This is the second stand-alone edition of the short Bible Study Notes, which have hitherto been attached to the Newsletter. It is hoped that these provide a regular and helpful contribution to the congregation’s knowledge of Holy Scripture.
THE “I AM” STATEMENTS OF JESUS
PLEASE READ THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 10:11-30
The “I AM” saying of our Lord which we study this month continues the shepherd theme which we looked at last month, and is to be found in the gospel of John Chapter 10 in verses 11 – 15:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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 snatched them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 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.
As with last month it is important that we consider how shepherding was carried out in Palestine over 2000 years ago, in order to see more clearly the image which the Lord Jesus is conveying.
Scholars inform us that, unlike our shepherding methods which are practiced in this country, where the sheep are driven in front of the shepherd, often with the help of a sheep-dog, the practice in the Middle East is for the shepherd to lead the sheep. He goes in front of them seeking out the best areas for them to traverse and graze, to find water and provide security. We can do no better than look briefly at the 23 Psalm the so-called Shepherd Psalm to see how this worked, and I believe that we may be sure that the Lord had this Psalm in mind when he described himself as the Good Shepherd.
The first thing to notice in Psalm 23 is that the Psalmist says “The Lord is my shepherd”. This is so important because it takes us to the very heart of
Gospel truth. The relationship one has with God must be a personal one. Notice that Jesus says “I know my own and my own know me”. It begs the
question is this your experience? Do you know God in this personal way, or is your knowledge of God something academic and impersonal? I would
encourage you to consider this very seriously, for it determines the status in which you stand with God, and determines your eternal security. One cannot be right with God except by repenting of one’s sin and believing in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and on what he achieved at Calvary. You see he says, “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. That is exactly what Jesus did; he came to die for sinners like us on a cross, to take upon himself the punishment that was justly ours.
Returning to the 23rd Psalm, it goes on “I shall not want” and the inference is I shall not want any good thing for I shall be led in ways of good safe pasture in pleasant places where I will find refreshment to my soul and be filled by God’s own presence and fed by God’s own hand. This does not mean that from the moment I come to faith in Jesus Christ that my troubles are over and I will go through the rest of my without trials, and possess everything that my heart desires. Not at all, but what it does mean is that I will, from the moment I believe on and trust in Jesus, my life will be radically transformed, and will continue to be transformed; I am given a new relationship with God whereby, having been rebellious, I am now welcomed as a son or daughter, able to call Him Father. And since God is my Father – I shall not want. As one of His sheep, I am now trusting the Good Shepherd to manage the rest of my life.
In John 10:12,13 the Lord contrasts his selfless care of the sheep with that of unfaithful shepherds or hirelings. They have no love or care for the sheep and they not only desert the sheep when danger approaches but also cause the sheep to scatter and be consumed. Jesus may well have had the religious leaders of Israel in mind when he said this but his warning is still as apt today, when believers in Christ are beset on all sides by bitter and implacable secularism and at the same time, false shepherds within the church who undermine and obscure the clear teaching of Scripture.
Speaking as he was to Jewish people, it must have come as a staggering blow to their sense of being the chosen people of God when the Lord stated:
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. We
belong to that fold if we hear His voice and follow Him.
From our perspective our status appears conditional upon our will but if we read on in the 10 th Chapter of John at verses 27 – 30 it says this: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them from out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
Jesus says “They are my sheep”. They are a gift from the Father to the Son! How thrilling these words are! Jesus holds his believing people as His own possession; with an ardor and strong protection we cannot begin to understand. The sheep are a gift from the Father to the Son from everlasting to everlasting. What a comfort that is to us who are so like sheep; unable to keep ourselves from our own waywardness, unable to take the right path, or to supply our need. So often we stumble and doubt. We give less of ourselves,, and do less than we ought. We do what we should not, and fail to do what we should. But here is the thing, we belong to Jesus and He is God the Son, who goes out after us when we stray, and finds us and brings us home, for He has redeemed His people and purchased them, by shedding His precious blood so that they can be with Him forever. Perhaps you have been astray for a while; perhaps you are lost, feeling unfulfilled and empty; perhaps you cannot find peace; perhaps you are concerned about your relationship to God. If this is you, you need to come to the Good Shepherd and ask Him to lift you up in His mighty arms and give yourself to Him. He is willing to aid you and take your burdens upon His blessed shoulders, and He will comfort you and lead you beside still waters.