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John 10:1-21 (web)

The Good Shepherd

"Most assuredly, I tell you,
one who doesnít enter by the door into the sheep fold,
but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.
Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them,
and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him;
for they donít know the voice of strangers."

6  Jesus spoke this parable to them,
but they didnít understand what he was telling them.
7  Jesus therefore said to them again,
"Most assuredly, I tell you, I am the sheepís door.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep didnít listen to them.
I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved,
and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.
10  The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
11  I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12  He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesnít own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees.
The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them.
13  The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesnít care for the sheep.
14  I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and Iím known by my own;
15  even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father.
I lay down my life for the sheep.
16  I have other sheep, which are not of this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice.
They will become one flock with one shepherd.
17  Therefore the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
18  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself.
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
I received this commandment from my Father."

19  Therefore a division arose again among the Jews because of these words.
20  Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane! Why do you listen to him?"
21  Others said, "These are not the sayings of one possessed by a demon.
It isnít possible for a demon to open the eyes of the blind, is it?"

Discussion Questions

vs 1-5 What are characteristics of Jesus' sheep?
vs 5,8 Seem to indicate that Jesus' Sheep will not allow themselves to be led astray. But how do you resolve the paradox between what Jesus says here and other verses which imply that they can be led astray, like Mark 13:5,6 and  2Corinthians 11:3,4?
vs 9 What is the pen? And when do the sheep enter it?
Does "going out" mean they lose their salvation?
vs 10-15 What constitutes a "good shepherd"?
Who are the allegorical equivalents for the thief, the hired hand, and the wolf?
How as good shepherds might we protect the sheep from the wolves.
vs 16 Who are the other sheep?
vs 17-18 What will it cost us to protect and edify the flock?
vs 19-21 How would you categorize the reaction of the crowd?
How might you relate the reaction of his opponents to how those who oppose truth generally react to it?


vs 1-5 Later Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." John 14:6 Islam, modern Judaism, and other religions are examples of such thieves. For they reject Christ and yet presume they are of God. They are not of God if they don't come to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus' target at the time were the Jews who were rejecting him.

But what is more interesting is that those who are of God also recognize the true shepherd's voice. There's a sense of familarity and intimacy in one's spirit with the Lord and between the Lord's people. John writes, "They (unbelievers) are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesnít listen to us." 1John 4:6 But another aspect is the idea of submission. Being a Christian is not simply having a relationship with Christ. It involves following him. It's not an egalitarian relationship. It's not the idea of taking Jesus along wherever we go. It's following Jesus wherever he leads us. If you go off on your own, don't expect Jesus to follow you. He's not a follower. He's a leader.

Can Jesus' Sheep be Led Astay?

vs 8 By the "all who came before", Jesus is referring to all who came before claiming to be Christ. And there still continue to be these thieves and robbers as John writes, "Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the end times." 1John 2:18  Today many antiChrists preach of a "Jesus", but not the Jesus of the Bible. But the sheep don't listen to them. John also affirms this saying, "They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesnít listen to us." 1John  4:5,6

But this brings up a paradox. For there are also indications that Christians can be led astray by false teachers:

"I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpentís cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." 2Corinthians 11:3,4
But then again doesn't Paul write to these same "Christians" in a couple of chapters after this: "Test your own selves, whether you are in the faith. Test your own selves. Or donít you know as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?óunless indeed you are disqualified." 2Cor 13:5 For if they weren't behaving as Jesus' sheep, then perhaps they weren't Jesus' sheep.

But even to his apostles Peter, James, and John Jesus said, "Be careful that no one leads you astray.   For many will come in my name, saying, ĎI am he!í and will lead many astray." Mark 13:5,6 But if they were his sheep, then they would need no such warning. Or would they?

Perhaps these warnings from the Lord are the very reason why his sheep avoid being led astray by strangers, much in the same way that parents warn their children to avoid strangers who would lead them astray. In which case it is not absolutely certain that they won't be led astray to a degree, but rather their avoiding of strangers is a general lifestyle characteristic. And so also repentance is a general lifestyle characteristic of his sheep. If they do stray, they will return. And similarly in saying that the sheep don't listen to others, John in 1st John and Jesus here are speaking in general and in an overall lifestyle sense.

What is the Pen?

vs 9 If entering means that the person will be saved, then does going out mean that a person loses salvation? No! For he says in vs 3 "He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out."  Jesus leads his sheep out of the pen to bring them to a pasture to feed. The pasture is our time on earth. The pen is our being gather to the Lord. A parable related to this is the one of the Wheat and the Tares. Jesus explains it saying that For while presently in this age we are in a pasture of sheep of different shepherds, like a field of wheat and weeds, but in the end God will separate out his sheep from the others to be gathered to his pen. Before his sheep entered, they were already his sheep. And thus entering is not referring to obtaining salvation, but rather revealing those who were his sheep and thus who would inevitably be saved from God's wrath.

What Constitutes a Good Shepherd?

vs 10-15 Jesus first contrasts bring a good shephed versus being a thief. The good shepherd seeks the edification of the sheep, while the thief is only out to get something for himself.
"But there also arose false prophets among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned.  In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words:" 2Peter 2:1-3
"They zealously seek you in no good way. No, they desire to alienate you, that you may seek them." Galatians 4:17
The hired hand are those who are only artificially in the role of shepherd, but don't behave as real shepherds. They run away when the wolves come.
"I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." Acts 20:29,30
But the good shepherd fights the wolves even to the death. What kind of a spiritual leader do you have, or what kind of spiritual leader are you? One which fights the wolves, or one which runs away from such conflicts? Jesus died because of his conflicts with the religious elite, and Paul also did not shrink back from such conflicts, even when Peter did. (Gal 2:11,12) Yet today in popular Christianity if you try to spare the flock from wolves, you will generally be reckoned as a sinner, a trouble maker, a judgmental person, and one who doesn't love others. But such an attitude is a result of the wolves and the thieves having corrupted the flock already. It is the wolves and thieves who promote the idea of it being sinful to examine them. Good shepherds follow the examples set by Jesus and Paul while imposters discourage following such examples.

vs 16 The other sheep he refers to are the Gentiles who would come to faith in Christ, who now make up the majority of the sheepfold. And now there is no division between Jew and Gentile among those who have faith in Christ. "For he is our peace, who made both (Jew & Gentile believer) one, and broke down the middle wall of partition." Eph 2:14

vs 17,18 As Jesus laid down his life, so also he calls us to lay down ours. 1 John 3:16  "By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." And one way we do this is in fighting off the wolves. But more generally this means to give our lives to the seeking of the edification of the flock.

From a certain point of view, Jesus' mission may be viewed essentially as a suicide mission. He purposely gave his life to save others. He was not forced to do so, nor was his death accidental. It was his choice, as we see in the garden of Gethsemane, "not my will but yours be done." So also God has called us to go on a suicide mission. There's no virtue in dying for nothing. Worldly suicide is selfish. Yes be willing to give up your life, but do it for the benefits of others and the edification of the body of Christ. But of course we realize also that just as with Jesus, our resurrection from the dead is inevitable.

vs 19-21 As we can see, the crowd was divided as to their opinion of Jesus. Those who opposed him quite literally "demonized" him, which is quite typical especially when religious people oppose the truth. In demonizing him they avoided a rational analysis of what he said. Have you met such people that don't even go so far as to listen and give an intelligent critique of your opinion, but simply throw away your words as if they were satanic? You're not alone. Even God runs into the same problem with these kind of people. If they throw away what is spoken in the Spirit, then they can never come to faith in Christ. I think that is why sinning against the Holy Spirit is so severe and unforgiveable a sin. But the more Berean type of people (Acts 17:11) while not gullibly accepting whatever was said, were more open to an honest evaluation of the situation. And that's what God expects.

Shepherd Prophecies

Jer 32:1-4  "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the LORD.  "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD.

Jer 50:6,7 "My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.
7  Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ĎWe are not guilty, for they sinned against the LORD, their true pasture, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.í

Eze 34: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ĎThis is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
3  You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.
4  You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
5  So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.
6  My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7 ∂  "íTherefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
8  As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock,
9  therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
10  This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
11  "íFor this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.
12  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
13  I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.
14  I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
15  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.
16  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020