Sheep know the shepherd’s voice
- 10:1 Jesus said, “This is the truest truth.1 Most people get into a sheep pen by opening the gate and walking inside. But some people sneak in another way. Those folks are crooks and robbers.
- 10:2 The shepherd goes inside the sheep pen through the gate.
- 10:3 A person guarding sheep in a pen opens the gate for the shepherd and lets him in. When the shepherd calls for his flock, they respond. His sheep recognize his voice and follow him as he leads them out.
- 10:4 When all his sheep get outside the pen, he starts walking ahead of them. They recognize their shepherd’s voice, so they follow him.
- 10:5 His sheep won’t follow anyone else. They run from strangers. That’s because they don’t recognize the voice of a stranger. To them, a stranger is danger.”
- 10:6 The people didn’t understand what Jesus meant by this story.
A good shepherd protects the sheep
- 10:7 Once again Jesus said, “This is the truest truth. So, let me make it clear. When I talk about the gate for the sheep,2 I’m talking about myself. I am the gate.
- 10:8 All the supposed shepherds who came before me were thieves. The sheep didn’t recognize them and didn’t listen to them.
- 10:9 I am the gate. Everyone who comes and goes through me will have nothing to fear. They’re protected and will be saved. They will go out into the world and find the pasture they need.
- 10:10 Thieves come to steal and butcher the sheep, destroying them. I’ve come to give life, and plenty of it.
- 10:11 I’m the good shepherd. The good shepherd puts his life on the line for his sheep.
- 10:12 A hired worker won’t do that. The sheep don’t belong to him because he’s not the shepherd. When he sees a wolf coming, he’ll run in the opposite direction. He’s going to protect himself. So, when hired worker disappears, the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters the entire flock.
- 10:13 The hired worker runs away because he has no investment in the sheep. He doesn’t care about them. This is just another job to him, and it’s not worth his life.
- 10:14 I’m the good shepherd. 3 I know my sheep and they know me,
- 10:15 just as my Father knows me and I know him. I will die for these sheep.
- 10:16 I have other sheep that are not part of this flock.4 I need to gather them in, too. They will recognize my voice. There’s going to be one flock with one shepherd.
- 10:17 The Father loves me for what I’m about to do: give my life away, to get it back again.
- 10:18 No one is going to take my life from me. I'll give it away. It’s my decision. I have the power not only to give my life away but to take it back again. This is what the Father has told me to do.”
- 10:19 These words of Jesus again split the Jewish leaders into opposing groups.
- 10:20 Many said, “This guy is demon-possessed and out of his mind. How can you take him seriously?”
- 10:21 Others said, “A demon-possessed man wouldn’t talk like this. Besides, could a demon heal the eyes of someone born blind?”
“The Father and I are one and the same.”
- 10:22 It was winter in Jerusalem. Jews were observing the annual Temple Dedication Festival.5
- 10:23 Jesus was walking on the Temple grounds, in an area known as Solomon’s Porch.6
- 10:24 Some of the Jewish leaders caught up with him and surrounded him. They asked, “So how much longer are you going to keep causing trouble trying to make us mad? If you are the Messiah, just come right out and say so.”
- 10:25 Jesus said, “I did tell you. But you don’t believe what I told you. I told you with my actions. What I’ve been doing on my Father's behalf tells you all you need to know about me.
- 10:26 But you don’t believe me. Why should you? You’re not part of my flock.
- 10:27 My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, too. My sheep follow me.
- 10:28 I’m giving them a life that will never end. Death can’t have them. I’ve got them. No one will ever pry them out of my hand.
- 10:29 My Father gave them to me. No one is stronger than he is. No one can pry them out of his hand, either.
- 10:30 The Father and I are one and the same.”
- 10:31 The Jews, once again, starting picking up stones so they could stone him to death.
- 10:32 Jesus said, “I’ve shown you a lot of wonderful miracles from the Father. Just so I know, which one of those miracles is the reason you’re going to stone me?”
- 10:33 The Jews said, “We’re not going to stone you for anything you did. We’re stoning you for what you said. It’s blasphemy. You’re just a man. But you’re making yourself out to be God himself.”
- 10:34 Jesus said, “Doesn’t your own Bible say, ‘You are gods’?7
- 10:35 The Bible called people ‘gods.’ And the Bible is God’s word—a promise that can’t be broken.
- 10:36 So tell me this, why would you accuse me of blasphemy? The Father sent me into the world on a mission. All I said is that ‘I’m the Son of God.’
- 10:37 If I’m not doing my Father’s work, then you don't have to believe me.
- 10:38 But if I’m doing my Father’s work, believe what you see with your own eyes, even if you don’t believe in me. Then in time you might come to realize that the Father is in me and I’m in the Father.”
- 10:39 The Jews tried to arrest him again, but he slipped away.
- 10:40 Jesus left the region and went across the Jordan River to the place where John the Baptist had baptized people.8 Jesus stayed there.
- 10:41 Crowds of people came to Jesus. Some said, “John didn’t do any miracles, but everything he said about this man came true.”
- 10:42 While Jesus was there, many people started believing in him.
See note for 5:19.
“I Am” is God’s name. When God told Moses to go to Egypt and free the Jewish people, Moses said the Jews would want to know who gave him the assignment. God told him to tell the people that “I Am” (Exodus 3:14) sent him. In John’s Gospel, Jesus seems to apply that name to himself as well, in seven “I Am” phrases. I Am:
- life-giving bread (6:35)
- the light of the world (8:12)
- the gate for the sheep (10:7)
- the good shepherd (10:14)
- the resurrection (11:25)
- the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
- the Genuine Grapevine (15:1)
See note for John 10:7.
This may be a reference to people outside the Jewish faith. The Christian movement began as a Jewish movement, in which Jews taught that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Within a few decades, the Christian movement shifted to becoming a predominantly non-Jewish community of faith.
Jews later came to call this eight-day religious holiday Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Jewish priests ritually cleansed the Temple in December 167 BC, after a Greek invader named Antiochus IV Epiphanies desecrated the Temple with pagan sacrifices to Zeus. Jewish rebel fighters led by Judas Maccabaeus drove out the invader and won their independence. Until the Romans arrived.
Also called Solomon’s Colonnade, this was an open-air walkway some 300 yards (274 m) long. It rested beneath a cedar roof supported by rows of columns. It became a popular meeting place because it offered shade from the sun and protection from rain.
Sometimes called Bethany beyond the Jordan. The site today is identified as Al-Maghtas, about six miles (9 km) north of the Dead Sea, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, in what is now the country of Jordan. It’s about a day’s walk from Jerusalem, some 20 miles (32 km), as the dove flies. Today it’s an archaeological site. The site has been added to the World Heritage List by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Christian pilgrims, since Roman times, have venerated the site as the place where John the Baptist performed baptisms. Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a monastery and the remains of churches and ponds reportedly used for baptism.
If Jesus is the good Shepherd in his parable, who are the “crooks and robbers” (10:1) who sneak into the sheep pen so they can “steal and butcher the sheep” (10:10)?
Here’s a mystery. Who do you think Jesus was talking about when he said, “I have other sheep that are not part of this flock? I need to gather them in, too. They will recognize my voice. There’s going to be one flock with one shepherd” (10:16).
Jews picked up stones and were getting ready to kill Jesus after he said, “The Father and I are one and the same” (10:30). They apparently understood Jesus to mean that he was equal to God. What are we supposed to make of what Jesus said? Pick one of the ideas below or add one of your own.
- God is the Father in heaven, Jesus on earth 2,000 years ago, and the Holy Spirit in people since then.
- God the Father and Jesus are united in spirit because they are spiritual beings.
- The Father and the Son are one being that can express itself in various ways.
- Just as water can freeze into ice or evaporate into steam, one thing can take different forms. Which, sadly, tells us nothing about God. But it’s good to know when ice fishing on a warm day.
When Jews started picking up stones to kill Jesus because he said he and the Father are one and the same, he probably caught them off guard when he told them, “Doesn’t your own Bible say, ‘You are gods’?” (10:34). Scholars say Jesus was probably referring to Psalm 82:6, “I say, ‘You are gods; you are all children of the Most High’” (New Living Translation). What on earth are we supposed to do with that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said, “The good Shepherd puts his life on the line for his sheep. A hired worker won’t do that” (10:11-12). Let’s say we’re going to make the case that a modern version of this would be to compare a business owner with an employee. What do you think would be the similarities between the business owner and the shepherd along with the hired worker in each scene?
LIFE APPLICATION. Trying to figure out the difference between God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is like biting into gristle. The longer you chew it the bigger it gets. That’s not to say we should spit out the Trinity. But if we are developing a spiritual relationship with God, we have to find a way of thinking about him. How do you approach the Trinity?