Home » Sermons » The Christ lays down his life to give eternal life those the Father gave Him

The Christ lays down his life to give eternal life those the Father gave Him

That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Psalm 23
  • John 10:14:30

Introduction

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

We begin a new series of sermons following the Gospel of John. There are certain very distinct themes in the Gospel of John:  there is light and darkness, life and death, the truth and the lie, being blind and being able to see, and others.

In the next few weeks we will look at the theme of life and death, as we follow our Saviour from closely before He was arrested to the end of his ministry.

Towards the end of his Gospel, John explains the purpose of his Gospel in these words:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31, NIV)

As we hear the Word of God speak to us from John’s Gospel chapter 10 and what follows, this stated purpose of John will be our guide.  So, we pray that God will enlighten our minds as we read and hear the Word preached, that we will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing we will receive life in his Name.

Our theme for this sermon is:  The Christ lays down his life to give eternal life those the Father gave Him.

We will open the Word of God under these headings:

  • Who is Jesus Christ?
  • What was His mission?
  • Who belongs to Him?
  • What does He give to those who belong to Him

Who is Jesus Christ?

He is the shepherd, his Father the watchman – or the owner of all the sheep

John 10:3 talks about the watchman who opens the gate for the shepherd.  The picture is something like this:

At night time the shepherd in ancient times would bring the flock he is responsible for to a communal place where other shepherds also had their flocks.  During the night a watchman guarded the gate which provided entrance to the different pens.  In the morning the shepherd would ask the watchman to open the door to his sheep.  He would then call those sheep belonging to him and they, knowing his voice, would follow him.  Through the day he would walk in front of them and lead them to places where they could find feed and water.  At night time he would bring them back again.

Through the Gospel of John the theme of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son helps us to understand that Jesus is sent by the Father to seek and to save the lost.  The Father knows who belongs to them, because He gives them life through the work of the Holy Spirit.  He becomes their Father, because all who

did receive Him [Jesus Christ], to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12–13)

In verse 29 of our chapter Jesus declares:

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:29, NIV)

Jesus also says in verse 17-18

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV)

In John 4:34 our Lord declares:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34, NIV)

So, in John 5:19 our Lord declares:

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19, NIV)

And in verse 26:

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (John 5:26, NIV)

Jesus came into this world to seek and save the lost.  There were and are some with the name of God on them, lost in their sins, yet held by the Father in his eternal love, who have to be saved by the blood of his Son, their Good Shepherd.  His Father is the watchman, keeping save those predestined for eternal life, and He will not have anyone snatch them out of his hand.

There were people, especially the blind leaders of the day, who could not understand this.  They wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy because He called Himself the Son of God.

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33, NIV)

Jesus then, taking them to the Old Testament (Psalm 86).  Jesus says, remember, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (something they also understood very well);  in that Psalm God accused the leaders (the princes and rulers were referred to as “gods”):

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. (Psalm 82:5, NIV)

So what did they do? They did no defend the cause if the weak and the fatherless, neither did they maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. They did not rescue the weak and the needy, and they did not deliver them from the hand of the wicked.  So, Jesus pointed out to the people their own leaders stand accused before God.  But their Father set One apart (John 10:36):

what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. (John 10:36–37, NIV)

If they would believe the Father then they would believe Him, because “the Father is in Me and I in the Father.”  Everything Jesus had done up to that point proved that He was from the Father, the promised Christ.
Our battle in this world is to convince the lost that Jesus is from the Father and that what He does is what the Father sent Him to do.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1–3)

This is the point of contention.  When those in darkness see the light of the Gospel regarding Jesus Christ, something marvellous happens:  they see the Kingdom of God, they worship the King and adore the Shepherd who came to seek and save them from the clutches of the wolf who had no other purpose but to kill and destroy.  But before this happens, there is darkness, there is enmity, and our battle is fierce. It is because of this very reason that they killed Jesus by hanging Him on a tree.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:6–8, NIV)

He is the shepherd of his sheep

Unlike the leaders of Israel, who proved to be bad shepherds, Jesus is the good shepherd.  They are described in Ezekiel 34:

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. (Ezekiel 34:2–6, NIV)

In John 9 they are pictured as blind leaders who are leading the blind.  They enter the pen not by the gate, passing the watchman who owns and protects the sheep, no, they climb over the wall.  Their purpose is not to tend the flock, but to destroy the flock.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10, NIV)

It is so different with Jesus, the Son of God.  He is both the gate and the shepherd.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9, NIV)

He is the only way to the Father, salvation is in no one else.  Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NIV)

He is the gate where his Father is the Gatekeeper.  His Father knows Him to open the gate when He calls for his sheep.  When his sheep hear his voice they know that going through that gate following the Shepherd they will have life:  He will take them out to the pastures where He will see that they are fed and nurtured.  He, the Gate and the Shepherd in one, is life.  His intention in only good:

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11–16, NIV)

What was his mission?

Verse 11:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11, NIV)

In the next verses we see a picture of the enemy, the wolf who attacks the flock to destroy it.  The hired hand runs for his life, but the true shepherd put himself between the danger and the flock to guard them from the attack.  The hired hand cares nothing for the sheep.  Not so with Jesus, the good Shepherd:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14–15, NIV)

He lay down his life for his sheep.  This was the command from the Father:

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV)

This was the purpose of the Father sending his Son into this world:  to lay down his life for his sheep.  Those who are of his flock understand it for they know it.  Those who are not of his flock do not understand or know it.  They can’t hear his voice, and they don’t understand Him calling.

but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:26–27, NIV)

This takes us back to John 1:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:11, NIV)

And we understand the words of our Lord in John 3:3

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3, NIV)

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19–20, NIV)

On the other hand:

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12–13)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16–18, NIV)

Who belongs to Him?

In short, those who listen to his voice.  He lays down his life to bring them into the pen:

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16, NIV)

The Gospel about Jesus Christ is preached to those who do not believe, and God the Father will, by the work of his Holy Spirit, open the hearts of those whom He will draw to Himself to hear his voice and come to Him, never to be snatched from his hand.

When Jesus told them these things, the people had two reactions:

Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” (John 10:20, NIV)

Others, on the other hand said:

These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:21, NIV)

There were two men on Calvary’s Hill that morning when they crucified our Lord; one mocked Him, the other pleaded for forgiveness – and got it.

What does He give to those who belong to Him?

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 will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29, NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The difference is is great as the difference between life and death:  eternal life or eternal death.  He died (laid down his life) so that those who believe in Him can live.  Those who do not belive in Him stand condemned to eternal death.

Conclusion

This Gospel has been preached – even today is it preached.  It is the Word of God “which cannot be broken”.  It was God’s eternal plan for us to hear it.  Why?

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30–31, NIV)

Did we hear his voice?  Do we believe? Did we enter through the only gate?  The reason why we heard this message today is to hear his voice – and believe unto eternal life.  Let’s thank God.

AMEN.

Sermon preached by Rev D Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 7 April 2013

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