“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:1-5
But his hearers did not understand what Jesus was talking about. We saw how in the
setting of this long metaphor, the shepherd led them, not drove them—there’s
a very intimate and loving relationship between shepherd and sheep. The
shepherd gave each a name and taught them to respond to his voice and
instructions. At night, he would usually lead them into a safe enclosure, often
lying across the entrance thus forming literally the door or gate. Rex beautifully pointed out how flocks from several
shepherds might occupy the same place, and when the separation took place, each
shepherd going his way, would call his own sheep to follow, and they would
follow their own true shepherd knowing his voice, hearing their own name even.
Such shepherds would risk their lives protecting them against thieves and
robbers and wild animals.
ourselves in our recent discovery meetup, do we also fail to grasp his meanings?
So we hearers of the 21st Century set out to explore this and here’s
what we found.
Just who were the hearers in
this story? The last mentioned were ‘some of the Pharisees’. Here’s yet another example of the continuous controversy
raging between Jesus and the blind ruling church elite (the Jews John calls them!) a fury running right through the gospel
story, without any abatement, ending temporarily on his death but continuing
till Jesus’ judgment on them in AD70. Jesus had just charged these same blind Pharisees “since
you say, ‘we see,’ your sin remains. (John 9:40-41)
So Jesus repeated to them with
great emphasis what he had already said, “Truly, truly, I
say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All
who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I
am the gate; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will go in and
out and find pasture.
Here’s another sensational Messianic
bombshell, right in line with the coming next age that was breaking in upon
God’s people in Messiah Jesus. In the O.T. the Lord is often pictured as the
shepherd (e.g., Psalms 23 & 79) so here Jesus claims to be the only legitimate
shepherd, in fact, divine! Now this is a
most momentous change.
It means the end of the old age of Moses and
the Law and its replacement by the new Messianic age of Jesus the king is
coming! They are in the presence of the shepherd-king! They fall into the
category of all who came
before, thieves, robbers! The blind Pharisees were meant to be shepherds
but were abject failures, maintaining control over the people, the blind
leading the blind. The rot had all started back when
they rejected God as king and chose their own (1 Samuel 8:7).
They hated the idea of a spiritual kingdom and fought to retain their
The time has come! The Kingdom of God is
breaking in. Complete turnaround is demanded.
Are there parallels today? Yes undoubtedly—in
the apostate churches where they have CEOs and not true apostles, prophets,
pastors and teachers (in the N.T. these are always plural) who emulate the Good
Shepherd, not domineering over the flock
as Peter wrote but upbuilding and encouraging the flock.
Jesus replaces all these
thieves and robbers. For all time! If
anyone enters the sheepfold through the Jesus-gate, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. It’s
Jesus saying again I am the way, the
truth, the life. Our pasture in the friendship and under the Lordship of
Jesus is spiritually glorious even in this life and eternally beyond. It is
what we were designed for. It is abundant life now and forever! It is rivers of living water. It is unimagined
freedom, if the Son shall set you free. It
is participation in the Body of Christ by every member, full of the Holy
The voice of strangers brings
mere religion, speculations, deceit and systems of what to do. Only the voice
of Jesus brings salvation. If you really want real salvation you will recognise
human ideas, elitism, control, manipulation and pride, and run away from every
voice except that of Jesus, like the
blind man of the previous story in the gospel. Hear the voice of the good
shepherd or be destroyed!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I
came that they may have life, and have it
Huge! I love what W. F. Howard wrote in The Interpreters’ Bible, 1952
about this abundance, or rather the lack of it:
those who fling
their lives away in an avid questing for sensation, seeking to make a
collection of experiences as others do of stamps, and esteeming every new
experience of any kind an addition to their store, who will get drunk, simply
for experience, and touch unholy things that they may taste the whole of life:
– they do not realize, poor duped fools, misled by hobbledehoy thinkers, so
called, who have cooked these immature ideas into a kind of messy philosophy –
they do not realize that in life, as in arithmetic, there is a minus sign as
surely as a plus; and that certain experiences do not add to, but subtract
from, what we had and were before, each new indulgence in forbidden things
leaving us poorer, leaner, emptier, and at length beggared.
Would you be happier in the service of the
devil than in the service of God and His Redeemer—you poor, blind deceived
fool! Leads to misery! No. You are created in His image and to enjoy life in his
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down
His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a
shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves
the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand
and is not concerned about the sheep.
Jesus is the true owner of his sheep. Those
who follow him and no other, are not their own. We are not our own if we claim
to follow him. There is no middle way. Either you are His, not your own, bought
with a price or you are not of His flock. If you are owned by another you will be
deceived, lied to, destroyed. Awake!
I am the good
shepherd, and I know my own and my own know Me, even as the Father knows me
and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.
Here is a most significant
and tremendous statement. He knows us who follow him and we know him. How awful
it would be to hear the words depart from
me, I never knew you (Matthew
7:22). He knows you! All about you. Laid down his life for you and me—he knew
you there on the cross.
But there’s even more here:
He knows his own and we know him, just
like the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows the Father—with Jesus we have the same intimate relationship that exists between the Father and Jesus!
I have other
sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear
My voice; and they will become one flock with
Who are these other sheep? We
could see Jesus was thinking of the Gentiles—the people who were not of this (Jewish) fold. He came here for the
lost sheep of the house of Israel and we had read in our journey through the
four gospels of those who were touched by him and desired to follow him—who
else but Jesus? We have met many already in the Gospel of John. But after his
death and resurrection the focus moves to the great ‘unwashed’.
Yes. He had us in mind. He
thought of you and me. I must bring them also.
He will bring many, many
more—there can be no doubt! I must bring them also! It’s his work and though he calls us to partner with him
in his work, all the initiative lies not with us, neither the means, neither
the results. To him alone be the honour and the praise and the glory.
Here is a strong message to
us who earnestly desire the salvation of our neighbours, loved ones, and people
we meet in the public sphere. This releases us from the thinking of failure and
disappointment that we often have. I must
bring them also! they will hear My voice! They will become one flock with all of us!
They will be one flock with one shepherd. This is a certainty because he has declared it. So stop your whinging and doubting and start rejoicing, believing. One flock—not many; one Shepherd, not many. The promise is sure and the result is certain. All else is fake. Do you get it? Oh Lord, help us all who read thus far to truly get it!
Now skipping to verse 27, where
Jesus sums it all up: My
sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I
give eternal life to them, and they
will never perish; and no one will
snatch them out of My hand.
Not only that but My Father, who has given them
to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the
Father are one.
Being his we are exposed to
the most unimaginable love and safety. Eternally. Oh the certainty!
What do you desire? Are you
ready for all this everlasting abundance?