John 10:4

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep,
he goeth before them,
and the sheep follow him:
for they know his voice.”

~ John 10:4

Neither space nor time will permit us to exhaust this rich treasure of God’s Word. Numerous draws could be made and the well would still be springing up in abundant supply. We shall have to pass over many things and yet, let us commune with our Lord in this text.

Immediately, we approach this passage knowing Christ says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). He is “that great shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). We know also that the sheep are His people, whom He “must bring” (John 10:16) to glory. This rich knowledge prompts the faithful declaration, “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:7).

The overwhelming characteristic mark of His sheep is that they “follow him.” Not only this, but “a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him” (John 10:5). In all cases, in all conditions, the sheep follow the Shepherd.

We cannot escape the fact that “he putteth forth his own sheep.” This language brings to mind a forcible action. He puts them forth. Unfortunately, this may imply laxity or reluctance of the sheep, but let us rather consider it as revealing the mind of the Shepherd for not only does He put them forth, He “goeth before them.” This speaks then of His guidance of His sheep. He sends them forth to accomplish His purpose and goes before them to lead, prepare, and keep them in His way.

That “he putteth forth his own sheep” speaks of the purpose of the Shepherd. He does not put them out; He puts them forth. The harried mother, whose head is dazed by a dozen things that have gone wrong at once, will put the children out to play that she may collect her thoughts and set things back in order. However, that same mother will rise up in the morning with clear thought and put the children forth to do their morning chores. So, they are put forth with purpose and the Shepherd does this when He puts forth His sheep.

When the Shepherd puts forth His sheep, He also “goeth before them.” He puts them forth with purpose that He might lead them. He leads them to “green pastures,” “beside the still waters,” and “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2-3). Not only does He lead them to the pleasant places, but He also conducts them through the dangerous miles. He leads them through “the valley of the shadow of death” and to a “table . . . in the presence of mine enemies” (Psalm 23:4-5). Because of His abiding presence, the sheep can say in the dark valley, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). The sheep need not be overly concerned about which path they are on at the moment, so long as the Shepherd is with them.

The dependence of the sheep upon their Shepherd cannot be overstated. They need to be put forth. They need to be led. They need to follow their Shepherd. Without Him, they cannot find the pleasant places of rest and restoration. Without Him, they cannot safely traverse the dangerous paths where they are refined and sharpened. Ah, but with Him, they are safe and rest securely for “they shall never perish.” They are “the sheep of his hand” and “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Praise God, what a Shepherd! Let us sing with Sis. Kathryn Parrish:

Praise God, what a shepherd! He died not in vain;
Oh, He knows His sheep, and He calls them by name;
He goeth before them, And they know His voice;
Him only they follow, And in Him they rejoice.

John 7:43

“So there was a division among the people because of him.”
~ John 7:43

What are we to do with Jesus? This was the question that troubled many in Christ’s day. In the time of our text, many said of Him, “Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” (John 7:40-41). They first sought to understand or define who Jesus was and, though they were not agreed about who He was, they next had to figure out what to do with Him. “And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him” (John 7:44). On both accounts, “there was a division among the people because of him.” Regardless of the diverse opinions of the people, one thing was clear—they could not ignore Him.

The division over Jesus was not limited to a few crusty old Jewish theologians. The questions about Jesus touched the whole community—the poor, the rich, the sick, the healthy, the powerful, and the oppressed. None were spared from facing this question. Everywhere He went the common people would flock to Him and this drew criticisms from the upper class, “Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). So, wherever He went, “there was a division among the people because of him.”

The division over Jesus was not limited to His own public life. After His ascension, His church began to spread throughout the known world, taking the message of Jesus with them. Not surprisingly, they found “there was a division among the people because of him.” Paul told the Corinthians, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Paul explained the division of the people: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Even then, there were also those who were called who found Jesus “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

It is amazing to think that the Jews could not find signs sufficient enough in Christ. Had there ever lived a man who did the quantity and quality of miracles that Christ did. With only a portion of His career available to us today, we certainly could not find any to compare to Him. John wrote in his Gospel, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The world could not contain the books that would be required to record the things He did and yet “the Jews require a sign.”

It is also amazing to think that the Greeks could not find sufficient wisdom in Jesus Christ—“the Ancient of day” (Daniel 9:7). On many occasions, the people were put to amazement when they heard Him speak. “The people were astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 28:8). “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). “Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?” (John 7:25-26). “The officers answered, Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). Christ testified of the queen of the south who “came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). The world had never known greater wisdom than Jesus had. Jesus Christ possessed the deep riches of the wisdom of God and yet the Greeks rejected Him and sought “after wisdom.”

Evidently, the world at large fared no better in settling the question of Jesus in the first century than did those of Palestine during His life. Some would perhaps like to think that Jesus would receive a better hearing in the world today because we are more civil and progressive. However, even today, there is “division among the people because of him.” Jesus is no more receivable today than He has been throughout history.

Just as the Jews and Greeks of the first century, many modern people have not found what they would like in Jesus Christ. They just cannot make the Christ of God to fit in their mold and so, significant revision is needed before their minds will rest from the question. And, there is no end of liberal theologians and scholars who work tirelessly to revise and upgrade Jesus to suit the tastes of modern man.

No matter how hard you might try, you just cannot ignore Him. However, we do not define Jesus and we do not put Him into any sort of a mold. He defines us and puts us into His mold. “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44).

The question of who Jesus is, is not decided, it is revealed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God . . . flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17). “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22). “But when it pleased God . . . To reveal his Son in me” (Galatians 1:15-16).

The question of what to do with Jesus is not decided, it is commanded: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

Psalm 56:3

“What time I am afraid,
I will trust in thee.”

~ Psalm 56:3

The Christian, though entered into innumerable blessings, is not without fear. David could well recognize his danger, for he prayed, “Mine enemies would daily swallow me up” (Psalm 56:2). He was not so proud he could not admit of fear within. Paul was one who had also entered into similar experience. He wrote, “For, when we come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5).

David was not indulged in blissful ignorance; he was a sensible man who knew enough to be afraid when he was in great danger. He was not wrong in this, for he resolved, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” In a certain sense, fear can be a blessing and preserver of our life. One reason we do not drive an hundred miles per hour on the highway at night is fear. We teach our children as they to grow to fear certain things. Not all fear is bad, nor is it wrong. Faith puts fear in the right place, making us fear God and not man.

A wonderful fact to our minds is that fear and trust were co-occupants within the Psalmist. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” How could these abide together? All fear has not been banished from the present life of God’s people. The presence of fear within David was not of itself wrong, but whenever fear reared its head, he would trust in God. Though fear might have been present, it was not in the majority. Fear was overruled by trust and had to give place to confidence.

The key is that fear was not debilitating for the Psalmist. If he had given in to fear, he had been paralyzed, unable to go forward. This was not the case, however, because of trust. He said, “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:4). He reiterated, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:11).

Note also that trust did not result in dishonesty. In other words, his trust did not involve talking himself into the fact that man could not do anything to him. Rather trust in God enabled him to “not fear” and “not be afraid” of “what flesh can do” to him and “what man can do” to him.

The antidote for fear is simple and efficacious—trust in the Lord. Though fear is not banished, it can be overcome. Are you debilitated by fear? Are you afraid of something and have become practically paralyzed because of it? Let us then consider a few words from God to direct our trust in the time we are afraid.

Do you have a fear of the dark and of the night? Are you robbed of rest by fretting in the absence of the sun? Hear God’s Word: “When thou liest down, thou shat not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).

Are you afraid of being rejected? Are you kept from witnessing a good confession before men because you fear being rejected? Do you worry you shall be forsaken of any caregivers? Hear then the Word of the Lord: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:9).

Do you fear going hungry? Are you afraid the food source will dry up, or the economy will take a dive? Hear God’s Word of promise: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habbakuk 3:17-18).

Lastly, are you afraid of God’s hand turning against you? Do you fear that evil shall come and not just good? Be assured with Job, who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

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