Informal Worship, St Barnabas, March 11th 2012 – ADAPTED OUTLINE
Reading – John 10:1-21, 27-28
We broke the reading up into a series of shorter readings, each leading to a different activity or act of worship. The following notes are a summary of the discussion etc …
Look carefully at the image of the Shepherd here … what differences do you notice between this shepherd and a modern shepherd?
- The shepherd has no dog (or quad bike!) to help him control the sheep
- The shepherd leads from the front, and doesn’t drive the sheep from behind with a dog or crook
- The sheep follow the shepherd’s voice and don’t run from human contact
Jesus describes himself as the ‘gate for the sheep’ .. saying in effect, that the only way into the sheep fold is through him – we’ll come back to this idea later. For now, let’s concentrate on verse 10 … ‘I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.’
- What does that full life look like?
- How has God blessed you this week – what can you give him thanks for now?
There is a key verse in this section – v11 … ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’
Spend some time worshipping Jesus who was prepared to lay down his life for us, as our Saviour and friend.
v.16 … ‘I have other sheep, not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice …’
We’ve already read that Jesus is the only way for the sheep to enter … spend some time in prayer for those who have yet to respond to his voice, who need to join His flock.
There’s a key question in these few verses at the end of our passage … as the Jews listened to Jesus, they reacted in different ways, some believing that the miracles Jesus performed showed he was from God, while others described him as ‘demon-possessed and raving mad!’
But the question, ‘Why listen to him?’, is a vital one. We all listen to someone, whether it’s our parents and teacher or classmates and friends, politicians or commentators, heroes – pop stars or footballers … we all come under the influence of those we listen to. Otherwise political parties wouldn’t bother to include famous non-politicians in their campaigns … the politicians know we’re more likely to listen to a favourite actor or singer than the most important or attractive politician …
So it’s important to whom we choose to listen.
The Jews chose to reject Jesus and his claims … we know that when Jesus said ‘I am … the gate, the good shepherd’ he was claiming to be God, but they asked the right question, Who should we listen to, why listen to him?
There’s a lot about listening in this chapter …
- v3 … the sheep listen to his voice.
- v4 … he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
- v5 … they will never follow a stranger because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.
- v16 … I have other sheep … they too will listen to my voice.
- v27 … My sheep listen to my voice.
We listen to Jesus because hearing his voice is hearing the voice of God – and we recognise it. It speaks to us, it has something authentic about it, a sense of power and authority … it speaks to our hearts, goes beneath the skin … it’s not superficial but reaches into the darkest situation, the deepest corners of our lives.
But, we have to listen … and it’s easy to be distracted and unfocussed. So how do we distinguish Jesus’ voice among all the others that clamour for our attention? Quite simply, we listen for our name …
- v3 … He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When God speaks to us, he doesn’t play games … like Chinese whispers or hide and seek! And throughout this passage, Jesus claims that those who know him, recognise his voice – even those who are not yet part of his flock. I think one of the reasons we don’t or can’t hear him, is that we’re listening for the wrong things … rather like when we pray and tell God what we want him to do, and because we’re so sure that our idea is the best, we miss the answer because it was something different than we expected.
But he calls us by name, and in Biblical thought, names are important because they describe us, they capture our character with all it’s faults and good points. So God’s word to you won’t be the same as it is to me … we’re all different by design. God made you, and he made me and we’re different. And God treats us as individuals, he knows each of us intimately, but he has given us the same promise …
- v27-28 … My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand.
So we’re going to close our service today by reading an Old Testament passage, in which God speaks to us all by name … it’s addressed to Jacob and Israel – one and the same person who was transformed by his relationship with God, so when you listen, put your own name in his place … listen to how God promises to be with us in every situation, how he describes his love for us, what it cost to build and protect our relationship with him, and how no-one can ‘snatch us out of his hand’ … then listen to the song, or perhaps listen as you read – and I hope the words will touch you as they touched me when I first heard it.
For more on this passage, see the entry for St Michael’s …