Preached by David Kautt at
Community Christian Church, Durant, Oklahoma
Sunday morning, April 27, 2014
Matthew 9:35 – 38, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
John 10:7 – 15, “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear 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 does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Today is one of the more important days in recent years in the life of this church family – and maybe not for the reasons that you might be thinking. Certainly, there have been many important days for this congregation over its 10-year history. For example, November 2003 – the first Lord’s Day the group that would come to be known as Community Christian Church – met together at Brown’s Funeral Home. Then, there’s June 2005 – ground breaking Day for what would quickly become this beautiful facility – a hub for worship fellowship and instruction and a strategic launching pad for missions and ministry in Durant and literally, around the globe. Or, how about December 2005 – just before Christmas that particular year. That month marked another important day in this church’s history – for the first time, this building’s doors were OPEN for those who love Jesus – and for those who need Jesus’ love – to enter – to pray, to sing, to grow and to witness.
One other important day in Community Christian’s history I would like to list at this time – is one that took place just 9 short months ago. It was the day when a beloved friend and preacher and his wife – our brother and sister – Jim and Joni Bliffen – handed the baton of leadership into my hands – into the hands of my wife and me – and we began our work with you here. All of those days – and – really – every other day since day ONE in November 2003 – have been important days in this church’s life. But, listen - this day – because of what we are about to embark on – today – to me it is one of the most important – ever – for Community Christian Church.
I say that because – like all those other days – this day – I believe has and will have significance not only for today – for this period of time – but also for tomorrow – for the future – yes, perhaps even for decades to come.
Surely, by now you have an inkling about what it is that is in my mind – that makes this day so special. But, in case you don’t allow me to spell it out for you. Today, Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. – we will formally begin the process of preparing and eventually putting forth the men – who – along with their wives and families – will serve as our leaders – our elders – our spiritual shepherds.
But, listen – you know, don’t you? That some of those who begin the process today, will not go all the way with it. They may sense it’s not their time yet – they may come to grips with the weight of the calling and responsibility of leadership and discover that they are not ready for it yet – they may even say, “You know – this IS the direction I would like God to take me – what I WANT to be – but, for now, I think I need to still be a learner!”
Yes, some of the men may respond in ways like that – and that’s O.K. - and others – the young men and young men-in-the-making will BEGIN this process with us today – knowing that because of their youthfulness and lack of life experience – their day to lead is still down the road a ways. And you know something? We all understand that, don’t we? Or, at least, we should! But, listen – I really believe that – in answer to a lot of prayers – by a lot of people – at the end of this several months-long process – there will be SOME men and their wives and families who will step up to the plate – and say, “I will! I will serve. I will follow Jesus - and ask others to follow me! I will – empowered by the Spirit of God – I will set my hands to the task of church leadership in this congregation.”
Yes, today is – in my view – one of THE most important days in the 10 years of this church. And, to say the least, I am excited – anxious – fearful and in great anticipation – all rolled up into one package! Perhaps, you are, too! So, since we are – I believe it’s just as important we hear from Jesus – that we go from this place in a little while – with the words of the GOOD Shepherd – the CHIEF Shepherd – the Lord Jesus – ringing in our ears and reverberating in our minds – as we embark on this exciting journey together.
Matthew chapters 9, 10 and 11 – I have entitled this message an EXPOSITION REGARDING SHEEP, SHEPHERDS AND THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. Would you join me as we traverse up and down and around in those three chapters, please?
First of all, Matthew 9:35 – 38 – what an amazing passage this is – as it opens up a window for us into the Chief Shepherd’s heart – into Jesus’ heart.
I know I am not a Medical Doctor – and I am certainly no expert on human anatomy and design – but listen – do you know what I noticed right off the bat – here in this section of our text? Mark it down, future shepherds – come to grips with it, flock of God. There is a direct connection – a direct link between a person’s EYES – what he or she SEES – pays attention to – focuses on – and his or her heart. The text puts it this way – verses 35 and 36 – “Then Jesus . . . “
Matthew 9:35 – 36, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
There’s a direct link between Jesus’ eyes – the Good Shepherd’s eyesight – and the response of His heart! Write it down this way, will you? Number One – the Good Shepherd – the Chief Shepherd – is AWARE of the sheep and of their needs!
The text says that Jesus SAW the multitudes – yes! But, it also tells us WHAT He saw – what His eyes detected about those people – those sheep – that they were weary – troubled bothered – harassed – and that they were scattered – and therefore – vulnerable – in danger – uncared for and unprotected!
One day, Jesus made a trip through – of all places – Samaria – no man’s land for every good Jew – and he ended up at the ancient well of Jacob, the patriarch of Israel – a well that Jacob had dug and used long before. And, what happened? Tired and thirsty, Jesus asked for a drink of a Samaritan woman who had come to the well to fill up her own water pots.
Well, as often was the case, when Jesus was involved, a conversation ensued – about water – yes – but also about living water – about the Giver of that good gift – and about this woman’s sinful past and present. You remember the story – but do you remember this part?
Jesus’ disciples had left Jesus at the well to go into the village to buy some food. When they returned to Jesus – the woman has left to go back into town herself – then, what? Pick up the account in John 4:28 and let’s read down through verse 35:
John 4:28 – 35, “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him. In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
Prospective shepherds – take note right here with me, will you? And you, too, flock of God – Jesus’ disciples – who were themselves in a process of spiritual leadership training – at this point in their process – their eyes are more attuned to FOOD – to meeting their OWN NEEDS. But, Jesus – the Good Shepherd – says to His understudies – “Look, fellows, look! We’re not FOUR months AWAY from harvest time! No! Lift up YOUR eyes – yes – yours – and take note of the fields – they are ripe – almost OVER ripe – and ready to be reaped!”
What did we say earlier? There is a direct link between one’s EYES – A shepherd’s eyes – and a shepherd’s heart! The apostle John put it like this in 1 John 3:16 – 17, “By this we know love – because Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…” What a great verse that is, right? But, then notice what it goes on to say: “But whoever has this world’s good and SEES his brother in need – and SHUTS UP his HEART from him – how does the love of God abide in him?”
Once again – write it down – prospective shepherds – write it down – flock of God – like the Chief Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ – GOOD Shepherds are AWARE of the Sheep – their eyes are open to them – AND – AND – they are aware of the NEEDS of the sheep! In other words, like Jesus – a GOOD Shepherd knows – strives to know – does what he can to find out so he will know – the sheep and the needs of the sheep!
But, listen – KNOWING the sheep – first name – last name – shoe size – favorite food – and even knowing the NEEDS of the sheep – isn’t enough – it doesn’t go far enough with the role and responsibility of shepherding, does it? Does it?
No! That’s why we also need to be aware of yet another truth about sheep and shepherding – that Jesus illustrates for us here in Matthew 9 – and what is that truth?
Well, mark this one down also, will you? Mark it down – Jesus – the Chief Shepherd – the GOOD Shepherd – one of the things about Him that makes us call Him GOOD is that He is not just AWARE of the sheep and their needs, but that He also is tenderly concerned for them and what they need! Matthew 9:36 – circle the phrase – this awesome description of Jesus, OUR Good Shepherd – Matthew 9:36 – the text says that Jesus – having SEEN the sheep – the multitudes – and that they were weary and scattered – circle it there – it says that ‘HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION FOR THEM!”
It’s the very same phrase used to describe Jesus’ tender concern for the desperate widow of
Nain – who had just lost her one and only son – Luke 7:13. It’s the very same word used to depict Jesus and His heart for the hungry multitudes in Matthew 15:32. It’s the very same phrase found numerous times in the gospels – describing the GOOD Shepherd – the Tender CHIEF Shepherd. But listen –
Here’s the deal, fellows – you prospective shepherds – and here’s the deal – flock of God – the words, “Moved with compassion” – EYES that have SEEN the need and the NEED–Y – prompt a deep, moving response in the heart – or, at least THEY SHOULD – “moved with compassion” – those words are found in Luke 10 in reference to the Good Samaritan – seeing the beaten and battered man – laying as he was – beside the road – half dead – he was MOVED with compassion to the point that he LIVED OUT what it means to LOVE one’s neighbor!
Same thing is found in Luke 15 – another parable of Jesus – the one we call the Prodigal Son story – you remember. The father – the father – who for days, months, maybe even years – had looked for – waited for – longed for his son who had left home in order to live it up – finally – one day – he saw him. Yes – it’s him! My son! He’s not dead; he’s alive! He’s not lost; he’s found! Moved – as his heart was – by the sight of his long lost son – he ran to embrace him and welcome him home!
“HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION” – that’s such an important phrase because of what it shows us about our Good Shepherd – the Chief Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ. But listen – listen. Not every shepherd or prospective shepherd HAS such a tender heart – displays such a compassion for the sheep! Big deal? It is a Big deal! How do I know? For one thing, I know it from my own experience – I do. Some of those who should have been MY tender shepherds weren’t! And it hurt! Believe me, it hurt!
But – I also know this in another way – from this Book. You see, the very parable we spoke of earlier – the Good Samaritan story – why isn’t it called the parable of the Good PRIEST? Why isn’t it called the Parable of the Good LEVITE? You know, don’t you? Because that priest and that Levite – though these religious leaders – these spiritual shepherds – SAW one of their sheep lying bruised and bloody – over in the ditch – their HEARTS were not moved! Their compassion and tenderness doorway was locked up tight!
Same thing is true of the OLDER brother in the prodigal son parable! And, yes – according to 1 John 3:17 – the same thing can be true of you and me! So much so that John would warn us with this question: “How can you really love GOD – if your heart is not also tender enough to meet the needs of your brother?”
Write it down with me, will you – and with this we will close: Truth number two about sheep and shepherding – illustrated for us so beautifully by Jesus in Matthew 9:36 – what is it?
Like the GOOD Shepherd – the CHIEF Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ – listen – prospective shepherds – listen – flock of God – like the GOOD Shepherd – like Jesus – the Chief Shepherd – GOOD SHEPHERDS are not only AWARE of the sheep and of their needs – they also are TENDERLY CONCERNED FOR THEM – concerned enough – in fact – to help the sheep in their time of need!
We’re going to look at this subject and this passage some more – next time – but for now – allow me to give just one assignment to each of you: Here goes –
After lunch – and before you come back at 4:30 p.m. for the training class – read 1 Peter 5:1 – 4 - - 1 Peter 5:1 – 4 and Acts 20:17 – 38 - - Acts 20:17 – 38 and then pray – pray that the Lord will raise up shepherds – GOOD SHEPHERDS – WITH EYES LIKE JESUS’ EYES – and with a heart like Jesus heart – to serve – to lead – and to set their hands to this huge task – trusting always in God’s Spirit of wisdom to guide them and to empower them. Will you do that, please? Thank you.