John’s Gospel Chapter 10
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject -THE DOOR AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
The Third and Fourth Wonderful Sayings.
Study Portion - Chapter 10. 1-31.
We take these two wonderful sayings of the Saviour together in our present study, as they present a common theme. He who is the Door of the sheep is also the Good Shepherd of the sheep.
1. PARENTHETICAL SEQUEL.
The chapter continues Christ's discourse to his Pharisaic disciples, see 9. 39ff, and forms both a sequel to the miracle performed upon the blind man and a parenthesis between that and the raising of Lazarus in ch.11.
His words are a rebuke to those, who as false shepherds had 'cast out' the blind man from the fold of Judaism, and a comfort to the man himself, who had found refuge and reception in the flock of the true Shepherd.
2. PASTORAL SETTING
The whole passage is couched in the imagery of an Eastern pastoral setting.
It should be remembered that Eastern folds were large open enclosures into which several flocks were driven at the approach of night. There was only one door (an opening in the walls), which was guarded by a single shepherd, while the others went home to rest. In the morning the shepherds returned, were recognized by the door-keeper or porter and allowed to enter. They then called their flocks around them, their voices being recognized by their own sheep, and led them forth to pasture.
Thieves and robbers would endeavour to gain entrance by 'climbing up some other way' and their voices would not be recognized by the sheep, who 'know not the voice of strangers' and the sheep would not hear them.
The true Shepherd had Himself authority to enter by the door, not only to lead them in to safety but out to sustenance, v. 3.
3. PARABOLIC SIGNIFICANCE,
V. 6. This parable (allegory) spake Jesus unto them - 'I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture', v. 9.
To gain the full significance of this parable or allegory we must again refer back to the blind man of ch. 9. The Pharisees had exercised a false authority in casting him out of the synagogue, but the Lord Jesus had received him into the flock, on the ground of His own authority. Note then in this verse -
a. The Source of Authority.
Jesus said, I am the door - He was the eternal, omnipotent, 'I am', holding supreme authority from the Father. Those who had come before Him were thieves and robbers, who had stolen authority and had robbed the poor blind man of his privileges within the religious fold of Judaism and stolen from him his right of worship within the synagogue.
b. The Simplicity of Acceptance.
'By me if any man enter in . . . .' Jesus had received the blind man on the principle of faith and he had entered by the only door. Having made his confession 'Lord, I believe', he worshipped and entered the economy of grace, into the new order.
c. The Safety of Assurance.
'. . . he shall be saved'. 'This is a word of assurance, not only to the man who had lost all through his association with the Saviour, but to any man entering in by the door. Salvation meant, not only acceptance but assurance. He was now 'safe and sound'.
Beware of present-day theological robbers who would rob you of the blessed assurance of salvation.
d. The Sphere of Activity.
'. . . and shall go in and out and find pasture'. Activities within the fold of Judaism, through the doctrines and tradi¬tions of men, had become burdens, impossible to bear and those who imposed them did not so much as lift a finger to alleviate them (see Matt. 23. 4). 'In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men', Matt. 15.9. The blind man had been relieved of these by entry into the order of grace; slavery had given place to liberty; poverty to pasture and worthless works to wondering worship.Note that in this verse there is -
The promise of salvation - he shall be saved.
The pathway of service - he shall go in and out.
The provision of sustenance - and find pasture.
Now let us turn our attention to v. 11, and note.
4. PERSONAL SACRIFICE.
'I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep'.
The idea of shepherd conveyed the thoughts of sovereignty, sacrifice and sustenance.
Eastern shepherds of by-gone days were kings in their own right. Government, grace and guidance were among their attributes. When the Saviour claimed, T am the Shepherd, the Good', He was stating His claim to sovereignty and nobility.
The greatness of His sacrifice was measured by the glory of His sovereignty; and this is clearly seen by His constant reference to the Father. Note in this connection a threefold reference to sacrifice -
v, 15. Voluntary sacrifice and the Father's knowledge.
'As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep'.
Though He knew perfectly the way that He must take 'he set his face as a flint'.
v. 17. Vicarious sacrifice and the Father's love.
'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again'. This He docs to share it with 'His own'.
v. 18. Victorious sacrifice and the Father's Will.
'I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father'. Only the Son of God could obey such a command, for His life was indeed His own, He could rightfully lay it down, and take it again.
v. 10. 'I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly'. The shepherd not only preserves from danger but provides for pasture.
5. PERFECT SECURITY.
v. 28. I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
v. 29. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
v. 31. I and my Father are one.
No words could express more perfectly the absolute security of the Shepherd's own sheep.
6. PROPHETIC STATEMENT,
V. 16.'Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also 1 must bring and they shall
hear my voice; and there shall be one fold (flock) and one shepherd'. 'He came unto His own, and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name', John 1.11, 12.Salvation is for all, but all are not saved. ' . . . whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life', John 3. 16. Are you one of the 'other sheep'?