Sheep of His Pasture

This is a longer post than normal. It is not part of the Exodus story that I have been working on. Instead it is my sermon for this coming Sabbath. I hope you will read and be blessed.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 100:1-5

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!

2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.

3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving. And into His courts with praise, Be thankful to Him, and bless His name

5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Please turn with me in your Bibles to John 9.  We will begin reading in verse 35.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out:

We need to fill in the back story.  It was Sabbath, and as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.

His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus was quick to point out that neither this man nor his parent’s sin that caused him to be blind.  He was blind to bring glory to God so that God could be revealed to this man and others. 

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4, 5

Jesus spat on the ground and mixed his spital with the clay. Then he anointed his eyes with this mixture of clay and spit. Next, he gives the blind man the command to wash in the pool of Siloam.

The act of sending this man to wash in the pool was not that there were any healing properties in that pool of water. And it was also not a test of faith as many have believed. But Christ had associated himself with water, living water, so the pool represented the healing power of the living water that Christ supplies.

It also served the purpose of taking away the spectacle of healing on the Sabbath. An act that would have created much hatred toward Jesus and this man by the Jewish leaders.  And as we see, it did create this hatred.

Yet strangely through it all, this formally blind man did not understand who had healed him.  He had no clue who Jesus was. Yet upon learning what had happened, the Pharisees excommunicated this man for washing on the Sabbath.

Near the close of the Chapter, Christ revealed himself to the formally blind man.  The response by the man was that he believed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

After the man professed his belief, Jesus makes an interesting statement, which starts in verse 39. 

“For judgment, I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.

40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said to him, “are we blind also?”

41 Jesus said to them, “if you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, “we see therefore your sin remains.”

What was Jesus trying to say; “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘we see therefore your sin remains.’”

Jesus uses a story to illustrate his point.  Perhaps we, like the pharisee’s of old, have missed the point of what Jesus is attempting to say. 

As we saw in our Scripture Reading from Psalm 100, Israel was privileged to be the “Flock of the Lord.” Jerusalem and Judah are the fold.

Isaiah 59:9-12; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Jeremiah 25:32-38; Ezekiel 34; and Zechariah 11 all use this illustration of Israel being the flock or sheep of God.

Therefore, every listener that Jesus was speaking to should have understood.

John 10:1,

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

Walled cities, such a Jerusalem, would have an enclosure made of rocks piled up against the outside of the city wall.  The size of the sheepfold depended upon the number of people within the city that owned sheep.  At night, the sheep would return to the fold,  and a Shepherd or (porter) would guard the flock or flocks by lying across the opening.

There may have been several families within the city that owned sheep, and all these sheep would reside within this fold. 

This describes Israel of old and Judah of the time of Christ.

Anyone attempting to steal the sheep would either have to kill the guard or climb the wall to gain access to the sheep. Only the shepherds of each flock entered by way of the door or gate.  To the Shepherd, the guard or gatekeeper would recognize the Shepherd and open the door allowing the Shepherd to enter or call his sheep. In turn, the sheep would hear the Shepherd’s voice and respond by following the Shepherd to whom the sheep belong. 

Vs. 4: And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Vs. 5: Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him. For they do not know the voice of strangers. 

Vs. 6: Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

The reason for this parable was the ex-communication of the blind beggar from the Synagogue, which we saw in John 9:34. 

The false Shepherds (the Pharisees) did not care for this man. Therefore, they mistreated him and threw him out.  But Jesus the true Shepherd came to him and took him in (John 9:35-38). 

As soon as Jesus introduced himself as the Son of Man and explained who he was, this man readily accepted him and began to follow him. 

When we quote this passage from John 10, we state the fold is heaven, and those who try and get in other than Christ are destined to fail.

While there is a measure of truth to this (Acts 4:12), it is not based on this verse.  Jesus made it clear that the fold is the nation of Israel, as we see in John 10:16. The Gentile are the “other sheep” that are not of the fold of Israel.

When Jesus came to the nation of Israel, He came in the appointed way, just as the Scriptures promised. Every true Shepherd must be called of God and sent by God. This Jesus had done. If He truly speaks God’s Word, the sheep will “hear his voice” and not be afraid to follow him. The true Shepherd will love the sheep and care for them.

But those listening to Jesus failed to understand, and how many times have we also failed to understand.  Therefore, Jesus continued to teach them in verse 7.

Before we get into verse 7, what did the Pharisees do with the man that was blind and now could see? 

They threw him out of the Synagogue, which was a symbol of the fold of Israel.

Jesus came to him, talked with him, and explained that He was the Son of Man and the man believed and followed. 

So, Jesus continued, “By saying to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.’”

The formerly blind man had been tossed over the wall.  The thieves had gone in and tossed this man out.  Jesus made it clear that no one entered and no one left except through the gatekeeper and oh, by the way, “I am the door.” I am the keeper of the door or the guard, if you will.  No one gets in and out except by me. 

Vs. 8: All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

Again for the second time in this passage, Jesus states that He is the door. I am the door, If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Notice the way the passage is written.  “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

The formerly blind man had been kicked out of the fold.  Jesus finds him and says, “Follow Me.”  The man responds and follows Jesus.” Remember, this formally blind man had not seen Jesus, for he was healed only after washing himself in the pool. But he knew the voice of the one who healed him. Therefore he followed the voice.

Jesus gives the former blind now excommunicated Jew the chance to enter HIS God’s true flock.  The Pharisees threw the formally blind beggar out of the Synagogue, but Jesus led him out of Judaism and into the flock of God! Because he was a beggar begging to become a member of the flock. But the Pharisees had tossed him out of the flock. Jesus invites him to become a member of the true flock.

Remember, the call of Abraham was for them to be a blessing to the entire world, to all peoples. Their call was to put back together what the flood and the tower of Babel had torn apart.

The leaders of Israel had failed, even to the point of kicking this former blind person out.  Jesus invites him into His fold, the true fold, to become part of the “One Flock,” which is His true church. 

Those who trust Him enter into the Lord’s flock and fold, and they have the incredible privilege of going “in and out” and finding pasture. When you keep in mind that the Shepherd actually was the door of the fold, this image becomes very real.

As the door, Jesus delivers sinners from bondage and leads them into freedom.  They have salvation! The word “saved” means delivered safe and sound.” It was used to say that a person had recovered from severe illness, come through a bad storm, survived a war, or was acquitted at court.  Some modern preachers want to do way with an “old-fashioned” word like “saved,” but Jesus used it!.

It is clear in the Gospel record that the religious rulers of Israel were interested only in providing for themselves and protecting themselves. The Pharisees were covetous (Luke 16:14) and even took advantage of the poor widows (Mark 12:40). They turned God’s temple into a den of thieves (Matt. 21:13), and they plotted to kill Jesus so that Rome would not take away their privileges (John 11:49–53).

The True Shepherd came to save the sheep, but the false shepherds take advantage of the sheep and exploit them. Behind these false shepherds is “the thief” (John 10:10), is a reference to Satan and the religious leaders of Christ’s day. The thief wants to steal the sheep from the fold, slaughter them, and destroy them. This the Pharisees did by excommunicating the formally blind beggar from the Synagogue. We shall see later that the sheep are safe in the hands of the Shepherd and the Father (John 10:27–29).

Jesus not only gave His life for us, but He gives His life to us right now! When you go through “the Door,” you receive life, and you are saved. As you go “in and out,” you enjoy abundant life in the rich pastures of the Lord. His sheep enjoy fullness and freedom.

Here is what Jesus was telling those listening to Him about himself 

  1. Twice He stated that He was the door, the Shepherd that was at the door of the fold allowing sheep in and out.
  2. For he said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
  3. What made him good, “that he was willing to lay down his life for the sheep.”
  4. I know my sheep and true sheep know me.
  5. He knows the Father, and the Father knows Him as the True Shepherd.
  6. The True Shepherd creates one flock out of many.
  7. My Father loves me because I lay down My life that I may retake it. (a reference to Shepherd’s death, burial, and resurrection).
  8. No one forced Me to do this. I did it of My own free will. The Father gave me the authority to do all this.

Therefore, is it any wonder Why Paul makes such a big issue in Galatians of the fact that the Gentiles are heirs of Abraham’s Seed?  Because through that Seed, what had been deconstructed at the flood and the tower of Babel was put back together again, making one flock out of many all those that follow Him.

The blind man that was thrown out of the Synagogue was symbolic of leaving the fold of Israel to become part of the one flock made up of all nations in which Christ is the Shepherd. 

The promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 was now fulfilled and Christ, who is the good Shepherd who willingly laid down His life for the sheep, and by his death, burial, and resurrection created one fold, and all who hear his voice and follow are part of His flock part of this one fold.

Published by The Bible In Your Hand

Hi, I am Pastor Lester Bentley, a devoted husband, father, and Pastor for the Northeastern Wyoming District of the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. I am committed to the great gospel commission as stated in Matthew 28:19, 20.

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