Sapphire Sky

May 9, 2015

The Good Shepherd

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: — Steve Knaus @ 12:49 am

flock-of-sheep-49666_1280

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

 

The Lord is my shepherd.

How often do we forget that God will guide us, care for us, and protect us?

Jesus Christ takes up the same analogy in his last public sermon. In John 10, he makes two specific statements about himself, showing that he is God, and showing his care for us as sheep.

“I am the door”. Those who enter by Him will be saved and will find safety and satisfaction.

“I am the good shepherd”. He will care for us, to the point that he will lay down his life for us.

The previous chapter (John 9), shows Jesus demonstrating that he is the Messiah by healing a blind man. This stirred up a controversy because he healed the man on the Sabbath. He had healed the blind man, but how could the Messiah break the Sabbath traditions? Jesus used the man’s blindness as an analogy for spiritual blindness. The blind man now believed Jesus and could see. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were blinded by their unbelief.

The scene does not change between John 9 and John 10. Now, in John 10, Jesus points out these same Pharisees who refused to believe. They are not real shepherds of the people, but are instead thieves and robbers, who do not care for the flock.

Jesus then delivers his final public sermon. He recounts three aspects of the life of a shepherd.

 

Gathering the sheep

First, the shepherd gathers his own sheep from the sheep pen (sheepfold, John 10:1-6). The sheep pen contains several flocks and is guarded by the gatekeeper. The shepherd calls out his own sheep from the multitude, calling them by name. The sheep hear his voice and he leads them out.

The contrast is with the thieves and robbers. They cannot enter through the door and the sheep do not know them.

Just like the shepherd, Jesus will call his disciples out from Israel. He knows each of his own by name and they will know his voice. They will not follow the false leaders.

 

Sheltering the sheep in the pasture 

Secondly, the shepherd brings the sheep to pasture and guards the doorway to the field shelter (John 10:7-10). The small enclosure at the pastures allows the sheep both protection and shelter from the elements. As the door, the shepherd both admits his own sheep and keeps out predators.

Jesus uses the ancient name of God when he states, “I AM the door of the sheep”. This is the third statement in John’s gospel account where Jesus uses the Old Testament name of God to show who he is (see the complete list here).

 

Risking his life to protect the sheep

Finally, the shepherd personally puts his own life on the line against dangers in order to protect the sheep (John 10:11-15). It was common in that day for a lion, a bear, or a wolf to attack the flock and attempt to kill any shepherd who may defend the sheep (see 1 Samuel 17:34-35). A hired hand would quickly leave this place of danger, but the shepherd was committed to the sheep, defending them against all possible dangers.

Jesus again uses the ancient name of God when he states (for the fourth time in John’s gospel account), “I AM the good shepherd”. The word for “good” is not just morally right, but also shows excellence and beauty. He is the greatest shepherd.

He also has other sheep outside of this fold (John 10:16). He will gather them together into one flock. Both the Jews and the Gentiles will be united together in the Messiah’s kingdom.

Jesus also promises, as the Good Shepherd, to lay down his life and to take it up again (John 10:17-18). He says four times in this passage that he will lay down his life, and two times that he will take it up again.

In less than 6 months, Jesus will be arrested and killed as a common criminal. Three days later, he will rise again. Don’t miss the point — this is not coming as a surprise! Jesus Christ will die and rise again by his own will.

 

Remember!

  • Jesus is the Door! He is the way to shelter and protection when you need him. You can go in and out from his shelter and find satisfaction.
  • Jesus is your Good Shepherd! He is the true leader who watches over you and who gave his life for you.
  • Nothing comes as a surprise for Jesus! Even his own death was by his own will.

 

Previous post: Are you blind?


John 10:1-21

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to 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 comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 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 does not own 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 cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”


 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens.

 

John 9 ends with the man who was healed by Jesus being put out of the synagogue, and excommunicated from all Jewish religious life. Jesus used the man’s physical blindness as a metaphor for spiritual blindness, pointing out that only those who believe can truly see.

 

John 10 begins at the same scene. The Pharisees who refused to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, who cast out the man that had been healed, are not true shepherds of the people. They are thieves and robbers (see also Ezekiel 34).

 

This is Jesus’ last public sermon and he uses an analogy which is common through scripture, that of a shepherd with his sheep. He presents three aspects of a shepherd to show his relationship to his disciples.

 

The first aspect of a shepherd presents a sheepfold or a sheep pen. This is a large enclosure where the sheep were sheltered for the night. It had a single door, which was guarded by the porter, or gatekeeper. Inside would be several flocks of sheep. The gatekeeper would allow only the shepherd to go through the door.

 

What are the sheepfold and the door in this analogy? Most commentators agree that the sheepfold is the nation of Israel (compare with 10:16) and the door is true leadership through God’s word.

 

“They were, surely, not shepherds, who had cast out the healed blind man, or who so judged of the Christ, and would cast out all His disciples. They had entered into God’s Sheepfold, but not by the door by which the owner, God, had brought His flock into the fold.” – Alfred Edersheim [1]

 

 

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 

The shepherd calls his own sheep out from the other flocks. He knows each of them by name.

 

Note the close relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. Other sheep do not listen to him, but his own sheep hear his voice and he leads them out.

 

Likewise, the Messiah will call his own and lead his people out from within their nation into his own kingdom.

 

The people knew their Old Testament scriptures very well, and were fully able to understand the care of a shepherd for his sheep. However, they did not understand what Jesus was saying when he applied the analogy of a shepherd to himself or to the false leaders.

 


So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to 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 comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

Jesus continued with the second aspect of a shepherd with his sheep. The shepherd will lead his flock out to pasture, but he will also provide an enclosed area for sheep that need shelter or protection. The shepherd will personally stay in the doorway of the shelter, ensuring that no danger can enter the enclosure.

 

“I AM the door of the sheep”. This is the third “I AM” statement, where Jesus uses the Old Testament name of God to show who he is (see the complete list here). Those who enter by Christ will be saved and will find satisfaction (find pasture).

 

Note that Jesus not only offers safety but also satisfaction in him. The sheep will find pasture, and they will have abundant life. See also Psalm 23:1. [2]

 

Those who try to lead the people apart from Jesus Christ are the thieves and robbers who do not enter through the door. Their only objective is what they can get, regardless of how it destroys the flock (see also Philippians 3:18-19).

 

 

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 does not own 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 cares nothing for the sheep.

 

The final aspect of a shepherd shows how he will risk his own life for the sheep. Unlike others, the shepherd personally cares for the sheep and protects them, regardless of the danger.

 

“I AM the good shepherd”. Closely following the previous statement, this is the fourth “I AM” statement. In this case, Jesus is the shepherd, “the good one”. The word for “good” here goes beyond moral goodness, and describes beauty and excellence. [3]

 

Unlike a hired hand, the shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep. This is both a general reference (i.e. put his life on the line), but also a specific prophecy. Jesus is predicting his own death. The word for “life” here (psyche, ψυχή), is more than just your physical life, but describes the entire soul.

 

 

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

 

Jesus repeats his statement, “I AM the good shepherd”. Not only does the good shepherd lay down his life for the sheep, but he knows his own sheep.

 

Jesus says that he will know us and we can know him, just as the Father knows him. This is more than just knowledge of facts, but the word “know” (gnosco, γινώσκω) describes intimate personal knowledge. [2]

 

The “other sheep” mentioned here are the believing gentiles. Jesus promises to call out both Jews and Gentiles, and personally lead them together!

 

 

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

 

Note that Jesus predicts his death four times ( 10:11, 10:15, 10:17-18). He says four times that he will lay his life down, and these last two times, he also says that he will take it up again. He will die, and he will rise again.

 

It will not come as a surprise to Jesus. His death comes by his own choice.

 

“So it was love for us, for our needy souls, that took Him there and led Him to die as a sacrifice for sin.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

 

This is the third time that Jesus causes a division (7:40-44, 9:16). The Pharisees fell back to their common mantra, that Jesus must have a demon. But the healed blind man (see John 9) is still fresh in their minds. How could this be the work of a demon?

 

“And so, once again, the Light of His Words and His Person fell upon His Works, and, as ever, revealed their character, and made them clear.” – Alfred Edersheim [1]

 


 

[1] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book IV, CHAPTER X. THE ‘GOOD SHEPHERD’ AND HIS ‘ONE FLOCK’ – LAST DISCOURSE AT THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES

 

[2] Stephen Davey, Up Close and Personal, John 10

 

[3] John MacArthur, I Am the Good Shepherd, John 10:11-21

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 33, THE SECURITY OF CHRIST’S SHEEP, John 10:17-30

2 Comments »

  1. […] Previous Post: The Good Shepherd […]

    Pingback by My Sheep Hear My Voice | Sapphire Sky — May 17, 2015 @ 1:37 am

  2. […] Jesus, restored to fellowship with God the Father, now surrendered his life. Jesus already said that he would lay his own life down (John 10:17, see here). […]

    Pingback by It is Finished! | Sapphire Sky — December 13, 2015 @ 1:07 pm


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