Jesus, the Shepherd: John 10:1-21

Read the Transcript

As we continue reading John’s gospel, we ultimately discover how Jesus divided people. If we only had Jesus’ words to go on with no miracles, no fulfilled prophecy, and no resurrection, we could rightly conclude that Jesus was the most deluded speaker or preacher in the history of the world.

However, because Jesus could perform miracles, because the Old Testament clearly prophesied about His arrival and His life, and because we have the resurrection that He personally predicted on multiple occasions, we are challenged with the truth that none of this could have happened without God’s leading and blessing.

In our passage, similar to our last episode’s passage, we see Jesus divide people. While our last passage had religious leaders being challenged and divided over the healing of a blind man, our passage for this episode focuses on a teaching Jesus shared that challenged those present.

Let’s read what happened. Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 10, and we will read it from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

Jesus said:

I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.

When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away.

Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.

Jesus said:

I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture.

10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

19 The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He is crazy! Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person!”

In this passage, we see Jesus dividing another crowd. It is likely that this event happened not long after the miracle we read about in our last episode, where Jesus healed the man who was born blind. I suspect this because our passage in this episode ends with the crowd being torn over Jesus having given sight to a blind person.

However, in this passage, we are presented with several challenging statements.

The first challenging statement in my mind is at the end of verse 14. Right in the middle of Jesus explaining this parable, Jesus tells those present “I give up my life for my sheep.” This is one of the craziest things for anyone to say. From the most literal way of understanding this idea, if a shepherd gives up his life for his sheep, his sheep would be left defenseless when the next predator comes. On the surface, this sounds crazy.

However, while this sounds crazy, this is one more clear example of Jesus predicting His death, and the ultimate reason Jesus gives up His life.

The second challenging statement is connected with the first and it is when Jesus says in verses 17 and 18: “The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

While the truth in these two verses is difficult, or perhaps even impossible for us to fully understand, Jesus has the power to give His life up and the power to receive it back again. This means that Jesus essentially has the power to resurrect Himself, and if I were to hear someone claim this today, I would be just as confused as the people listening to Jesus in the first century.

This outlandish claim leaves only two options: Either Jesus was ridiculously deluded and overstepped His bounds, or Jesus spoke the truth and He has more power than any of us can even begin to comprehend.

The way we reconcile this claim is by testing it against what happened, and all evidence tells us that Jesus did die, and that He did rise again, just as He predicted. Even though this event happened thousands of years ago, it is the most preserved truth in all of history.

This leads us to the third challenging statement. This one is found between our other two statements. In verse 16, Jesus tells those present: “I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

While on the surface this doesn’t sound all that crazy, especially when compared with the other two statements we have already looked at, the craziness in this statement is that Jesus has people who are part of other groups of people. While we might limit the other groups of people to other believing Christians who are part of different denominations or churches, I suspect Jesus’ statement is even broader than this, including other belief systems and other worldviews. It is possible that God has called someone from a group you could not possibly think could be saved or savable.

However, while this is a challenging truth, it is worth noting that Jesus is the one responsible for uniting people. It is not our responsibility to change other people’s minds. Instead, in a subtle twist, our responsibility is to live in a way that doesn’t push other people away. We are to live a visible faith, we are to love and help others, but we should not be abrasive, pushy, arrogant, prideful, or hostile towards people who are not like us.

Jesus came into a world to save people who were nothing like Him. Jesus loved people who were nothing like Him. We are called to love those who Jesus loves, and that includes people who are nothing like us, people who stand for the opposite things as we do, and people who are even openly hostile towards us. We are called to be loving, and Jesus is called to be the one uniting!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and choose to be loving to those He brings into your life. While this includes strangers and acquaintances, this also includes your friends and your family – both your immediate family and your extended family as well. God has brought everyone into your life for a reason, and regardless of whether you understand the reason, we are called to be loving towards everyone God has brought into our life.

Also, continue to pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Through the pages of the Bible, discover just how much God loves you and I and how much He was willing to give to redeem us from sin.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 23: When Jesus decides to share an illustration about being a shepherd, discover in Jesus’ words several powerful truths about Jesus’ character, His love, and His mission to this world of sinners. Discover just how much God loves each of us through what Jesus says in these few verses.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Share Your Response

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.