Scripture (John 10:1-42)
I Am the Good Shepherd
Verse 1: "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."
Winter was approaching and during winter the sheep were kept inside a pen, or sheepfold, at night; the pen usually had a stone wall, which might have briers on top of it.
The Jewish law distinguished between thieves and robbers. Thieves were ones who broke in to steal; robbers often lived in the wilderness and would assault and rob passersby. Shepherds had to continually guard against both.
Verses 2-4: "But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."
In the Old Testament, the Spirit was not yet given; so the way Israel heard God's voice was by reading and obeying the law, and by hearing from God through the Prophets. The gift of Jesus dieing on the cross included the gift of hearing from God through the Holy Spirit; something Judaism in that day did not consider possible.
It was customary for shepherds to call their sheep by name. In the Old Testament God called his special people, his servants, by name. (EX 33:12)
Verse 5: "A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
In this context the stranger would be the thief or robber - the Pharisees who had sought to mislead the sheep (John 9:40-45).
Verses 6-9: "This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture."
AT this point, are we surprised that these spiritually blind people didn't understand what Jesus was saying to them? I think not.
Shepherds often sleep across the gate-way to serve both as shepherd and door.;
Then He says "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved..." Here, looking beyond our earthly life, Jesus is saying that He is the way to be saved from hell, and the way to enter heaven.
Verses 10-11: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Relating to unfaithful leaders, the thief acts for his own good, not that of the flock. A thief might actually steal a sheep for food, while a shepherd risks his life to protect his flock.
The Pharisees and aristocrats despised shepherds and considered them members of an unclean profession, vulgar, lower-class workers.;
Concerning thieves and robbers:
We know that pertaining to sin, Satan exemplifies the worst of the worst. He is a thief, murderer, and destroyer. He is behind every theft committed and every murder beginning with the murder of Able. And he is the destroyer of all he can destroy.
In the other extreme, God sent His Son Jesus to lay down His life that we might have abundant life, both on this earth and in eternity. (verse 11)(what a difference).
Verse 12-13: "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. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep."
A "hired hand" was not a shepherd and was not responsible for protecting the sheep from wild animals. They worked for pay, not because the sheep belonged to them. The religious leaders who allow God's sheep to be scattered were not God's true representatives, because they are not concerned with what concerns Him (Jer 23:1).
Verse 14: "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."
Knowing God, in the Old Testament, meant having an intimate and obedient relationship with Him (Jer 31:34).
Verses 16: "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. "
Some see this as a gathering of the Children of Israel that had become scattered among the nations (Ezek 37:21-24). But Jesus was also saying that He had not only come to die for the Children of Abraham, but for the entire world. All who believe can be saved by the blood of Jesus.
Verse 17-18: "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 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."
That Jesus had complete control over His death on the cross is very clear. He plainly says speaking of His life, "I lay down my life that I may take it up again," and "no one takes it from me."
He had authority to lay down His life and to take it up again. This right had been given to Him by the Father. Jesus death and resurrection was a part of God's plan for the salvation of the world, and was under God's full control.
We see clearly here that although God had sent Jesus, He had not been forced, He had the right and power to refuse. It is amazing how God never forces anyone in this world to come to Him, or even obey, we have the power to either accept, or refuse, to obey or disobey.
Verse 19-21: "There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?" 21Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
These people were interested in labeling Jesus, to put Him in a box, but they had never met anyone like Him and their label didn't change a thing, and He wouldn't fit in their box.
So there was still a division among the Jews. Some accused Him of having a demon, others said He was insane; yet, others realized that Jesus wasn't talking like a demon possessed person, and asked, "could a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
I and the Father Are One
Verse 22: "At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,"
The Feast of Dedication sometimes known better as "Hanukkah," is also called "the dedication of the altar," and "the Feast of Lights."
A few years prior to 165 BC the Jewish people lost control of the Temple in Jerusalem and were forced to abandon their worship of God, their holy customs, and the reading of the Torah. They were also forced to bow down to the Greek gods. The alter had been defiled when the enemy sacrificed a pig on the alter spilling it's blood on the holy scrolls of Scripture.
As a result a group Jewish religious freedom fighters were organized who after three years of fierce battle achieved a miraculous victory and regained the Temple. The temple was cleansed and cleared of all Greek idolatry and on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (KISS-lehv) was rededicated to the lord.
The Feast of Dedication was a joyous and popular festival celebrating the purifying of the temple. However, unlike some of the other feasts, the men were not required to attend. It is celebrated during the Hebrew month of Kislev, ((KISS-lehv) which falls in November or December and lasts eight days.
This festival, held at Jerusalem, was attended by Jesus, and is still observed by the Jews.
So Jesus was attending this festival, and in -
Verses 23-24: "and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon."
The outer part of the temple had porches on all four sides. Solomon's porch, or colonnade, was on the east side and had two rows of pillars. It was called Solomon's porch because the people thought a part of Solomon's original temple was in that area.
Verse 24: So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
So, here the Jews, or rulers of the Jews, still appear to remain spiritually blind and totally unable to grasp His purpose or true identity. In actuality, what they wanted was for Jesus to make a statement, or claim, such as His being the "Son of God" so they could have Him arrested.
And in -
Verse 25-26: "Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock."
Jesus had told them repeatedly who He was, and had provided witnesses. If you remember in the study we called the "Fourfold witnesses," there was God Himself, John the Baptist, Scripture, and the very works, or miracles Jesus did, and still they did not believe. And in verse 26 Jesus said they were not a part of His flock. He had previously told them in(chapter 8), that their father was the devil (John 8:44).
Verse 27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
In verses three and four Jesus, the good Shepherd, calls his own sheep by name, and His sheep know His voice and follow His leading.
Verse 28:-29: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My 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."
There is no way any demon or satanic force of any kind can separate us from Jesus or cause us to lose out on eternal life with Christ; because there is simply no power, either on earth or in the heavens that can snatch us out of the Father's hand.
If you know about sheep you know they are practically defenseless. They don't seem to be particularly intelligent as animals go, they can't fight, just about any kind of animal can get the best of them, and they can't run, just about any animal can catch them. So a shepherd who watches after his sheep in those days had to be prepared to protect his flock from predators such as lions, (as David did) wolves, and many other animals that might snatch them away.
Verse 30: "I and the Father are one."
This is the clearest statement of Jesus' divinity He ever made, and a tremendous statement! Although the Jews understand, they don't believe, but His claim to be God is unmistakable.
This statement, "I and the Father are one," along with other Scripture often taken out of context and misunderstood lead some to believe that Jesus and God are literally the same person; however if that is so, then who was it during Jesus' Baptism who spoke audibly from heaven and said:" "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Luke 3:21-22) And what did Stephen's statement mean in (Acts 7:55-56) when he was being stoned for his faith in Christ:
"55But he,full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
There are many other examples, so for me, The Trinity means there is "God the Father," "God the Son," and "God the Holy Spirit," all separate entities, and yet one, as an egg is one, (the shell, the yolk, and the egg white), so is God.
Moving on to verse 31 -
Verse 31: "The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" 33The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."
The works of Jesus, miracles, or as John says, "signs" were witnesses Jesus had used to prove that He was of God, and Jesus puts these Jews on the spot by asking them which one of these works, signs, or miracles from God are you going to stone me for?
And although they attempt to stone Him again we have seen that God will not allow Jesus to be taken before His appointed time.
They were attempting to stone Jesus for blasphemy when in fact they were the ones guilty of blasphemy; because they had rejected Jesus, who God the Son.
Verse 34 "Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'?"
You know, the bible is very deep, but it is thought that this statement by Jesus was referring to the Scripture found in Psalm 82:6 - "I said, Ye are gods, And all of you sons of the Most High."
It mentions powerful people that were somehow viewed as a part of God's divine council. But as we know, God does not need the advice or counseling of man.
Jesus knew, this Scripture had been taken out of context by the Jews who had assumed that it was they who were members of this divine council - perhaps placing themselves on a higher plane than they deserved.
Verses 35-36: "If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—"
In verse 36 Jesus goes on to say: 36do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?"
Scripture is totally true, and cannot be broken, The Christian faith stands on this, it is our bedrock;
So again Jesus used Scripture as a witness, and to paraphrase what He is saying here - Scripture cannot be broken, and Scripture is my witness, so it is you who are blaspheming, because Scripture testified of me; how can you object to my saying I am the Son of God if you believe the Scriptures.
And going on to verse 37 -
Verse 37 "If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;"
So Jesus is again using His works and the Scripture as witnesses.
The works, or miracles spoke for themselves. It was as the blind man said in our last study, "only God can do these things." (and don't we all instinctively know that?)
In verse 38 says:
Verse 38: "but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
Again, to paraphrase what Jesus was saying: So don't believe me, that okay, but you have to recognize these works can only have been done by the power of God, so perhaps that will help you understand that I am who I say that I am.
But it didn't, because they didn't listen, or believe, and in verse 39:
Verse 39: "Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands."
They were not able to arrest and kill Jesus yet simply because it wasn't God's appointed time, it wasn't yet the "Passover."
Jesus was to be God's "Passover Lamb," and this time the Passover was going to be different than any they had ever seen; because this Passover was not only for the Jews, but for the entire world, for every man woman and child in every corner of the world, red, yellow, black and white (John 3:16).
This would require the crucifixion of Jesus to occur on "Passover," which it did. God was in control and it just wasn't going to happen at any other time.
Doesn't this give you chills to know this happened exactly on time and as spoken of as early as in the book of Genesis when God, talking to Satan, said And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
In this Scripture, speaking of Jesus God said, "He will crush your head" indicating a death blow to Satan from Jesus, and speaking to Satan "you will strike his heel," indicating that Satan would hurt Jesus, and did by having him crucified.
Satan thought he had won, but had instead found himself caught in his own trap; which was another blow leading to the end-times when Jesus will once-and-for-all deliver to him a death blow.
Verse 40: "He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained."
If you remember back in Chapter three, this is the place where Jesus' and John's disciples were both baptizing, and John's disciples became upset because more people were going to Jesus. And John had told his disciples, again paraphrased, that's okay, that's the way it's supposed to be. He is to increase and I am to decrease.
Verse 41: "And many came to him. And they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true."
So here we see the result of John the Baptist testimony concerning Jesus. This verse says that many came to Him, because everything John had said about Him was true.
That can be encouragement for us, can't it? We may witness and testify to people and though it seems they don't accept or understand, who knows but that somewhere down the line the Holy Spirit will very likely introduce them to God's plan of salvation through someone else. Perhaps then they will remember what you said, and along with whoever God has sent them at that time, will decide to enter into His Kingdom.
We have to remember that when we are speaking God's words, they are His words and according to (Isaiah 55:11) will not return void, but will accomplish their purpose.
Verse 42: "And many believed in him there."
John only says "many believed" and we aren't given a number, but when using the word "many" when saying many were rejecting Him in John 6, (the bread of life study) we are told there were at least hundreds, and perhaps thousands. So if the word "many" represented hundreds and perhaps thousands to John then maybe hundreds and perhaps thousands were coming to Jesus at this time.
So the persistence of Jesus the good shepherd paid off, and isn't that a good lesson for us!
So next week we can read: (John 11:1-44):
It is one of the most well known and favorite stories that tells about the Death of Lazarus and how Jesus brings him back to life; thereby proving that He is the Resurrection and the Life.
Gospel of John Bible Study