More Than a Leader
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
So for those of you don’t have good taste in music, Taylor Swift’s new album just hit no.1 on billboard charts making it the 6th album to sell more than half a million copies in the first week. And she’s not even 30 years old. She is worth probably about 360 million dollars.
Whenever I hear about famous people like that I always imagine what it’ll be like if it was me. What would it be like to be a celebrity or super rich. Do you ever do that? Wouldn’t it be nice if we can trade places with Taylor Swift? I wonder what kind of bed she sleeps on.
We know that’s never going to happen right. One because it’s just a stupid idea, but two even if we could trade places with Taytay. The question is would she trade places with you?
Think about your favourite personality in the world. Either a celebrity or someone successful in the field you’re studying. Barack Obama or Megan Markle or whatever. Given the choice, would you trade places with them? Just for one day to see what it’s like? I think most of us will. But will they? Will Megan Markle come and live in your house, drive your little car, wear your daggy clothes?
It’ll never happen. It’s just an unfair trade. Very fair for us sure, not for them. Someone who has everything will never give it up in exchange for someone who has nothing. Except Jesus Christ. Even if you’ve heard it a hundred times, it should still make no sense to you. It’s totally unfair, totally unthinkable. But it’s true. That’s what our passage shows us today.
The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life For The Sheep
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
The comparison is easy to understand right. A hired hand will never risk his own life just for a job. But a shepherd who owns the sheep will go to greater lengths for the sheep. It’s not complicated.
Here’s my question: Why? Don’t risk your life for a job – we get it. But we say the same thing to people who own businesses. You hear of people who kill themselves when their business goes bankrupt or the stock market crashes, we don’t think that’s very admirable. We think that’s silly. Why?
So a worker who will always run away, but an owner who will never run away. It’s just not true all the time. Except in one situation. Think about it. Why wouldn’t the shepherd run and save himself? Because the sheep are his life. You can go work on a strawberry farm but if a bush fire comes and the farm burns down, there’s always the mango farm. Even if you’re the owner, there’s always insurance. It’s only when your entire livelihood is on the line, no back up plans, no Centrelink, no parents home to move back into that you will stay. Because the sheep are his life.
Now. Can you start to see what Jesus is saying here? Verse 14, I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. This is so much more than just an employee vs. a business owner. Jesus is not just saying I’ll die for you because I own you and it’s my responsibility. Jesus is saying I’ll die for you because if you die I die.
Jesus is saying I’ll die for you because if you die I die.
Where am I getting that from? Verse 14.
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Let’s play a little game right. On a scale of 1-10, how close do you think you are to God? Depending on whether you read your bible this week. How close do you think Jesus is to God? Because that will be how close you are to God.
Jesus says, we share that same closeness when we become Christians. To be a Christian is to be as close to Jesus as He is to the Father. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. Can you see now why Jesus will never run away? If you are a Christian here, Jesus is as much committed and devoted to you as He is to God the Father.
You see if the good shepherd just means that Jesus leads us, then you don’t really need Jesus for that.
If all we need is a leader then every religion is the same pretty much. We can follow whichever one we like. But hopefully you’re starting to see, it is more than Jesus leads you.
Think about it. What’s the point of keeping sheep? Anyone have dreams of owning their own farm and raising sheep? Imagine you have an uncle who’s a farmer and he dies leaving you 100 sheep in his will. What are you going to do with a 100 sheep? Call us and we’ll have a huge barby right. What’s the point of keeping sheep? As far as I can tell, meat or wool. They’re not good for anything else really. Sheep are there to serve a purpose for us.
The whole point of keeping sheep is for what the sheep can give you. Sheep give. It’s not that different compared to religion where people give to god. You bring an offering or a sacrifice or a promise or anything in exchange for a favour or power from god.
But Jesus is absolutely different and utterly radical.
He shows us a God who doesn’t take, He gives.
Look at verse 17.
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Here’s what this passage is saying. Jesus will give up his life in exchange for yours. Christian, can you see how much you mean to God? You’re not a job. There’s no unwritten contract making sure God is on your side. He lays down his life for us. If you die, I die. Can you see how much God loves you? Jesus gives up his life in exchange for yours.
I’m not that old but I’ve already had a few people I know die of cancer. The thing about cancer is that it doesn’t kill you instantly like a heart attack. It happens over a period of time right. Sometimes you don’t even know you have cancer until it’s too late. The question that always gets asked when someone is diagnosed with cancer is how long do I have? You know you’re going to die. It’s just a matter of time.
Now, would you trade places with them? But you see, actually we are the ones who have cancer. We are the ones who must one day die. Just like sheep which ultimately end up either in Coles or some wool jacket, everyone of us are destined to die and end up on judgment day and God will reveal every detail and hidden secret of our lives. And even the lowliest beggar or the smallest dust mite wouldn’t want to trade places with us.
But the Bible tells us that Jesus is The Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. I lay down my life that I may take it up again. To be a Christian is to be united to Jesus in such a way that we share both the death we deserve and the life he deserved. On that day, you’ll see Jesus the Good Shepherd lay down His life and trade places for His sheep.
Who else in the world can do that for you? So let’s pray and commit ourselves again to Jesus. Whether you’re a Christian or not or in between, lets bring ourselves over to Jesus and stand where He stands.