 NIVO). 
And then in Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23, God promises to send a good shepherd, a great Shepherd, “a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land” (Jer. 23:5 NIVO).

“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd” (Ezek. 34:23 NIVO).

We are sheep. We need a Shepherd. God has promised to supply a Shepherd from the line of David.

And God has kept His promise!

That’s what we are going to see this week and next in John chapter 10, verses 1 through 21. This week, were only going to get up through verse 13.

Chapter 10 flows right out of chapter 9. There is no break. It is apparently the same day, the same time, the same event as chapter 9.

Do you remember what happened in chapter 9? Jesus has been fighting with the Pharisees (verbally) in public for several chapters now. And He has claimed to be the Light of the World. And He makes good on that claim by healing the eyes of a man who had been born blind.

But now He sees.

Jesus put a mud-pack on his eyes and sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and he was healed! Remember that from last time?

And the Pharisees were so happy for that man! They were just overjoyed and began to worship and follow Jesus. No that’s not what happened. Jesus did this miracle on a Sabbath, and they were rip-roaring mad about it. They tossed the guy out on his ear. And they called Jesus “a sinner.”

And Jesus called them “blind.” These leaders claimed to really see but they were really blind.

Jesus’ last words to the Pharisees in chapter 9 were, “Your guilt remains.”

And then He just starts speaking again in what we call chapter 10. Remember John didn’t put these chapter numbers here. They’re just addresses, points on the map, so that we can find things in the Bible.

Jesus is apparently still talking to and about these very same people when He says (V.1), “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.”

Now, in this section (vv.1-6), Jesus is drawing a sharp contrast between the so-called shepherds of Israel and the shepherd that God’s people truly needed. Verse 6 calls it a “figure of speech.” It’s an extended illustration.

The sheep are God’s people, and they need led and cared for.

And there are genuine shepherds out there and fake shepherds. Shepherds who may look the part. But they are illegitimate and bad for the sheep.

In verse 1, they get into the sheep pen in the wrong way. They skip the gate. The climb over the wall. They sneak in.

Jesus is talking about the Pharisees! Can you see how they would be getting all red in the face as he says this?! They are “thieves and robbers.” They come by stealth and do violence. They are out for themselves and don’t really care about the flock.

But the true shepherd is genuine. He comes the right way. He has the right credentials. Verse 3. He shows His ID at the gate. 

“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

Now there were two main kinds of sheep pens in the Middle East at that time. One is the smaller one out in the fields. We’ll talk more about that in a minute. The other is the large one in a courtyard enclosure in a more populated area. They could be big enough that several flocks could share the space together for a time. I think that’s the one that we see here.

The gatekeeper opens up for the real shepherd, and He steps in and calls His own sheep by their own names. And He leads them out. He doesn’t drive them out. He leads them out. Verse 4.

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

I have three points to share this morning all about being Jesus’ sheep. And here’s the first one.

#1. FOLLOW JESUS ALONE AND BE TRULY KNOWN.

He hasn’t said it yet in so many words, but the real shepherd here is Jesus. 

His sheep know it. They listen to His voice. They know His voice. In fact, verse 5, “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.”

True sheep ultimately don’t get duped by false shepherds. 

So Jesus was putting the Pharisees on notice. They were not going to get to keep Jesus’ people. His true sheep would hear His voice and follow Him alone.

Just the like the (formerly) blind man. 

He could now see through the Pharisees and their pretensions. Remember how almost snarky he got with them?

"Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.” (Jn. 9:30 NIVO)

“Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" (Jn. 9:27 NIVO)

Jesus says, “Expect more of that snark, guys. My sheep will never follow a stranger. In fact, they will run away from you.”

And here’s what we are supposed to do–run to Jesus and follow Him.

Are you doing that? Are you a living as a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you living as a disciple?


Jesus says that His sheep follow Him (v.4). That means that they do what He says. Are you doing what Jesus says? Are you being obedient to His commands? Are you living in line with His teaching?

Are you following your own Shepherd? Or are you trying to go on your own?  Or are you listening to another voice? There are a lot of voices out there trying to be your shepherd. Listen to Jesus voice and follow Him alone.

And you will be known.

That’s my favorite part of these first six verses. It’s what it says in verse 3. It’s not just that we know Him and His voice, but He knows us. V.3

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

By name! There is such a close relationship between the genuine shepherd and His own sheep that He doesn’t shove the ones that are his out the door. He just speaks to them, and they cock their ear. He just calls their name, and they come follow Him.

You are known. 

But if you think about, He doesn’t just know their names. He probably named them Himself. He gave them their names. That’s the level of intimacy they have. They answer to the name that He has given them. You are known. And you are loved. And you are cared for.

Next week, we’ll see how deeply known we are. Just glance at verses 14 and 15! Do you know how known you are? Do you know how beloved you are to the Shepherd Jesus? He knows everything about you, including the worst things about you, and He still loves you.

In fact, He calls your name and calls you to follow Him alone.

Verse 6 says, “Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.”

We’re pretty used to that by now in the gospel of John. At some point later it started to make sense to them. So, in verse 7, Jesus switches the metaphor a little bit, and here we come to our title for today’s message once again. Verse 7.

“Therefore Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

#2. ENTER THROUGH JESUS ALONE AND BE TRULY SAVED.

Now, which is it? Is Jesus a shepherd or a gate? (Some of your versions have “door”. The “door” of sheep pen is often called a “gate.”)

Is Jesus a shepherd or a gate? Well, it’s both, right?

In the first six verses, He was the genuine shepherd. And the gate was opened for Him. But now in this part of his illustration, He says that He is the gate for the sheep Himself. He Himself is the access point to the safety and security of the sheep pen.

Jesus has a way of making everything about Himself, doesn’t He? That’s probably because everything IS about Him when you get down to it, isn’t it?

Interestingly, there was a way in that culture where a person could be both a shepherd and a gate.

And that is a situation like this.

When the wall of the sheep pen was broken down. 

[This was a wall in the Lake District in England. Near to Beatrix Potter’s house where she wrote the “Peter Rabbit” stories for children.]

Or when it was designed that way. In Israel in that day, some of the sheep pens out in the countryside were small circles or squares with a five or six foot opening at one end. And the shepherd, after he had gotten his wooly charges into the circle would then lay down over the opening himself.

And nobody was getting out without Him and nobody was getting into those sheep without going through Him.

He was the door.
He was the doorway.
He was the gate. 

And if you had gone through Him and were inside, then you were safe. 

V.9 again. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

Jesus saying that there is only one access point to salvation, and that He is it.

He’s going to say something very similar in chapter 14. With another “I am” statement. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6 NIVO).

In other words, “I am the gate.”

And that might sound narrow, and it is, but it is also free to everyone. And it is the way to salvation. He is the way to salvation. 

Have you entered through Jesus? In the four chair illustration from Pastor Joel last week, have you gone from chair one to chair two? Don’t stay on chair number one! And there is only way to get to chair number two. And it’s by trusting in Jesus and what He did for you on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. At the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

Enter through Jesus alone and be truly saved.

On that first Palm Sunday, as they waved their branches the crowds were shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” which is a quote from Psalm 118, verse 26.

Just a few verses before that Psalm 118 says this (vv.19-21):

“Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation” (Ps. 118:19-21 NIVO).

Enter through Jesus alone and be truly saved. 

And have true life. I love that word “saved” in verse 9, but I’m maybe even more excited about that word “pasture.” That means, grass, right? It means that sheep will have what the sheep needs for life. 

Pasture is food. It’s provision. It’s sustenance. It’s satisfaction. It’s life. It’s the good life. Right? Look at verse 10. Jesus contrasts once again.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

That’s a good verse to memorize. There are so many good verses in John to memorize!

Jesus says that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Who is the thief? 

It doesn’t say. I always think of it as Satan because that sounds like his mission. I think that’s right. But in the context, the thieves are these false shepherds, the ones who came before Jesus who made such a mess of it for God’s people. They were actually on Satan’s mission.  So the “thief” is anyone who would try to attack and destroy God’s people. Steal. Kill. Destroy.

But Jesus’ mission was the exact opposite.

“I have come that [my sheep] may have life, and have it to the full.”

In abundance.

#3. BELIEVE IN JESUS ALONE AND BE TRULY ALIVE.

These sheep have it good. They have all of the pasture that they can ask for. They have every blessing. They have grace upon grace. They have life. True life.

And we have learned that that life comes from believing in Jesus

John 20:31, These things “...are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Jesus is the bread of life.
Jesus gives us the light of life.
Jesus is the gate that leads to life.

Abundant life. The best life.  Eternal life. Eternal joy. Eternal blessedness. All because of Jesus.

We could not find this life on our own. We are sheep. Helpless and dumb. But Jesus has come to give us this life so that we can begin to enjoy it now and then enjoy it forever, to the full.

Isn’t that wonderful? Aren’t you so thankful for the abundant life that Jesus has given you? We only have it in part now. We still live surrounded by death and carry around a little death inside of us.

But death does not have the final word for us. 


Everything we said earlier when we quoted Psalm 23 has come true for us in ways that maybe King David couldn’t have even imagined!

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [That’s pasture! That’s abundant life!] Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps. 23:5-6 NIVO).

The Prayer Meeting looked at Psalm 23 on Wednesday, and we talked about those words “follow me” in Psalm 23. 

They mean “pursuit.” Like when you’re driving too fast and you start to see those red and blue lights flashing behind you. But it’s not the cops pursuing you. It’s “goodness” and covenant “love” chasing after you all of the days of your life and then forevermore!

Jesus “the Gate” has come that you may have life and have it to the full! Believe in Jesus alone and be truly alive. 

Because this is what it took for us to have this abundant life:

Jesus had to lay down His.

Verse 11. “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. I am the good shepherd...” (vv.11-14a).

Again, Jesus contrasts Himself with the Pharisees and the other Jewish Religious Leaders.

Here he doesn’t call them thieves and robbers, but He says that they are like “hired hands” who are just self-interested. They aren’t really invested in the sheep. When the wolf comes (who also wants to steal, kill, and destroy), they hit the road. They don’t care about sheep.

But Jesus does.

Oh my, does Jesus care about His sheep!

Now He comes out and says it loud and clear and two times, “I am the good shepherd.”

That’s the fourth of the great “I Am” declarations in the Gospel of John. This chapter has two of them! “I am the gate,” and “I am the good shepherd.”

Which is so good, we’re going to come back and finish this section on Resurrection Sunday.

He’s “good” not just in contrast to “bad” but good in the sense of “perfect” or “best.” He’s everything that a Shepherd should be and could be. He is the fulfillment of Psalm 23 and Isaiah 40 and Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34. He is great David’s greatest son. And He is God’s Son.

He is the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd like no other. The Shepherd par excellence!

We are sheep. We helpless. We are needy. We are dumb. We needed a Shepherd, and praise God, He sent us the best one!

And we know that because He said so and because He acted on it, too. 

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

What?! What kind of a shepherd does that?!

That’s not like any kind of normal shepherd. A normal shepherd might take some risks. They work really hard for their flock.

But if it’s a choice between a sheep and a shepherd? Goodbye, "Sheepie." 

But not with us. Not this kind of sheep. Not you and me.

Not only does this Shepherd know us, including all of our failings and sin.

But this Shepherd loved us enough to lay down His life for us.

“[H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him [our Good Shepherd, the Gate] the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6 NIVO).

Be Jesus’ Sheep.


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41