Sunday 12 May 2019

John 10 v. 22/31

The whole of Chapter 10 is about Jesus portraying Himself like a good shepherd taking care of his flock. In Jesus time shepherds would know their sheep byname. A group of shepherds would each put their sheep in a communal pen at night, and they would be looked after by one shepherd who would not let anyone enter who did not belong there. The next day each shepherd would collect their own sheep who would recognize their keeper.

Jesus uses this analogy to show Himself having similar care for all who follow Him. The words of Jesus are so assuring in that He knows each of us personally and was willing to die for us; He is a true pastor. If you are trusting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour you are one of His flock.

Jesus sheep listen to His voice and obey Him, they are not swayed by false teachers, and there are so many preaching in our Churches. They tell you the Bible is outdated and you have to live with the times, thereby accepting a lax moral code. We hear Church leaders calling for multi-faith worship, but true Christians cannot join in worship with those who deny the divinity of Jesus. Here in this chapter, Jesus says ‘I am the gate, no one enters except through me’. Later in Chapter 14 He will say, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’.

I know to be so exclusive is not popular and in some Churches such statement is not welcomed, but to deny or refuse to state is to deny the Lord Himself.

People can be like sheep without minds of their own. Take for example the political scene. People were praising one leader to the skies, but when asked what his policies or beliefs were, they had no idea, they were following because they saw others and felt they had to go with crowd, even though balanced minded people knew he couldn’t be trusted with a word he said.

This passage in the Bible comes after three months had passed from the first part of the chapter. Jesus was in the Temple when he was surrounded by Jews who wanted to know if He claimed to be the Messiah, and wanted Him to say so plainly. He replied that what he had done in God’s name was plain enough and confirmed who He was, and the only reason they failed to understand was because they had not followed Him.

The reason so many people doubted Jesus then and still do, is not because of lack of information; the problem is that they reject the evidence given. Jesus referred to the works of healing He had done, but they selected what they wanted to believe.

To distort facts and figures is common, we are seeing this as the country’s future is being debated as each side widely differs from the other to support their claims. When public figures do this brazenly it is not a good example to the rest of the population, yet this is what they done regarding the Bible. Most of the atheistic speakers have never come to know Jesus or do much to learn, and have no personal knowledge on which to deny Him, or know what He did and why.

Jesus said ‘I know my sheep and I take care of them.’ Brash people say they don’t need a crutch to prop them up they feel quite adequate to take care of themselves and stand on their own two feet, provided in many cases they are propped up by drink or drugs.

I have heard people say after being burgled I was intending to get insurance cover but never got around to doing it. We all need security; how many people I wonder intended to go to Church and turn to Jesus, but never made it and now face eternal loss? Eternity is a long time.

The modern-day philosophy is to live life to the full and have a fantastic time, but it is a short sighted one. Research in the United States has shown that being a Christian and attending Church is good for you, spiritually and mentally and for your health generally. Some people say I tried to find God, but nothing happened. We all need to humble ourselves and ask God to turn our hearts to Jesus, ask the Lord to ‘teach me the way.’

When Jesus says my sheep hear my voice the true believer listens to the voice of Jesus and it encourages them and feeds them, and they try to live out that belief and faith. It takes them to Church on a Sunday morning when others rush to supermarkets or golf courses, and although they have to rise early on weekdays, they are still ready to do so on Sundays. The pretend Christians attends Church when convenient, if at all, and even then, do not live out a Christian life.

Jesus said, ‘my sheep follow me’. This means they obey Him, and do what He commands. This does not mean they always do so without a struggle, all of us find it hard going at times, but we realise what Jesus gave up for us, and our attitude is then Lord whatever it costs I will do what you say.

Jesus said, ‘if anyone will come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.’ This is the mark of true sheep.

Why do we gather here each Sunday, often exerting a lot of effort? For most people the satisfaction of knowing Jesus would want them to do so, and they have a peace and joy and the feeling of inner security, and the sense of forgiveness and belonging. Our friends, and indeed members of our families, may not be like us and instead are committed to a life that leads nowhere. Jesus said, ‘I give you eternal life.’

If you were to be asked to state what quality you would like to see in a Minister, think for a moment how you would answer. I read of a survey carried out in the United States and the favourite replies were, having a charismatic personality, showing a sense of humour able to make one feel good. What they certainly didn’t want was some old-time revivalist type who made one feel a sense of guilt.

Some years ago, in this country a new Archbishop of Canterbury had to be appointed, and one of the favourites among Church attenders was the then Bishop of London, who many of us wanted to see appointed, but we knew he stood little chance for he was positive, traditional, orthodox, a true bible man. Instead, a very nice gentlemanly man who was known for sitting on the fence when faced with a decision was appointed. He proved the point however that when you try to please everyone you end pleasing no one.

Those of us who try to maintain biblical integrity still have a problem. I cannot imagine any preacher of substance setting out to cause offence, but if one preached strictly in accordance with Scripture, the Churches would be emptier than they are now. Most people don’t want to hear truth, they want spiritual prescriptions to make happiness as if the Church was a spiritual dispensary.

You may have heard of the Vicar who gave a literal exposition of the duties of husbands and wives in the terms of Paul’s Letter to Ephesians in a wealthy area of the country, with the outcome being that numerous women left the Church taking their direct debits with them. So, a preacher has to decide whether to be faithful to Scripture, avoid all contentious issues, go with the flow, or be faithful to the Bible.

If any person is offended by a preacher, he/she should consider why and speak to the preacher after the service rather than walk away in a huff. One preacher who was always fearless was our Lord Himself; remember, Jesus either saved or caused people to turn away from Him.

A lot of people who call themselves intellectuals, think Christianity is for the poor and simple minded, but history records many clever and able men and women, some of them with brilliant minds and occupations, surrendered their way of life to travel far and wide in the service of Christ. People do not give up a lucrative lifestyle for a harsher life without a lot of conviction.

There was a programme on television which asked if Christians were being discriminated against. It was quite alarming, first to hear the vitriolic anti-Christian views, and secondly to hear so-called Christians selecting passages and deliberately distorting to justify an immoral style of living specifically condemned by Scripture.

But you cannot convince anyone who is determined not to be convinced. We may struggle, we may hurt, and go through times of darkness, deep depression and doubt, but we shall never perish if we have become part of Jesus flock, but we can be sure we will one day be with Him in glory.

(Please feel free to pass a comment)

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