1. Jn. 7:1-10:21 is devoted to what Jesus said and did in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Festival of Tabernacles (Booths) in Jerusalem in the month of October, just six months before His crucifixion and death. The growing tension between Him and the Jewish authorities is reaching a climax. In Jn. 9 we have the account of the healing of the blind man, a remarkable miracle which also serves as a parable to show the Pharisees their obstinate spiritual blindness. The audience on the occasion of our text is Jesus' disciples, the formerly blind beggar, the Pharisees, and other Jews. The Pharisees are spiritually blind. In this parable vss. 11- 18, Jesus offers both stern warning and sweet comfort.
2. In vss. 11-13 we have Jesus' relationship to His sheep. In vss. 14- 18 we have Jesus' relationship to His Father and His sheep. In both sections the central thought is Jesus laying down His life in the stead of the sheep.
3. The prophets foretold Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Read Ps. 23; Ezek. 34:11-16.23; 37:24; Is. 53:6. Heb. 13:20 calls Jesus the Shepherd. The central thought is Jesus' eternal care for His sheep. In Jn. 10 read also vss. 1-10 and 27-30. Pastors are Jesus' under shepherds. Read Acts 20:28-31, a beautiful passage. Grievous wolves are constantly attacking Jesus' sheep. We must protect them.
4. The wolf is the devil. The hireling is the false pastor, the hypocrite who merely poses as a pastor. The false teacher wears sheep's clothing but inwardly is a wolf. Mt. 7:15. He is like Judas. Jn. 12:6.
5. The relationship between Jesus and His sheep is like that between the heavenly Father and Jesus. As a result of this relationship Jesus laid down His life in the stead of the sheep. Read II Tim. 2:19 and Mt. 7:23. Jesus knows you better than anyone else. He knows your hopes and fears, your joys and sorrows, your sins and your weaknesses. But He lays down His life for you. He does not desert you in your sorrows. On the relationship of believers to Jesus cf. Jn. 14:20; 15:10; 17:8.21; Mt. 11:27; Lk. 22:29; I Cor. 11:3; 15:28; Rev. 3:21; Rom. 8:31-35; 37-39.
6. Of His own free will Jesus gave Himself into the hands of sinful men to die for us and pay for our sins. Jn. 18:4-11; 19:28-30; Mt. 26:52-54; Lk. 23:46. On this willingness read Heb. 10:1-14.
7. Note the following in vs. 16: The "other sheep" are the Gentile Christians. "Of this fold" denotes the Jewish Christians. The word "must" denotes the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father. Jesus "brings" the sheep to the Father. They don't find Him. He finds them. Spiritually dead man cannot bring himself to God. As a result of Jesus' bringing, the sheep will hear His voice. The Gospel makes the unwilling unbeliever a willing believer. The Jewish and Gentile Christians will comprise one flock under one Shepherd. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Eph 4:5-6.
8. The great "I AM" passages in Jn.'s Gospel are found at 6:48-51; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6 and 15:1. In all cases He means "I and none other". The first five occurred in hostile situations and the last two in sorrowful situations. Remember this.
9. In vss. 11 and 16 Jesus says that He lays down His life "in the stead of the sheep". The Greek clearly indicates Jesus as the Substitute of all men. He was not a sinner but God made Him to be sin in our stead. God willed only one death, the death of Jesus Christ, in the stead of all people.
10. Luther said: "Faithful shepherds must both pasture or feed the lambs and guard against wolves so that they will flee from strange voices and separate the precious from the vile. Jn. 10:12-16; Jer. 15:21."
11. The true and faithful shepherds of Jesus not only present the true and wholesome doctrine correctly but also accuse the adversaries who teach otherwise (I Tim. 3:9; Titus 1:9; II Tim. 2:24; 3:16).
12. Jesus is the best and lasting Friend now and forever. The devil is the worst enemy of man. He is very much alive and wants to destroy you. True sheep always listen to the Good Shepherd.
THEME: JESUS, THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Seven times in Jn.'s Gospel Jesus says I AM (6:48-51; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). The first four are figurative (bread of life; light of the world; door of the sheep; the Good Shepherd). Five and six are literal (resurrection and the life; the Way, the Truth, the Life). The sixth is figurative (the vine). All seven mean: "I and none other." He is the only one. There is no good Shepherd like Jesus.
I. WHAT HE DOES AS OUR SUBSTITUTE
A. He lays down His life for the sheep. See vss. 11, 15, 17. This is the most important thought in the text. Like sheep, we are defenseless. Read Is. 53:6. We have gone astray but the Lord laid our iniquity on Jesus. God made Him to be sin in our stead. II Cor. 5:21. Through His death we are declared righteous, forgiven. Jesus says in vs. 15 that He lays down His life because He and the Father know each other. Read Heb. 10:1-14. He came to do the Father's will willingly. The OT animals did not die willingly. But Jesus did. Animal sacrifices had to be repeated daily. Jesus' sacrifice happened only once. In vs. 17 Jesus says that the Father loves Jesus because He gave His life for the sheep. Jesus did not abandon us helpless sheep. That leads us to the next part.
B. He protects us from the hireling and the wolf. See vss. 12- 13. The hireling is the false pastor who serves only for his wages. At Mt. 7:15 He tells us to beware of false teachers who are dressed as sheep but inside are ravenous wolves. Look at Jesus' words at Mt. 24:4-5. Before He says anything wise He speaks of false Christs. Read Paul's final words to the Ephesians pastors, Acts 20:18-35, especially vss. 29-30. Paul knew that grievous wolves and false teachers would attack the congregations after Paul left. Read I Jn. 4:1. John knew that many false prophets are out to mislead us. That's why Jesus says at Jn. 10:27: "My sheep hear my voice and they follow Me." Jesus also protects us from the wolf, the devil. Through His death Jesus conquered the devil. Heb. 2:14. At Jn. 12:31 Jesus said: "Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out." At Eph. 6:10-17 Jesus gives us the armor to fight the devil. See especially vs. 16. The shield of faith, the Gospel, quenches all the fiery darts of Satan.
II. WHAT HE DOES IN US
A. He knows us very well. Jesus says in vss. 14 and 15 that He and His sheep know each other just as He and the Father know each other. In vs. 30 He says that He and the Father are One. They are one and the same God. Read Jn. 17:21. Christ and the Father are in each other by nature. They are true God. Jesus's sheep are in the Father and the Son by faith. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Eph. 3:17. He knows all our sins and weaknesses. He knows all our joys. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We wander so easily. We change so quickly. But He knows us. He sends us His Word which is sharper than a sword. His Law uncovers all our sins, right down to the marrow. His Gospel comforts our very hearts. Heb. 4:12-13.
B. He draws us to Himself so that we hear His voice. Read Is. 53:6 again: "All we, like sheep, have gone astray." And Jesus said at Jn. 6:44: "Nobody can come to Me unless the Father, Who sent Me, draws him, and I will raise him on the last day." He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He draws us to the Father. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. We hear His voice. He gives His life for us. And He says: "They will never perish. No one will take them out of My hand." Vss. 27-29.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is absolutely unique. There is no one like this Shepherd. Heb. 13:20-21: "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, [something] you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you....
THEME: THE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP
Jn. 10 is the great Shepherd chapter in the NT just as Ps. 23 is the great Shepherd chapter in the OT. In Jn. 10 Jesus speaks of Himself in two pictures. First, in vss. 1-10 He calls Himself the Door of the sheep. Secondly, in vss. 11-18 and 27-30 He calls Himself the Shepherd of the sheep. He is both Door (entrance) and Shepherd (Savior and Provider).
I. THE RELATIONSHIP OF SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
A. They enter the sheepfold only through Him. In Palestine each sheepfold or yard was a stone-walled enclosure which had only one opening. Likewise, the holy, Christian Church has only one opening. That opening is Jesus Christ. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me." Jn. 14:6. Peter said at Acts 4:12: "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Our text tells us that false teachers are robbers and thieves who claim there are other ways to be saved than through Jesus Christ. They are dangerous.
B. The Shepherd richly blesses His sheep. He calls them by name. Vs. 3. He walks before them. Vs. 4. He saves them. Vs. 9. He died for them and paid for their sins. The sheep have freedom because they can go in and out as they please. That means that Christians have freedom from the guilt of sin, the power of death and the power of the devil. Vs. 9 tells us that this Shepherd gives His sheep pasture. In Ps. 23 David said that the Good Shepherd makes His sheep lie down in the pasture and leads them to quiet waters. Vs. 10 tells us that this Shepherd gives His sheep abundant life. He does that already now in this life. The Shepherd's voice has awakened the sheep from spiritual death. The sheep live because He lives. Vs. 11 tells us that the Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Vs. 14 says that the Shepherd knows His sheep. Vs. 28 says that the Good Shepherd gives the sheep eternal life. He promises that they will never perish and that no one will ever seize the sheep from His hand. II. THE RELATIONSHIP OF SHEEP TO SHEPHERD A. They hear His voice and follow Him. They do this because they can distinguish His voice from all others. There are many strange voices in the world. By the Word of God the sheep can distinguish false from true voices. They follow Him by seeking their salvation, their freedom and their spiritual food from Him. The world makes false promises about salvation and freedom but only the Good Shepherd can really satisfy the sheep. Vs. 14 says that the sheep know the Shepherd. They are well acquainted with Him and trust Him. B. They have eternal life and know that they will never perish. They know that no one can take them out of the hand of the Good Shepherd. No other relationship known to man is as secure as that of the sheep to their Shepherd. It is by faith and by faith alone.
C. They can identify and avoid the false shepherds. The false shepherds are described in vss. 1-10, 11-16 and alluded to in vss. 27-30. False shepherds are selfish and do not love. False shepherds are selfish and do not love. False shepherds lead the sheep to the wolf, not to green pastures. False shepherds do not offer forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
The picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and the Door to the sheep-pen is one of the most beautiful pictures in both the OT and the NT. It is found in the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles. It is the Gospel. We are nearing the end of the Festival half of the church-year. In this season we have heard again and again what the Good Shepherd has done and is still doing for us.