2919. “Whose Goodness Never Fails.”

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“Whose Goodness Never Fails.”

No. 2919-51:37. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, October 1, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, January 19, 1905.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. {Joh 10:11}

1. These words were spoken when our Lord was among his own people. Perhaps as you hear them there comes a whisper in your soul, “I wonder whether that is true now! If the Lord Jesus in his flesh were here at this moment, in our midst, and if he said, ‘I am the good shepherd,’ we might find it easy to believe it; but he has gone. What assurance do we have that it is the same now, when he is no longer among us?” I answer, “Dear brethren, we know it is true because Jesus Christ is ‘the same yesterday, today, and for ever’; that in itself would be enough, but we have the added assurance that in this place he meant to say it was so, for, if you notice, he was evidently looking to the future when he said, ‘I am,’ since he added, ‘the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep,’ when as yet he had not done it. There was an interval between the time when he said these words and the laying down of his life on the cross. As he went on further in his discourse and said, ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold: I must bring them also, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd,’ he was looking to the future you see. He spoke of himself, I was almost going to say, in momentary unconsciousness of his deity, without meaning, perhaps, to speak as God he says, ‘I am’; using the very name of Jehovah and speaking of the future as though it were present. It was as if he had said, ‘I am the good shepherd, and I am going to gather in the wandering people who, as yet, are not in my flock’; so that, evidently, the meaning and force of the ‘I am’ runs right on until he has gathered in all the other sheep that were not, when he spoke the word, included in his fold. Yes, he intends you to understand that he is speaking the same words as much to you, brothers and sisters, as to Peter and James and John. He is saying to you, ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.’ ”

2. First, let us look at our great Master’s claim, “I am the good shepherd.” Then we shall observe the proof for it. That, though it had not been completed when he uttered these words at the first, is complete now — “He gives his life for the sheep.” When we have talked briefly on these two points, let us try and chew the cud, and see if there is not something to be found here of very practical use for us. On these communion nights the time is very short: therefore I must try to speak without many words on any one point.

3. I. First, then, I say, let us look at CHRIST’S CLAIM. “I am the good shepherd.” He intends for us to understand three things; it is as if he said, “I am a shepherd,” and then “I am a good shepherd,” and, last of all, “I am the good shepherd” — that good shepherd who is spoken of in the Old Testament.

4. “I am a shepherd,” he says, first; that is to say, he stands in the same relationship to his people as a shepherd does to his flock. He owns his people: every one of them belongs to him. He prizes them because they are his — places a value on every one of them. He takes care of them, remembering them both night and day. His heart is never off them; and because of his inward love there is an outward goodness which he constantly extends to them. He protects them from the wolf: he guards them from a thousand dangers: he sees to the supply of all their needs. He guides them in the right way: he brings them back when they wander: he strengthens them when they are weak: he carries them when they are too feeble to go. He sees that they are a weak flock, and a silly flock, and a wandering flock: therefore he is their strength, their wisdom, their righteousness, their all. No creature, perhaps, has more diseases than a sheep, except a man. No creature is more dependent on another and higher creature than a sheep is, for it seems only half itself until it is under the care of man. And none of us, brethren, can be said to be less dependent than the sheep are, for we are not true men until we get near to Christ. We are without life and without strength, until we find life and strength in him. As a sheep would be sure to wander, and, wandering, would be very likely to wander into a desert — would be sure not to better itself — would be certain in the end to come to naught — so it is with us. Without him who is our Shepherd we would wander farther and farther into misery and sin, and our ruin would be certain. We are more dependent on Christ than sheep are on the shepherd. You see, then, why Christ says, “I am a shepherd.” Towards his own people whom he has redeemed with precious blood he stands in the position of a proprietor, a leader and guide, a father, a King, all of which may be condensed into this one word — a Shepherd.

5. But he is not only a Shepherd, he is a good shepherd, for what he does he does well. He never neglects his flock; not one ever perished because he forgot it. Since he never forgets, not even one ever perished at all. He is a good shepherd, because all that ought to be done — all that can be done — all that may be wished to be done for his sheep — he does. Never did a shepherd throw his heart so intensely into his calling as Christ throws his heart and soul into the sacred calling of the shepherd of Israel. He gives for his people all that he has, yes, he gives himself. His power is their defence: he lifts up his hand and says, “I give to my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” His wisdom is their guidance: his love is their perpetual shield: his infinity is their storehouse: his omniscience is their protection. You are human and divine, oh Christ, in your person, but the human and the divine are both alike for your people. You have a thousand offices, but you exercise them all on the behalf of your own flock. Oh, Christ is a good shepherd indeed; he is skilled as well as zealous in the art of shepherdry. He knows all the diseases of the flock, for he himself has felt all their griefs and woes. He has studied human nature — oh, how long! He knows it by a personal experience, and therefore knows it in such a way as it can be known only by himself. He is a good shepherd. Was there ever imagined one who could be like him?

6. But then he says, “I am the good shepherd”; emphasis is to be laid on the fact that he is supreme and sufficient for all the needs of his people. There have been other shepherds appointed by him who have, in their measure, been good; but he is the shepherd — the great shepherd of the sheep. It is he of whom we read that when the chief shepherd shall appear then we shall also appear with him in glory. None of us are the shepherd. We have to take our little share of the work beneath his eye, and do it for his sake, though never to our own satisfaction. It will be a joy for us, indeed, if he shall be satisfied with us, and say, “Well done.” But all the under-shepherds in the world put together are poor things compared with the head shepherd of the sheep. He is the good shepherd of the sheep — preeminently good — good beyond all who are good. The shepherd of the shepherds, as well as the shepherd of the sheep. Good, because the whole company of the faithful, if they have any good in themselves, received it from him. “I am the good shepherd.”

7. Now that being the meaning of the words let us just see Christ’s claim in this chapter. Observe how he works it out. He says, if you notice the verse that comes before the text, “The thief only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” See, then, he is our good shepherd because he gives life to his sheep. No shepherd can say about his flock what Christ says about his. “I have given all these sheep of mine the life that they have.” What a good shepherd must he be! “They were dead: dead as the dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision,” he says, “but I have given them life.” Listen to this, you who are the sheep of his pasture: you have spiritual life, but he gave it to you. Lift up your eyes and bless him that your heart ever came to know what repentance is, and what faith is, and what prayer is, and what praise is, for now that you live for God you see that it was he who quickened you. You owe everything to your shepherd. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. It is he who made us, he who made us anew, and not we ourselves. Do you notice how he adds, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” So, beloved, if you now feel cold and dead, I ask you not to look at yourself, or at the pasture in which you are at the moment, or at the under-shepherd who seeks to care for you, but at him, the chief and choice Shepherd. He gave you life at first and he will give you more of it, so that you may have it abundantly. If there is any one of you whose heart is leaping for joy because the love of God is shed abroad within you by the Holy Spirit — brother, you have received all that from him. Bless him for it. If, on the other hand, another one is mourning because he feels the life within him to be so feeble — dear friend, you may have it strengthened by him who gave it at the first. All the praise and glory must be for your good shepherd, who is indeed good because the very life of his flock is his gift, and their increase in life is accomplished by his sovereign power. Oh, how good you are, dear Lord, Author and Source of our very being!

8. Our Lord shows us his good shepherdry further on, when he says, “He who is a hireling and not the shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches them and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees because he is a hireling, and does not care for the sheep.” So see, secondly, the good shepherd is good because he cares for the life which he himself has bestowed. First he gives it; and then he protects it. The wolf is always around the fold. When we do not hear him howling, yet we know that he is seeking to find an entrance somewhere. When he gets in, it is said that he comes to kill and to destroy; and what can poor sheep do against a wolf if the shepherd is away? And what would you and I do against Satan in the world and in the temptations of the flesh, if Christ were away? We should soon fall prey to the wicked adversary. But our good Master cares for us.

9. You know that precious word, “I, the Lord, do keep it; I will water it every moment. Lest anyone harms it, I will keep it night and day.” Though the simile is changed the meaning is the same. Our Saviour — our blessed shepherd — by night, though the frost is on him, watches his flock; and by day, though the sun beats on him with its fervent heat, he still watches. His very life seemed to be nothing to him in comparison with the protection of his people. Oh, brethren, what battles our shepherd has had with the wolf for us! I need not go into the story of our glorious David’s prowess, even for the little lambs of his flock. But he may truly say to his Father, “Your servant slew both the lion and the bear” because they came and “took the lamb out of the flock.” Jesus takes even the feeblest from between the teeth of the foe, and will not allow one to perish, because he cares for us. You know the meaning of caring for us, do you not? Well, I do not think that I can explain it except by asking you to think of what it is to care for your children. That is how the Lord Jesus cares for you. As for the children, poor little dears, they cannot take care of themselves; nor can you, though you try hard to do it; but just as your little children leave their cares with you, and you care for them, so you may leave your cares with your Shepherd. It is a very comprehensive thought. Your care springs out of your love, and that love makes you think of the welfare of your family. But your care is not all thinking; you are actively engaged for them too, and before they even know their needs you supply them. In fact, they hardly know they have any needs because you never leave them long enough unsupplied to let them discover that they need anything. You meet all their needs by caring for them. Even so Jesus the good shepherd cares for his people. He gives them life, and increases that life, and cares for that life, and protects it from all harm.

10. But just read on, and you will see still further what a good shepherd he is. “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known by mine. Just as the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” That is to say, “As much as I and my Father know each other, so I and my people know each other.” He is the good shepherd because he lives among his sheep, he treats them as his children and so cares for them that he actually has communion with them. Sheep understand a good deal of what the shepherd says. There is a shepherd’s language which you and I do not understand, but the sheep do. They know his whistle: they know his frown: they know the motion of his hand. He has a language which he speaks to them. When Jesus Christ says, “I know my sheep,” it means not only that he knows who are his and who are not, but that he knows all about each one. He knows your trouble at this instant, dear friend, — your infirmity, your sin, your sorrow. He knows you a great deal better than you know yourself; and he sums you up, and understands you much better than your dearest friend. He never misunderstands you, — he knows you so thoroughly. Oh, it is a wonderful word that — one of those great depths into which I drop my plumb-line but cannot find the bottom — “I know my sheep.” It means that he owns them. He so knows them that, in the presence of God and of the holy angels, he will say, “Yes, that is my sheep.” What, that one with the torn wool? That one with the lame foot? That one with a split ear? There is not much beauty in any of them. Yet the shepherd will not be ashamed of even the least. “It is mine,” he says, “and though it is not beautiful to anyone else, it is beautiful to me, for I bought it with my blood, and I have fought the lion on its behalf, and therefore it is very dear to my soul.” He knows his sheep. A man can scarcely enter into the feeling of a sheep, can he? And yet, Jesus Christ, though he is God, makes a stoop of condescension and enters into the feeling of the poorest and the most ignorant — indeed, and the most sinful — of all his children. He becomes bone of their bone, his union with them is so intimate.

11. But then he says, “I am known by mine.” Now we might think that a sheep cannot know much about the shepherd, but they do. They get to love him. Among the eastern flocks there are, often, sheep that are particularly attached to the shepherd. They always follow at his heels, they never seem to care so much for the pasture as they do for him, they are always first, and, I may add, generally fattest, for those who keep nearest to him are pretty sure to get the sweetest bits of grass. And so, in the church of God there are some who keep near the shepherd, and who know him well. And all his people know something about him. What a condescension this is — that the good shepherd comes and lives among his people so that he not merely knows them, but teaches them to know him. Blessed be his name for this! Try whether you cannot drink in the glorious meaning of this deep mystery.

12. But yet further, — and to close this point, — our Lord is a good shepherd because he gathers all his sheep. Read the sixteenth verse, “and I have other sheep who are not in this fold: I must also bring them, and they shall hear my voice: and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” While his eye was on the Jews his heart was on the Gentiles too. He is a shepherd who is not content with the ninety-nine, but when he counts the flock over and knows there ought to be a hundred, his heart begins to care for the lost one, and he folds the ninety-nine, and lets them rest; but, as for himself, he goes away on the mountain’s bleak side, so that he may find the lost one. Ah, my Lord, you are a good shepherd, indeed — a much better shepherd than any among your church — or your workers — are. We often forget the wandering one. We get a church together; perhaps the building is full; and we have too little missionary enterprise to look after the masses who are in ignorance. We see England bathed in the light of the gospel, and feel very little zeal for sending the Word to the distant heathen lands. It ought not to be so. It is not so with Christ, for if he has an elect one, no matter where he may be, he knows him, and his eye is on him, and he must bring him in. I wonder whether there is someone here tonight whom he must bring in. You did not think when you came in to the Tabernacle that Christ was seeking you, but, perhaps, my Lord Jesus has bought you with his precious blood, and his Father gave you to him from before the foundation of the world, and perhaps he brought you here so that you may know this, and come to him tonight. Thus says the Lord, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Come, poor wanderer: come to the Good Shepherd’s feet, and lay yourself down all helpless and forlorn; he will put you on his shoulders, and carry you back rejoicing. Is he not a good shepherd, giving life, sustaining life, defending life, knowing life, teaching life to know him, and going after poor wanderers to bring them to himself? That is Christ’s claim.

13. II. Now I can say only very little, in the second place, about CHRIST’S PROOF OF HIS CLAIM, for I have already proved it.

14. “I am the good shepherd,” he says. “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” Christ has given his life for us many times over. If I read the text without referring it to the one act of his death it seems to me to be very full of meaning. In heaven he gave his life for them. He had a life in heaven, such as we may guess at from a distance, but can never fully understand. He dwelt as God inhabiting the praises of eternity; but you know he gave up that life for us. He laid aside

          that most divine array,
    And wrapt his Godhead in a veil
    Of our inferior clay.

To leave the harps and hymns of heaven for the sorrows and sins of earth was giving up his life for his sheep.

15. When he was here, you know, while he lived on earth he gave his life for the sheep, for every moment of that life was spent for them. There was a connection between his private life in the carpenter’s shop and their salvation — an intimate connection; but in the public life what did he strain all his powers except for this — that he might seek and save those who were lost? Those prayers on the cold mountain side at night were for his people! Those earnest pleadings in the midst of the crowd by day were for his people! The weary journeys were for them! The hunger and the thirst were for them! The homelessness which forbade him to have a place where to lay his head was for them! He gave his life up for them as long as he was here.

16. Then one dark night he gave his life for his sheep in the sense, I do not doubt, intended here. On that dread night — you know it — that night to be remembered, for it was the night of God’s passover, the shepherd went around his flock, and the sheep were sleeping; but there came the wolf; and the shepherd knew his snarl. The sheep were all startled at the howling and were scattered; they forsook the shepherd and fled. That night he had enough to do to meet the wolf, and he stood at the fold to watch the sheep, and let them all go in safety; and then he confronted the grim monster who leaped into the fold thirsty for the blood of the sheep, but the shepherd caught him on his breast, and then came a desperate struggle between the two. The shepherd bled and sweat, bled and sweat, and bled again. Great drops of blood fell to the ground, but he held the monster fast and firm. Our great shepherd was wounded in his head, in his shoulders, in his hand, in his feet, and one awful fang tore open his side, but he held the wolf — held him until he had slain him. Then, dashing down his body to the ground and putting his foot on him, he shouted, “It is finished”; but in the same moment the great shepherd fell. In slaying our foe he himself had been slain; but scarcely had the shepherd touched the earth than, as if reanimated, he sprang up again, and said, “I lay down my life so that I might take it up again; therefore my Father loves me because I lay down my life for the sheep.” You know that story and do not need that I tell it to you at any length. But, oh, love him! Love him! Kiss the wounds. Worship this blessed shepherd who has conquered your foe and delivered you from the jaw of the lion, and from the paw of the bear, and set you safely for ever in his fold. “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”

17. He is still giving his life. The life that is in the man Christ Jesus he is always giving for us. It is for us he lives, and because he lives we also live. He lives to plead for us. He lives to represent us in heaven. He lives to rule providence for us. He lives to prepare our mansions for us, where we are going. He lives that he may come again and receive us to himself, that where he is we may also be there. Truly the good shepherd has proved his claim: “He gives his life for the sheep.”

18. III. Now let, us finish by trying to GET SOME JUICE OUT OF THESE THINGS, as I hope indeed that we have done as we have gone along.

19. First, dear friends, if the good shepherd gives life, let us try and get life abundantly. Sometimes I wish I could stop preaching any sermons, and do as I have seen the sergeant do when he is drilling a squad of men. He only says a word, “First position,” and they take up the position. “Second position,” and they take up that position. He does not have a lot of eloquent talk, but he just tells them what to do. Now then, try if you can take up your position. More life is to be had. Breathe the prayer, “Good shepherd, you have given me life: give it to me more abundantly. May I know you more, love you more, trust you more, serve you more, and be more like you. Quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.”

20. That will do: go on. Take another position. If he is the good shepherd, let us feel like sheep who have a good shepherd. How do they feel? I do not think I know a sight that is more peaceful and happy than that of flocks in the evening when they have been gathered into a good pasture, or are settled among some prolific root crop. They have eaten as much as they can, and they lie down on the grass to rest. No care enters their woolly heads. They have nothing to fret about. They might have, if they could worry about the future as some of us do. Will there be turnips enough tomorrow? When there is dry weather, will there be grass enough? There is that butcher: when will he come? If they could understand me, I could suggest no end of cares and doubts and fears to sheep; but it does not enter into their constitution. I wish it did not enter into yours and mine. The shepherd cares for the sheep. Dear brother, dear sister, will Jesus Christ care for you? I have heard of men who kept sheep and cattle who have let them starve. You do not often hear of such things, for self-interest leads men to cherish their sheep; but I never heard of Christ neglecting any part of his flock. Come, then, let us feel quite quiet in his care. May the Lord help us to be so! Away with your doubts and fears and cares. There, begone, begone, all of it. What is the use of it? It never gave me any pasture. Oh care and anxiety and fretfulness, you never did feed me, nor strengthen me, nor help me. You have worried me and weakened me, but you have done nothing else. Begone! As for us, brethren, if Christ is our shepherd, let us begin to say, “I shall not lack, he makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters: he restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff they comfort me.” That is a happy religion, is it not? But it is a very important thing that all Christians should be happy. The enjoyments of believers lie very near their holiness. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Now, sheep, do not begin behaving like dogs, but try and be such sheep as you ought to be with such a shepherd.

21. Next, let us be his own. Jesus Christ says of the hireling, “who does not own the sheep, for he leaves the sheep,” and in that he implies that when he tends the sheep that they are his own. Come, then, let us be his own. Brother, sister, have you ever given yourself up completely to Christ — altogether to Christ? I am afraid we sing a great many things that are not true. I have heard you say,

    Yet if I might make some reserve,
       And duty did not call,
    I love my God with zeal so great,
       That I would give him all.

I leave it to your own conscience whether you get anywhere near that — anywhere near it at all. We say that we belong to Christ, and we are not our own, but bought with a price. Do we live as if it were true? Come, let us take up the position now of being altogether Christ’s own sheep. If the sheep could speak it would say, “There is not a fragment of wool on my back that belongs to me: there is no part of me that is my own. I belong to my shepherd, and I am glad to have it so.” You belong to Christ as absolutely as that.

22. The next thought to take up is, let us try to know more about him. He says, “I know my sheep and am known by mine.” Let us then know him better. You know how you come to know a man by getting into his company, by hearing his words, by seeing his actions, by telling him your secret, and letting him tell you his secret. Come and know Christ in this way. Let your head be on his bosom, and your whole self come into communion with his blessed self. Ask for that grace tonight while you are around the table. Say, “Good Master, you know me. Let me know you. Oh, let my fellowship with you be as nearly as possible equal to what you have with your Father, and your Father with you, so that we may be one together.”

23. The next and last is, let us love him more. Did you notice how he says in the seventeenth verse, “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I might take it up again.” Let us make another verse, and say, “Therefore my people love me because I lay down my life.” Jesus did not say that, but let us make it true. Oh, how we ought to love our dear and ever-blessed Lord! Do you feel love stirring in your heart? Perhaps you say, “I wish I felt it more.” I am glad you say that. I think that is often as far as we can get. I do not, I cannot love you, oh Lord, as I ought, —

    Yet I love thee and adore —
    Oh for grace to love thee more!

I am persuaded that the man who loves Christ best is just the man who is most discontented with his own love. When a man lives entirely for Christ he is the very man who still looks for something yet beyond, and desires to serve Christ even better. Now, indulge your love tonight. Sit still and meditate on his love — enjoy his love. Say to yourself —

    I am so glad that Jesus loves me!
          Even me!

And then add, “I am so glad that I can say that I love him. He knows all things, and he knows that I love him.” Just let those two seas meet. “Seas?” did I say. I must not say that. Let the little brooklet of your love for him flow into the mighty ocean of his love for you, and so let them blend and join. I have seen the Thames flowing on in its majestic course toward the sea, and every here and there a little rill drops into view for a while, but the meadows stretch between. The mighty river and the brooklet go side by side, but as they flow on, at last they melt into one. So let my poor soul’s love tonight flow in the same course with the great love of Jesus, until at last it melts into his and life becomes, “Not I,” but “Christ in me”; and my soul is content for ever.

24. Now I am finished, but I hope the Lord Jesus is not finished. We are going to hold the communion service, and there are many of you who are going away, and going away rightly, too, because you could not come to the table of the Lord without being hypocrites. You know that you do not love Jesus, and have not trusted in him. As you go away I pray the good shepherd to go after you, and before you reach your houses tonight I do pray that he may get such a grip on you, with that strong but tender hand of his, that he may never let you go until he brings you also into his fold, if not here, yet somewhere else; for I am sure that in this house he has other sheep which are not yet in his fold, whom also he must bring so that there may be one flock and one shepherd. May he bring you in tonight, for his mercy’s sake. Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 23 Isa 40:9-11 Eze 34:11-25}

We shall view Christ in the office of a shepherd and the first passage we read sets before us faith proving Christ in that office — accepting him, trusting him, following him.

23:1-2. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.

Can you say that for yourself, dear friend? There is the sweetness of it. The words in themselves are noble, but it is the practical acquaintance with their meaning which is the real honey of life. If you can use these words, and lay the emphasis on the personal pronoun, you are one of the happiest outside of heaven.

3-6. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

There is the believer experiencing Christ in that gracious office as the shepherd of his people. Now let us see how our glorious Shepherd is presented in prophecy. In Isaiah we read: —

40:9-11. Oh Zion that bring good news, get up into the high mountain; oh Jerusalem, that brings good news, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those who are with young.

This office of Christ makes glad the hearts of those who have to preach it. To lift up our voice and to proclaim to others the good news is grateful service. It is the joy of the church that Jesus, the Lord God Almighty, is strong for the defence of his people, and at the same time tender towards their infirmities. Let us rejoice and be glad in him.

Now let us hear what our Shepherd says by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel. After he has been complaining about the hireling shepherds — the false ones who sought the fleece and not the flock, who did not feed the sheep nor care for them, nor had any tenderness towards them; he goes on to show what he will do for his own.

34:11, 12. For thus says the Lord God: “Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. Just as a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so I will seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

What a glorious promise! Christ’s elect run here and there, in the darkness of their ignorance, into sin of every kind, but he will find every one of them. There is no jungle so thick that Christ will not track his own through it, there are no bogs of sin so dangerous that Christ will not traverse them and find every lamb of his flock. And if through your backslidings, oh people of God, you have wandered far from him, yet he perceives you with that eye which sees in the dark as well us in the light; and he will follow after you and bring you back. Blessed be his name!

13-15. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them on the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel: they shall lie there in a good fold, and they shall feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down,” says the Lord God.

A beautiful image of that peace of mind, that complete repose that perfect contentment, that sweet satisfaction, that divine fulness, which is the work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of believers when they are gathered to Christ.

16. “I will seek what was lost, and bring again what was driven away and will bind up what was broken, and will strengthen what was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

It is a sweet thing, then, to be one of the needy ones of the flock because you see all the promises run that way, but, if we feel ourselves to be very strong and great, we are in a dangerous state, for then there is no promise for us. The only word concerning us is — “I will destroy the fat and the strong.”

17, 18. And as for you, oh my flock,” thus says the Lord God; “Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between the rams and the he-goats. Does it seem a little thing for you to have eaten up the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? and to have drunk from the deep waters, but you must foul the rest with your feet?

Truly there are some proud Christians who not only will not receive the gospel themselves, but actually find fault with it, insinuate doubts into the minds of others, and prevent the simple-minded people of God feeding on the pasture which the Lord provides for them. See one of the evils of being great and strong in your own esteem; you are pretty sure then to despise the very pasture which was quite good enough for you when you were weaker and feebler. That very truth of Jesus Christ which was marrow and fatness to you, when you were hungry, comes to be despised as the manna was by the children of Israel when they called it “light bread,” there is no flavour in it that you should desire it. Blessed blessed hunger that makes the word of God to be always sweet.

19-25. And as for my flock, they eat what you have trodden with your feet and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.” Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them; “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and between the lean sheep. Because you have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, until you have scattered them abroad; therefore I will save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.”

What perfect assurance for Christ’s flock when, in the very place where the wolf once ranged, they shall be able to lie down and sleep in perfect safety. Happy people, with all their weakness, who have divine strength to be their protection. Oh my soul, seek no other strength than this, but learn the apostle’s logic and his true Christian philosophy so that, like him, trusting in the Mighty Shepherd, you will be able to say “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

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Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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