Hey guys! Have you been blessed at all this week? We are excited to share some of thoughts from our Stepping Stones class this last Saturday. Clay led a great study over John 10:1-18 – Jesus’ lesson of the Good Shepherd. Let’s explore some of what we learned. First of all, to set the context for this story, remember that the Pharisees have just excommunicated the healed blind man because of his belief in Jesus. The synagogue leaders were supposed to be loving shepherds of their communities but instead they had become overbearing tyrants, abusing their power for selfish gain. Now, let’s read our parable in John 10:1-18… In verse 1, Jesus immediately sets Himself apart as the True Shepherd of the sheep in contrast to the false shepherds. In fact, Jesus doesn’t just accuse the Jewish religious leaders of being false shepherds but, he bluntly says “he who does not enter by the door” is a thief and a robber. Interestingly enough, much of Jesus’ language in this parable is drawn from Ezekiel 34, a warning from Jehovah against false shepherds. I would highly recommend reading this fascinating chapter if you have time!
So, let’s take some time and walk through verses 3-4 of John 10 together:
- “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice”: Listeners would have immediately latched onto Jesus’ language here. It just so happened that in the East, shepherds would bring their flocks every night into one central sheepfold where half-a-dozen flocks gathered together and were guarded by a porter or gatekeeper behind locked doors. In the morning the shepherds would return and each shepherd would call his own sheep. Even though the flocks had been mixed together, each flock knew its own shepherd’s voice and each would follow its own shepherd and no other. I think after we’ve spent time with our Shepherd, we begin to know His voice too.
- “He calls His own sheep by name”. Think about Jesus’ interview with Nicodemus by night. Then remember how he met the woman at the well of Samaria; how he singled-out the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda; how he sought out the man born blind. In each encounter He met the individual personally, alone. As Jesus walked through Jericho, He saw a little man in a tree and called to him, “Zacchaeus, come down. I’m scheduled to have lunch with you!” (Luke 19:5). He met Matthew at the customs’ table and told him, “Rise, and follow me,” (Matt. 9:9). Jesus personally calls His own sheep by name – and, guess what – HE CALLS YOU BY NAME!
- “He goes before them:” When he leads you out, He does not leave you alone; He has already gone ahead of you. (This might be a good time to read Psalm 23!)
- “and the sheep trust His voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger”: Guess what, when you know the Shepherd’s voice, it is much easier to detect an intruder…
We then come to a scene change in verse 7: Christ now becomes the door. Jesus’ audience would have immediately recognized where He was going with this. You see, an Eastern shepherd would lead his flock out of the sheepfold to the hillsides where they would graze through the morning hours, and then in the early afternoon he would provide a temporary shelter built of shrubs and rocks where the flock could rest. The sheep could lie down in this corral-type structure, protected from wild beasts. The pen had only one opening – across which the shepherd himself would lie so that predators could not enter and so the sheep could not come or go without crossing over him. This is what Jesus means in the words, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
These are just a few of the amazing lessons we learned from John 10! Before we end the week, let’s try to take some time to reflect on how Jesus has called each one of us into his fold — personally, by name.