OUR NEED FOR PROTECTION

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1 SESSION 3 OUR NEED FOR PROTECTION The Point Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. The Passage John 10:7-15,27-30 The Bible Meets Life Several years ago, while traveling in a major city, our family was using the subway on an especially crowded day. When the train arrived at our station, my wife and I surged ahead with the crowd, moving two of our children forward. We each thought the other was holding our youngest son s hand, but as the train began moving, we saw him standing in the boarding area. Alone. We panicked. We jumped off the train at the next stop and grabbed the first train headed back in the other direction. We prayed the whole way, trying to hold back the tears, fearful of what might happen to a little boy left all alone. We arrived to find our son still standing there on the platform, wide-eyed and wondering where we had gone. In the end, all was well. We all know the feeling of vulnerability is disconcerting, to say the least. Jesus knows life can be overwhelming, but He has not left us alone. He protects us and assures our ultimate safety with Him. The Setting The Hebrew people understood sheep, shepherds, and shepherding. Their great king, David, had been a shepherd, like many before and since. Their Scripture, our Old Testament, used the imagery of sheep and shepherd to depict the chosen people and God Himself. Religious leadership liked to fancy themselves as shepherds to their people, as well. Jesus understood, and set out to demonstrate, that many of the religious leaders of His were really strangers, not shepherds who cared for the sheep. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 37

2 What does the Bible say? The door of the sheep (v. 7) A shepherd corralled sheep into makeshift pens at night for protection, forming a door with a bundle of sticks or his own person. Abundance (v. 10) The Greek word carries the connotation of super abundant or exceedingly abundant, well beyond the minimum. It can refer to both quality and quantity. John 10:7-15, So Jesus said again, I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired man and doesn t care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father s hand. 30 The Father and I are one. 38 Session 3

3 THE POINT Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. GET INTO THE STUDY 10 minutes DISCUSS: Question #1 on page 29 of the PSG: When have you felt protected during a strange or scary situation? Notes ACTIVITY (OPTIONAL): Complement the theme of protection by playing one or more humorous commercials from insurance companies. If you don t have access to video in your meeting space, consider using a laptop or tablet or simply encouraging group members to share their favorite funny commercials on that theme. Note: Be sure to only play commercials that will be appropriate and inoffensive for the members of your group. GUIDE: Call attention to The Point at the top of page 30 of the PSG: Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. GUIDE: Direct group members to The Bible Meets Life on page 30 of the PSG. Continue the theme of our need for protection by reading or summarizing the text or by encouraging group members to read on their own. ENHANCEMENT: Use Pack Item 3, It s Dangerous, to provide a visual supplement for the primary themes of this session. PRAY: Transition into the discussion by acknowledging that all earthly attempts at protecting ourselves will fall short. Ask for wisdom as you study God s Word to learn about the ultimate protection only He can offer. TIP: Grow with other group leaders at the Groups Ministry blog. Visit lifeway.com/ groupministry. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 39

4 5 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes John 10: So Jesus said again, I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. READ: John 10:7-10 on page 31 of the PSG. GUIDE: Use the third paragraph on page 41 of this Leader Guide to help group members visualize what it meant, in an agrarian society, for Jesus to proclaim Himself as the door of the sheep. RECAP: Having established what Jesus meant by door, call attention to the second paragraph on page 32 of the PSG to reveal the implications of Jesus chosen imagery: Jesus based His illustration on a sheep pen with a gate, not a closed room with a door (as our culture would think of a door). The only way to legitimately enter a sheep pen is through the door or gate. Since the sheep pen symbolizes a relationship with God, it follows that Jesus, the Door, is the only way to enter that relationship. Trusting in anything else good works, religious tradition, the faith of others, and so on will not give you access to a relationship with God. You must trust in Jesus alone. ALTERNATE QUESTION: What do you find interesting about Jesus word pictures in these verses? DISCUSS: Question #2 on page 32 of the PSG: Where do we encounter thieves and robbers in today s world? Note: This phrase indicates people both inside and outside the church who want to lead God s sheep away from their true Shepherd. Encourage group members to avoid unnecessary criticism when discussing this question. TRANSITION: As we move to verses 11-13, we find Jesus make another I am statement in keeping with the theme of shepherds and sheep. 40 Session 3

5 THE POINT Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. John 10:7-10 The immediate context for these verses is the story of the blind man healed on the Sabbath (see John 9). This displeased the Pharisees, who made threats against both the healed man and his parents. Ultimately, the synagogue leaders insisted about Jesus, We know that this man is a sinner! (9:24). [Verses 7-8] Jesus used the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep. His hearers did not understand His illustration (see 10:6). So Jesus said again indicates coming more directly at the idea, but still maintaining the shepherd/sheep thought. I assure you is that truly, truly or verily, verily sentiment that strongly emphasizes the truth about to be said in this case, another famous I am statement. Jesus said, I am the door of the sheep. Tending sheep required securing the flock at night from predators. A temporary sheepfold would use either a natural formation that had only one entrance, such as a cave or narrow ravine, or be constructed by the shepherd using branches topped with thorns in a lean-to construction to build a pen with only one entrance. The shepherd would either build a movable lattice-branch door, or station himself blocking the entrance. Access to the sheep without the shepherd knowing would be impossible. Thus, Jesus being the door of the sheep presents a powerful picture of ultimate protection, like a shepherd for his sheep. All who came before Me sounds universal, but the topic is false shepherds. Those not behaving according to the selflessness of Jesus and in actual communion with God are thieves and robbers. The good news is that genuine sheep following the voice of the true Shepherd, like His own disciples, didn t listen to them. [Verses 9 10] Jesus reiterated the imagery, I am the door. He then played on the flexible meaning of the verb saved. Within the illustration itself of shepherd/sheep, it means secure and protected, preserved from harm or damage. Thus, the sheep would come in to the sheepfold in the evening to be protected by the shepherd throughout the dangerous night. The next morning, the sheep would go out and find pasture, perfectly safe. Given John s penchant for double meaning, this protection probably points to the deeper reality of the salvation Jesus provides in eternal life. The occupation of a thief is to steal and to kill and to destroy. Unfortunately, some religious leaders in Israel were thieves. We already know Jewish leaders intended to kill Jesus (see 7:1). They thereby intended to destroy His mission and to steal His sheep. Jesus, however, came to bring not just life, but life in abundance. He will protect His sheep. They will go out and find pasture even now. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 41

6 10 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes John 10: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired man and doesn t care about the sheep. DO: Direct group members to complete the activity The Good Shepherd on page 33 of the PSG. If time permits, ask volunteers to share what they discovered in the psalm. Read Psalm 23 (provided on page 33 of the PSG). In the space below, record what the psalm teaches about God s character and care for His people. READ: John 10:11-13 on page 31 of the PSG. ALTERNATE QUESTION: When have you felt protected by Jesus? DISCUSS: Question #3 on page 34 of the PSG: What do these I am statements teach us about Jesus nature and character? Note: This question can refer to verses 7-10 as well as What can we learn about Jesus from His claim to be both the door of the sheep and the good shepherd? RECAP: Call attention to the second-to-last paragraph on page 34 of the PSG: Jesus condemnation extends to any person even a simple church member who puts religious traditions and preferences ahead of helping people find their way to Him. It s easy to lose spiritual focus and think the church exists to meet our needs. It s dangerous to think our ways of doing things are the only acceptable choices, and our preferences are best for everyone. TRANSITION: As we conclude with verses and 27-30, we ll find Jesus final thoughts about His role as our Good Shepherd. 42 Session 3

7 THE POINT Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. John 10:11-13 [Verse 11] Here, Jesus gave His illustration a further application. Jesus said He was much more than a mere door of a sheep pen. Whereas some religious leaders were thieves and robbers (10:7), Jesus, in stark contrast, is the good shepherd. Thieves and robbers sought personal gain at the expense of the sheep and their security. A good shepherd, on the other hand, was prepared to experience personal loss for the benefit and protection of the sheep. Jesus reminded His hearers that The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This role is the most dramatic a shepherd can play. The situation envisioned was one of mortal danger, both for the sheep and for the shepherd. In the face of grave danger, the shepherd put himself directly between the threat and his sheep. When David sought to represent God and Israel before the giant Goliath, he reminded King Saul of this role David himself had played as shepherd to his father s sheep confronting lions and bears (see 1 Sam. 17:34-36). Such experience, common to life in ancient Israel, easily lent itself to describing Christ as a shepherd to God s people. [Verses 12-13] Sometimes the one who tended the flock was not the owner of the sheep or a member of the owner s family. They were just hired guns, more likely to run from danger than confront it. The hired man, Jesus explained, lacked proper motivation. He had no vested interest in the sheep, since he doesn t own the sheep. It was just a job to him. So, the hired man simply runs away, and the wolf snatches and scatters the flock. If the door was breached, the sheep were left defenseless and at the mercy of a merciless adversary. Jesus asserted such a hired man doesn t care about the sheep. For all their protest about taking care of the people by insisting they strictly follow the priestly requirements of the law of Moses and in trying to eliminate sinners from the congregation of Israel, the Pharisees really did not care about the sheep they supposedly were tending. Quick to condemn, slow to forgive, rarely redemptive, the Pharisees in a previous setting were pictured as wolves threatening the flock (see Matt. 7:15), or, as in this setting, hired men who would rather see the flock destroyed than imperil their own skin. The shepherd did care for the sheep. He named them, knew each one by name, tended to their wounds, often sang to them to calm and reassure them in situations likely to create anxiety for the sheep, and made it a point to seek out and retrieve any sheep that slipped from his watchful eye. The sheep were more than a job to the true shepherd. John s point is clear Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave His life because He cares for us. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 43

8 15 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes John 10:14-15, I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father s hand. 30 The Father and I are one. READ: John 10:14-15,27-30 on page 31 of the PSG. DISCUSS: Question #4 on page 35 of the PSG: What makes Christians question their security in Christ? Note: If helpful, explain that security in Christ refers to people being secure in their salvation. So, what makes some Christians worry about potentially losing their salvation? RECAP: Summarize the wedding ring object lesson detailed in the second and third paragraphs on page 35 of the PSG. Then call attention to the final paragraph on page 35: ALTERNATE QUESTION: How can we better learn to distinguish Jesus voice from all others? That illustration isn t perfect, but it has stuck with me over the years. We are far more secure than that wedding ring. Once you establish a relationship with Jesus through faith, you belong to Him completely and permanently. No attack can defeat you, no sin can disqualify you, and no person can steal you away from Christ (see Rom. 8:31-39). DISCUSS: Question #5 on page 35 of the PSG: What s our role in accessing and benefiting from Jesus protection? GUIDE: Refer back to The Point of this session: Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. As time permits, encourage volunteers to share any final thoughts or questions. 44 Session 3

9 THE POINT Jesus is the only One who offers us ultimate protection. John 10:14-15,27-30 [Verse 14] Jesus repeated Himself for emphasis, I am the good shepherd. In doing so, He added a new dimension to what that goodness entails. I know My own sheep, He said. This knowledge goes beyond intellectual propositions. This knowledge is personal. Note carefully that Jesus said My own sheep (emphasis added). Jesus knows His own sheep every single one. We belong to Him. [Verse 15] Further, they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. Jesus has brought the beauty of His own communion with the heavenly Father down to earth. He shared this communion with His own disciples, teaching them how to walk in this fellowship and to live out their own lives from within this relationship. A communion that deep and that enriching is laying down a life: I lay down My life for the sheep. For the second time in only a few verses we find this theme of laying down a life (see 10:11). John had a laser focus on the reality that all of Jesus life and mission culminated in the cross. [Verse 27] John 10:27-30 shifts context. John 10:22 says, Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. The festival also is known as Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights. It s not found in the law of Moses, but arose out of the history of the Maccabean revolt centuries before Christ. During this festival, Jesus was again teaching in the temple complex. Jewish leaders tried to provoke a confrontation with Him, but Jesus would not take the bait. He had already performed great signs among them. The demand for another one had nothing to do with genuine seeking. Instead, their unbelief revealed they were not Jesus sheep (10:22-26). In contrast to these unbelieving Jewish leaders, My sheep hear My voice, Jesus insisted. Jesus knows them, and they follow Me. Those confronting Him did not really care to follow Him. Eternal life was not found in the temple ritual. Instead, eternal life was (and is) found on the altar of Jesus own life that He would sacrifice (see 10:17-18). [Verses 28-30] Jesus self-sacrifice is why He could promise, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! Not even these deceiving teachers of Israel confronting Him could snatch them out of My hand. The security of the believer is due to the power of the Father: My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. The security of the believer is in God, not the believer. The steps of a believer may stumble along the way, but the destination never is in doubt: No one is able to snatch them out of the Father s hand. This word of eternal security for eternal life can be believed because The Father and I are one. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 45

10 5 minutes LIVE IT OUT Notes GUIDE: Direct group members to page 36 of the PSG. Encourage them to consider the following practical responses to Jesus offer of protection: > > Identify your fears. Be especially aware this week of circumstances that cause you to experience fear or concern. Record those moments in a journal or list, and use them as a starting point for prayer. > > Study Christ. Read more about the relationship between Jesus and the Father. See page 61 of the PSG for a short description of what we know about God, and invest time in reading the Scriptures provided. > > Share what you ve learned. Be intentional about sharing how Jesus has calmed your fears with someone who needs to hear it this week. Pray that God would provide opportunities and conversations that open the door for you to share what you ve learned. Wrap It Up TRANSITION: Read or restate the Conclusion from page 36 of the PSG: When fear arises, remember your security is in Jesus. He and the Father have you in a double-fisted handful of protective custody. Nothing can pluck you from Their hands! PRAY: Conclude by expressing your intention to live without fear the protection Jesus has offered. Ask for courage and wisdom in sharing the good news of Jesus ultimate protection with others. 46 Session 3

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