Scripture Study: John 10

John 10  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
John 10
The man in John 9 that was cast out of the synagogue because he confessed that Jesus was of God, was led to worship Him as the Son of God. The blind Pharisees remain in their sin. The Lord takes this occasion to speak a parable that teaches the change of position of those that are His own sheep who through His rejection are brought out from the Jewish fold of Israel’s laws and ordinances, to being in the Flock of God, with Christ as their Shepherd in the blessing of salvation.
Verse 1. Refers to those who assumed authority in the sheepfold, yet cast out the true sheep. They were but thieves and robbers; they cared for their own reputation more than for the sheep, or to please God. The true sheep would not hear such.
Verse 3. To Him the Porter openeth. His death on the cross and His resurrection was the only way by which He could deliver those under the law. That was the door that God, by His providential ordering, opened for Him, and that is the door by which His believing sheep are brought out. (See Gal. 2:19-2019For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19‑20).) See a sample in Mary Magdalene (John 20:16, 1716Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:16‑17)). He calls her by name and leads her, and the brethren, into the knowledge of God as their Father, by the message He gives her to carry, which is only known outside the sheepfold of Judaism. He calls them “My brethren” for the first time. In His death they died, and are seen as in Him raised from the dead, where law has nothing to say to them (Rom. 7:44Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (Romans 7:4)).
Verses 4, 5. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. The stranger’s voice they will flee from: for they know not the voice of strangers.
Verse 6. But they did not understand the parable, and how few today understand the liberty into which grace sets those who are the sheep of Christ.
Verses 7, 8. Verily, verily, I say into 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.” He is their authority for leaving the sheepfold, and none but He could do the work needed to set them at liberty in grace, and none but the Son could make them know the Father.
Verse 9. This is another door that leads, not into the sheepfold but, into salvation. And its blessings extend far wider than to the Jews, only, it is for any man—every creature, whosoever will. Blessed words! “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, He shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Some might say, How can I enter in? Read Romans 10:99That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9). How simple that is! If you feel your need as a lost sinner, believe on Him who died that you might be saved. The work is finished, God has raised Him from the dead. Confess Him as your Lord, and thou shalt be saved. And what a depth of blessing is in that word salvation. Your sins are forgiven; you are justified from all things; (Acts 13:3939And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39)) you are now a child of God, and the Holy Spirit henceforth dwells in you (1 Cor. 6:1919What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)). This is the fruit of accomplished redemption. It could not be known till the Lord had died and was risen again. It is what we find in the epistles—a perfect Saviour, and a perfect salvation, a righteousness given by God to all who believe on His Son.
But there is more in this wonderful verse, “And shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Here is the picture of the Shepherd leading, (not driving) and feeding His sheep. The “in and out” speak of liberty, to go “in” to God’s presence as holy priests with our prayers and our praises; and the “out” speaks of our privilege to show out the virtues of the Lord in our walk and ways before the world, (Compare 1 Peter 2:5, 95Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)
.) but this is very important, for it is as we use our privilege to go in to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace for timely help, that we are able at all to represent, even in a feeble way, our Lord before the world. And let us remember that prayer and the Word of God go together: the one is our air as Children of God, the other is our food. Our Shepherd desires to lead His sheep into the green pastures of His Word, and by the quiet waters where our souls can rest in His presence and meditate on His love, where, when our souls are satisfied, we can lie down under His shade with great delight, and His fruit will be sweet to our taste. Thank God, we are saved from eternal judgment, and from the slavery of sin and Satan’s power. But this “in and out” and finding pasture, is much more; it is positive enjoyment by faith of all our blessed Saviour is for our souls, all we need day by day. May we delight more in Him, and in this new place His grace has given us. Quite true, the Christian has enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, but faith overcomes them all. We are taught that our old man (the flesh in us) is crucified with Christ, and that the devil is a vanquished enemy, so that we are to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And Christ is now our object to live for. He leads us on, caring for and helping us in our feebleness.
“He feeds His flock, He calls their names,
And gently leads the tender lambs.”
Verse 11. “The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” In Hebrews 13, He is the Great Shepherd in resurrection. In 1 Peter 5:44And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4), He is the Chief Shepherd, who will reward those who help Him to care for the sheep, with a crown of glory that fadeth not, away. He binds them to Him with cords of love.
Verses 12, 13. The sheep do not belong to the hireling. The hireling is only there for selfish interests; and when there is danger, he fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. “The hireling” may speak about “my flock,” but how much better to remember that they are Christ’s sheep, the flock of God, as Paul, the Apostle, speaks by the Spirit of the whole church of God (Acts 20:2828Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28); and also 1 Peter 5:22Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (1 Peter 5:2)). Feed the flock of God, and that apart from being an hireling, “Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.” How far indeed has the professing church departed from the truth, when they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears, and think it right to do so (2 Tim. 4:33For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:3)). The time has come when they will not endure sound doctrine.
Verses 14, 15. The Lord continues, “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine, as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: And I lay down My life for the sheep.” He gave Himself for them. Well might they rejoice in such love and enjoy this intimate knowledge into which He brings them where they are able to say, “My Beloved is Mine and I am His.” And in John 17:1010And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (John 17:10), “Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine.” Father and Son delighting in the sheep.
Verse 16. And now He speaks of other sheep that were never in the Jewish sheepfold. That comes close to our hearts who were but Gentiles, afar from God, having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph. 2). “Them also,” He says, “I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one flock. (See Revised and New Trans.) and One Shepherd.” It is not a sheepfold: an enclosure where there is neither liberty nor pasture. It is the Shepherd who purchased the sheep with His own blood, thus proving His love, and now He cares for them, and leads into association with Himself as the risen One in this place of liberty and blessing. Judaism is distinguished as a fold—a circumference without a center. Christianity, as a flock whose Center and Shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ—a company who belong to the Saviour, and who follow Him. They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, their only enclosure, the love of God.
Verses 17, 18. “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again.” His laying down His life is in itself well pleasing to the Father. We love, because we have been loved, but our blessed Lord could give, in His life and death, fresh motives for the Father’s love. In laying down His life it was for the Father’s glory, and for the telling forth of His love. Death was the penalty of sin, and it had no claim on Him, “in Him was no sin.” He gave His life, laid down His life, and brought in eternal blessing for the sheep, through this redemption. Then the Lord can say, “that I might take it again.”
How His divine power shines forth here! His victory over death, and sin and Satan’s power are all involved in it, and proclaimed by His words. Man might show his hatred to the Lord as under the power of Satan, but these had no power over the Lord, could not touch Him, unless He gave Himself into their hands for the purpose before Him of glorifying God in making atonement for sin, and then in the same divine power, to take His life again. And He would do as the Father had given Him commandment, still acting as the dependent, obedient man, working out the Father’s good pleasure.
Verses 19-21. The Jews have brought on themselves blindness, and that willfully. He gave them proofs of His power, yet they come to Him as if He had said or done nothing definitively,
Verses 24, 25. He reminds them that His works and His words bore witness of Him.
Verses 26. Their unbelief showed they were not His sheep.
Verses 27, 28. His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him. And He gives to them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand.
Verses 29, 30. His Father which gave them to Him, is greater than all and none can pluck them out of His Father’s hand. He and His Father are one—one in mind and purpose, to hold and care for the sheep. What wonderful grace to bring the sheep into the knowledge of the Father and the Son, as dear children of God.
This is also new, and could not be known under law, it is the fruit of redemption. “This is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:33And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)). Jesus risen from the dead declares it (John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)).
Verses 31-38. But this only brings out the Jew’s hatred, the enmity of their hearts, and they took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered their threatenings, “Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?” They answer, “For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God.” The Lord quotes Psalm 82 to prove that judges were called gods, and yet they were but men, and the Scripture cannot be broken. The Word of God came to them, but here was The Word, whom the Father hath sanctified, (set apart,) and sent into this world, and will they say of Him, “Thou blasphemest,” because He said, “I am the Son of God”? And still further He puts before them that the works He did were the works of the Father, and if they would believe the works, they would know that the Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father.
Verses 39-42. They sought to take Him again, but in vain. He escaped out of their hands, His time had not yet come. He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized, and there He abode, but many follow Him there, and confessed that John’s testimony of Him was true. Though John did no miracle, he told the truth about the Lord, and many believed on Him.