By: Steve Shirley
"I Am The Good Shepherd." We will take Chapter 10 in three parts. Let's begin by reading (Jn 10:1-11).
This is a complicated section of Scripture, but here is how I understand it. First, let's look at the characters in this illustration:
"Sheepfold" - A "sheepfold" was a pen, enclosed by a fence (often made of rock), with one opening (a gate / door), in which sheep were kept during the night.
"Sheep" - The sheep here refer to Israel (see: verse 16).
"(Good) Shepherd" - This is Jesus.
"Doorkeeper" - This was someone who was hired by the "Shepherd" to guard the gate, and assist in caring for the sheep. Who the "doorkeeper" is here is a subject of debate. Some believe it is the Old Testament prophets who pointed to Jesus. Some believe it is speaking of John the Baptist. Others believe it is referring to the Holy Spirit.
"Thief and robber" - This is the Pharisees.
Keeping these things in mind, let me try and summarize what I think Jesus is saying here.
(Verse 1) "Thieves and robbers" refer to the Pharisees (false shepherds), who were coming to "steal, kill, and destroy" the "sheep" (Israel). A "thief" does this secretly, and with stealth, while a "robber" does this with violence. Hence, they would not "enter the sheepfold by the door." (I believe the "door" here is a literal door, as opposed to the "door" in verse 9.)
(Verses 2-5) However, the (true) shepherd enters through the door that the "doorkeeper" opens for him. The shepherd calls his "own" sheep by name, leads them out of the pen, and they follow him, because they know his voice. They will not follow a "stranger" (the Pharisees) because they don't his voice. (They do not belong to the "stranger," they belong to the "shepherd.") ***Note: "Calls his own sheep" implies that there are "sheep" that are not "his own," and therefore they won't follow him.
(Verse 6) The Pharisees don't understand what Jesus has said (because they were not His true sheep), so He gives them another illustration.
(Verses 7-11) In verse 7, Jesus says, "I am the door of the sheep." In this illustration, Jesus "is" the door (as opposed to the "literal door" in verses 1 & 2). This is the third of Jesus' 7 "I AM" statements, which were metaphors describing who He was. In verse 8, "All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers," is referring to the Pharisees (and false teachers and false prophets) who were on earth before Jesus was born. They came to "steal, kill, and destroy" the sheep (Israel), however, Jesus came to give them "abundant life." Jesus, as the "Good Shepherd," gave His life for the "sheep" (Israel).
Next, let's read (Jn 10:12-21).
(Verses 12-13) The "hireling" in this verse is also referring to the Pharisees. The "hireling... does not care about the sheep" because he "does not own the sheep." Therefore, when trouble ("the wolf") comes, the "hireling" will not give his life for the sheep to save them, but instead will flee to save his own life. The Pharisees only cared about themselves, and not those they were supposed to care for.
(Verse 16) "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." "Other sheep" is referring to the Gentiles. Jesus was a Jew (see: 4:9)(Jn 1:11)(Heb 7:14)(Jn 19:19-21), and came for the Jews (Jn 4:22)(Rom 9:3-5)(Mt 10:5-6)(Mt 15:24). It was through the Jews that "salvation" came to "all" (Lk 24:47)(Acts 5:30-31). "All" means that in addition to the Jews, Jesus came to give His life for the Gentiles as well. This salvation began in (Acts Ch. 10) with Cornelius. Gentiles are "grafted in" to God's promise (Rom 11:17-24). In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile) (Gal 3:26-29)(Rom 10:12-13)(Col 3:11)(Eph 2:14-18).
(Verses 17-18) "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (18) No man taketh 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 commandment have I received of my Father."
A common question that is asked is, "How could God the Father let His Son Jesus die like that?" When we keep these verses in mind, it helps us to answer this question.
The key thing to understand is that while the Bible does say God the Father offered His Son to pay for our sins (Jn 3:16)(1 Jn 4:10)(2 Cor 5:21), it also says that Jesus FREELY gave His life for this purpose. He gave His life and shed His blood because of His great love for us.
In (Jn 15:13), Jesus tells us that the greatest act of love that one person can show for another is to lay down His life for that person. In (verse 11), we read that Jesus calls Himself the "good shepherd" who "giveth his life for the sheep" (which is the Jews here, but also the Gentiles [verse 16]). A shepherd who is willing to give his life for his flock clearly has the choice to do this or not. This is what Jesus says He is doing here.
It is also important to remember that while Jesus was fully man, He was also fully God. As God, He had the power to end His persecution and suffering at any time. Jesus gave us an example of this in (Mt 26:53-54) when He told Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? (54) But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" The Old Testament was filled with prophesies of Jesus, and how He would be persecuted and die. If He had stopped it, the prophesies would not have been fulfilled. Jesus would never have allowed this to occur. In fact, (Rev 13:8) says that Jesus (the Lamb) was "slain from the foundation of the world." Jesus created ALL things (Jn 1:3)(Col 1:16)(Heb 1:10), and He created us, even though He knew before He did so, that He would later have to suffer and die on our behalf to pay for our sins.
There is a little story that is worth remembering in regards to this. A father lost his son in an accident, and prayed to God the Father, asking Him, "Why didn't you stop this? Where were you?" And, he says he heard the Father reply, "The same place I was when My Son died." There is no doubt that it was agonizing for God the Father to watch Jesus endure the sufferings and eventual death He did. However, when we realize that Jesus willingly did this, and could have stopped it at any time, it makes it a little easier to understand.
For more verses showing Jesus freely gave His life, See: (Jn 6:51)(Titus 2:14)(1 Tim 2:6)(1 Jn 3:16)(Heb 9:14)(Gal 1:4)(Gal 2:20)(Mt 20:28).
(Verse 20)(NKJV) "He has a demon and is mad." As we mentioned previously in our studies in John Chapters 7 & 8, this one of 5 times that Jesus is accused of "having a demon:"
#1. (Mt 9:34) - Accused by the Pharisees
#2. (Mt 12:24)(Mk 3:22,30)(Lk 11:15) - Accused by the Pharisees / scribes / crowd
#3. (Jn 7:20) - Accused by the crowd
#4. (Jn 8:48-50) - Accused by the Jews
#5. (Jn 10:19-20) - Accused by the Jews
Finally, let's read (Jn 10:22-42).
(Verse 22) "the Feast of Dedication" I will use this (kind of long) explanation from my John MacArthur Study Bible to explain this day. "The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which celebrates the Israelite victory over the Syrian leader Antiochus Ephphanes, who persecuted Israel. In ca. 170 B.C. he conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up a pagan altar to displace the altar of God. Under the leadership of an old priest named Mattathias (his family name was called the Hasmoneans), the Jews fought guerilla warfare (known as the Maccabean Revolt - 166-142 B.C.) against Syria and freed the temple and the land from Syrian dominance until 63 B.C. when Rome (Pompey) took control of Palestine. It was in 164 B.C. on 25 Chislev (Dec. approximately), that the Jews liberated the temple and rededicated it. The celebration is also known as the "Feast of Lights" because of the lighting of lamps and candles in Jewish homes to commemorate the event."
(Verse 23) "Solomon's porch" This was a roofed portico on the east side of the Temple. It is also mentioned in (Acts 3:11)(Acts 5:12). This was destroyed in A.D. 70, along with the rest of the Temple.
(Verses 24-25) "If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me."
The primary purpose of Jesus' works ("miracles") in the Bible was to confirm that He was from God (Jn 3:2)(Jn 5:36)(Mk 2:10-12), and so that people would believe in Him (Jn 10:37-38)(Jn 20:30-31)(Mt 11:2-6). (Other places showing this: Acts 2:22, Heb 2:3-4).
(Verse 28) As "sheep," who belong to Jesus the Shepherd, Jesus tells us 3 things we have in this verse:
1. We have "eternal life."
2. We will "never perish."
3. No one can "snatch (us) out of His (Jesus') hand."
All three of these, in addition to (verse 29), which says, "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand," point to the "Eternal Security" of a Christian.
(Verse 30) "I and my Father are one." This is one of the clearest verses pointing to the deity of Jesus in the Bible. As I mentioned in the "New Testament Survey of John" (https://jesusalive.cc/ntsurveyjohn.htm), one of the primary purposes of the book of John was to point to the deity of Jesus (i.e. Jn 1:1,14, Jn 5:16-18, Jn 6:49, Jn 20:28, and the seven "I AM" statements of Jesus).
(Verses 31-33) In saying that He was "one" with the Father, the Jews clearly understood that Jesus was declaring Himself to be God, and picked up stones "to stone Him (kill Him)." Declaring Himself to be God would be blasphemy (were it not true), and the punishment from Old Testament times for "blasphemy" was "stoning" (Lev 24:10-16,23).
Jesus was "directly" accused of "blasphemy" on three different occasions, and "indirectly" accused on two more (they didn't say Jesus had committed "blasphemy," but they wanted to kill Him [the penalty for blasphemy] for proclaiming deity. Of course, we know that since Jesus "IS" God (He has never stopped being God), and He was sinless (2 Cor 5:21)(Heb 4:15)(1 Jn 3:5)(1 Pet 2:22), any accusations of blasphemy were false. Following are the five occasions.
#1. (Mt 9:1-8)(Mk 2:1-12)(Lk 5:17-26) Jesus was accused of blasphemy by the scribes for telling the paralytic man that his sins were forgiven.
#2. (Jn 10:30-33) The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy, and were going to stone Him for "making Himself God."
#3. (Mt 26:63-66)(Mk 14:61-64)(Lk 22:67-71) The High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be "the Christ, the Son of God."
#4. (Jn 5:17-18) ("indirect") The Jews wanted to "kill" Jesus for saying "that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."
#5. (Jn 8:58-59) ("indirect") The Jews were going to stone Jesus for calling Himself the "I AM."
In addition, Jesus was accused of committing "sin" in several other places (Jn 9:24)(Mt 11:18-19)(Lk 4:16-29)(Lk 7:33-35). He was also called a "friend of sinners" several times (Mt 9:10-13)(Lk 7:36-50 - He forgave sins here too)(Lk 15:1-3)(Lk 19:7).
(Verses 34-36) "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?"
When Jesus said "ye are gods," He was referring back to (Ps 82:6), in which human judges were called "gods." He was simply telling the Jews, that if their "law" said humans could be called "gods," then why did they have a problem with Him saying He was God.
When "ye are gods" is used in (Ps 82:6), it was speaking of the judges of Israel. They were called "gods" not because they were Gods (as in deity), since there is only ONE God (Deut 6:4)(Jas 2:19)(1 Cor 8:4), but rather, because they had God-given power and authority over the Israelites as representatives of God, and were men "unto whom the word of God came" (verse 35). Because they held authority to pronounce judgment over others, and even held a position to determine the fate of some, they had "God-like" power.
They were clearly not "Gods" though because they were unjust and showed partiality (Ps 82:2), they walked in darkness (Ps 82:5), and they died (Ps 82:7).
Moses is also called a "god" in the Bible because God gave Him power over others as His representative and spokesman (Ex 4:15-16)(Ex 7:1). Even Satan, who is called a "god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4), has a measure of God-given authority (Lk 4:6) in this world, but only what God allows (Job 1:12)(1 Cor 10:13)(2 Th 2:7). However, Satan isn't a "god" either, because he is a fallen angel (Ezek 28:12-19)(Isa 14:12-15)(2 Cor 11:14).
(Verse 35) "Scripture cannot be broken" Since the verse Jesus is speaking of here is in the Old Testament, He is giving authority and infallibility to what is written in the Old Testament. All that we believe, and teach should line up with Scripture, which is inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16)(2 Pet 1:20-21).
(Verses 37-39) "that the Father is in Me, and I in Him... Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand." Again, they saw that Jesus was proclaiming deity, and sought to "take Him." Yet, Jesus was able to "escape out of their hand? Why was Jesus able to do this?
(Verse 40) "And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode." This likely goes back to John Chapter 1. (Jn 1:28) tells us this was "Bethabara" (Bethany).
(Verses 41-42) "John did no miracle." A good little trivia fact, John the Baptist never performed a miracle while he was alive.
"all things that John spake of this man were true" Even though John had been killed by Herod earlier (Mt 14:1-12)(Mk 6:21-29), the words he spoke about Jesus were still remembered.