The promise of Jesus is the hope of the life to come, in which there will be no more pain, sadness or tears. But while we are still here in this life, Jesus pauses to be with us in our pain, to comfort us and gently lead us on our path to healing.
All right. What a blessing to be able to share this time with all of you, my friends, brothers, and sisters, Cornerstone community, wherever you are. We’re together here online. And if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry the lead pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. And I’m so happy you’re with us right now.
I want to talk about being known. I want to talk about how much you are loved. Our series is called, I Am: finding your story in the story of Jesus. It’s at least in part about the famous, I am statements that Jesus made concerning himself that are recorded in John’s Gospel. There are seven of them. Some of you may recall.
We started with the first one in which Jesus said in John 6, I am the bread of life. And then in John 8, I am the light of the world. Last week we talked about, we moved into John 10, how Jesus said, I am the door. Today we’re going to look at another one. I am the good shepherd. It’s one of my favorites. But ‘I am: finding your story in the story of Jesus’ is not just about looking at these amazing declarations that Jesus said. Representative
of what He was and what He had come to do. But it’s also about how we are invited into that story. And even more how we are to find our story in His. That I really discover who I am, who I was meant to be when I understand who He says I am, in His eyes. So it’s both about God discovery, learning more about who Jesus said He was,
and it’s about self-discovery. How we can find our truest self, our truest identity, how we can know what we were created in Christ Jesus to be, and be healed and made alive. Right. All those things. Self-discovery, God discovery, as part of what we’re being invited into. And even now, Lord Jesus, I pray for a flow of life, a flow of Your goodness and the flow of grace.
If there’s any area where we really do need encouragement, strength, or we feel like we’ve been beaten down or we’re frustrated or discouraged, pray for a flow of life to come. In Jesus name. Now, remember the two, declarations that are made in John 10 are kind of connected. For right after Jesus said, I am the door, a little bit later
He says, I am the good shepherd. But they both were connected to what had transpired earlier. And you can read about that in John 9. In fact, we’re going to look at that in a moment just to reconnect a little bit so we can appreciate what’s actually happening and why Jesus said what He said. But many of you will recall,
the controversy that we were talking about was that there was a blind man who had been healed. But it wasn’t just that he was healed. He was healed on the wrong day. I know that sounds incredible. Like what? But for the Pharisees, the temple authorities, the scribes, the fact that Jesus had healed this man born blind on the Sabbath was a problem. For it
violated Sabbath. Now this, of course set in motion. Uh, kind of confrontation and there’s, there’s all kinds of interaction that takes place between the authorities and the, and the man who had been healed, the blind man who was healed. And then Jesus responds and there’s this, it’s multi-layered.
And some of you may want to go back and re-listen to last week’s message where I talked even more about it. But what I would like to remind all of us of is that in the end, the issue really wasn’t about the day or Jesus violating the Sabbath. Or the healing of the blind man. I mean, it was about all those things and clearly those were initiating aspects of what transpired. They were the catalyst.
But what ended up being more about, it ended up being more about the identity of the healer. It ended up being more about who Jesus said He was and who they believed Him to be. And who the blind man, who had been healed, was willing to confess Him as. Right? So it, it ends up being more of an identity question.
And then in that sense, it just all ties together with everything we’ve been talking about. Let’s return to John 9. Let’s read this verse 24. I want to go back a little bit to appreciate what we’re going to read about in John 10. It says “so for the second time they called in the man who had been blind
and they told him, ‘God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.'” Now, what they meant by that when they said he’s a sinner, is they were saying He is a breaker of the law, the law of Moses. Because Moses was clear that you are not to work on the Sabbath. It was something that was to be set apart unto God and kept holy. Now incredibly,
they wanted the man who had been healed by Jesus on the Sabbath to renounce Jesus. Because He had done it on the wrong day. It’s like, what? Are you serious? They were serious. If I can put it this way, they were deadly serious. And it was pretty intimidating. They are all theologians. They were, they have the power, they were the authorities.
They, they were smart. They were intellectuals. And they were applying pressure on him. And he, who was he? He was, he was nothing. He was a, nobody. He was a man though, whose life had been changed. He had, he had never seen faces before. Now he could see them. I mean, it was a miracle. So he responds verse 25.
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner.” I can’t, I can’t make that assessment. I’m no theologian, but the man replied, “but I know this.” Ooh. “I was blind, and now I can see.” Now, if that’s not one of the best, all time answers ever given, defending and explaining Jesus, I don’t know what is. I mean, it’s awesome. I can’t explain all the things.
I’m not trying to make an intellectual argument with you. I’m not, I’m not trying to debate you. I just, all I can say is, I was blind and now I can see, and it’s because of Him.
I mean, that’s, that’s something that we can all say. And I’m not saying there aren’t times where we need to make a rational defense of our faith or give an answer for everyone, for the reason that we believe and that we are to be thoughtful and really seek to use reason as part of our explanation of why we follow Jesus.
So I’m not, I’m not suggesting it’s just all about blind faith. But in the end, we’re never going to prove Jesus to anyone. What we want to do is testify of the real change, knowing Him brings. It’s about open eyes. It’s about amazing grace. It’s about, this is who I was, and this is who I now am. Right. I was blind, but now I see. I was bound, but now I’m set free.
I mean, this, is our greatest, our greatest testimony to the veracity of Jesus. We can make a lot of other statements about Him and many of them will hold weight and have meaning for people. But in the end, ultimately it’s about His presence at work in our lives and the change He brings into the human heart that is unlike any other.
And we have witnessed this in the lives of other people and we’ve witnessed it in our own heart. In the end in our own testimony about the change that has been made is probably our, our strongest, um, way of honoring Him and making our case about His reality to other people. Either who don’t believe in Him or aren’t sure.
Right. Uh, so. But if we can go back to this, this incident, what they were asserting was that Jesus was not, well, He was not just not who He said He was. Right. So let me say that correctly. They were trying to make the case that Jesus wasn’t who He said He was. But it was even more than that. They were saying he’s a violator of our most sacred entrustment, the law,
that God gave us on the Holy Mount. Right? So it was pushing it further. We’re not interested in quibbling over who he claims to be or who people say He is. What we are saying is He is someone who has violated the very law that guides us and defines us as a people. He has stepped across the line. He is a sinner.
So for them, that’s all they could fixate on. And as I pondered that, Uh, and, you know, because that, that interaction that they were having with the blind man really was centering around identity. I mean, it had everything to do with identity, the identity of Jesus. And if you, if you think about it, all the I am declarations that Jesus makes about Himself really are His declaration of His identity.
And that got me thinking about what CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity. Cause I mean, he, he made the point that when it comes to Jesus, we must take a side. That there really is no neutral ground with Jesus, that Jesus didn’t give us that option. That well, Lewis made the case that the one alternative we are not given, is that He’s just a good teacher or that He is a great moral teacher. Because Lewis’ point was, you cannot be a good teacher
or a great moral example, if the most central thing that you believe about yourself is incorrect either because you believe it is so, and that makes you delusional or because you know it’s not true, but you say it anyway, which makes you a liar. So he’s saying, how can you be either a liar or a lunatic and still be seen as a good teacher?
No. Jesus. Didn’t say that. He said He was way more than that. So we, He claimed to be God’s very son. He claimed to be the only begotten of the Father. He claimed to have a unique relationship with God that was different than any other human being. He literally claimed to be God revealed to us, and that He would become, out of the unity that He shared with His Father, a Deliver, and a Redeemer and a Savior, for whoever would confess Him
and believe upon Him. Now that is a dividing line. And what it does is, the claims of Jesus, when we really look at them and don’t just take the, the wonderful, other beautiful words that He had to say, but actually the words that He had to say about Himself and the declarations He made about Himself.
When we really look at them, we don’t have the option of, of Him just being a good teacher, because to make the claims He made, either either they’re true or they’re not. And if they’re not, then you have to ask yourself, well, did He actually believe that they weren’t true and said them anyway? In which case He was deceiving and deceptive.
So he couldn’t be a good teacher if he’s deceiving and he’s deceptive with his words. Or did he actually believe something that wasn’t true and was so confused about his identity that he mistakenly presented himself to be something he wasn’t? Which means he could not be a good teacher or a great man if he was either that diluted or intentionally lying. That’s Lewis’ point.
And I just want to have us look at it to get a fact, I think it’s worth reading. I think it’s wonderful. Look at it. Look at what he says, this is from Mere Christianity. “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him,” again, this is about identity. They say. “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God” Lewis writes.
“That is the one thing we must not say.” Oh right. That’s the one thing he cannot be. “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic,” because he claimed again to be the Son of God. “On the level with the man who says he is a poached egg,” like crazy. “Or else he would be the devil of hell.”
Who’s trying to deceive us all. “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God that He claimed to be, or else he’s a madman a lunatic or something even worse.” Like very deceptive and manipulative. Look “you can shut him up for a fool, um, you can shut him up for a fool. You can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.
He has not left that open to us.” And then. “He did not intend to.” It’s powerful. Like, we either need to accept Him, when we really see what He’s saying, we either accept him and open up our hearts and humble ourselves and receive Him as our Lord and confess Him as such. Or we must reject Him and push Him away. Because He said things that are either true or not, about Himself.
He didn’t pull these punches. And that really does show up here in this 10th chapter. Because the I am statements are Jesus declaring His identity. And inviting us either to believe it or reject it. It says here, I’m gonna go back there again. This has to do with the exchange that had just occurred in John 9, between Jesus and the Pharisees.
After He healed this, uh, you know, blind man. A man who had been blind from his birth. Whose name we do not know. And it resulted in two I am declarations. The first one we read about in John 9 it says this, “I am the door. If anyone,” Jesus said, “enters by me, he will be saved and he will go in and out and find pasture.”
I love that because what Jesus say is I am the entrance into God’s reality. And if you want true peace, you must come through Me. The door is the gate. It’s a narrow gate. Right? There’s a narrow gate that leads to life. Few there’ll be that find it, Jesus would later say. Or say earlier. But there’s a wide gate.
It’s a broad way, but at least death. The day – the narrow gate, the door, that’s what Jesus said is the key. When you enter through the door, you will find pasture. You will find settledness of soul. But then verse 10 in contrast. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” So Jesus is talking about malevolent force of being that is designed to destroy, injure, harm and ultimately ruin devastatingly
- Killing – the spirit of a murderer is the spirit of the evil one, Jesus says. He says, “but I have come that they may have life and have it, have it abundantly.” That is overflowing. In overflowing dimension. You know, at the center of things, Jesus is the life giver. He really is. He is the one in whom we are invited to ground our identity and He is the one who offers us life overflowing now and forever.
Think about that. Wow. In this life, and the one that I can barely imagine that it’s yet to come. I mean, there’s parts of me that can imagine the parts of me that loves and wonders and creates and longs to live. That part of me can imagine a little bit of what is going to come. Jesus said, walk with me, follow me.
I will show you the way. Enter through this gate and you will find it. Remember apart from me is only death. You will be plundered by the evil one. But in me, there is life. And I would just say it in a different way. Maybe even a better way. I don’t know. Better way than what I was just explaining. Wherever Jesus comes,
life is the inevitable consequence. You cannot avoid it. Wherever Jesus comes, life comes. That’s why, when we welcome Him into our heart life comes. When we welcome Him into a relationship life comes. When we welcome Him. Yes. Even into places of death, life comes. It’s what happens. It really is. Then Jesus goes on to say this. Any – you know, this is the next, it’s the fourth
I am statement. “I am the good shepherd. And the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Now I really see that as a contrast to the thief. So Jesus builds up and then concludes in the ninth verse, John 10, I am the door on the way you have to enter in. And then he shifts it into a slightly different, uh, you know, metaphor.
And he talks about how the thief comes and he says, but I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd. In contrast to the life. Destroyer is the life giver. I am the shepherd, the good I am the good shepherd. And let us stop here because we’re on a holy ground. I think, you know, this we’re on holy ground because Jesus says, and the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep and reminds me of what love does it reminds me of.
That love is willing to sacrifice that loves sacrifices. And what Jesus is saying is the good shepherd, listen, listen, we’ll give everything. The good shepherd will give everything for the sheep, everything it is what he did for us. And I remember just thinking about. And sometimes this happens when you read God’s word or you hear it being shared like we’re doing now every now and then it provokes something within us.
And I remember I was that, that, that just kind of touches our heart. And this might be a passage you’ve read many, many times, but this time it hits you in a different way. It’s the beauty of God’s word. So many facets and those, the word itself has different facets. And then our life has different facets and it creates this unusual dynamic that things are rarely the same, uh, cause we’re never the same.
His word though, does not change, can be viewed from so many different places. And then our life is always changing. So it creates a dynamic. But I remember just sitting with that verse. I am the. I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, the sacrificial love. And it touched me.
It made my, made my eyes water a little bit because I was thinking, wow, Lord is what you do. And I was smitten by his love and it got me thinking, what am I, what am I willing to sacrifice? For am I willing to sacrifice for the things that I have been given to love? Are you, what are you willing to do? The good shepherd says I will give my life for the sheep.
Are there things the Lord is asking you to hold in such high regard that you would do the same? You know, we may, for the Lord not be asked or for the people we love may not be asked to lay down our life physically unto death.
There are, there are other things that we may be, we may be asked to surrender, right. To lay down, to let go of. I want mine, but that’s not what the shepherd does. Shepherd thinks of the sheep. You know, it’s not about. It’s about we it’s, it’s about what God has given us. It’s about me loving. I, he loved, you know, let’s let’s remember that I am is at least in part about finding who I am by letting go of who the culture or our past scripting says I am.
Surrendering that surrendering my identity, if you will. My core identity, my core sense of self to the ultimate I am of God. So that I see myself as in Christ, as a beloved son and a beloved daughter, I say this all the time. Why is it so important? Because we’re constantly being told to define ourselves this way and that way, this is who I.
No, it’s it’s, it’s how I identify myself or how the culture identifies me or how my past scripting has identified me all these things. And Jesus has no, no grounds. Your identity in me know who you are in me. Right? So at least one thing we’re being asked to lay down is, is how the world tells us we are to define our Korea.
But another thing we’re asked to lay down sometimes is the sense of what we deserve or desire it. In other words, life is not firstly to be, if we follow his example, the way of Jesus, it’s not firstly, to be about what I want even. So it’s not just about my identities. It may not even, it’s not even about what I want, but it’s about who I am.
Who I am in Jesus and then choosing to live and love out of that reality. And when I do that, that changes everything. You see what I’m saying? What, when I, when I realized my identity is built around Jesus and who he defines me as then, I have been given the choice to live out of that reality. And when I do it affects everything.
It becomes my central. The dominant strain of my life becomes Jesus and who he says, I am. Everything else then is submitted to it. My priorities change the way I love changes the way I give what I give to like many of us do. Why do we honor the Lord the way we do? And the way I forgive all of that is built around the fact that my central identity is.
And then I would add that one more thing, because we who have come to know Jesus as the good shepherd that he is, he declared himself to be. We’ve also been given one more gift and I alluded to it earlier, but he’s given us an example. It’s not just a description that he made about himself, but an example of what committed love looks like.
And in flesh and blood, we have a model. Jesus, the good shepherd is our model, right? He’s our model for living and loving and, and watch the master teacher watch what he does next. He reveals the difference between he reveals the difference between the true shepherd and a high. And he says the hireling is, is that work or who has no vested interest whose primary concern is self preservation?
I think that when Jesus said that, I think that when he said it, he took a glance at the, at the temple authorities and the Pharisees and the scribes and, and what he was saying basically was the good ship. Lays their life down for those sheep because that’s their primary concern, but the hireling motivated our self-preservation and securing insecurity their power.
Right? Look at verse 12. He who is a hired hand and not a shell. Who does not own the sheep, sees the Wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees and the Wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand. He cares nothing for the sheep. The hireling runs away, ditches the flock, right?
That’s what we’re being told here. This is the flop because his or her self love is the dominant driver at the core is it is a love issue, right? So the hireling may care of. But he, or she doesn’t care enough, that’s the point. And then Jesus gently, but firmly looking away or perhaps at the people he says again, right.
Well, I love these words. They, they just speak so beautifully. He says to them, I am look at it. Look at it. Verse 14. I am the. One more time. I know my own and my own know me. I remember reading a beautiful commentary on this passage and, and I do mean beautiful because I just loved the way it was written as written, uh, in the early part of the 20th century by, uh, A man named Arthur J gossip.
Yes. You heard that correctly. And despite his unfortunate name, he had a gift for pros. Uh, gossip wrote these words, reflecting on a profound experience he had in world war one that reminded him w w what is often referred to as the great war that occurred right. In the beginning of the 20th century, softly.
Not appreciated how devastating it was to so many people in the world. And there was also connected to the Spanish flu pandemic. A world war human life was being lost everywhere. There had been such an advancement in warfare technology that they weren’t prepared for the loss of life. Trench warfare.
Anyway, I can go on and on, but gossip was writing these words and when he wrote them, he says they reminded him of Jesus and what the Lord meant when he called himself the good shepherd. And they want to share them with you because it was an observation. He had written down and we are able to be blessed by it still after all these decades, he said, once in France, during world war two, he’s looking back on his life.
I had a remarkable, a remarkable experience. We had come out from the unbelievable desolation of pat con Passchendaele, uh, the worst place by far in the whole line for five days rest, they have been pulled off the line on the Battlefront and we had to go back to human and lovely things. Again, he’s talking about the contrast between being there in the midst of.
Of death everywhere, brutal humanity, blood loss of life, you know, nature, blown to bits. And he says, we were brought back again to think. That were lovely houses, trees, flowers, kindly people. But the day after our rival word came from the line that the line was broken and that the Germans were cleaned through and heading for the channel ports and that we with others were to be thrown in anyhow, to try to stem the racing side.
So the, so our time away from the line was cut short and the last were young. He wrote with all their lives before them. And as I looked at them so soon to be sacrificed. By heart grew sore at hot and resentful, waiting for a time of which we were all due to fall in. I turned down an enticing little lane, winding and twisting between fields ablaze with flowers, golden and blue.
And suddenly I came upon a shepherd lad, not driving his flock and with no dog, but walking on head. And they willingly following and every now and then he paused to call a laggard.
And if I may just say this, and this is, this is me, but I feel like I’ve been that laggard and every now and then maybe you can relate to it. And I’ve heard his voice from time to time. Call me, come on, come on. Although we better come on now. Stop. You’re wondering. Come on Terry. He knows them by name. He knows you by name.
Anyway, gossip would underwrite. He went on to write this every now and then he paused this shepherd boy to call a laggard, which hearing his name came at once running and affectionately rubbed itself against him. And he’s watching. And so they moved on. He says, and over a little Ridge and out of my life, I love that line.
I love that line. So they moved on and over a little Ridge and out of my life. And I standing there as plain and clear as if they had been spoken first to me, I heard. And when he put it forth, his own sheep, he go with before. And turned and went into the valley of the shadow with a heart quieted instill.
You said in that moment, he remembered the great shepherd who loved him. And now he was walking ahead of him. And so he turned and went into the valley of the shadow of death still and quiet in his heart. Now. The good news is gossip live to write those words, but back to Jesus in John 10, as we close here, he said, I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me just as the father knows me. And I know the father and I laid down my life for the sheep. You know, at the core, this is about relationship. It’s about being known and knowing, and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, Jesus gazes through them to the crop. The Wolf will kill him, but the shepherd knows he will rise again.
And then lastly, and I have other sheets that are not of this fold. I must bring them also and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd he’s opening the curtains and looking down the corridor of time. And he sees the Gentiles. He sees all the non-Jewish people, the world she’s the people in places that others didn’t even don’t even know exist at this point.
This glorious, prophetic word has been marvelously fulfilled and is still being fulfilled for this reason. The father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again because he is the, I am, he knows death will not be the final world word. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord.
I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I’ve received from my father. Do you see, this is the Easter message. Sacrificial love is what we’re going to be celebrating real. Preparing our hearts for sacrificial love and the irrepressible life, the guests, we are offered by the good shepherd, the cross, and the empty tomb love that doesn’t quit in life forevermore.
So I want to come back around. I have one more thought to share. We have our song of course, before that. So I hope you will enjoy, but I remind everybody about our time of giving. Don’t forget, you can send it in. You can give directly online. You can do it through the app, right? Most of all, give him your heart.