Sunday 7th July, 2019
Series: I AM
Preacher: John (Myeongcheol) Oh
Bible Reading: John 10:1-21
I AM the Good Shepherd/Gate
Over the last three weeks, we have been looking at the “I am” series. As we know the“I am” statements can be only found in John’s Gospel where the 7 declarations represent who or what Jesus is.
Jesus is 1. bread of life, and 2. Light of the World, 3. Gate, 4. Good Shepherd, 5. The Resurrection & the Life, 6. the Way, Truth and Life 7. and the Vine.
Today, we will look at the “I AM” the Good Shepherd and Gate.
In the Old Testament, there are a number of dramatic stories detailing the lives of shepherds and their sheep.
For example, Abel son of Adam was a shepherd, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David they all were shepherd leaders.
So, who was able to understand the story of the shepherd when Jesus spoke about this group of people? Basically, everyone they well understood the story of the shepherd. Especially, people who were in positions of leadership were best placed to understand the story.
Have you heard G.O.A.T, the goat? We know what a goat is. A goat is an animal, it is often compared to a sheep in the bible.
But I’m not talking about a kind of animal.
There are people who use the word goat in a different way to understand the word of GOAT. GOAT, which means Greatest of All Time. GOAT is a kind of title which speaks about a person finding the best at what they can do. It is the best of the best title to be given to someone lightly. Only those who are truly experts in one particular area.
So when you hear the word goat, who comes to mind? Musicians, Sports players, famous youtubers, professors and more… Do you have a person in your life who is a goat – the greatest of all time.
One person who is deserving of the title of GOAT is Michael Jordan, one of the top NBA Basketball players.
Right, so many people called Michael Jordan a GOAT, he is one of the NBA legends in America and in the world. Even people who are not Basketball lovers know about the famous name of Michael Jordan or Air Jordan.
He was interested in baseball when he was young, but he turned to basketball through the influence of his older brother.
His father was a great coach and mentor for his son. Father and son grew together. Michael Jordan grew from being a baseball player to a basketball player, his father too grew from being a young father to the life mentor and coach for his son. Through the encounter between father and son, they grew together.
In terms of today’s Bible text “I AM the Good Shepherd and Gate”, we need to keep in mind that when we encounter others this can have important implications for our life. The sheep need a good shepherd, because the fate of sheep is in the hands of the shepherd.
However, important encounters are not simply to do with physical connection or leadership or mentoring. However, there are many important encounters in people’s relationship with children, parents, friends, teachers, colleagues.
Even, in artwork like poetry, music, painting, photography, and dance, there is a invisible energy that witnesses to the encounter of art with its viewer.
What is interesting is that John’s text shows that shepherds exist in a unique way. It does not describe how shepherd’s lived, but John’s gospel gives us a clue as to how they lived through his voice.
As we know sheep are not the smartest of animals. The voice of the shepherd is very important to the sheep in and out of the sheepfold, because the fate of the sheep is tied to the shepherd’s voice. When the sheep heard the voice, they move forward, stop and run. It is a very strong relationship between sheep and shepherd. The bible tells us that the sheep know the voice of the good shepherd and also the shepherd knows the name of the sheep.
Do you know the Voice Australia the tv show program? For those who don’t know this program, I want to show you a short video.
This program basically, is a singing competition. The interesting thing is that the judges chair is located behind the singers, so that the judges can’t see the singer while they are singing but when the judges press the red button the judge’s chair is finally to face the singer.
In this competition, the type of dress you wear, what your face looks like, your skin colour, gender who you are is not important. The purpose is the voice.
The voice is not just sound, but it has a power, and it brings a message of inspiration to move our hearts. They encounter each other through voice.
In the text, the voice is not the shepherd however when the sheep recognise the true voice of the good shepherd then they follow the voice. They offer their fate and their life. Even though they can’t see the shepherd they encounter the good shepherd through the voice. It is faith, and relationship.
In Matthew 3:3 John the Baptist is said to be not the messiah, but the voice that represents the messiah.
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’
John the Baptist was a voice through his life representing the good shepherd Jesus Christ. The voice is guiding the sheep, the voice has to keep speaking to the sheep, until they encounter the good shepherd face to face.
Here is the question, in our life what is a true voice of the good shepherd for you, for the church, community and our society? Because there are so many voices in the mass media today. How do we know the voice of the good shepherd. How do we recognise the voice of the holy spirit? And also how do we know the thief or wolf who jump the fence.
In Matthew 7:16-17 it says,
16. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
17. In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
This offers a clue to the answer of the question who is the voice of the good shepherd. Each voice guides us to bear fruit.
Here is another point, our own history reminds us of the fruits we have borne in the past. It means we can see the fruits of past decisions. The voice of the good shepherd is able to come from the past. It means we are following the voice and also hearing the voice through our lives.
The voice of the church represents the good shepherd Jesus Christ, the church’s voice represents not the ideal or theological knowledge, but the church pronunes the voice and the values of what the father’s heart wants to show this world.
In John 21:15-17,
Jesus asked Peter when they encounter again in Galilee, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” he asked three times. And he asked Peter three times to feed his flock.
We as a church represent what Jesus represents in this world. Jesus is not just for decoration, but his voice comes alive today through our lives. We have to hope that the church is the one which has to show the world what the voice of the good shepherd means today.
Gordon Ramsay is a famous chef in the UK.
He has 36 restaurants which he owns.
One of the customers asked Gordon Ramsay, “I want to taste your food. What restaurant should I visit to taste your own cuisine?” Gordon Ramsay replied “you will encounter me where you order the food in all the restaurants representing my name, I’m being in the food. You can eat my food at every restaurant of mine”
There is a strong relationship between Gordon Ramsay and his chain of restaurants. All the chefs know the voice of Gordon Ramsay and what he wants for the food.
With the example of Gordon Ramsay we can better understand the theology of the immanence of the triune God.
God’s transcendence exists everywhere through the spirit in the universe.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the world. The church is the one that represent the presence of God in practical ways. Therefore, the church is the voice of the good shepherd, encountering, mentoring, leading a movement of people.
Peter wrote when he re-encounters Jesus in Galilee, 1 Peter 5: 1-4
Peter asked the church fathers to tend the flock of God and to be examples to the flock. How to serve the sheep as people in the world.
The good shepherd guides and allows all his sheep to access the gate into the green pasture.
There is safe, still waters, and he restores the soul.
David sung like this “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff- they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Again, the voice of the good shepherd is the presence of the good shepherd.
If people ask us where God’s presence is, we pray, the Spirit of the Lord will transform us into the voice of the good shepherd for the world.
May the presence of the Lord be in you, guiding your life and your encounters. The Lord is the good shepherd and will open the gate for you.