Bible Passage: John 10:1-10; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
John 10:1 'Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger's voice.'
6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, 'Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (Jn. 10:1-10 NIV)
1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
24 For, 'All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures for ever.' And this is the word that was preached to you.
2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Pet. 1:22-2:3 NIV)
Key OT/NT passages on how this passage fits within the Bible story as a whole
The word for ‘church’ essentially means a gathering or assembly – in Acts 19 the word ‘ekklesia’ refers equally well to a riot or a courtcase. In Bible terms, though, it means people gathered to God by his word. In that regard, Adam and Eve represent a proto-church as they walk with God in the garden. Following the Fall, Adam and Eve are scattered East of Eden. Beginning with Abraham in Genesis 12, God promises to regather a people to himself (Gen 12, 15). This finds expression as God’s people are assembled at Sinai. It is here that the people are gathered as Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God (Exodus 19:1-6 – described by Stephen as an assembly, or ‘church’, in Acts 7:38). This gathering of God’s people was marked by God’s presence, his words of promise and direction, and the establishment of God’s people as his own possession.
Jesus, in choosing 12 disciples, is re-establishing the people of God. By faith in his words, they become God’s new kingdom people, having come to him (Heb 12:18-24), and being seated with him (Eph 2:6). This New Testament assembly or church is centred on Jesus as its head (Eph 4:15), led by his voice (John 10:3-5), indwelt by the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), serving one another (Gal 5:13), united by him (Phil 1:27), and awaiting the day of Christ’s return (Rev 22:17).
Brief note on key themes of series
The series aims to build our understanding of the church, and our commitment to it, by exploring the doctrine of the church from four angles. The church centred on Christ, belonging to and loved by him. The church focussed on the future, awaiting the final day and inviting others to the banquet. The church working as one, united in Christ and showing mutual grace. And the church is gathered around God’s word, informed by and addressed by the true God through his living word.
Structure of this week’s sermon
As God’s Church…
1) We are people listening to Jesus’ voice (John 10:1-39)
In John 10, Jesus shows that he is fulfilling God’s role in Ezekiel 34 – he is the good shepherd who can and will save his sheep. Look how those sheep are described, though. They are defined by their relationship with Jesus’ voice. The church is made up of people who have come to recognise Jesus’ voice (v.4), who have been called by name by him (v.3), who are led by his voice (vv.3, 27), who are united with others by his voice (16), and who are given eternal life through his voice (vv.27-28).
That’s no great surprise, because God’s people have always been gathered around the things that God says. From the garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17), to Sinai (Exodus 19), to life in the land (Deut 17:18-20), to the failure of the exile (2 Kings 4:16-17), everything centres around the word of God.
Jesus is relating to his New Testament people in just the same way that the God related to his people in the Old – by speaking. There’s a beautiful simplicity to that. The word of God is always at the centre.
2) We are people hungry for God’s word (1 Peter 1:17-2:3)
In 1 Peter, God’s people are hungry for the word of God – the pure spiritual milk of 2:2-3. In fact, they’re to crave it with the intensity of a baby looking for their bottle.
That’s no great surprise, because they’ve been saved by that same living and enduring word of God (1:23-25). What’s more, they have begun being transformed by it (1:22, 2:1) – they have tasted that the Lord is good (2:3). By it they will grow up in their salvation.
Suggestions for any tricky bits?
Are we certain that the milk is the milk of the word?
The word for ‘spiritual’ is the Greek word ‘logikon’, which can equally mean ‘of the word’. Hebrews 5:12 has the same idea too.
Summary of the Bible’s main point on this topic
God’s people long for the word of God, by which Jesus gathers his church
Aim/purpose for original audience
Long for the word of God, by which Jesus gathers his church
Aim/purpose for us today
Long for the word of God, by which Jesus gathers his church
Key area of application
How do you feel when you are denied access to the word of God? Hangry? Or if you are fed weak milk at church? God’s plan is that the teaching of the word remains at the centre of his church’s like – anything else should leave us dissatisfied.