John 10:1–21—Jesus is the Good Shepherd
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. 20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” 21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Points of Interest
- ‘I tell you the truth’—this passage is actually just a continuation of what Jesus was saying at the end of yesterday’s passage about the Pharisees and blindness. Having answered the Pharisees’ question about blindness, Jesus remarks upon what has just happened to the formerly blind man.
- ‘anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold’— the sneaky ones here are the religious leaders, who assassinate the character of the blind man so that they don’t have to face the fact that Jesus does indeed have miracle-working power. That makes them spiritual thieves, not spiritual shepherds.
- ‘the shepherd of the sheep’—Jesus is following in the tradition of a number of Old Testament passages which use shepherds as models of caring leadership (Ezekiel 34:10).
- ‘He calls his own sheep by name’—I think the image here is of several flocks being held in one pen. The shepherds separate out their flocks to take them to pasture by giving their own, unique call, which their sheep recognize. One of the complaints God makes of the bad shepherd in Ezekiel 34 is that they abandon the sheep. That’s exactly what the religious leaders do to the blind man in yesterday’s passage, by throwing him out of the synagogue. Jesus then calls the man, and the man follows him. It’s a match. This man is part of Jesus’ flock, and Jesus is this man’s shepherd.
- ‘My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life’— Again and again, Jesus uses every opportunity to point people toward a richer and more satisfying life.
- ‘I have other sheep, too’—Jesus is just getting started at gathering his flock.
Taking It Home
- For you: Think what a shepherd’s job is (e.g., leading the sheep to good grass, clean water, etc., providing protection, keeping them together, etc.). Jesus says that he’s the good shepherd who gathers, protects, and leads. Think about how Jesus has done some of these things for you. Take a moment and thank him.
FF Family/Household Option: Discuss with your family or friends what a shepherd’s job is (e.g., leading the sheep to good grass, clean water, etc., providing protection, keeping them together, etc.) Jesus says that he’s the good shepherd who gathers, protects, and leads. Tell one another how Jesus has done one of these things for you, and praise Him together.
- For your 6: Ask Jesus to give your 6 the rich and satisfying life he promises. Ask that nothing would get in the way of them receiving that.
- For our church: Ask Jesus to bless all of the leaders in our church. Ask him to be a good shepherd to our leaders, and to make our church a community that is filled with caring leaders who themselves emulate the characteristics of a good shepherd as well.