Pastor Daniel Mills, a recent graduate of Tyndale Seminary, began his term as Lead Pastor of Unionville Alliance Church in 2021 after several years of serving as the associate pastor in that local congregation. Previous to his appointment at UAC, he led congregations in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Daniel is passionate about spreading hope and strengthening faith because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is married to Laura and they are expecting their first child in December!
Daniel’s message, continuing with the “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John, is entitled, “The Sacrificial Shepherd who Speaks to Us”.
Thanks, George, for that wonderful welcome. Always nice to be here at Tyndale. And I feel like as in everything in the, in the season of COVID, it feels like I haven't been here in ages. So great to be back here at Tyndale. This past Sunday was the National Day of Prayer for the persecuted church, where many people around the world were remembering their brothers and sisters in various parts of the world that were facing persecution. And so I've titled this message, the sacrificial Shepherd, who speaks to us. primarily because I want to highlight these two qualities of our good shepherd. Sacrifice, and the intimacy of knowing Him and loving Him.
But let me first start off telling, I want to tell you a story of a man named Beshara. Not his real name. But he is in, his story takes place in Central Africa, true story. He grew up in a wealthy, prominent family, who had lots of money, and his father had lots of power. At this point in his story, he's living with his uncle in another African country, and he's working at an internet cafe. While he's there, he meets a Christian worker who's come to that part of Africa to share the gospel, to share Christ with people in a in a in a place where Christ is not well known. He receives a Bible and he takes it home and he starts to read it in the night times. And within the span of about three weeks, he finishes the whole New Testament. And one night, as he was reading the Word of God, he has a visitation from an angel. And the angel tells him to get up and believe in Jesus. And so he does. He believes in Jesus, and he continues to read his Bible. And one day he is caught, reading caught, that he's a Christian, and he's living with his uncle. So his uncle calls his dad and says, you know that Beshara has become a Christian. The dad gives the uncle strict instructions. Kill him. So the uncle puts a silencer on his gun, he's a military man, puts a silencer on his gun, takes Beshara outside, tells him to kneel down, and Beshara picks up the Bible, clings on to it, his uncle puts a gun to his head. Where's the Good Shepherd, In this story? I'll leave it there, I'll come back, don't worry.
Generally, we think of a good shepherd as someone who who protects us, watches over us, cares for us, feeds us, leads us, guides u,s the one who, who's the protector of the sheep. And in John chapter 10, there are there are two main verses that I'd like to highlight that speaks towards Jesus being the good shepherd. And the first one is the Good Shepherd who sacrifices. Now, this is one of the most beautiful aspects of Jesus, and normally you don't connect sacrifice with beauty. But probably the most famous scripture in the Bible is John 3:16., and it speaks about the Father's sacrificial love in sending His Son into this world to die for us. And Jesus follows that example of his Heavenly Father, and says in John 10, verse 11, I am the good shepherd, The Good Shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. It's a beautiful characteristic of the Good Shepherd, of sacrifice. Jesus compares the good shepherd with a hired hand, and says, a hired hand doesn't stay and protect the sheep. But in the face of danger, the hired hand flees away, he runs away, he doesn't stay. The hired hand is just working for the money, whereas the Good Shepherd is personally invested in the sheep. And I think the only similar comparison that I have towards this, is of parents and children, that parents are willing to sacrifice anything for their kids. If their kids get sick, the parents will do whatever it is to help them to get well, and they would wish that they were sick instead of their kids being sick, and they're willing to give up their own dreams so that their children's dreams can be fulfilled and accomplished. They will sacrifice whatever they need to sacrifice, in order so that their children can have a better future. And that's the nature of our good shepherd who sacrifices for us. King David in in the Old Testament, he was known as a shepherd before God brought him to be king. He was a shepherd. And we see him in different circumstances. One time he was facing a lion, another time he was facing a bear, but he put his life on the line to protect the sheep. He was a good shepherd that sacrificed. Even, probably the most famous story of David, is David and Goliath. Facing Goliath, David was willing to put his life on the line and sacrifice to protect the sheep of Israel. And God took him and made him king over all Israel. At all levels, and at all times, we see David as that good shepherd. And one of the most significant psalms that David has written is Psalm 23, and it's known as the shepherd Psalm. It's amazing how the Psalm starts and how the Psalm ends. The Psalm starts with "The Lord is my shepherd." So we are His sheep, right? The psalm ends with, "and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever." So where we start off as sheep, and we end up as sons and daughters in the house of God, how awesome is that? We start off as sheep being guided by our good shepherd, we end up as children in the eternal house of God, with God as our Father. So what happens in between? There's a lot of sacrifice that happens in between. And as we think of Jesus as our good shepherd, it's not only to understand Him as our good shepherd, but it's also to understand how we are to respond to Him being our good shepherd.
What does that growth look like? And I think there's two things I would I would illustrate from this. One, is taking up our cross. In the Gospel of Matthew 16. Jesus says, if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. What does it mean to take up our cross? Do we use it as a bat and beat on other people? Sadly, sometimes, in the history of Christianity, that's been the case, even sometimes now in our culture in our world. But that's not what our good shepherd calls us to be. Our Good Shepherd, who sacrifices for us, calls us to sacrifice as well, by taking up our cross and following Jesus. The cross speaks of death. We die to ourself, we die to our will. We die to what we want, so that we can live for His eternal purposes. Paul says in Romans eight, he says, For your sake, we are killed all the day long, we are like sheep for the slaughter. Oh yes, God calls us to take up our cross and follow our good shepherd. He set the example for us. Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep, and he calls us to do the same.
Back to the story of Beshara. Uncle is there, gun in hand, ready to kill his nephew. Pulls the trigger twice, and Beshara is still alive. He said, he felt a cool hand on his neck, on his back, that protected him from the bullets, but because of the recoil of the gun had hit him and he fell down. As he was getting up, his uncle was shocked. He sees this man getting up, he looks at him point blankly, shoots him again, and doesn't kill him. God protected him. And so the uncle is so upset, what does he do? He goes, and he takes all of Beshara's possessions, he burns them, right, he kicks him out of his house. Beshara loses everything that he has. And he said, that although he lost everything, he was at peace, because he chose to follow Jesus, because it was worth it. On that day, what his family thought, as they were taking away all of his possessions and burning it, rejecting him, kicking him out of his own house, they thought that this would turn him away from Jesus, turn him away from Christianity, it actually propelled him into deeper, more intimate, more loving, committed following of Jesus, regardless of the cost. And that's the paradox of Christianity, that in the face of suffering, and in the face of persecution, in the face of difficulty, that it can actually produce beautiful fruit, and committed followers of Jesus. And that's what happened to Beshara. The Good Shepherd was still guiding him. The Good Shepherd was sacrificing for him, The Good Shepherd was still protecting him. Beshara also had to answer the call to sacrifice.
And I wonder what God is speaking to us as well? Can I encourage you today to listen to the spirit and ask him: What how do I follow the Good Shepherd today? How does my community follow the Good Shepherd today? As he set the example of sacrifice, how do we follow in that same example of sacrifice? Now Beshara, didn't have a home, he didn't have food to eat, some International Christian workers were there to help him. He started doing Bible studies, he eventually took baptism, and he was hoping that his boss would not find out that he was a Christian. Unfortunately, he did find out that he was a Christian. The boss called up his his uncle and told him. The uncle came again to his place of work this time, beat him, beat him, and beat him again. Right? He lost his job, the the boss said, I'm not even going to give you the back pay that you're owed. He lost his possessions again. He was thrown into prison, and he asked Jesus at that time, that evening when he was in prison, and he asked the Lord, why is it so hard to follow you? And God met him that night and a voice spoke to him and said, quote, don't be afraid, don't be upset, you did not lose anything. I will prepare things for you. More than that your Lord Jesus Christ has suffered and has faced more persecution than you're facing. The others in prison, they were freaked out because they heard Beshara's side of the conversation, but they didn't hear the other voice.
The next day after Beshara's uncle had done all of these things, Beshara's uncle woke up all swollen and sick, and finally he ended up in the hospital. And he had a vision of angels that came to the hospital, and rebuked him and said, "Stop persecuting Beshara. Call him and listen to him." So he invited Beshara to come to the hospital. And as he went to the hospital, surrounded by military, surrounded by police, with tears coming down his face, Beshara's uncle asked Beshara to forgive him for what he had done. And with tears coming down Beshara's face, he looked back at his uncle and he forgave him. Remember, this is the man that tried to kill him, that took away all of his possessions, that ruined his life completely. Now he's asking for forgiveness. This was Beshara's enemy. The uncle asked him "Can you pray for my healing as well." And so Beshara prayed, and he gave him a Bible and he said, read this. In less than a week's time Beshara's uncle calls him and says, "I'm completely healed. Everyone else here wants to know what's happened, come back and tell us about this Messiah." He comes back to the hospital, he shares the gospel with them. Beshara's uncle, the guy was ready to kill him, accepts Christ, nine other officers accept Jesus as well.
This is happening, that Beshara chooses to forgive, and see what takes place. And I think this is the other characteristic of the Good Shepherd who sacrifices, is that the Good Shepherd sacrifices and forgives. In Luke six, it says, "But Love your enemies, do good and lend, expecting nothing in return. And your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high". See, this is the, this is the quality that we're looking for. We start off as sheep in the field with our good shepherd. Where do we end off? As sons and daughters in the eternal house of God forever and ever. What's the quality of children of God? What's the quality that he's looking for? Well right, here out, here it says, "If you forgive, you will be sons of the Most High". That's the characteristic of the people in his kingdom. That's the characteristic of the children of God. Love your enemies, do good to them. And then you will be sons of the Most High. This is extraordinary. Matthew five says, "But I say to you love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven". Friends, God calls us not just to be sheep following the shepherd, but leads us finally to be sons and daughters in the eternal house of God forever and ever. And that quality is to forgive.
The second thing is that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. I think this is one of the most profound statements of Scripture, that the living God, the Creator of the ends of the universe, who is all powerful, all knowing, in all places at all times, wants to intimately know you and me personally. That, in itself is amazing. Augustine said this, "and men go abroad and admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of the rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the star, yet they pass over the mystery of themselves, without a thought." Well, let me tell you, Jesus is not passing over us without a thought, Oh, our good shepherd is thinking about us. And he has multiplied good thoughts towards us. And he sees us, and He calls us and he chooses us. And He wants us to be in his house. I think these two facts about the Good Shepherd sets Christianity apart from every other major world religion, that our God, the living God, would sacrifice for us. Where is that found? And that our God wants to know us intimately, personally, by name, and have a relationship with us. Where is that found? And these two things comprise the beauty of Jesus being the good shepherd. In John 10, verse 14, he says, "I am the good shepherd, I know my own sheep, and they know Me." Jesus knows us in a way like no one else knows us. He knows our pain. He knows our hurt, He knows our sorrow. He knows our joy. He knows our, our, our victories. He knows our failures as well. In John 10 Jesus says, "My sheep listen to My voice. And I know them and they follow Me." You know, it's not really in the good times that we know the beauty and intimacy of Jesus. It's really in the difficult times. If I go back to Psalm 23, I want you to take note of how the psalmist changes his tone. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for He is with me." Do you guys know the song, for He is with me? Know, for You are with me. There is a change right there. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want He makes me to do this. He makes me do that he makes me to do this. He does this, he does that. But when it comes to the valley of the shadow of death, after walking through the valley of the shadow death is no longer he he he it's, you. It's the intimacy. It's the personality. It's the closeness of knowing Jesus as our good shepherd, personally, to hear his voice. It's through those situations and circumstances of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. It's in the times of trials and difficulties. And then after that, what does he say? He says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Right? You prepare table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, you make my cup to run over. See, there's a difference between the first part of the psalm and the second part of the psalm. It was just you, you you it was it was just He he he? And then he goes through the valley of the shadow of death. And after that experience, it is you. You Oh, I know you. When Paul said the same thing, he said, "Oh, I want to know him and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings." We can say He is with me, but it's so much more powerful when we direct it to God and say You are with me. It's your rod and your staff that brings me comfort. See, it's the Lord who's with us. In a world full of crisis and calamity, God is with us.
Let me tell you a little bit more as I close about Beshara. By this time, there are so many healings going on in Beshara's life, and he was discipling people after six, six months of following Jesus he was discipling 25 people, so don't anyone here tell me I don't know enough about Jesus, I don't know enough theology, or I don't know enough this, to to mentor somebody or teach somebody about Jesus. No Beshara was out there. He had 25 people that he was discipling, after, after six months. In a couple of months time after that it was 50 people. Thank God for Tyndale as a as a as a University here that gives us these tools and amazing opportunities., and I learned so much being here at Tyndale as well. But God calls us to go out and disciple, mentor and be mentored and be active in His Kingdom. And so all these miracles and everything is taking place, his mom is in hospital, finds out what's happening, calls Beshara to to the hospital, says Beshara can you pray for me to be healed? And so Beshara starts to read the Bible. And then the mother asked, "Can I read the Bible too?" And so she starts to read the Bible. Beshara falls asleep. He wakes up to his mother crying, seated up in bed completely healed. And the mother says I felt a cool hand touch my chest and say "Be healed" and she was healed. And so she accepts. The, the next day, the mother, the sister, the half brother all accept Jesus as their Saviour, and they all want Bibles. Now by this time, Beshara's dad is really upset. He calls up Beshara. Here's what's happening. He says "I'm coming to your city and I'm going to kill you." Beshara is left with a decision. And there's Christian workers, International Christian workers around him trying to help him and trying to help him to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, should I meet with my, with my dad or not. But Beshara's heart is overflowing with love for his dad, that he wants the opportunity to share Jesus with him. And so he decides to listen to the Spirit, he decides to obey what the Good Shepherd is telling him to do, and leading him to, and so he goes to meet his dad. He comes into a room, his dad is seated in a chair, smoking a cigarette, gun in his hand, and tells him to sit down. In the other room is his mom, his sister, his half brother, and his uncle who have all become Christians. Beshara, Beshara's dad tells him "sit down" and he looks at him and says "I'm gonna kill you. But before I kill you, tell me why you've become a Christian." And Beshara takes this as an opportunity to say, wonderful opportunity for him to to share his story. So he shares the story of how God met him, and how God worked in his life and how he became a Christian. And then he shares about what happened to his mom and to his uncle. And so the mother, Beshara's dad looks at his wife and says, "Is this true? Are you a Christian?" And she's like, yes. And she tells her story. And this gets him even more upset. He looks back at the uncle says, "Why didn't you kill him when I told you to?" And he said, "I tried. I tried to kill him, but he wouldn't die. I beat him, I threw him into prison. I burnt all of his possessions. But then I was the one that was sick. And Jesus came and healed me. And now I know Jesus." And this makes Beshara's dad so upset and angry, he commands his guards that are with him, "Take Beshara out there and kill him." The mother gets so upset at this, she runs out, comes back with a club and says, "I'm going to knock you over the head and crack your skull if you touch Beshara." The guards pull out their guns and to point it towards the mother and says, "If you do that, we're going to kill you." His uncle, who was a military man, pulls out his gun and says, "If you do that, I'm going to kill all of you." And so we're left in this position. Beshara's dad has his gun pointed at Beshara. Beshara's mom has her club ready to knock Beshara's dad, her husband, in the head. The guards are pointing guns at Beshara's mom. Beshara's uncle has his gun pointed at Beshara's dad. And Beshara is left clinging to the Bible. And I'll leave the story there. It's not the end of the story, there's a podcast called Maverick, I want to encourage you to listen to it, it tells the story way better than I've told the story. So at eight episodes, will take you a couple of hours to listen to, but it's well worth it. You'll hear the end of what actually happens.
But here's Beshara. He knew the good shepherd. And he knew the implications for him following the Good Shepherd. But he chose to follow the Good Shepherd in sacrifice, in taking up his cross, in forgiveness, to the very person that wanted him murdered and killed. But most importantly, in knowing that special voice of his Good Shepherd, who was leading him and guiding him, not in the way that he wanted to go. But in the way that the shepherd wanted him to go. It wasn't an easy pathway. The pathway of the Good Shepherd is that of sacrifice, is that of knowing him intimately. We need him. We can't do anything without him. And as we sing this song, "Lord, I need You", let's surrender our lives. Let's ask him to come and fill us and change us, and Let's surrender to His leading. Let him be our good shepherd. And let me tell you when we walk with Him through that valley of the shadow of death, that's the time that we'll know Him the most. That's the time we'll know him deeply and intimately, and no longer will it be head knowledge. He is this, he is that, he is the other thing, but it will be heart knowledge. You are my shepherd. You are my saviour. You are my healer. You are my deliverer, you are my comforter. You are all I need. God bless you.
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