Second Sunday After Easter: The Shepherd And The Butcher
The Gospel Of John is an extraordinary Gospel. One of the main purposes of this gospel is to show that Jesus is God.
It is interesting to note that many who study numerology have said that 6 is the number of man where as 7 is the number of God.
In Johns gospel, he not only presents us with 7 miracles that Jesus did, But we also read of 7 “I Am” statements. Seven times, John records Jesus proclaiming Himself with the introductory formula “I am.”
- Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life." ...John 6:35
- Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world." ...John 8:12
“I am the door." ...John 10:9
“I am the good shepherd." ...John 10:11
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life." ...John 11:25-26
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life"...John 14:6
- "I am The Vine"...John 15:5
In today's Gospel we read, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
As we Have already said, one of the purposes of Johns Gospel is to show that Jesus was God.
The comparison of God to a Shepherd is used throughout the Bible. Consider these:
His bow rested upon the strong, and the bands of his arms and his hands were loosed, by the hands of the mighty one of Jacob: thence he came forth a pastor (that is a shepherd), the stone of Israel.
- Genesis 48:15
And Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph, and said: God, in whose sight my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, God that, as a Shepherd, feedeth me from my youth until this day
- Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom, and he himself shall carry them that are with young.
- Ezekiel 34:12
As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
- Matthew 9:36
And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.
- Psalm 23
The Lord ruleth me as a shepherd; I shall want nothing.
So, what does it mean when Jesus says, “I Am”? One author explains it this way:
When Jesus applies the title “I Am” to himself, he claims to be God (John 8:58). Not a helper to God or a great teacher, but the divine, eternal, pre-existent, infinite, perfect Being. He is Israel’s God. He is greater than Moses because he is the God of Moses. He has life in himself and he can give life to us. The Jews knew taking on this title was making such a claim, which is why they immediately pick up stones to kill him (John 8:59).”
The “I Am” statement, concerning the good Shepherd in John, might best be understood as falling under, and echoing this claim of Jesus being the Good Shepherd. He is God, and He is the God of Israel. All the OT and God’s redemptive acts were pointing to the coming of Jesus as the God-in-flesh, the true and better Israel, and the fulfillment of all the OT types and shadows."
So how does Jesus fulfill the OT picture or type of God as a Shepherd?
He is the Savior who seeks.
It seems that you can’t read this text and not think about Jesus’ parable in Luke 15 about going after the one sheep. There is a description of intimacy in this passage that parallels the relationship between the Father and the Son.
He is the Savior who serves.
This is His decision. He lays down His life. He has the right to lay it down.
He is the Savior who sacrifices.
Jesus gave His life so that we might have life.
He is the Savior who is our vicarious atonement.
He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
He is the Savior who secures our salvation.
There is an old story about a tour group in Israel. The tour guide had been explaining to the group about the close relationship shepherds had with his sheep, and how he is able to walk in front of them, call them, perhaps whistle or play a pipe, and they will follow him. During the tour, the group came upon a shepherd who spotted a man in the distance driving a small flock of sheep with a rather menacing stick. Was the guide mistaken, then? He immediately stopped the bus and rushed off across the fields. A few minutes later he returned, his face beaming. He announced, "I have just spoken to the man. Ladies and gentlemen, he is not the shepherd. He is in fact the butcher!"' (John Stott, "The Church's Pastors" in The Contemporary Christian, p. 284.)
Our Gospel Reading for today tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but the New Testament does not stop there.
- Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
The emphasis has shifted from the cross to the resurrection, but it doesn’t stop there. He certainly continues to be good, but, as one person put it, the “empty tomb declares Him to be great.”
1 Peter 5:4
And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.
It starts with the emphasis on the cross then the resurrection and now, the emphasis is on His return.
Jesus is described as the good shepherd, even the great shepherd, even the chief shepherd. He is presented as a Shepherd who has died for us, arose for us, and is coming again for us. But a question remains to that needs to be answered: Is Jesus YOUR shepherd? Are you a sheep following Him? Or is the Butcher of your soul driving you towards an eternal death in Hell? If it is the latter, then today before your time is up here on earth, surrender your whole life and heart to Jesus. Our life is but a vapor and we do not know the time and place of our death. Let us surrender to Jesus. The one who desires to be the Shepherd of our soul.