“The Conversationalist” Sermon Series
When Jesus Speaks Through Parables
“I Am the Good Shepherd”
In John chapter 10 we jump right in the middle of an ongoing event, so in order to understand the chapter we need to look at what comes before this chapter. At the end of chapter 8 Jesus told the religious leaders, John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”
They have tried to kill Jesus three times so far. They become so enraged at Jesus that by v. 59 they pick up stones to kill him. He slips into the crowd, and as he is leaving the temple, he heals a man born blind (chapter 9) who places his faith in Jesus, and worships Him. By chapter 10, the Pharisees have caught up with Jesus (who is protected by the crowd). The blind man is still there, and the disciples are all there. He now is going to address why these religious leaders are not true shepherds of God’s people. And Jesus says . . .
Jesus Gives An Illustration (vv. 1-5)
“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. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens.
“Truly, truly, I say to you” – Jesus uses this phrase several times when he gives a parable, or wants to emphasize something very important.
Jesus begins the teaching by referencing a gathering of sheep, a sheepfold. People would typically gather their flocks together at night, into an enclosed arena where the wall would not be very high, and the area could be quite large. The danger is that a thief could reach over the wall, or easily climb in, and steal the sheep.
The gatekeeper sees and recognizes one of the several shepherds and lets him in (opens the gate for him). “One door-keeper can thus look after a large number of sheep.” One person (the shepherd) is legitimate and one is not (the thief and robber). How can you tell the difference?
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
In the evening the various shepherds would join their flocks together into the corral. Then in the morning when it was time to go to their various pastures, the shepherds would gather their sheep. “In Jesus’ time (and today), a shepherd would assign each sheep a name or call (for instance, a certain set of notes on a flute), and this would enable him to recall one that started to wander off. With these distinctive calls the shepherd could keep the herd together and following him (v.4).”
(v. 4) Sometimes when we think of sheep and shepherds the European or Australian model comes to our mind, where there is a sheep dog who is sent by the shepherd. The dog growls, nips, and bites the sheep. The dog runs across their back and quickly moves from the rear to push the sheep toward the shepherd. But this is not the model Jesus presents, “he goes before them, and the sheep follow him,” Jesus’ sheep know Jesus’ voice, they follow by their own desire and knowledge of the shepherd because they know He is good. There is no biting, intimidation, growling, or fear.
Psalm 23:5-6 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my scup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” The sheep follow the Shepherd who loves them.
In Jesus’ day, these thieves and robbers were the religious leaders who opposed Jesus’ ministry, and were trying to steal his flock. By Paul’s time the “strangers” were false teachers who “falsify God’s truths,” changing the gospel, and were forcing their versions on the church (1 Tim. 1:4). Today, we must be extremely vigilant to uphold and follow God’s Word and to examine someone’s teaching very closely.
Acts 17:10-11“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” They received the teaching of Paul and Silas, but they examined them closely against the Scriptures.
Jesus Explains the Illustration (vv. 6-18)
The Gate Explained
6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(v. 6) “This figure of speech Jesus used with them,” Jesus often taught with stories, parables, word pictures, figures of speech – where the meaning is not obvious. Why not just state the obvious truth? One has to scratch below the surface, seek after the meaning, try, look into, pursue, draw closer, lean in. Jesus’ truths are there, but a person has to want to know truth enough to try to figure it out.
The sheep become a picture of God’s community, and the only way for the sheep to enter into God’s community is through the gate. Jesus says that, He is the gate, He is the only way for a person to enter. “At night in the field where the sheep grazed, shepherds would build makeshift pens, using rocks with thorns on top of them to keep the sheep in and the wild animals out. The shepherd would then sleep across the opening becoming in effect the ‘gate for the sheep.’”
Jesus is different from the “thieves and robbers” who came before him (v. 8). Jesus is not referencing the prophets of the OT, but to the religious leaders, mentioned in Ezekiel 34:2-3 “Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.”
In Matthew 23:1-36 and Mark 12:38-40 Jesus teaches of how these leaders took money and property from widows, became rich from the temple treasury, and there were other people/leaders who claimed to be the messiah and led revolts which caused much harm to the nation. “All who came before me are thieves and robbers.” (not were thieves and robbers), The thieves and robbers are still around.
When Jesus seeks to restore the relationship with Peter after his three denials of Jesus, Jesus’ command to Peter was, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15f). Legitimate shepherds feed and tend the sheep (they are called to love and care for, and have responsibility for the flock), illegitimate shepherds steal, kill, and destroy the sheep (for them, the flock exists to take from).
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ck3gaEEHhc Shrek the sheep
The Shepherd Explained
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 does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. 17 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.”
The bad shepherd “steals, kills, and destroys,” but the good shepherd (notice Jesus is not one of several, he is not a good shepherd but The Good Shepherd) gives an abundant life, Psalm 23:1-3 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.” The good shepherd lays across the opening, as the gate, and lays down his life for the sake of the sheep. Jesus knows his mission and that it will ultimately end with him giving up his life to save humanity from their sin.
The hired hand runs away when there is the presence of the wolf because he has no ownership of the sheep, they are not his sheep, and he has no concern for the sheep. His interest is in the pay, not the sheep. He is ok with letting the wolf brutalize the sheep if it means saving himself.
Ezekiel 34:8 “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,” The shepherds abandoned the sheep and so they fell prey to the wild beasts.
Paul also warms the Ephesian church of wolves coming in to the fold in Acts 20:28-29 “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;”
It is essential that we choose church leaders by their walk with the Lord, and not charisma, charm, skills or ability, even willingness to serve in these positions – it is their character that is of utmost importance. It is better to not fill a position of leadership, than to put a “wild beast” there.
What keeps the sheep safe is a loving shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, and sheep who know the voice of the Good Shepherd. There are a lot of sheep who follow after any voice they hear. They can’t distinguish between the howl of a wolf, and the call of the shepherd.
Also, we see this word “hireling” in Mark 1:19-20 “And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” The father (Zebedee) and by extension the sons (James and John) owned the fishing business. They hired servants to help them in the business. There is a difference between someone who has a personal stake in the ministry, and those that do it only for a paycheck. Jesus called the brothers to come and follow me; shepherds of God’s people should have the same calling to a specific church.
(v. 16) “So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” – The church argues and is divided about all kinds of things, Jesus is referencing Gentiles becoming part of God’s family. But all the differences we have in the church will be gone in eternity.
(v. 17) “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.” – It was certainly the Jewish people who condemned Jesus, and it was the Roman people who carried out the execution, but no one takes Jesus’ life; He laid it down of his own free will. Jesus voluntarily went to the cross as the substitute for our sins. It was a command from God the Father, carried out by God the Son.
Jesus describes himself as a door and a shepherd. Both have to do with salvation. “As the Door He is the only way of entrance into salvation. As the Good Shepherd He is the one who cares for and provides for their salvation at the cost of His life.”
19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Division marks the end of Jesus’ teaching – some say he is demon-possessed, some say he is insane. Earlier in chapter 9 Jesus opened the eyes of a man born blind. We have to take what Jesus does (healing the blind, raising the dead, calming the sea, etc.) and combine it with His Words, specifically when He says that He is God and that He is the only way for men to be saved. Others say, demons can’t heal – they only steal, kill, and destroy.
Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” There is no green pasture nor still waters in the sheepfold. In the morning the shepherd appears at the gate and calls his sheep, one by one. The only way for the sheep to be cared for is for the Good Shepherd to call His sheep, and for them to follow Him “all the days of his life.”
 Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981) 502.
 Grant R. Osborne, John Verse by Verse (Bellingham, Washington; Lexham Press, 2018) 250.
 “This chapter should be read in the light of OT passages which castigate shepherds who have failed in their duty (see Jer. 23:1-4; 25:32-8; Zech. 11, and especially Isa. 56:9-12 and Ezk. 34). God is the Shepherd of Israel (Ps. 80:1; 23:1; Isa. 40:10f), which gives us the measure of the responsibility of His under-shepherds. Those entrusted with this duty must be faithful, and it is a heinous crime when they are not.” Morris, 498.
 Osborne, 251.
 Morris, 505.