III. I AM THE DOOR OF THE SHEEP. I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
In this series, we are looking at some of the fires that have been burning in our lives that we have started ourselves, through our own sin, mistakes, etc. In 1976, Pastor Mike Quinn, who was at that time a very new Christian working as a fence builder in California, started the Ventura County Fire in the San Diego area. He was good at his job, but he did not think through the consequences of cutting some metal with a torch right near a patch of sagebrush. The sparks from his tool ignited the fire and it spread quickly before he could put it out, burning large areas and many homes (including that of his parents-in-law). The two factors of severe drought and the Santa Ana winds combined to amplify his mistake. The fire burned seven days but had to be fought for three more weeks before it was completely out. He burned down his entire world. In the first moments of the fire, he ran to it and took his shirt off to beat down the flames, but that only fed more oxygen to the growing flames. He ran to the house, many feet away and began to fill a 5 gallon bucket. Pouring that water on the fire was like “spitting in the wind”…useless.
We have set firestorms in our own lives, such as worry, anger, control, sexual brokennesss and negative corruption.
John 10:1-14 tells the parable of the Good Shepherd.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them:
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me[a] were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
Again, Jesus says, I AM. The very words reveal His deity. He is what we need Him to be.
We are His sheep, and if we follow Him, we will go in and out and find pasture. We will have life to the fullest.
Our brokenness affects others. What do we do when we have lit a fire that is hurting others?
- Run to JESUS, before running to the fire! Our own meager bucket of water is useless in the face of a raging fire.We can not fix it. Run to Jesus, Who is the GOOD shepherd. He will not fail us. Fires are to be fought on our knees, not with our puny little bucket of water (our own efforts).
- Listen to the right voice. Do not listen to your fears, or to the crazy inner voices inside your head, or to the enemy’s voice. John 10:8 says that the true sheep did not listen to the thieves and robbers, but only to the shepherd. The thief’s aim is to steal, kill and destroy. There will be Pharisees and Saducees there at the scene of your fire to shame you. Power on past them and do not listen.
- Focus only on the voice of the Shepherd. John 10:30 says that He leads us and calls us by name. We must learn to hear His voice. The more emphasis we give to private devotions and scripture in our lives, the better we are equipped to hear Him. Our dreams and desires must be submitted to God’s dreams and desires. We will hear Him speaking through inner promptings, other people, and even pain.
- Walk through the right door. Jesus is the Door. He has laid down his life for you. You can trust Him with yours. We must be real with God. We must own the fire that we set with humility and authenticity and honesty. This will be our testimony of how He came to the rescue.
- Choose faith—not fear. God will save you and bring you to pasture. He promised. He will bring beauty from ashes. There will be consequences—ashes—from the fire, but God will bring new life from those ashes, just like Ventura County greened up again the very next spring. Jesus will live the ninety-nine and come for you.
11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak.” (Ezekiel 34)
IV. I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The setting of John 8:9-12 is the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Torches were lit, tents were erected, people we obediently following the rituals prescribed for them from history. The torches lit at the Feast of Tabernacles represented God’s presence in the Pillar of fire which led them through the wilderness. But Jesus Himself, the fulfillment of the feast’s prophetic imagery, was physically right there among them, and they did not recognize Him!
While aware of the historical God, they were unaware of the present God. The narrative takes up right after the accusers of the woman caught in adultery had silently slipped away into the crowd.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:9-12
Like the woman caught in adultery, we have sinned. Jesus walks to us past the crowd, and does not condemn us. Darkness causes people to stumble, experience confusion, and take foolish stems. “Go and sin no more,” He says to us. This is how He operates. Yes is with us right now, in our need, in the present tense.
We won’t have to follow darkness if we live in and follow the Light.
Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
We cannot fix our fires ourselves. We all need help. The worst things grow in the darkness: emotional pain, mental illness, destroyed relationships, anger, unforgiveness, etc. Dense spiritual darkness is the worst kind of darkness.
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:2) and Matthew 4:16
Areas of blindness need a light to shine into them. THE LIGHT is shining. Blind people are the only ones who need to be told that the Light is shining.
Jesus said, I AM THE LIGHT. This is Jesus’ core identity.
Darkness cannot overcome light.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:1-5)
God’s Light shines upon us to lead us into Truth, and He desires for us to experience Him in the Present Tense. NOW. WITH US NOW.
His Light shines IN us to free us from darkness. Light leads to life. If we continue to follow Him, we will live in the Light continuously. Jesus is not just the Light for a moment of need. He is the Light for our entire life.
His Light is progressive too, as it works over time. We are “called out of darkness into light” (I Peter 2:9) and we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2) We need to consciously open our doors to the Light. We need each other. We need accountability.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)
Confess means to say the same thing about ourselves that God is already saying. We are to constantly confess—the good things and the bad things in our lives. The more that God is allowed to shine His light in us, the more darkness will be dispelled, and the more we will shine for the world around us. If the darkness is rising we need to turn up the Light.
Lord we come to You with our useless empty buckets. We cannot put out the raging fires that are in our lives, whether we set them ourselves or they were set by someone else and we are suffering from them. ONLY YOU can do it. We put ourselves in Your hands where we are safe. We ask that You change us from the inside out so that we are able to fully experience Your Light. We choose to enter into Your presence through the true Door, Jesus Christ. Help us not to listen to the lies of the enemy around us or be overwhelmed by the darkness. We are trusting You as the I AM–the ANSWER to every need and every question we may have. In Jesus name. Amen.