The Good Christmas Shepherd

Bible Book: John  10
Subject: Jesus, The Good Shepherd; Salvation; Eternal Security; Christmas

The Good Shepherd

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
Introduction

Christiam is a time when we think about shepherds, and usually see them in a children's drama presentation in our churches. How wonderful that the angels came first to the shepherds, who were considered at the lowest end of the employment scale in ancient Israel. Just as God chose for His Son to be born in the tiny village of Bethlehem, to show that He was to be the Savior of all, He first gave the message of His birth to the least and last of society. Incredibly, Jesus would later refer to Himself as the Shepherd. Let's think on that today and see how important the image of the Good Shepherd is to our lives.

Turn with me to John 10 and let’s read some selected verses - first look at John 10:7-14:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

Jesus chose to describe Himself as the Good Shepherd and us as His sheep. The terms He used are very fitting in each case.

i. Sheep are clean animals.

All those who are saved are clean through the blood of Jesus.

ii. Sheep flock together.

God's people love to be together and share with one another.

iii. Sheep are useful to the shepherd.

He gets wool from them. Likewise, we should be useful to our Master, the Lord Jesus.

iv. Sheep are peaceable animals.

We are to be peacemakers.

v. Sheep are also prone to wander.

In fact, it has been noted that a sheep is one of the only animals that cannot find its way home once it is lost. Other creatures are not like that. Birds can find their way to their nests from great distances. Salmon can travel across great expanses of water to arrive at their spawning areas. We have all heard stories of dogs that have traveled many miles to arrive at the home of their master. But sheep? No, they wander off and are helpless unless the shepherd goes out to find them and bring them back.

How like sheep we Christians are. We have a shepherd and yet we are so prone to wander.

What does this illustration of sheep and shepherd mean to us? The shepherds watching their flocks heard of the birth of the Messiah, little did they know that He, too, was to be a Shepherd for His people. Let’s look carefully at this imagery and discover what it means to be the children of God.

I. The Supernatural Salvation

There is only one way to salvation according to Jesus Himself. He said, "I am the way - no man can come to the Father but by me. (John 4:6)" Salvation is a supernatural work. I want you to see three things that are revealed about this from the lips of Christ.

A. This is God's Work

"I" give them eternal life! Note the word, "I." This is not the work of a religion or church. Salvation is not the work of a denomination. Salvation is not the human work of any person or group of persons. Salvation is from Christ. "I" give them eternal life. Jesus does it. Only Jesus can do it! Thank God He is willing to do it. Without Him there would be no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, and no chance of heaven.

You see, that is why Jesus came into this world and was born of Mary in Bethlehem. He came to redeem us from our sins. That is what the angel told Mary - "He shall save His people from their sins." If there was another way to redeem us, surely it would have been chosen by the Lord. He is the only Good Shepherd, the only one who can lead us Home to God and to heaven.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote, "How shall they escape, if they neglect so great salvation? (Hebrews 2:3)" Indeed, we will not escape the prison of their own sins unless we come with repentance and faith to Jesus, the Son of God.

When the terrorists flew those planes into buildings on U.S. soil in September, 2001, they killed many people on the ground. But, they also took down with them the lives of all the people on the planes. How could anyone escape that death? Let us assume for a moment that you are on a plane destined to crash and burn. You are offered a parachute, and you’re are told that this is the only way of escape. What other way could you escape? No other way is available. Likewise, on a spiritual level, only Jesus can offer you an escape from the plane called earth that is plunging toward certain destruction! This planet is going to crash and burn. My life and your life is destined to turn to dust and ashes. There is only one way to escape and that way is a supernatural, divine work! This is God's work. That is the work of the Good Shepherd.

Notice also, that …

B. This is a Grace Work

I "give" them eternal life! Note the word, "give." It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-10). God gives it to you! Salvation cannot be stolen, bought, earned or won, but is a gift - given free and clear by Christ. He said, "I give."

As we approach Christmas, each of us works diligently to select gifts for those we love. It can be difficult, because there are people who seem to have everything. In fact, most of us have more than we need already. We have a hard time finding a place to put it all. But, there is one gift the whole world needs and it can't be found anywhere else. Salvation is a gift given to those who turn to Christ. What a gift it is!

Yet, there is another truth here …

C. This is a Gripping Work

I give them "eternal life." He gives ‘eternal life’. This speaks of life that cannot be lost. Our physical life is not eternal, but once we are saved, our spiritual life is in the grip of the Son of God. Do you think He can hold you? Do you think His hand is weak? Oh, my friend, He is more than able to keep that which is committed unto Him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12). Our Savior does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the same today as the day He gave me eternal life.

Most of the gifts I have received at Christmastime have long been resigned to garabage bins of history. They were wonderful when I received them, and I was grateful to the ones who gave them. But, they are gone! Used up! But, thanks be to God for His unspeakable, indefinable gift in Christ. He never wears out, never goes out of style, never gets old and never stops working. Thank God for the gripping, lasting, eternal work of eternal life in Christ.

Now, think with me about the following …

II. The Seven-fold Safety

I want to give you seven reasons why you are safe once you are in Christ. Once you have repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you have a seven-fold safety.

A. Reason # 1 - A Matter of Separation

Romans 8:37-39. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

B. Reason # 2 - A Matter of Purification

Hebrews 10:14. He has made those perfect that He is making holy.

C. Reason # 3 - A Matter of Completion

Philippians 1:6. Christ will complete that which He began!

D. Reason # 4 - A Matter of Predestination

Romans 8:29-30. Predestination is a complex theological issue. We are not going to consider all the ins and outs of that subject today. However, the fact is that those who come to Him are predestined to be conformed to His image and glorified.

E. Reason # 5 - A Matter of Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17. Every saved person is a new creation. The physical world is one creation; however, the spiritual world supersedes it. When you are saved, you are born again – the second birth is not by water but by the Spirit (John 3).

F. Reason # 6 - A Matter of Relocation

John 5:24. Those that are saved have changed their residence! The saved person has passed over from death unto life. They WILL NOT be condemned.

G. Reason # 7 - A Matter of Intercession

John 17:9. Jesus ever intercedes for you. He is your salvation.

Friend, listen carefully. Once you are saved by Jesus, you can be sure you are kept by Jesus. Some people believe that they will not know if they are saved till they get to heaven. Do you think a place can save you? Do you think simply being in heaven can save a person? The angels lived in heaven but a third of them fell with Lucifer, the angel of light. Heaven can't keep me from falling. I will not be safe because I am in heaven - I will be safe because I am in the hand of Jesus and Jesus is in heaven. Our prayer is not “heaven help us” - Our prayer is “Jesus help us!” He is the way to salvation and He is the security in salvation. The only way my salvation will fail is if Jesus ever fails. I like what the songwriter said, "Jesus never fails."

“So many souls have tested Him throughout the course of time.
So many still reach out to Him with broken hearts and minds
And every one of them will say, without exception that they find...
Jesus never fails...
“So what can I do to prove to you, tell me how can you deny?
No untold facts, no mysteries, it’s all so cut and dried.
On the witness stand of your life,
I’ll be the first to testify...
Jesus never fails!”

When we began, I pointed out that sheep are prone to wander and can’t find their way home. So, if a sheep wanders away, does that sheep no longer belong to the shepherd? Here is a point of significant truth. A sheep that has wandered away is in danger but he does not cease to be a sheep, nor can he ever cease to be a sheep. To wander away is to subject yourself to many dangers and trials but it does not mean that the Shepherd does not love you or will not come looking for you. Read Luke 15 and you can see this truth clearly. In Christ, the Good Shepherd, we are secure.

Now, note …

III. The Serious Statement

John 10:26-30

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Two things exist in this portion of our scripture today that are critical. Note first…

A. You Do Not Believe

Jesus spoke to those who “do not believe” in Him. In other words, there were those who did not have faith in the words and works of Jesus. Salvation is not complicated but it is demanding. You must believe in Jesus and that requires coming to Him by faith, repenting of sin and committing your life to Him as your Savior and Lord. Some, simply will not do that!

This time of year is viewed by many as a mere holiday. Have you really received the gift that God gave in the person of His Son? You can do that today. Don't leave this gift unopened.

B. You Do Not Belong

To belong to Jesus means to be in His mighty hand. Those who belong to Him will never perish. When you read the idea of perishing in the Greek text, you note that it is presented as a double negative. It reads like this: “They will not, they shall not, perish.” Word studies in Greek reveal that reading the passage properly from the Greek sounds odd in English. It would read like this: “My sheep will not, they shall not, no never, ever eternally perish.”

By contrast, those who do not belong to Jesus will perish. That is, they will go out into eternity without a redeemer – a Savior. Now this leads us to our final thought. As Augustine said, if life in Christ is eternal, so life without Christ must be eternal. Why? Because the Bible speaks of separation from God at death as eternal separation. Either both life in Christ and life without Christ are temporary, or both are eternal. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said that both are eternal.

My friend, which "eternal" is yours? Do you possess eternal life, or eternal separation from God? You certainly possess one or the other. To have Christ is to be safe! This life may bring many changes, but Jesus never changes. He saves and He keeps.

Conclusion

In an English churchyard there is an inscription upon the tomb of a young boy who must have loved the Savior. It simply says, "Freddy!" and, underneath the words, "Yes Father!" The heavenly Father called, and the earthly child of God went home to the Father's house. If God called your name or my name today, would we be ready to go home to Him? Only if we have fully trusted Christ can we be ready. Have you trust Him?

Come to Him now! Turn to Him this very hour. All those who know Him, rejoice in your everlasting salvation and recommit to stay near the Shepherd - after all, you and I are a sheep and we are so prone to wander.