Yesterday we talked about lessons from a Blind Man, today we’ll be discussing John 10:1-21.
10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Back in the day, Jesus would have run into shepherds minding their sheep. It was a familiar sight to the people. Sheep were an important part of the economy.
When Jesus told the tale of a person entering a sheepfold in any way other than by the gate, people would have understood that imagery. They would understand as well, about sheep listening to the voice of the shepherd and coming when their shepherd called to them. They wouldn’t come for a random stranger calling them, this is one of the reason why sheep could be mixed in a sheepfold. They would come for their shepherd and not for another. This description the people SHOULD have understood it, but they didn’t understand.
I wonder if perhaps they were looking for a different meaning and therefore missed the obvious? Sheep here the voice of their shepherd. A shepherd comes in by the gate and doesn’t sneak in. The sneakers are thieves and strangers.
So Jesus gives them another word picture. Now Jesus paints the picture of the door to the sheepfold. He’s the safeguard. Everyone who has come before him has been the stranger or thief he just finished telling them about. The sheep didn’t listen to them. But now Jesus has come. If any sheep enters through him, they will be safe and be able to go into safe pastures. He is the good shepherd and his sheep can go in and out in safety. He keeps them safe like an owner would, not like a hired hand. And just like any good shepherd, he knows his sheep, and his sheep know him, heeding his call. This relationship mirrors the one between Jesus and God. We know this from this line “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
But hear this… Jesus has sheep all over the place. Sheep that know him and listen to him. All these sheep heed Jesus, and he is going to bring them all together into one flock with one shepherd. “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Do you hear those words? Jesus chose to lay down his life for his sheep. It was something HE could do. God (his Father) gave him that responsibility and no one could take that away from him.
The crowd listening was divided in their response. Could Jesus be a possessed by a demon and yet…. his words weren’t those of one oppressed by a demon. And besides… could a demon possessed man heal the blind? The confusion eh?
It is so easy for me to sit here and wonder why they couldn’t figure it out. Why the sheepfold story didn’t any sense to them, their confusion over who (or what) Jesus was. Hindsight is 20/20 eh?
It was good (at least for me) to see the logic though… that a demon wouldn’t heal the blind. It doesn’t make sense that such a thing would happen. It means that some were starting to see Jesus for who he was. A good thing you know?
My biggest take home of this passage? Jesus chose to lay down his life for his sheep and God loves him for it. Isn’t that just an amazing thought? Instead of me thinking it was just the will of God that Jesus do this, but that Jesus himself made the choice, it was an active involvement. Even though I KNOW this, it just struck me tonight how this was a charge God made to Jesus, and Jesus made the choice to lay down his life for me.