One Door, One Shepherd, One Flock
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One Door, One Shepherd, One Flock

Jesus proclaimed Himself the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name. In this study from John’s Gospel, Alistair Begg teaches that when it comes to gaining access to God and heaven, there’s only one Door, one Shepherd, and one flock. Ultimate security lies not in the walls of our enclosure or in the strength of our faith but in our proximity to Jesus, the indestructible Shepherd in whom we place our trust. Believers will know His voice and enjoy abundant life.

Series Containing This Sermon

“Truly, Truly, I Say to You…”

Twenty-Five Divine Declarations from John’s Gospel John 1:1–21:25 Series ID: 29001

Sermon Transcript: Print

Our Scripture reading is from John chapter 10 and reading from verse 7 to verse 18 and then from 27 to 29. John 10:7:

“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, 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 and cares nothing for the sheep. 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 lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may 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 I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.’”

And verse 27:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”


O God, how gracious and good you are to speak to us in the world by means of our conscience; in your Son, the Lord Jesus; in our Bibles, which now are open before us. And it is for your voice that we long. It is your voice we want to hear. We want to be able to say, “I heard the voice of Jesus say…”[1] And so, come by the Holy Spirit, we pray, and help us as we speak, as we listen, in order that we might understand and believe and love and trust in you. And we ask it in your name. Amen.

Well, let’s take our Bibles, as I say, and we begin at the seventh verse as we continue, if you’re visiting with us, our studies in the “Truly, truly” statements that are recorded for us by John in his Gospel.

Last time, a few weeks ago, we ended in verse 6 by noting the fact that we’re told that the figure of speech that Jesus had used in describing the flock and the shepherd and the fold in the first five verses was not understood by those who were listening to him. We said when we began chapter 10 that although there is a chapter break in our Bibles, that would not have been present in the original; and we assume that in many cases, a number of people have been present in this kind of dialogue ever since Jesus had made his great statement, “I am the light of the world. [And] whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.”[2] And in the course of that, these listeners to the words of Jesus are failing to understand what it is that he’s saying.

And at the end of chapter 9, if your Bible is open there, you remember that the man has been healed from his blindness, and this picture of blindness—spiritual blindness—is to the fore. And these Pharisees can see something, but they think they can see more than they can see, and they say, “Are we also blind?”[3] And the fact of the matter is that yes, they actually are. And there are none so blind as those who will not see. And in verse 26, which we didn’t read, Jesus explains to them, “[The reason] you do not believe [is] because you are not among my sheep.”[4] It is those sheep who are his own who hear his voice, who understand his voice, who listen to his voice, and so on.

Now, having introduced the picture, in the first five verses, of the sheepfold and the shepherd, he now goes on to address it again—to provide, if you like, a fuller explanation. But don’t assume that what he’s actually doing is picking up these first five verses and dissecting them and making application to them. Rather, he’s picking up on these metaphors which he has already introduced and applying them as he sees fit. For example, at one point in the first five verses, “he goes [in] before them,” “he goes [out] before them”;[5] and later on here, the sheep are going in, and they’re going out, and so on. After I studied this for a while, I said there are just three points that we need to understand: there is one Door, there is one Shepherd, and there is one flock. And we’ll look at them in turn.

One Door

First of all, in verses 7–10, there is one Door. One Door: “Jesus … said to them, ‘[I tell you,] truly, truly, … I am the door of the sheep.”

Now, that metaphor of a door occurs elsewhere in the New Testament at various times—for example, in Luke, where the parable is recorded, “Make sure,” says Jesus, “that you enter through the narrow door—that you enter through the narrow door.”[6] When, in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas have arrived in Antioch, and they’re reporting to the people that they meet there of all that God has done, Luke records that they tell them that God “had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”[7] So, we won’t belabor that. If you look door up in your concordance, you can have fun with it.

What we should know, and I think it is significant: that this is the only passage in which Jesus actually makes reference to himself in this way. “I am,” he says, “the door.” Now, I wouldn’t want an answer to this; this is rhetorical. But I wonder: Does anyone remember what our first “Truly, truly” was? Again, please don’t embarrass me by trying to answer. But it was back in 1:51, where, when we looked at that and Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” And as we struggled our way through that, we said at least we understand this: Jesus is making it clear that he is the ladder that reaches from earth to heaven and from heaven to earth. So, right at the very first “Truly, truly,” he is the ladder that gives to us the point of entry.

If men are to bring other men into God’s fold, they must first enter it themselves.

By the time we get to chapter 14, if we ever do, we know chapter 14:6: Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” And here he is the Door. He actually has already said to Nicodemus, not using the terminology but making the same point, “Unless a man is born again, he will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”[8] And what Jesus is making clear is what John makes clear through his whole Gospel, and that is that all of this has been recorded so that men and women might understand that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Messiah, and that by believing on him they will have life in his name.[9]

And the short and important point is simply this: Jesus is the only door to God. Jesus is the only door to God. Notice what he says in verse 8: “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” The commentators spend volumes on trying to make sure we understand those to whom he is referring in terms of “thieves and robbers.” Clearly, he’s not talking about Moses; he’s not talking about the prophets who were the good prophets. In fact, you will notice he says, “All who [ever] came before me are thieves and robbers,” present tense. All who have come—and they’ve come, and they were still coming in Jesus’ day (there were all kinds of false prophets roaming around as Jesus was there)—all who have come professing to be teachers; those claiming honor for themselves; those who are false prophets; the Pharisees, who’ve done a terrible job of caring for the sheep; all of them, however they present themselves, says Jesus, are “thieves and robbers.”

Now, it is important that we recognize, too, that Jesus is speaking, as it were, to the shepherds of Israel. And it is important that they have to enter through Jesus. They have to enter through Jesus. If men are to bring other men into God’s fold, they must first enter it themselves. “I am the Door. By me, if anyone enters in—only by me…”

Richard Baxter, the Puritan pastor from Kidderminster many, many years ago, in speaking to the Anglican clergy of his day, chided them—warned them, he said—because “some of you, as shepherds, offer the bread of life to men and women, yet you have never yourselves entered into the provision that God has made by means of his bread.”[10] In other words, “You’re offering to them something that you have never tasted yourself.” Now, we ought not to be surprised by this—the reality of unconverted pastors, unconverted ministers, unconverted professors of religion and of Bible, who have never actually themselves entered through the door.

Now, notice what he goes on to say: “The sheep did not listen to them.” The people who came before who were “thieves and robbers” attracted all kinds of people, but “the sheep did not listen to them,” because the sheep do not listen to the voices of the stranger. I wonder: Have you ever considered this as an indication that you are actually in Christ? That one of the indications that you or I rest sufficiently in who Jesus is and what he has done—one of the evidences to that end—is what we do not listen to or to whom we do not listen. That there are all kinds of voices calling in all kinds of directions, offering all kinds of fixes, and so on. And we recognize that there may be good, bad, and ugly in it, but at the very heart of it all, we listen for the voice of the Shepherd.

The sheep, given by the Father to the Son—whom we met in John chapter 6—have spiritual discernment. Discernment. It’s one of the evidences, again, that a person has become a Christian: that it changes the way they view things. Things they once listened to, things they once believed in, they no longer believe in it. It is not simply that they have had a re-alteration of the framework in their heads. Once they were blind and believed they saw everything. They listened to these voices. They were foolish, lost in a multitude of people saying, “Come this way. Come that way. You can go the other way.” But now they don’t. And it’s even a surprise to them: “How is it that I have this understanding?”

Look there. We’re back in verse 5: “A stranger they [won’t] follow, but they will flee from him, for they [know not] the voice of strangers.” So Jesus repeats it—verse 9: “I am the door. … By me…” “If anyone enters by me,” notice: “by me, and only by me.” Remember in The Silver Chair, where Jill is having that conversation with Aslan about whether she can come to Aslan and get a drink, because Aslan seems so scary to her in the vastness and power and majesty of his might and of his mane. And I won’t rehearse the story, but you remember how it ends, where eventually she says, “Well, you know, it is so scary that I daren’t come and drink.” And Aslan says, “Then if you don’t come and drink, you will die of thirst.”[11]

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.[12]

Think about it, loved ones: Why are we concerned about Pakistan? Why are we concerned about the lost sheep on the reaches of Sub-Saharan Africa? Why are we taking our people and turning them into export models, whether it is in Kent or in Lakewood or wherever the world it is? Why are we doing this? For only one reason: that Jesus, the Door, has dispatched his followers to be about his business.

The contrast couldn’t be clearer, could it? You see the contrast in verse 10: “The thief comes only to steal, … kill, … destroy.” Jesus says, “I’ve got nothing to do with that. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly”—abundant life, delivering us from the consequences of our foolish choices, setting us free from the grip and hold of sin, unleashing us into pastures new—into a life that is lived, if you like, in the fascinating realm of all that God has for those who he makes his children. Abundant life! Abundant life!

Let me ask you a question: Do you think that the average person in America, when they think about Christians, thinks in terms of abundant life? “Oh, you should meet my friend at work. He’s a Christian. Man, you want to talk about abundant life? You should meet him!” Or, “She works in my lab. There’s such a smile on her face! She’s a genuine soul. I don’t know what is up with her. It’s strange to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s some kind of abundance or something. I don’t know what it is.”

It’s a real tragedy when our evangelistic endeavors falter not because people have decided that what we have to say isn’t true but because of the way we have tried to convey it and the way in which we’ve conducted ourself; it seems to be abominably dull. Dull. The Christian thing seems to be to walk down into a narrow road, into an enclosed environment, into a cage-like existence. Nothing could be further from the truth: “I came that they might have life and that they might have it in its fullness.”

When Jesus speaks to the woman at the well—who thought that she had life, right? Life for her was relationships, multiple relationships. She lives with a guy. She’s had five husbands. She’s at the well by herself. And Jesus says, “You know, if you would take the water that I give, it will be a spring of water in you, welling up to eternal life.”[13] “Welling up to eternal life.” There’s nothing dry or arid about it. It’s actually a powerful renovation within the very intrinsic, essential self. This is what is happening, he says.

And, of course, the people in the town were amazed when she showed up. She went back into the town to say, “Come, see a man.” Goodness, I bet they’d heard her say that many times! Many times! “Hey, do you want to see a man?” “Who’s her man now?” “Oh, no, no. Not that man. Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.”[14] Everything she ever did? The good, the bad, and the ugly? How could he expose that, except that he was the Shepherd, except he pours in the balm of oil and the grace and the mercy and goodness? It’s all there.

Don’t be put off by the idea of eternal life. I have conversations—I’ve told you this before—about eternal life: how the idea of eternity is a scary thought in many ways. But actually, I’ve been thinking about it some more, and I realize—and maybe it’s taken me time to understand this—but we think wrongly when we think about eternity just as an extension of the duration of life: an extension of life’s duration, so it goes on and on and on and on and on. But no. Because eternal life is not something that is first of all “out there.” It is first of all something that is present here, today—the reality of it brought into a new dimension. If you like, it is an intensification of the experience of life. An intensification of the experience of life.

You remember when you fell in love? You’re like, “Whoa!” Time stopped. You remember when you were in the Alps of Switzerland, if you had the privilege, or you were in the Rockies, or you were in the Grand Canyon—whatever it was—and you stood there in a moment of rapture, and you suddenly said to yourself, “You know what? I think I’ve been standing here for five minutes, and I haven’t even noticed it.”

They come offering all kinds of stories. They’ll steal from you. They’ll destroy you. All the false gods of the false teachers are self-depleting idols. Jesus: life—life as you can scarcely imagine it.

I woke up this morning with “Happy” in my mind, and then I found it. I’m sure this came from America, this song. It sounds American rather than Scottish. Do you know it? It goes like this:

You ask [me] why I[’m] happy,
[And] I’ll just tell you why:
Because my sins are gone.
And when I meet the scoffers
Who ask me where they are,
I say, “My sins are gone.
They’re underneath the blood
[Of] the cross of Calvary,
As far [away] as darkness is from dawn.
In the sea of God’s forgetfulness,
That’s good enough for me;
Praise God, my sins are gone![15]

You see, that’s the issue. That’s the issue: “I am the Door. He who enters by me will be saved, discover abundant life.”

I also remembered this morning something that I had written in one of my little black books. Two thousand and nine, I was speaking at Mount Hermon, the conference center in northern California, and I must have been talking along these lines, because a lady came up to me, and she said, “I want to tell you a true story. A friend of mine was suffering through brain cancer and its treatments. His relationship with Jesus was such that the nurse on duty wrote in his chart as a critical comment, ‘inappropriately joyful.’” And the lady said, “Since then it’s become one of my goals.” Are you prepared to be thought crazy ’cause you’ve got such a grin on your face in the midst of sadness and pain and persecution and disappointment?

Well, we must move on. “I am the door”—one Door.

One Shepherd

Verses 11–13: one Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd.” Interestingly, here, the word that is translated… There are a number of words for “good” in Greek. One is agathos, from which we get the idea of moral rectitude or intrinsic goodness. So, for example, a restorative injection may be administered by a nurse or a doctor, and the contents of the injection are intrinsically good. But they may not give you something that is good in a particularly nice, kind, or attractive way.

The word for “nice, kind, and attractive” is the word which is used here. It is the word kalos. Kalos. And Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the attractive shepherd. I am the shepherd whose attraction does not lie in the fact that I am six foot five inches tall and can throw passes like Mahomes did last Sunday. In fact, there is nothing about me that would mark me out from the crowd.”

No, the thing that makes Jesus attractive is that he is the servant of God. What is he like? He does not “cry aloud.” He doesn’t “lift up his voice.” He doesn’t “make it heard in the street.” In short order, he doesn’t draw attention to himself. And “a bruised reed he will not break,” and a smoking flax he won’t quench.[16] Why? Because he’s “the good shepherd.” It’s possible to be morally upright in a repulsive fashion. Schaeffer on one occasion wrote, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.”[17]

“I am the good shepherd. [He] lays down his life for the sheep.” The main things are the plain things. You know that. So here is a main and a plain thing—verse 11: he “lays down his life for the sheep.” That’s in the third person. Verse [15]: “I lay down my life for the sheep.” That’s in the first person. Verse 17: again, “I lay down my life.” Verse 17—in direct contrast to the hired hand, to whom we’re introduced in verse 12. Because the hired hand doesn’t do this. The hired hand is not actually a shepherd. There’s no intrinsic relationship between the sheep and the shepherd. This guy just has a job. He flees for his life when the wolf comes, and as a result of that, the sheep scatter. Notice what it says there in verse 12: he “cares nothing for the sheep.” He “cares nothing for the sheep.” (It’s actually verse 13; I’m sorry.) “He flees because he is [the] hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” In other words, it’s a job. It’s a responsibility. And as far as that hireling is concerned, it shouldn’t involve the loss of life, and certainly not the loss of his life. But this Shepherd lays down his life.

Surely the death of a shepherd in those days was a rare occurrence. And probably if it happened, it came about as a result of an accident. And as a result of the accident and the shepherd being destroyed, the sheep would then be endangered. But Jesus lays down his life voluntarily. Verse 18: “No one takes it from me, … I lay it down of my own accord.” Jesus lays down his life. It is planned: “I have received [this charge] from my Father.” This takes us into the realm of eternity, into the great mystery of it.

“For this reason,” he says, “the Father loves me.” “For this reason the Father loves me”—verse 17. It doesn’t mean that the Father withholds his love from Jesus until he agrees to give up his life on the cross. No, the Father and the Son’s love for one another in the Trinity is antecedent to all these things. The Father’s love for the Son is not contingent upon Christ loving us. That is not what he’s saying. What he’s actually making clear is that when the Father uttered the words at Jesus’ baptism, remember—“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”[18] —what God said of his Son at his baptism is actually exemplified in the cross. And I think it’s Sinclair that I’ve heard saying, “When the Father looks upon his Son on Calvary, taking up the words of the hymn writer, the Father says of the Son, ‘My Jesus, I love thee; I know thou art mine. … If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’”[19]

And in this shepherd-sheep relationship, the intimacy is so unbelievably tight that it is described in verse 15 in terms of the intimacy between the Father, who “knows me,” says Jesus, and “I [who] know the Father.” That is the intimacy that you enjoy as grounded in Christ. And when we studied in chapter 6, I remember, we quoted from John 17 in terms of these things. This is Jesus speaking to his Father:

Father, glorify me in your … presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they[’ve] kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I[’m] praying for them. I[’m] not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.[20]

Back to verse 14: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” Do you know Jesus? I’m not asking, “Do you go to church?” I’m not asking if you’re religious. I’m not asking if you’ve been baptized. I’m not asking if your great-grandfather was an orthodox minister. The text is saying, “I know my sheep,” says Jesus, “and my sheep know me.” In other words, Christ’s knowledge of his sheep is not a knowledge of a generalized mass of humanity. We saw that last time: he calls them by name.[21] The Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows you not as part of a big, vast company of Parkside Church or the church in North America or the church throughout the world, but he knows you as you. That’s what he’s saying: “They know me, and I know them.”

If you think about it again in terms of the woman in Samaria: I’ve often wondered—and I’ve preached this, and I’m not sure I ever got it right—but in John chapter 4, where you have the movement of Jesus, and it says there, “He had to pass through Samaria,”[22] and I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if that’s a geographical statement or a theological statement.” I’ve now decided it is both—that “he had to pass through Samaria.” Why did he have to pass through Samaria? Because one of his sheep was sitting by the well! “Oh,” you say, “but she wasn’t a sheep yet.” Oh yes she was! Chosen from before the foundation of the world! And he was just about to make plain to her what was known by him and the Father and the Spirit throughout all of eternity.

Christ’s knowledge of his sheep is not a knowledge of a generalized mass of humanity. He calls them by name.

You’ve got the very same thing with Zaccheus, the wee man up the tree to get a look in, despised by the general public because of his dirty business with the Roman authorities and so on. Jesus says, “Hey, Zacchaeus, come down. I must”—“I must”!—“stay at your house today.”[23] “I must stay at your house today.” “Why?” “You’re one of my sheep.”

You see, our privilege as Christians is to persuade men and women of the immensity of the love of God for sinners—that he is the seeking God.

Jesus my Savior to Bethlehem came,
Born in a manager [from] sorrow and shame.
Oh, it was wonderful! Blessed be his name!
Seeking for me, for me![24]

He wasn’t seeking for humanity. He was seeking for you.

That’s the whole point of the parable that he told. There were ninety-nine that were all safe, but one was not safe. What does the shepherd do? The hireling says, “Forget it! Ninety-nine’s a pretty good percentage.” The shepherd says, “No, I go.”

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out [from the sheep away],
[Lost in]…

Whatever that is. And the amazing verse:

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed
Nor how dark was the night [that] the Lord passed through
Ere he found his sheep that was lost.[25]

He’s the Shepherd. He’s the Door.

One Flock

And finally, there is one flock. Notice verse 16: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.” “Of this fold.” And again, I want to point out to you that he doesn’t say, “I will have other sheep.” “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.” They already belong to him, even though they have not been brought to him. You say, “Can such a thing be?” Well, remember, Luke tells us the very same thing, describing the arrival of the preaching crew into Corinth. And God’s word to them was “I have much people in this city.”[26] “I have much people in this city. Go and tell them.”

In light of this, is this a strange thought? I just had it in the last twenty-four hours. In light of what we’re saying here, when the thief on the cross turned to Jesus and said, “[Lord,] remember me when you come into your kingdom,”[27] isn’t it fair to say that Jesus said, “I’ve just been waiting for you to say that”? He wasn’t caught by surprise. Because from eternity, the Shepherd had set his gaze upon the sheep.

And there’s not a Jewish church and a gentile church. Says Jesus, “Some of you will come out of your background. Others will come as the message goes out to the world.” And the distinguishing feature will all be the same: that they will listen to the voice of the Shepherd—one flock that listens to the Shepherd’s voice. “There’s nothing uncertain about it,” he says, “because I have the power to lay my life down, and I have the power to bring it up again.” In other words, it is a story of victory, it is a story of intimacy, and it is a story of ultimate security. For the sheep are those who are saved from the wolf.

You see, when we go out with our friends and neighbors, the fact is that men and women by nature are unaware of the danger in which they find themselves. They don’t know that they’re in a dangerous position. They don’t believe that God made them for himself. They have not come to understand that God loves them in Jesus and seeks them. They have none of that at all. And therefore, we have to both warn of the danger—“It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this comes judgment.”[28] Otherwise our friends just wander around like sheep without a shepherd. They’re scattered here. They’re scattered there. They’re mocked by death—the ultimate insecurity that is there.

I read detective books and murder mysteries. I don’t know if I should, but I do. And here is… I just finished a book a couple days ago. And one of the characters in the book, the detective, is talking to his daughter, and he says,

The hardest thing to come to terms with is the regret. I mean, life is an opportunity. The chance to do something that maybe won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but will have significance in our own little universe. … You waste your life on things that don’t even matter. You want things you can’t have, [you] dream [up] stuff that can never be. And all the time, your life is slipping away through your fingers, like so many finite grains of sand, squandered on… nothing.[29]

And Jesus stands forward, and he says, “I am the Door. Enter by me—salvation, abundant life. I am the Shepherd. I am the kind one. I am the attractive one. And my sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.”

Living for Jesus may be difficult, may be disappointing, may at times be dangerous. Oftentimes it will be delightful. But I guarantee of it one thing: it will never be dull.

You see, religious observance will never deal with the insecurities that we feel. I remember as a child, when I was fifteen—that’s still a child, despite what fifteen-year-olds think—I remember the feeling of standing at the radiators in Ilkley Grammar School, having moved from Scotland, and not knowing a single soul in the school, and dreading that first gap in between the first two lessons and the next two, and just standing against the radiator and thinking, “I don’t have a place to stand. I don’t know if I belong here”—in a very childish way, I understand, that was soon gathered up in the expressions of friendship. But don’t you realize that people that we meet every day are essentially standing beside their radiator, their lamp box, their mailbox, their desk, insecure, unsure of love? And to us, since there’s going to be one flock—Revelation 7—is entrusted the ministry of reconciliation.[30]

You see, our security this morning as believers, those who believe—our security doesn’t lie (and didn’t lie, incidentally, for the sheep) in the walls of the fold’s enclosure. That’s not where the sheep’s security lay—not in the walls of the enclosure of the fold but in their proximity to the shepherd. That’s the security: “Lo, I am with you [always], even [to] the end of the [age].”[31] That sounds pretty secure. “And though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be with you.”[32] That sounds secure. Therefore, the believer’s security doesn’t lie in the strength of our faith but in the indestructibility of the one in whom we have placed our faith. I wonder: Is that your story? It may be your story, ’cause Jesus comes to seek.

Living for Jesus may be difficult, may be disappointing, may at times be dangerous. Oftentimes it will be delightful. But I guarantee of it one thing: it will never be dull. And God forgive us for going out into the world and suggesting for even a nanosecond that life with Jesus is anything other than the finest adventure we could ever have, with an unbelievable celebration at the end. I don’t know. I can’t “tell why he whom angels worship” should do these things. I can’t “tell how he will win the nations.”[33] But we do know this: one Door, one Shepherd, one flock.

Father, thank you. Thank you that your Word is so satisfying, we can never really plumb its depths. We could go back through this passage and do better. We could go back through the passage and glean more. But we pray that what is of yourself you will write in our hearts—you will make it increasingly precious to us, the wonder of your shepherdology, the wonder of your care—and that we might, in intimacy with you, rejoice in the security that is ours because not of how well we are doing but because of who you are and because of what you, Lord Jesus, have done. Write it in our hearts, we pray. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

[1] Horatius Bonar, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (1846).

[2] John 8:12 (ESV).

[3] John 9:40 (ESV).

[4] John 10:26 (ESV).

[5] John 10:4 (ESV).

[6] Luke 13:24 (paraphrased).

[7] Acts 14:27 (ESV).

[8] John 3:3, 5 (paraphrased).

[9] See John 20:31.

[10] Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (1656; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 55. Paraphrased.

[11] C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (1953), chap. 2. Paraphrased.

[12] Lewis, chap. 2.

[13] John 4:14 (paraphrased).

[14] John 4:29 (paraphrased).

[15] N. B. Vandall, “My Sins Are Gone” (1934).

[16] Isaiah 42:2–3 (ESV).

[17] Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There: The Book That Makes Sense out of Your World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1968), 36 Paraphrased.

[18] Matthew 3:17 (paraphrased).

[19] William Ralph Featherston, “My Jesus, I Love Thee” (1862).

[20] John 17:5–10 (ESV).

[21] John 10:3 (paraphrased).

[22] John 4:4 (ESV).

[23] Luke 19:5 (paraphrased).

[24] Emerson Eaton Hasty, “Seeking for Me.”

[25] Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane, “There Were Ninety and Nine” (1868).

[26] Acts 18:10 (KJV).

[27] Luke 23:42 (ESV).

[28] Hebrews 9:27 (paraphrased).

[29] Peter May, A Winter Grave (London: Quercus, 2023).

[30] See 2 Corinthians 5:18.

[31] Matthew 28:20 (KJV).

[32] Psalm 23:4 (paraphrased).

[33] William Young Fullerton, “I Cannot Tell Why He Whom Angels Worship” (1929).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.