The True Shepherd
The Pharisees professed to be the guides or the shepherds of the people. At the close of chapter nine Jesus had told them that they were blind and on many occasions he said this of them (Matt. 15:14). They were then incapable of guiding the people in the way of God. In fact it was the priests that were appointed to teach the people (Lev. 10:11) and should have been the shepherds but they had failed in their duty. Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied against them for their failure (Isa. 56:11 and Jer. 10:21) and Jeremiah speaks of the Shepherd King that would come (Jer. 23:1-6). It is with this background that Jesus reveals Himself as the Good and True Shepherd.
10:1. "I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.
Using the parable of sheep and a sheepfold Jesus clearly states that there is only one way into the sheepfold which God has made. If anyone else attempts to enter in by any other way his purpose is only to steal and destroy. There are many in the world today who come as angels of light but they are nothing but sham shepherds that are out to destroy.
10:2-3. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
On the other hand, the true shepherd comes to the entrance of the sheepfold and is instantly recognized by the doorkeeper who lets him in. The sheep also know their shepherd by the sound of His voice. He knows every one of them by name and as he calls them they follow wherever He may lead. When we hear the voice of Jesus calling to us are we as quick to follow His leading as these sheep ?
10:4-5. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger's voice.
Having brought His sheep out of the safe enclosure of the sheepfold He goes before to guide them in the right paths and to avert or overcome any dangers. They follow him in complete faith not doubting for one minute that he is able to care, keep and provide for them. The True Shepherd's sheep will not follow the false shepherds but will flee from them. The false shepherds referred to are the false prophets and teachers that were as numerous in the days of Jesus as now. The True Shepherd therefore knows His sheep and they know Him by the words of truth that He speaks and the way that He looks after them.
The Shepherd is also the Door
10:6. Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Because they could not understand what Jesus was trying to say to them he enlarges upon it and reveals another aspect and characteristic of the Shepherd.
10:7. So Jesus said to them again, "I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep.
He is not only the shepherd of the sheep but he is also the very door into the sheepfold.
10:8. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
Many come to batter down this door in order to get at the sheep but the door is solid and firm and the sheep do not even hear the noise the assailants make, they are tuned in only to the voice of their Shepherd. Jesus Christ as the door takes all the knocks and protects His own from the onslaughts of the enemies as long as they abide with Him. The Scribes, Pharisee and priests continually came to Jesus to try and trap and fault Him in His teachings but of course they never succeeded.
10:9. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture.
Here Jesus makes it absolutely clear that He is the Door and as such is the only way that a person can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. He is the only way whereby a man can be saved (Acts 4:12), the only way to become a part of God's family, fold (John 14:6). The only way that the promises of God can be obtained( 2 Pet. 1:4), and receive the provision and blessings of God (Phil. 4:19 and Eph. 1:3). Also the full real liberty that only Jesus can give (2 Cor. 3:17) "shall go in and out and find pastures"
10:10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
The thief only comes to steal what has been given by God, to kill, not just the body but spiritual desires and faith and to destroy the work of grace. Who is 'the thief'? None other than the devil and his agents who come in many disguises. Jesus has come to 'give' entirely the opposite. He has come to give life that is superabundant in quantity and quality beyound measure. That is life indeed!
10:11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the one who gives His life for His sheep. The Shepherd that God had promised He would send (Ezek. 34:23 and Ezek. 37:24). The sheep belong to Him because he has purchased them with His blood (Acts 20:28).
10:12-13. The hired hand, who is not a shepherd and does not own sheep, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and runs away. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. Because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep, he runs away.
The hired shepherd who merely serves for wages because the sheep do not belong to him will not protect the sheep from the wolves that come to devour but will run away and leave them defenceless. Here Jesus is giving a picture of the prophets, teachers and rulers that God had entrusted with the care of His people Israel but had proved to be unfaithful to this commission and had opened the door to erroneous doctrine that led to idolatry (Jer. 50:6 and Eze. 34:2-3).
10:14. "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me
The Good Shepherd knows His sheep absolutely there is nothing that happens to them that He does not see. He knows every thought, feeling, problem, need and He understands because He had become just like them (Heb. 2:14). He reveals Himself to His own by His Word and the Holy Spirit so that they may know Him as they are known by Him.
10:15. Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.
As the Father knows the Son so the Son knows the Father therefore He alone is able to make the Father known (Matt. 11:27 and John 14:9). For the second time He says that He gives His life for the sheep.
10:16. I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd.
These other sheep are the Gentiles that would be brought into the Kingdom of God also (Eph. 2:12-16).
10:17. This is why the Father loves me — because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.
For this reason the Father loves His Son. Here we have the great truth concerning the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave His life for our sins and He rose from the dead for our justification (Rom. 4:25)
10:18. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father."
No one was able to take the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, of His own free will He gave it. He had power to do this and also to raise Himself from the dead. This was not according to the plans and purposes of man but the Father had appointed and commisioned Him to do this (John 3:16).
10:19-21. Another sharp division took place among the Jewish people because of these words. Many of them were saying, "He is possessed by a demon and has lost his mind! Why do you listen to him?" Others said, "These are not the words of someone possessed by a demon. A demon cannot cause the blind to see, can it?
Jesus' teaching about being the good shepherd who would give his life for all men and provide the only way back to God caused division among the Jews. Many of them insulted him, calling him demon possessed and mad. Others realised that this could not be true. Christ's words rung true to them as the word of God, and his miracles demonstrated that he was sent by God. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? No, only God can do that.
10:22-23 Then came the feast of the Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple area in Solomon's Portico.
Hanukkah or the feast of dedication is near to our Christmas, in the winter. This places these events several months before Passover. Jesus was in the Temple walking in Solomon's porch.
10:24 The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.
Whatever else could be said about these Jews, they were certainly curious about Jesus. They wanted to know more and mobbed him in the Temple. They asked him to stop leaving them in uncertainty, but to tell them plainly if he was the Christ.
10:25 Jesus replied, "I told you and you do not believe. The deeds I do in my Father's name testify about me.
Christ's answer reveals that if they had uncertainty it was because of their unbelief, not a lack of evidence. He had told them again and again who he was. In addition, the miracles that he did in the Father's name gave witness to the fact that he was the Son of God.
The Security of Believers
10:26 But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheepChrist explains that they were unable to believe because they are not his sheep.
We should look carefully at what this means. Anyone who is still in sin is blinded by the god of this world, Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). They are bound in the darkness of sin. We were also once blinded by Satan and bound by him (Eph. 2:1-2). But through hearing the gospel message and responding to it we became Christ's own people (His sheep, Ps. 100:3). He delivered us from the power of darkness (Col. 1:13). He brought us into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9). We were children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), now we are God's children (Gal. 4:6). We were enemies of God, now we are reconciled (Col. 1:21-22).
We are his sheep because we have heard his voice and responded. The Jews were not his sheep because although they physically heard his voice, they had not responded to him with faith in their hearts, they had not believed in him.
10:27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
When we hear and respond to the voice of Christ in this way we become His. Not only did Christ know all about us when we were dead in our sin, he knows us now in terms of the new creation which he has made us to be. Because we share in his divine nature, we now "know" him. When Christ has set us free it is only natural that we should follow him, for we are one with him.
10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand.
I give them eternal life. Christ has already done this, for when we believe in Him we receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:36). Yet eternal life is something that is worked out in our lives, for it is he who does the will of God who lives forever (1 John 2.17). There are strong warnings in the Bible for those who go away from the Lord (Heb. 6:4-8 and John 15:6). Yet there is strong comfort and assurance as there is in this verse for those, however weak, who continue to follow the Lord (Heb. 13:5).
10:29-30 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father's hand. The Father and I are one.
Because Christ has given us eternal life, we shall never perish, or be lost eternally. No one is able to take us out of his hands, no devil or man. We are secure in a two fold grip. We are in Christ's hands and Christ is in God's hands for Christ and the Father are one. No one can snatch us from the hand of God, for he is all powerful and greater than all. Illustrate.
The Eternal Son
10:31 The Jewish leaders picked up rocks again to stone him to death
The Jews had no problem understanding what Jesus meant. They knew that he was claiming to be God. They take up stones to stone him to death.
10:32 Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many good deeds from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me?
But Jesus challenges them. They had seen many miracles, the many good works he had performed on the sick. For which of these did they stone him? After all, these miracles confirmed the truth of what he had been saying, that he was one with the Father.
10:33 The Jewish leaders replied, "We are not going to stone you for a good deed but for blasphemy, because you, a man, are claiming to be God.
The Jews admitted that Jesus had done these good works, but in their eyes that was not enough to save him from the death penalty for blasphemy when he, a mere man, claimed to be God.
10:34-35 Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those people to whom the word of God came were called 'gods' (and the scripture cannot be broken).
Jesus turns their attention to the witness of the Scripture. He quotes Psa. 82:6 "I have said you are gods." This a reference to their relationship with God, as Jesus expounds here. They had received the word of God and were also to make it known. Just as Moses was to be as a "god" to Aaron, so the people of God, who were to make God's word known to the nations, were as "gods". Notice that Jesus Himself considered the Bible to be infallible (2 Tim. 3:16).
10:36 Do you say about the one whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
So if those who receive the word are called gods, what about the one who is the eternal word of God, whom the father called and set apart by sending Him into the world. The word became flesh and dwelt among us - is he blaspheming by claiming to be who he really is - God's Son?
10:37 If I do not perform the deeds of my Father, do not believe me.
"If I do not do the works of my Father," says Jesus, "do not believe me." If I were not performing miracles that no man has ever done, then you should rightly discount by testimony.
10:38 But if I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the deeds, so that you may come to know and understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.
But if I do, even though you do not believe me, believe the evidence of the miracles which prove that I am in the Father and the Father in me, that we are united as one and are equals.
10:39 Then they attempted again to seize him, but he escaped their clutches.
At this they tried again to seize him and take his life, but he escaped from their purpose.
The Fruit of Faithful Witness
10:40-42 Jesus went back across the Jordan River again to the place where John had been baptizing at an earlier time, and he stayed there. Many came to him and began to say, "John performed no miraculous sign, but everything John said about this man was true!" And many believed in Jesus there.
Leaving Jerusalem, Christ returned to Bethabara where John had baptised him. He remained here for some time, teaching and healing the sick. The people had heard the testimony of John the Baptist and when they saw Christ perform miracles, that was enough to convince them that all that John had said was true. In that place, many believed in Jesus. These verses illustrate that the best way to bring conversion is by regular and systematic teaching of the word of God and the consistent witness of the church. John performed no miracle, but John's testimony and faithful ministry, after his death, brought much fruit for Christ. David Livingstone was a missionary who preached in thousands of African villages without a single convert but he recorded in his diary that one day there would be converts for every sermon. Today as millions of people have been converted in Africa where Livingstone once worked we see that his testimony, and that of others, did have an effect. We should be encouraged to know this whenever we share the word of God (Isa. 55:11).
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