The Good Shepherd
The Robber Versus the Shepherd (John 10:1-6)
Though we changed chapters, Jesus is still holding a discussion with the Pharisees (John 9:40; 10:19). As Jesus has done in the past when talking with a hostile audience, he uses figurative speech (Matthew 13:10-17). Because his audience does not understand Jesus’ words (John 9:41; 10:6), we know they were not inclined to accept Jesus’ message.
Jesus first draws a contrast between the behavior of a thief and the behavior of a shepherd. It is the thief who avoids the door to enter the fold. The shepherd is able to use the door for entrance because both the doorkeeper and the flock recognize him as legitimate and are willing to follow him.
The Pharisees had just cast out a man who dared to question their authority with very telling questions and who was unwilling to simply accept their answers because they gave them. He was one of God’s sheep who didn’t recognize those who called themselves shepherds of God’s flock. They were acting as the false shepherds warned about in Ezekiel 34:1-6; Jeremiah 23:1-6; and Zechariah 11:4-11.
Jesus, however, was a true shepherd. He came in by the way appointed by God (Psalm 23; 77:20; 80:1; 95:7; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:31; Micah 7:14). The doorkeeper is likely a reference to God, who determines who may have access to the sheep (I Corinthians 16:9; II Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3). The doorkeeper and the sheep (the people of Israel) recognize the true shepherd’s right to lead the flock. The true shepherd knows his sheep intimately and is able to call each one by his name. The sheep are willing to follow him, but they scatter at the call of a false shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
John tells us that Jesus spoke allegorically, or by using figures of speech. The Greek word is not the same word that is translated as “parable” in other places, though a few translations do so translate this word. Jesus was not talking to the Jews in a direct fashion and as a result, they were unable to follow his meaning.
The Door (John 10:7-10)
Perhaps because the Jews did not understand the allegories used, Jesus gives further explanation. He states clearly that he is the door to the sheep; thus, he is indirectly stating that he is God.
Jesus is stating that the only way to access those who are God’s people is through him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:18). Those who came prior to Jesus claiming the right to lead God’s people were all false shepherds. Only those who enter through him have protection and life (John 4:14; 6:35).
The Hireling Versus the Shepherd (John 10:11-13)
Jesus then switches to the point he made about the shepherd. As with the door, Jesus states that he is also the good shepherd (Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24). Thieves only come to take for personal profit and to destroy. Jesus, being the good shepherd, is there to give life in abundance. Jesus is not here just to preserve life that already gained. He is here to give life to those without life (John 5:24).
A good shepherd loves his flock so much that he is willing to hazzard his own life to preserve their life (I Samuel 17:34-35). And this Jesus did (Zechariah 13:7; Hebrews 13:20; I Peter 2:25).
Someone who is hired to watch the sheep does have nearly the same care as the shepherd who owns the sheep (Zechariah 11:16-17).When trouble comes, he will flee to preserve his own life. He cares about his wages, but not about his charges.
The Flock (John 10:14-18)
The shepherd’s relationship with his flock is personal. He knows every one of his sheep by name and the sheep know him and his voice (II Timothy 2:19; I John 5:20).
God the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows Him (Matthew 11:27). The sheep belong to God (Ezekiel 18:4), but as the Son, Jesus is willing to lay down his life for the sheep (Hebrews 3:4-6).
In case it wasn’t clear, Jesus points out that his flock isn’t limited to Israel. He has other sheep and under his care they will become one flock (Isaiah 49:6; 56:8; Ezekiel 37:22; Ephesians 2:14).
Because of his willingness to lay down his life, the Father has loved the Jesus. But Jesus isn’t going to simply die. He claims the power to restore his own life as well. When he dies, it will not because it was taken from him. He will chose to die; thus, just as he chooses to die, he will choose to live (John 2:19). He has this authority from the Father Himself (Philippians 2:8-11; Hebrews 2:9).
The Reaction to Jesus’ Words (John 10:19-21)
The claim Jesus is making is far beyond the ability of any mortal man. As a result it creates controversy among his audience yet again (John 7:43; 9:16).
Some are even more convinced that Jesus is crazy (John 7:20; 8:48, 52). It is obvious to them that he is demon possessed and should not be heeded.
Others, however, point out that demon-possessed people don’t talk as Jesus spoke. Besides Jesus has demonstrated the ability to do miracles (John 9:33). He could not be crazy or demon-possessed.
What we find is that none have changed their minds about Jesus. He remained a point of division (Romans 9:32-33; I Peter 2:8).