In John chapter 10:1-6 we find an image of Jesus’ relationship with Israel. When John talks about the sheep pen he is referring to Israel or Judaism. The sheep in this passage are the Jews, but we have to notice here that not all of the sheep in the pen belonged to Jesus. It was only those sheep that heard His voice and followed Him. The thieves and the robbers are the religious leaders that rejected Jesus, it also refers to those in the past that had come claiming to be the Messiah. Even though false Messiahs and teachers have come confusing the sheep none of Jesus’ sheep follow them because they know the voice of the Shepherd and will only follow His voice.
Jesus continues the conversation in verses 7-39 revealing many more truths about Jesus and what He has come to accomplish. The first truth is found in verse seven where Jesus says “I am the door of the sheep.” The sheep pen was a place of safety and rest. The sheep didn’t have to worry about anything happing to them because there was only one door into the pen. Jesus is making it clear to the Jewish leaders that the only way for them to have the peace, safety, joy, and rest that they longed for was to pass through Jesus. This is why Jesus says:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” John 10:9 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.10.9.hcsb )
Jesus is clearly saying that He is the only way of salvation. The religious leaders rejected this, just like so many still do today. Moving through the rest of the chapter we see Jesus telling us the next truth about Him. He says, “I am the Good Shepherd,” two times in these passages.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
John 10:11 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.10.11.hcsb )
Jesus is the Good Shepard because He has laid down His life for the sheep. In the history of the world, many people have blamed the Jews for the killing of Jesus, leading to anti-Semitism. Jesus says here that He gave of His own life for the sheep so that the sheep could have eternal life. Nobody killed Jesus. He surrendered His life in exchange for yours. We should not treat the Jews negatively because of the crucifixion of Jesus, but should realize that it is by the Jews that the rest of the world has been blessed. Besides, if you want to be anger at someone for Jesus being killed then look inward because it all happened because of your sin and mine.
“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,”
John 10:14 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.10.14.hcsb )
The second “I am the good shepherd,” statement points out another truth that was already mentioned earlier; which is that not everyone is counted among the sheep that belong to Jesus. It is only the sheep that know Jesus and is known by Jesus. Earlier it was said that the sheep know His voice and follow Him. So far in these passages, the sheep is only referring to the Jews that would follow Jesus, but there is good news for the rest of us.
“But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.10.16.hcsb )
The other sheep, in this passage, is speaking of people of every nation that will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him. They will enter in to find rest and eternal life; by passing through the door by faith in Jesus. This passage is not talking about universal salvation where all people of all nations would come to salvation. It is only those that hear the Shepherd and enter in by faith. If one hears but turns and walks away then that individual has shown themselves to not be of the “one flock,” because they have failed to follow the “One Shepherd.”
“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. But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:25-27 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.10.25-27.hcsb )
It’s our choice to follow or to ignore the voice of the Good Shepherd!
Questions for reflections:
1. It is in our human nature that we want all to enter into heaven, to the point where many would say; that a loving God would not allow anyone to go to Hell. Do you think that God’s love would be more amplified or decreased if He forced all people into being His sheep?
2. Have you heard the voice of the Good Shepherd yet? Are you part of the one flock?