Jesus told a parable in John 10:1-6. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spoke Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spoke unto them."
We do not have to make the mistake of misunderstanding the parable that Jesus taught about the good shepherd, because Jesus explained the meaning of the parable for us. The Bible says in John 10:7-8, "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Jesus said that He is the door. If you want to get in where itís safe, then the entranceway is through Jesus. When the night comes, the sheep must enter into the sheepfold or else they will be easy prey to the various dangers that are outside of the sheepfold. So the important thing and the critical thing is to get into the sheepfold. If you are in Godí sheepfold, then the evil ones will not be able to harm you, and they will not be able to steal you away. Itís a sad thing to see an animal that has perished because it wandered away from where it would have been safe. Itís even sadder to think that you will lose your soul if you are not in Godís sheepfold. There is only one way to get in, and thatís through the door, and Jesus is the door. There are many enemies of your soul, and there is only one safe place.
Jesus said in John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Jesus tells us the benefits of being one of His sheep. The benefits are many, and they will be enjoyed in this life, as well as the next. First, Jesus says that a person who enters through Him shall be saved. They shall be saved from their sins, they shall be saved from judgment and condemnation, and they shall be saved from hell. It goes without saying how great this blessing is because eternity is a long time, and itís also a stern warning to anyone who has not yet come to Jesus. "What should it profit a man should he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?"
Not only shall those who enter by Jesus be saved, but Jesus also says that they shall go in and out, and shall find pasture. To say that they shall "go in and out" means that they will have free access to His presence. No one should ever think that they are too big of a sinner or that they have failed too many times to any longer have access to God. That just is not the case. Because Jesus is the door, you can always come boldly to the throne of grace and find mercy in time of need. When Jesus says that His sheep shall find pasture, Jesus is referring to the fact that God has promised to take of His followers and to supply their needs. King David said that he once was young and then he was old, but he never saw the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." God promises to supply our needs, but only when we also make the proper effort. God does not bless laziness. He says in the Old Testament, "Go to the ant thou sluggard, and consider her ways." And He says in the New Testament, "They that do not work, do not eat."
Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." If Jesus becomes your shepherd, then you will receive life and abundant life. If you do not follow Jesus as your shepherd, then whoever you follow or whatever you follow will lead to your destruction. The world will appeal to your human senses, but what the world promises to you it will not fulfill, because Jesus said that the thief will steal and kill and destroy. Only Jesus can make your life what it was meant to be. If you want to have the most abundant life possible for a human and the most fulfilled life, then be a follower of Jesus: because Jesus said that He gives life and He gives it more abundantly. You were put on the earth for a reason, and you will be able to fulfill that reason in the most abundant way possible only with Jesus as your shepherd. God has put you on the earth, and He has given you only so much time to live out your days. Donít let your opportunity be stolen from you by the thief. God may lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, but He will also lead you to green pastures because He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, and He called us the sheep. In certain ways people are like sheep. Isaiah said, "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Sheep without a shepherd are in big trouble. They will go astray or fall over a cliff or be attacked by a predator. But sheep who are in the hands of a good shepherd will have none of those misfortunes to befall them. Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Because Jesus died for us, He now has the power and authority to guide us all the way through this life and on into heaven.
In John 10:12-14 Jesus said, "But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees; and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." This time when Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd, He makes a contrast between a shepherd who owns the flock, and someone who is hired to take care of the flock. Someone who is hired, takes care of the flock only for money. They do not really care about the flock, they care about the money that they are supposed to be paid. Thatís what happens when people use religion as a profession, and when they view religions as a means for gaining money. Instead of seeing the souls of people, they begin to see dollar signs. Instead of viewing what they do as the calling of God, they view it as a career. One of the requirements in looking for a pastor is to look for someone who is not greedy of filthy lucre. You may end up disappointed in human beings, because it will be harder and harder in the materialistic society in which we live to find someone who is in the ministry for spiritual reasons instead of material reasons. Remember that Jesus said, "a hireling does not care for the sheep."
Jesus talked about the relationship between Himself who is the Good Shepherd, and the sheep. Jesus said that He knows the sheep, and the sheep know him. Out of all the people in the world, Jesus knows which ones are His. In one of His parables, Jesus said that the day would come when the sheep would be separated from the goats. Right now the sheep and the goats live intermixed in the world. Thatís the will of God because He wants the sheep to be the light of the world, and He wants us to be in the world but not of the world. Some people get things out of proportion because they try to separate the sheep from the goats today. But those who try to make such a separation always fail and they always cause other problems, because they are not qualified to make the separation: only God is. One reason that only God can do it is because; He is the only one who knows who all the true sheep really are. Some people are pretending to be sheep, but they are not sheep because they do not know the shepherd. You are only one of Godís sheep, if you know the Good Shepherd. And you only know the Good Shepherd if you have communicated with Him honestly whereby He knows you and you know Him. Itís an intimate, personal relationship between the sheep and the shepherd. And Jesus compared the relationship between Himself and the Father with that of Himself and the sheep. He said in John 10:15, "As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."
In John 10:16 Jesus said, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." When Jesus spoke these words that are recorded in John Chapter 10, He was speaking in Jerusalem mostly to Jews, but also to a few Romans and Greeks and other Gentiles. Everyone in Jerusalem who heard His voice and believed in Him became one of His sheep and became a part of His fold. Because Jesus rose from the dead, He is still alive and He still speaks to lost souls and invites them to follow Him and to become His sheep. Everyone who does so, is given the same status, the same privileges, and the same blessings as those who believed 2,000 years ago; because they all become a part of the same fold. There is only one true church of Jesus Christ, and itís made up of every true believer no matter what is their race or national origin, because Jesus said, "There shall be one fold and one shepherd."
Jesus also said in John 10:17-18, "Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." An important part to being the good shepherd was to lay down his life. Jesus laid down His life for the sake of the sheep, and He also laid down His life for the sake of the Father. The life of Jesus was the greatest life that was ever lived. Not only did He die for us, but He also left for us a perfect example. He lived a life of obedience to the Father, as opposed to the rebellion that is so often present with most humans. He lived a life of love and made the ultimate sacrifice of His life, as opposed to the selfishness and greed that characterizes most other humans.
Jesus said, "I lay down my life," and He said, "No man takes it from me." When we look at the death of Christ purely from a human view, it appears to be a great tragedy and a terrible injustice. But when we look at His death from a spiritual view, we know that His death is the greatest of blessings for sinners such as you and I, because without His sacrifice for us, we would be doomed to face the guilt of our sins: and what a great number of sins we all have. God used a tragedy to create a great blessing. The same spiritual principle will also be proved to be true in each of our lives. Itís the principle of Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for good to those that love and to those that are the called according to His purposes." If you have suffered a tragedy or a disappointment or even a failure, then you can thank God for it because some day eventually it will work out for good, because itís all a part of Godís great plan for you. If you are smart and if you are spiritual then you will do what Jesus did, and you will thank God for everything that happens in your life and you will say to the Father, "Not my will, but thine be done."
In John 10:19-21 the Bible says, "There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He has a devil and is mad; why listen to Him? Others said, These are not the words of him that has a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind." As we have followed the life of Christ through the Gospel of John, we have seen this division mentioned over and over again. Some believe and some do not believe. Those who believe are more rational and more logical than those who do not, because the evidence supports the claims of Christ. The words that Jesus said and the miracles that Jesus did; support the conclusion that Jesus was indeed the Christ and that He is worthy of our belief in Him.
John 10:22-23 says, "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomonís porch." The Feast of Dedication is Hanukah, and itís the only time in the New Testament that Hanukah is mentioned. Of course, itís not mentioned at all in the Old Testament because Hanukah was started in the period of time between the Old and New Testaments. In John Chapter 7 Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, and now several months later He is again in Jerusalem in December for the Feast of Hanukah. The next time that December rolls around and you hear Hanukah mentioned, you can remember that Jesus was in Jerusalem during the time of Hanukah in the last year of His life, and that He was speaking about His sheep, and He was revealing the great service that He would provide for His sheep as the Good Shepherd.
In John 10:24-25 the Bible says, "Then came the Jews round about Him, and said to him, How long do you make us to doubt? If you be the Christ tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in my Fatherís name, they bear witness of me." Some believe, and some do not believe. Often those who do not believe; have a spirit of antagonism against God, just like the Pharisees. They blamed God even for their own unbelief. Jesus said that reason enough to believe had been given. They could look at the works that He did in the Fatherís name and find all the evidence that they needed.
The reason that these people did not believe, is the same reason that people today do not believe. Jesus said in John 10:26, "But you believe not, because you are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." In order to believe you must become one of Jesusí sheep, one of His followers. And that requires surrendering to Jesus, and being willing to follow Him as the Shepherd. The real problem is not a problem of belief, but a problem of the will. If you are willing to follow the Lord, then you will come to Him, and will ask Him for forgiveness and will become one of His sheep. If you do, itís not something that you will ever regret, because He will guide you to green pastures. You will understand the deep spiritual meaning of Psalm 23 that says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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