John 10 - The Good Shepherd
A. Contrast between the Good Shepherd and the false shepherds of Israel.
1. (1-2) Jesus is the true, legitimate shepherd, who enters in the way that is proper and prepared (by Old Testament prophecies).
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep."
a. A thief and a robber: The Pharisees have shown that they are ungodly leaders of Israel by their excommunication of the man born blind. They avoided the proper entry to the kingdom of God (some other way), therefore they are suspect.
b. He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep: Shepherd was a common Old Testament picture of a leader of God's people, whether good or bad (Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 31:5).
2. (3-6) The sheep and their shepherd.
"To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
a. To him the doorkeeper opens: In towns, sheep from many flocks were kept for the night in a common sheepfold, overseen by one "doorkeeper" who regulated which shepherds brought and took which sheep.
b. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out: The shepherd calls the sheep by name, showing that the shepherd has a personal connection with the sheep. The shepherd leads them, instead of driving them, showing His loving care for the sheep.
c. For they know his voice: In the common sheepfolds of ancient times, the shepherd merely gave his distinctive call and his sheep came out from the others, following him out of the sheepfold. Sheep are experts at discerning their shepherd's voice.
i. During World War I, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn't recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn't stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd's voice.
d. He brings out his own sheep: Here, Jesus speaks of calling his own sheep from the fold of Judaism. He will call out a remnant that will believe in Him (Romans 11:5).
3. (7-10) The true shepherd protects and promotes life; the false shepherds take away life.
Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
a. I am the door of the sheep: Is Jesus the door, or is He the one who has the right to enter through the door (John 10:2)? Both things are true of Jesus. When Jesus speaks of the door in this passage, He refers to a different type of sheepfold, one used out in the fields, not in the towns.
i. A "field" sheep pen was an enclosure for sheep with only one entrance. It might be a cave, a stone or mud-brick structure, and it might or might not have a roof.
b. I am the door: In a "field" sheepfold, the shepherd actually laid his body across the entrance, to keep the sheep in and to keep out the wolves. The shepherd was in fact the door.
c. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: Thief implies deception and trickery; robber implies violence and destruction. These take away life but Jesus gives life and He gives it abundantly.
4. (11-15) The good shepherd will lay down his life for the flock.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
a. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep: The bad shepherd thinks the flock exists for his benefit, but the good shepherd lives (and dies) for the good of the sheep.
- The good shepherd sacrifices for the sheep
- The good shepherd knows his sheep
- The good shepherd is known by the sheep
b. The faithful pastor will, as an under-shepherd, display the same characteristics as the Good Shepherd. He will sacrifice for the sheep, know the sheep, and be known by them. He will be a shepherd and not a hireling who does not care about the sheep.
i. The title pastor translates the same ancient Greek word used here for shepherd. It is a title that is only rightfully earned, not granted or assumed.
5. (16) Jesus speaks of other sheep.
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd."
a. Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: These "other sheep" are Gentile believers, not of the fold of Israel.
b. There is one flock and one shepherd; but Jesus calls His sheep from more than one fold (group of people).
c. There will be one flock: The early Christian Bible translator Jerome, when translating his influential Latin version mistakenly translated one fold instead of one flock in this verse. His Latin Vulgate reading is the erroneous foundation for a doctrine of Roman Catholic exclusiveness.
6. (17-18) Jesus claims to have power over life and death.
"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
a. Therefore My Father loves Me: Anyone can lay down his life; only Jesus can take His life up again. Because Jesus has the power to take up His own life, it is evidence of His unique relationship with His Father.
b. That I may take it again . . . I have power to take it again: In this sense, we can say that Jesus "raised Himself" from the dead. He had the power to lay down His life, and He had the power to take it up again.
i. It doesn't surprise us that Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus could take His own life up again. But we are surprised to see Copeland, Hagin, Price and others teach that Jesus was a helpless victim in hell, saved only by the intervention of God the Father.
c. This command I have received from My Father: The death of Jesus was completely voluntary, but it was not an indirect suicide in any sense. It was part of a plan to submit to death and then to emerge from it victoriously alive, according to the command . . . received from God the Father.
7. (19-21) Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed and insane.
Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, "He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?" Others said, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
a. He has a demon and is mad: Jesus made such radical claims about Himself that people divided over Him. Some believe He was whom He said He was. Others believed that anyone who claimed to be God as Jesus claimed must either have a demon or be mad.
b. William Barclay was right when wrote, "Either Jesus was a meglo-maniac madman, or he was the Son of God." By what we know of Jesus, is if fair to say that He was a madman?
i. The words of Jesus were not the words of a madman; instead, they are supreme sanity.
ii. The deeds of Jesus aren't the deeds of a meglo-maniac; instead, they were utterly unselfish.
iii. The effect of Jesus isn't the effect of a madman; instead, He has changed millions for the good.
c. These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? Miraculous works like opening the eyes of the blind can be a valid testimony, but only in concert with faithfulness to the word of God. These people were right in looking at both the works and the words of Jesus.
B. Jesus at the Feast of Dedication.
1. (22) The Feast of Dedication in wintertime.
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
a. The Feast of Dedication: This feast (Hanukkah) celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 b.c., the time of the Maccabees).
2. (23-29) Jesus tells who He is and why they don't believe it.
And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."
a. The works I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me: The works Jesus did said that He was from God, and that He was true to His word.
b. You do not believe, because you are not My sheep: Jesus carries on the same "spiritual parentage" theme seen in John 8. Their lack of belief betrays the fact that they are not the sheep of Jesus.
c. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand: We would expect that the Good Shepherd would take good care of His sheep. The sheep are safe and secure in hand of the Good Shepherd.
3. (30-33) Jesus declares His unity with the Father.
"I and My Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."
a. I an My Father are one: This is an important statement regarding the deity of Jesus and the nature of the godhead. I and My Father refutes the "Jesus Only" doctrine (anciently known as Sabelianism). Are one refutes the teaching that Jesus isn't God (anciently known as Arianism).
i. Opponents of the deity of Jesus say that the oneness Jesus had with the Father was only a unity of purpose and mission - even as a husband and wife or father and son may have a unity of purpose of mission, and still they are not the same person. This, however, misses the point. First, we never argue that the Bible teaches that the Father and the Son are the same Person - they are one God, but distinct in Person. Second, it misses the most obvious point: that even true unity of purpose and mission between a husband and wife or father and son exist only because they are each equally and totally human. You can't really speak of even a unity of purpose and mission between a human and a dog; isn't the distance between God and man even greater? Even if the unity described by Jesus was merely a unity of purpose and mission (and it is more than that), even that would only be possible if the Father and Son were equally and totally God.
b. The Jews took up stones again to stone Him: Some would lessen the power of I and the Father are one by saying it only refers to a unity of purpose and will. But how could a statement like that be considered blasphemy by the Jews who heard Jesus say these words?
i. The Jews of Jesus' day see clearly what the Jehovah's Witnesses and others seem to miss: that Jesus clearly claimed to be God (because You, being a Man, make Yourself God).
c. Jesus wanted us to be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11, 17:21). Such oneness cannot exist without an equality of essence, and all believers have this equality (Galatians 3:26-28), even as the Father and Son have this equality.
4. (34-39) Jesus reasons with them on the basis of Scripture (quoting from Psalm 82) and His works.
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
a. Is it not written in your law, "I said, 'You are gods'": The judges of Psalm 82 were called "gods" because in their office they determined the fate of other men. Also, in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, God calls earthly judges "gods."
b. If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came: Jesus is saying "If God gives these unjust judges the title 'gods' because of their office, why do you consider it blasphemy that I call Myself the 'Son of God' in light of the testimony of Me and My works?"
i. Jesus is not taking the statement "you are gods" in Psalm 82 and applying it to all humanity, or to all believers. The use of gods in Psalm 82 was a metaphor - and Jesus is exposing both the ignorance and inconsistency of His accusers here.
5. (40-42) Many believe on Jesus.
And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. Then many came to Him and said, "John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true." And many believed in Him there.
a. And many believed in Him there: Despite the influence of the Pharisees who were blind (as shown in John 9) and were bad shepherds (as shown in John 10), many people still came to Jesus. God's work goes on, despite the opposition of man.