20190512 Sunday Worship Sermon
“Good Shepherd” (John 10:11-1)
I recently saw the result of a survey on the internet.
It was a survey on the subject, "70 of the most beautiful English words in the world."
What do you think the result was?
Yes, “Mother” was chosen as the most beautiful word.
I was hoping to see the word “Father” as the second place choice, but it was not even within the first 70.
The second most beautiful word was “Passion”.
Besides that, Love, Smile, Eternity, Fantastic, Destiny, Freedom, Liberty and Peace were chosen for top 10.
As you can see, most people think the word “mother” is beautiful and touching.
I am sure you agree with the result also.
Whether she is alive or has already died, whether she lives with you or she lives far away, there always is a longing for our mother in our hearts.
Today is Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother's Day!
I pray that God’s grace and blessings be with all the mothers on earth!
I also pray that God’s comfort may be with those of you who are missing your mother’s embrace.
For those who can’t find comfort from their mother’s embrace, I pray that they may find God’s warm embrace in its place.
Most people think of their mother when they encounter hardships in their lives.
They long for their mother’s embrace.
They want to be comforted in their mother’s arms.
For some of you, your mother is no longer living or have mothers who live far away from here so you cannot visit her often.
Despite what kind of conditions our mothers might be in, if even thinking about her could strengthen us, we are truly blessed.
This is truly a blessing from God.
However, there are some people who do not experience this blessing.
For them, this Mother’s Day may only bring painful memories.
I wish for God’s comfort to those who did not experience a mother’s love.
May God’s abundant love fill the hearts that could not be fulfilled with a mother’s love.
It is regrettable that there is an increase in the number of people who do not have a good relationship with their mothers.
In the past, our mothers were less educated and less capable but their love was abundant.
They did not hold back anything for their children.
They were endlessly forgiving.
However, it is sad to see less of such mothers nowadays.
It seems we no longer describe our mothers as loving, patient, or sacrifice.
The mothers in the past hoped for their children to be righteous and good.
They would say even if you are deceived, do not deceive others.
Even if you get beaten do not beat others.
Even if you are poor, be honest and peaceful.
Those were the wishes of our mothers in the past.
But, we do not see such mothers anymore.
Mothers nowadays seem to be aggressive and impatient.
Nowadays young mothers are overly strict with their children in order to foster an academically competitive spirit.
The society will be more and more aggressive, competitive and colder.
I am not trying to blame mothers.
Fathers need to be aware too.
The social system is a problem too.
It requires parents to focus on the work force too much and they cannot spend enough quality time with children.
Advanced technology is also problem for children.
Kids nowadays spend too much time looking at the computer and smart phone screens.
I think the root cause of all the family and social problems is that true love is exhausted.
Even mothers are losing their love and patience toward their children.
We all need to restore the true love among us.
Today we read the scripture about the good shepherd.
In John, chapter 10, Jesus calls himself a “good shepherd.”
Why do you think Jesus called himself a good shepherd and not just a shepherd?
I believe the reason that Jesus had to emphasize on “good shepherd” is because not every shepherd is good.
Among the shepherds, there are some bad ones.
Jesus may have been pointing us to what prophet Ezekiel prophesied.
In the book of Ezekiel, God scolded the leaders of the Israel.
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly.” (Ezekiel 34:1-4)
If Jesus was the good shepherd, the Israel leaders who were scolded by Ezekiel were the bad shepherds.
They did not have the heart of sacrifice for their sheep.
Their only purpose was to fulfill their ambition using their sheep.
They paid no attention to the weak or sick.
They ruled them harshly.
This is a metaphor.
The sheep in the scripture represents the people and the shepherds represent the leaders who are responsible.
The leaders who do not care for their people are bad shepherds.
God is warning the bad shepherds that He would not ignore their wicked acts.
Jesus also says in today’s scripture,
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (verse 11)
And also says…
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (verses 14-15)
Good shepherd and bad shepherd have two major differences.
The first difference is “knowing”.
Good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him.
In Hebrew, to know someone means there is intimacy in their relationship.
There should be love in the relationship when we really want to know someone.
Therefore, a shepherd knowing his sheep and his sheep knowing the shepherd means that there should be love and interest in the relationship.
So, Jesus says in verses 3-4,
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice…” (verses 3-4)
In order to understand this passage, we need to understand their custom of tending sheep.
During that time of Jesus, most shepherds were hired men.
The shepherds were the lowest working class.
Often shepherds from different owners worked together.
They took turns to feed their sheep on the grass and stand in front of the cave at night to watch the sheep.
In the morning, each shepherd called out his sheep.
For strangers, it is hard to see any differences among the sheep.
However, the shepherd recognized his sheep precisely.
The sheep recognized their shepherd.
They knew each other because they loved each other and spent time together.
How quickly and precisely a shepherd recognizes his sheep used to be a measure of his love for his sheep.
The second difference between good shepherd and bad shepherd is level of sacrifice.
Good shepherd is willing to die for his sheep.
A shepherd is qualified to be called a good shepherd if he is willing to lay down his life for his sheep.
Now you may wonder if a shepherd sacrificing himself for his sheep is wise.
If you find a shepherd who is truly ready to die for his sheep, would you praise him?
No, we all know that it is not necessary to sacrifice to that extent to protect sheep.
Frankly, a sheep exist for shepherd and not vice versa.
Then, why did Jesus use this parable?
It is because Jesus wanted to teach us the true meaning of Love.
Sacrifice is one of the characteristics of Love.
When you love someone with your whole heart, the love you have may lead you to danger.
Love does not calculate.
Love wants to give it all.
In 1 John chapter 4, apostle John says something amazing about love.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love…” (1John 4:18)
When your heart is full of love, you are not afraid of anything.
You will be willing to go through hardships for your love and even sacrifice yourself.
When Jesus said that a good shepherd is willing to die for his sheep, He thought of love.
Good shepherd loves his sheep so much, that he is not afraid of his own death to protect his sheep.
His love is that much sincere and passionate.
Jesus showed this kind of love on the cross.
As a good shepherd, Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross and showed God’s love to all the people in the world.