Summary of passage: Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep to explain himself and believers. The only way into the pen is through him (the gate). The one who enters through the gate is the leader (Jesus). The sheep (believers) follow him and only him and know his voice. They will not follow a stranger. They flee from strangers.
3a) The thieves are unbelievers or evil people or imposters or those who are spiritually blind like the Pharisees from Chapter 9. The true shepherd is Jesus. The true shepherd’s sheep are believers are those who believe in and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.
b) All people fit in one of these categories. They either believe in him (the sheep) or they don’t (the thieves and robbers).
4a) The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they follow only the shepherd. They are not deceived by others and they flee from the false shepherds. The sheep depend on the shepherd for their lives–to feed them and care for them.
b) Personal Question. My answer: I got a full-time job to help my family. I’m listening to Jesus to know how long to stay in that role. I’m continuing his work for me. I’m raising my kids. I’m trying to be a good wife and mother and employee. I’m trying to return to regular church attendance as well.
Conclusions: This is one of my favorite analogies of Jesus and believers. They didn’t understand at the time, but they will. It’s a consolation to all of us who don’t understand God’s will at the time but we follow anyways. One day it will be clear to us–even if that day is on the other side of heaven.
End Notes: So right after Jesus healed the blind man and the religious leaders threw a fit cause it was on the Sabbath and didn’t believe Jesus did it, Jesus talks about actually caring for people instead of caring more for legalities and rules.
In OT times and ancient Near Eastern culture, the shepherd symbolized the royal caretaker of God’s people. God himself was called the “Shepherd of Israel” (Psalm 80:1, 23:1; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:11-16, Zechariah 10:2) and he had given great responsibility to the leaders (shepherds) of Israel, which they failed to respect. God denounced these false shepherds (Isaiah 56:9-12; Ezekiel 34) and promised to provide the true Shepherd, the Messiah, to care for the sheep (Ezekiel 34:23).
“I tell you the truth” is common in John’s Gospel and indicates a solemn assertion about Jesus and/or his ministry.
Political and spiritual leaders were often called shepherds in the ancient world (Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 31:5). Jesus explained that not everyone among the sheep is a true shepherd; some are like thieves and robbers. One way to tell the difference is how they gain entry among the sheep.
The idea is that there is a door (a gate), a proper way to gain entry. Not everyone who stands among the sheep comes that way. Some climb up some other way.
The religious leaders Jesus is speaking about gained their place among God’s people (the sheep) through personal and political connections, ambition, manipulation, and corruption.
A true shepherd comes through love, calling, care, and sacrificial service.
God wants His people to be led, fed, and protected by those who come in love.
The watchman knows the true shepherd. Towns of that time would have a watchman who watched over all the people’s sheep at night.
A shepherd knows all of his sheep and they know him. A shepherd may even name the sheep and the sheep may even know their name. He calls them and they follow.
According to Adam Clarke, there are 6 marks of a true shepherd in these verses:
· He has a proper entrance into the ministry
· He sees the Holy Spirit open his way as a doorkeeper to God’s sheep
· He sees that the sheep respond to his voice in teaching and leadership
· He is well acquainted with his flock
· He leads the flock and does not drive them or lord it over them
· He goes before the sheep as an example