John 10:14-18 (CSB) 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. I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
John 10:22-30 (CSB) 22 Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
John 10:31-33 (CSB) 31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?” 33 “We aren’t stoning you for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.”
I am the bread of life.
I am the light of the world.
I am the good shepherd.
As Jesus moves toward the climactic event of the cross, he continues to give us glimpses into the eternal plan that He, Father, and Holy Spirit put in motion in eternity past.
There is a world with a people, and folks who try to force their way into some exalted role apart from God’s providential plan and purpose are thieves and robbers. There have been supposed holy men and leaders who just wanted to be special and some kind of superstars and they failed and led many astray. There are many examples in history of superstardom turning rotten. That’s because Jesus will not share his throne with anyone.
The Gatekeeper has sent the Gate and Good Shepherd, Jesus. There is one way into being God’s people, and that is by the Gate. How do people know the way? The Good Shepherd calls to those the Father has given the Son, and they know his voice, and they will follow him. Those sheep won’t follow the voice of a stranger because they don’t belong to that stranger. They belong to the Good Shepherd. They have an antenna tuned to the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Who is that Good Shepherd? Jesus. He said so.
The Good Shepherd won’t be like a hired hand who runs when danger comes or is themselves danger. Jesus is no hired hand. Jesus is the sheep’s object of greatest joy and affection, and those sheep are his gift from the Father for glorious and eternal purposes that speak to the very core of our created being.
By the way, it’s in that core part of our being that we “hear” him call to us through the gospel to follow and keep following. That’s why his sheep won’t ever turn back from following him. We know and we have believed and we’d never turn back. Where would we go? He has the very words of life that have resonated in our hearts.
Jesus is the owner of the sheep, so he is going to do the hard and dirty work necessary to secure them because the Father has given them to him, and he will not lose even one of them.
That’s why he’ll leave the 99 to go after the one that has strayed. They are precious to him, he’s going to secure them in his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, so he will go get them. By the way, it’s Jesus who goes after the lost sheep, not other sheep. Strange how we think we can rescue other sheep while we are constantly trying to push past the boundaries of the sheepfold. Meditate on that.
As his sheep, we can’t be taken from his grasp.
All these amazing and holy words caused the religious leaders to take up rocks to stone Jesus to death, again. Why? Because it’s clear to them, and should be to us, he is telling the world he is God and he has come to secure his rightful place as King and Good Shepherd of his sheep who will love and follow him.
But that kingdom is costly. He told Adam and Eve the day they rebelled it would cause death, and he promised after they rebelled that one day her offspring, that One, would come and set it all back to the state it was in before sin spoiled it. Now, he is here, and the price of setting all things right will be his death. But, he will live again because he has the authority to lay his life down and to take up his life from death.
John 10 is a short field trip into seriously holy ground. Mere human language is inadequate to truly relay the glory Jesus reveals in John 10. But human language is what we have for now.
Here are a few suggestions to enjoy John 10 on our journey to the cross.
- Don’t try to make earthly sense of it. It’s not of earth. This is a glimpse into heaven, so just enjoy it.
- Don’t take the imagery too far to a logical earthly conclusion. The imagery Jesus uses is for us to get a frame of reference that we could understand to help us see glory our eyes often only see these things in a blurry way. Try to look past the Shepherd/sheep into Jesus’ immense love for his people and our security in his pursuit of us.
- Note the different responses to Jesus. Rejection and amazement. “He has a demon!” “These aren’t the words of a demon-possessed man.” Not much different today, and remember his words, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.”
- Test your faith. Put Jesus’ words out there, and see who follows. Tell his gospel. Watch the response to it. Embedded in John 10 is the most effective evangelism strategy ever. His sheep will hear, and they will come.
Finally, John is about to speed us through the last portion of Jesus’ earthly ministry. John takes 12 chapters to take us through 3 years of work, and in John 13 through 21 he will slow down and take us slowly through Jesus’ last few hours as he prepares his disciples for his work on the cross.
John’s purpose is not hidden. John 20:30-31 (CSB) Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Go slowly and savor it. You will meet the Good Shepherd in the pages of John’s account, and if you already hear his voice and have followed, boom! If not, maybe you heard him for the first time right here. Respond by simply saying yes to Jesus and following him. Hit me up if you’d like some further help in getting connected to his people. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org