(Article for publication week of 11-21- AD 2012)
“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).
The reader is invited and encouraged to read the entire tenth chapter of John’s gospel. In this chapter our Lord declares Himself as the Good Shepherd of His sheep. In our text today the Great Shepherd says that He would lay down His life for His sheep.
No one could ever be saved apart from the death of Christ. We were under the sentence of death because of our sins. “The wages of sin is death,” we read in Romans 6:23. God is determined to punish sinners, and death is the only proper punishment for rebellion against God (which is what sin is). Physical and corporeal death is the wages of sin, and ultimately the second death in the lake of fire, that is eternal hell. Christ laid down His life that we would be saved from so great a death and have eternal life.
Now, Christ is the Only Person in God’s universe Who could have died for His sheep. Our text, and verse 18 show Christ to be properly God. The knowledge of the Father and the Son speaks of their relationship and coequality from all eternity. In verse 18, Christ declares something that no ordinary man ever could- that is He has power to lay down His life, and to take it again. This is because He is the God-Man (I Timothy 2:5). This also tells us that Christ died to make an atonement for sin, not just as a martyr for a good cause.
First consider that Christ died a substitutionary death. He died for His sheep. That is He died in their “room and stead” as has been oft repeated down through the history of the Church. Never forget that God will punish the sinner, or He will punish the sinners Substitute. Christ acted as a substitute for His sheep. That is, He eternally assumed all our obligations including our obligation to be punished for our sins. God transferred our guilt to the Shepherd of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ, and punished Him instead of us.
Next, please note well, that this text plainly shows that Christ made a definite atonement for His people. That is He died for His sheep particularly. This text says that Christ actually and definitely and really made an atonement for His elect people, whom He calls in our text this week “my sheep.” I want you to see that Christ did not die in vain, but accomplished salvation for all for whom He died.
Poor sinner, your only hope is in the death of Christ Please know that if you are trusting in Christ Alone for your whole and sole righteousness, that you are one of His sheep, and that Christ died for you, and did everything necessary for your salvation. Salvation is not by our works in any sense, but by the work of Christ, exclusively. May the Lord bless His dear sheep to believe this wonderful gospel.