The Shepherd of the Sheep

John 10  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 4
John 10
The more we study the gospels, the more we find what an Object we have for our souls to rest upon. We have Christ now in glory, and the remembrance of all He was; and our affections are drawn out after Him. "He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the, sheep." The first thing is, He comes into the fold, comes in by the door; that is the place! for people to come in by. The folds in those days were places, of shelter for sheep, to protect them against wild beasts. The Lord comes in by the door, subjects Himself to what God has appointed. The moment His sheep took the first step, He took it with them, coming in by the door and subjecting Himself to do His Father's will (Phil. 2). So at the temptation, Satan says, Why don't You make these stones bread? but the Lord answers, I have no command for it You get His perfect lowliness-He goes always down. In the form of God, He goes down and takes the form of al servant, and then goes right on down to death. Then God highly exalts Him, giving Him a name which is above every name. As a servant, He never had a will of His own.
All that reveals Christ to us in this path is most precious. God opens to Him—in His governmental ways. The sheep hear His voice, He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. The Lord leads them out-the blind man in the previous chapter is turned out, then the Lord takes him up.
He had come in to get His sheep and save them: "He... leadeth them out." Leads them out; they were not to stay Jews any longer. God had set up Judaism. Who could have left it? But He was taking His sheep out—the nation was found at enmity with God. All that God had set up connected with the first man, He has set aside in Christ. God has done all He could for His vineyard, but at length He roots it up. You get it in the parable of the fig tree; there is the end of man under God's culture. They killed the Son, rejected and cast Him out; therefore there is judgment upon man in the flesh.
When He Himself came they were enemies; it was said, "They... have... both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (John 15:2424If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:24)). First He takes them out, then He calls His own sheep by name. What I see here is the personal care of the Shepherd. The Jews had the law, the ordinances, and so on; but here the blessed Lord Himself is concerned, and that in the personal knowledge of His sheep. You get a blessed instance of calling His own sheep by name in the case of Mary; He says, "Mary"—calls His sheep by name. When He leads them out, He goes before them. Now there I get a blessed thing- if a danger is in the way, the Shepherd meets it, or if there are two ways the Shepherd is before me—the sheep know His voice and they know the road. The sheep follow Him. Is there a doubt about the way? Well, there He is, if we are near enough to Him to know His voice.
"A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." Take the case of a child. If it hears a knock at the door, it knows at once its mother's voice. There is another great principle I get here; that is, absolute, sufficient authority for it. Why do you leave the fold? There is the Shepherd's voice; in that voice there is what is sufficient to guide me and to authorize me to follow Him.
"This parable spake Jesus unto them;... I am the door" (that is connected with authority)... "by Me if any man enter in" (Christ is the only way; as He entered in Himself, so He is the prescribed way). The Jewish fold kept them safe in a certain way, for a time; but it did not save people-being a Jew did not save, but following Christ you will be safe. The Jewish fold was a kind of safety, but safety by a person being shut up in it; but there was no pasture there. "By Me," says the Lord, "if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." There is liberty with God, and from the power of sin they go in and out, and there is pasture. The pasture is all God has set before us to feed upon. "I am come that they might have life," He says. Being a Jew did not give life; but Christ having come, the eternal life which was with the Father, He says, "I am come that they might have life." Then He says, I know those that are Mine, and am known of them—that is a blessed truth. I have One who laid down His life for me; and there is the revelation of Christ to the soul, making known that He takes knowledge of us; He knows us individually. It is not exactly, As the Father knoweth Me, even so I know the Father, but "As the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father" (vv. 14, 15). That is, He is in the same relationship with us as He, a Man down here, was with the Father.
Here He is interested in them, as He says elsewhere to the armed band that came to take Him, "Whom seek ye?... if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way." He stands in the gap that the sheep may go free. "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 [flock], and one shepherd." You get the interest the Father takes in them. "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again." Christ laid down His life, glorified God perfectly in that place, in the place of sin-bearing. It is a remarkable word; no created thing could say, "Therefore doth God love me," so that he could give a claim to God; but here Christ could give a motive to His Father to love Him. He goes down to the very place of death, and is made sin. His love to the Father was perfect; His obedience was perfect when He was made sin; but He brings man out of the whole condition he was in, by redemption. And is not this a better state than Adam was in? Surely, for the position of the Christian now is the expression of 1 o v e, truth, holiness, in Christ.
What He did for us perfectly glorified His Father; it gave a motive to His Father to love Him. It was His one desire to glorify His Father- His obedience was infinite. His love to His Father was perfect (v. 18). He gives to His sheep eternal life; He has the power, being the Son of God, to give life—He that hath the Son hath life. We can say more. It is not only that He has given it, but that, having died and risen again, we have a Man in the power of divine life, out of death and judgment; He is my life, and I have been quickened together with Him. He has gone down into death, was made sin, and was under Satan's power and God's judgment; and it is not merely that He quickens us, but we have part with a risen Christ. Then you get the second thing-He refers to His works—"The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me." And then He proceeds to give their character as Pharisees; they were not of His sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"-through all and in spite of all.
Christ only had a right to say, "Follow Me." He says it to Philip in chapter 1 of this Gospel. "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish"-"Because I live," He says, "y e shall live also" (chap. 14:19). Christ must perish before I can perish. "Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." No force outside can pluck them; He keeps them according to the power He has. It is not only that they get His life in them, but He gives His life for them. Look at the case of Lazarus-"I am the resurrection and the life." He shows His power of life, and then passes on to die Himself. I get the One who could raise Lazarus, going to die. Then, after having manifested this life, He gives His life for us, to take us out of the condition we are in. "The wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.... I am the good shepherd." Here I have not merely the true Shepherd, but the good Shepherd-the One who cares for the sheep.
You get the danger of being plucked out, but for the constant keeping of Christ. "My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man [none] is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." The Father has given us to Christ, and then He does not close the account without bringing out Himself and the Father as one. What a blessed account of what He is as the good Shepherd! You get all that He is as giving life, and laying down His life. Having Him to follow, and His voice, they need not fear; it is a question of His faithfulness and power.
The Lord give us to have that entire dependence upon Him! We want that personal looking to Christ that keeps us in the apprehension of His love. The Lord give us hearts to cleave to Him!
(The foregoing are brief notes of an address on John 10 given by J. N. D. in Dublin, shortly before his death.)