WHO WILL YOU FOLLOW
(THE GOOD SHEPHERD)
One of the wonders of God’s creation is the FREEDOM TO CHOSE.
Sounds good but along with the choice is responsibility, “There may be a thousand little choices in a day. All of them count.”
If you think about it “learning what to choose and how to chose, may be the most important education we will ever receive.”
-How to raise our children—what type of work will do for a living
-do I have a good retirement plan.—is this the time to change my vehicle
- my gifts to charity—will I frequent the casino or poker halls
-what about LOTO tickets. And the list goes on!
All good questions and all done by choice! Our thoughts for this morning are on following Jesus, the good shepherd in making our decisions.
The Apostle John tells us to follow—the teachings of Jesus and to be aware of wolves in “sheep clothing.”
We have a choice between following the Good Shepherd who loves us and promises us abundant life versus falling prey to the rustlers-the sweet talkers who just use us, cheat on us and in the end make our lives miserable.
Unfortunately, we can often be hooked on get rich schemes or the promise of big winnings, so we must always be vigilante.
I thought I might put a modern face on the scripture story and give some examples which, I hope will give us reason to always follow Jesus.
The story tells of rustler who try to get in the back gate who in today’s world we would call swindlers; they are looking out for themselves and they are still around today.
Remember EARL JONES who ran a Canadian PONZI scheme for 20 years, duped his elderly clients out of $ 40 million and these included his brother and sister –in –law. In all those years he was held in high regard by the community, joined in their celebrations and holiday trips, no one thinking what he was up to.
Another hustler, was BERNIE MADOFF down south of the border. His ponzi scheme ran for 30 years valued at $ 65 billion and in the end his clients lost$ 18 billion. In all those 30 years no one on Wall Street suspected he was a fake. He even had family members working for him and they eventually informed to the FBI about his scheme. His son got 10 years in jail, one grandson committed suicide and Madoff received a 150 year jail sentence. Seems the devil got his due!
Another startling case was the demise of ENRON a few years back. In the final month, the C.E.O of the company advised his son to sell his shares, he then sold off his shares giving a profit of $ 70 million dollars and all the while he was encouraging the employees to buy the company shares. We know now that it was a scam, the company collapsed and all the employees lost their jobs, their healthcare plans and their pensions. He was looking out for himself with no feelings for all the people he hurt. If we only knew!!
I guess things don’t change, the Apostle John warned about rustlers and today we still have those who try to get in the back gate and take advantage of us. Jesus is telling us we always need to keep our guard up as we make our way through life.
Jesus must have been familiar with the life of a shepherd to refer to himself as the Good Shepherd. He knew being a shepherd is tiring, dirty and sometimes dangerous work.
I remember on our sheep farm, in order to catch one I sometime had to wrestle it down and I often ended up under the sheep. Being a shepherd means going out in the freezing cold winter’s night to check on them and stay there if any needed assistance. It means getting up at all hours during lambing season to help the ewes. They can be so maddening, one finds a hole in the fence they all follow. It isn’t quite so easy to love sheep when they are acting up
The Scripture give another image of shepherds and their sheep, it talks about
the great danger from lions and bears that preyed on the flocks out on pasture and the sheep had to be alert and follow the Shepherd’s VOICE.
I remember, on our farm we had a problem with coyotes. These coyotes would kill the lambs at night and leave half eaten carcasses they on the field.
So each night I would herd the sheep into the barn, lock all doors and leave a light on to keep the sheep calm. This became a nightly ritual for the balance of the summer.
In the morning I would open the barn door and call to the sheep. The sheep recognized my VOICE and would follow me out onto green pasture for the day. If someone, other than Sharon or myself called them, the sheep would panic and scatter to the end the pen.
Jesus warns us to beware of the false shepherd, he advises us not to follow their voices because they are mainly concerned with their own well being and will abandon us when the going get rough.
In our scripture Jesus says “the sheep know my VOICE and follow me.” Jesus wants us to hear his voice follow Him when we have difficult choices to make. His only longing is to help us make decisions that will give us a loving, successful, abundant life.
We must learn to recognize the voices of FALSE SHEPHERDS” coming at us over the TV, radio and telephone today and we TRAIN OURSELVES TO recognize the VOICE of JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD and follow Him.
In his commentary of the gospel of John, William Barclay likens the phrase, “good shepherd” to the phrase, “the good doctor. It has a quaint ring about it—perhaps it’s because William Barclay wrote his commentaries many years ago,
Do you remember hearing that phrase—the good doctor—maybe it was related to the very personal attention that the doctors gave us in the past.
Remember in past, the doctor making house calls He would come to the house—usually in the evening after dinner with his little black leather bag full of tools of his trade along with some medications. He would take our temperature—remember that cold metal stethoscope on your chest and back.
Those days are past, now most of us must get to the doctors on our own.
Taking an expression from Archie Bunker “those were the days”—can you imagine that being done today?
We are thankful The good doctors of today have power far beyond that of the doctors who came to our homes.
Thank God that the good doctors today have better tools, they use CAT-scans and MRI’s and a host of other tools to determine what is wrong.
There are still doctors today devoted to going beyond the call of duty to help those in need.
Not too long ago, I read a story in Reader’s digest, about Dr. Adele O’Sullivan who still made house calls. Dr. Adele practices medicine in the clinic for the homeless in Arizona and because many homeless people never visit the clinic, she goes to soup kitchens and shelters to treat them.
Dr. O’Sullivan told about a homeless man who apologized when she raised his shirt to listen to his heart and lungs. He hadn’t had a bath in two days, he said . My guess is that he hadn’t had a bath in two weeks—or maybe two months. But the good doctor told him it was okay and went about her business.
Not many people were aware Dr. Adele was a NUN.
Her love of the needy “comes from her love of Jesus.” She learned her craft at the feet of the GOOD SHEPHERD.
I wasn’t surprised. Jesus had a special place in his heart for down and out—and he calls us to love them too.
I guess that homeless people are a little like sheep. They aren’t always easy to love but Jesus the good doctor loves them none the less.
Philip Schaff, the great historian, wrote a wonderful summation on why we should follow Jesus and listen to his VOICE. He said:
“Jesus of Nazareth,” without science and learning, shed more light on things human and devine than all the philosophers...
Without the eloquence of the school, he spoke words of life such as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet....
Without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, discussions, works of art, learned books and songs of praise...
Born in a manger and crucified as a criminal and He rules a spiritual empire which embraces one third of the inhabitants of earth.
What more can be said to convince us that the ways of “JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD, THE GOOD DOCTOR” is the true way to live an abundant and loving life in God’s Kingdom on earth.
This morning Jesus invites all of us to follow HIS VOICE and WALK IN HIS FOOTSTEPS.