|1 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not
enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a
2 "But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
1. (verses 1-2) Who do you think Jesus means are a thief and a robber? Who is the shepherd? What is the characteristic Jesus gives in these verses that this is the shepherd?
The shepherd is the only one to properly enter the sheepfold. Many times permanent sheep pens were enclosed by stone walls built against a wall or a hill. The only way into the sheep pen was through the door. But a thief or a robber would try to climb over the walls to steal sheep. Christ is saying that he is the only true Shepherd. There are many others who say their ways to God or their philosophy of life are best, but they are not coming through the proper door. They are nothing more than thieves and robbers. They will rob you of the joy of serving God and will steal peace and rest of your soul.
3 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
2. (verse 3) How do the sheep know to follow the shepherd? Who does the leading, the sheep or the shepherd? How are you like a sheep?
The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and so they know whom to follow. Do you know the voice of Christ? Do you hear him calling you? Notice it is the sheep who do the following. We cannot get ahead of God. Thats why we need to learn to listen for his voice.
Sheep are very bad at taking care of themselves. Sheep are fearful and timid. They are stupid. Sheep are stubborn. They will blindly follow other sheep astray. They have filthy personal habits. In a way we are a lot like sheep, arent we? Fortunately, we have a Good Shepherd who will watch over us and lead us. But we have to be willing to follow him.
4 "And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5 "Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
3. (verses 4-5) Why do they follow the shepherd? Why do they flee from a stranger? What persuades people to follow a stranger?
Verse 4 tells us the shepherd goes before the sheep and they follow him because they know his voice. Now, how would this cause them to want to follow him? It is because they have learned that it is the shepherd who knows the way to the green pastures and to the watering holes. They have learned from experience that if they follow the shepherd, they will be taken care of. They wont follow the voice of a stranger. Have we learned that lesson? Have we learned that only Christ has our best interests in mind? Have we discovered that there is no better way to peace and satisfaction? Or are we chasing after strangers who promise us something better, tell us we can indulge our desires and do things our own way? Notice Jesus said the sheep flee from a stranger. Dont listen to those other voices distracting you from serving God. Run from them.
6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
4. (verse 6) Why didnt the disciples understand this story? What can we learn from the disciples actions when we dont understand something in the Bible?
As we look at this parable it is difficult to see how the disciples could not understand it. But there are many times we come to something written in the Bible that we cant comprehend. What should we do when this happens? Lets take our lesson from the disciples. They were not ashamed to admit that they couldnt understand something. And they knew to come to Christ for the answer instead of trying to figure it out themselves. We can come to God with our questions and concerns. He will teach us as we study his word. But we must come to him. Many of the strange doctrines and new denominations have started because someone preferred to figure out the Bible by themselves instead of coming to God for an explanation.
7 Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 "All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
9 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
5. (verses 7-9) What does Jesus mean by calling himself a door? What did the good shepherd offer his sheep that the thieves and robbers could not? What is the difference between a thief and a robber?
After all the spring grass was eaten near their home ranch, then the shepherd would have to take the sheep sometimes long distances to find new pasture. During these months the shepherd would sleep with the flock. Usually he would build a rough enclosure of stones against a hill for the sheep to spend the night. He would sleep across the opening of this sheep pen and would literally become the door of the sheepfold. He was there to guard the sheep against attack or intrusion. Because the sheep belonged to the shepherd, he cared for them and would protect them. A thief or robber would not have the welfare of the sheep in mind, but the shepherd would.
Christ gives two kinds of bandits the thief and the robber. I think the Lord is showing us a subtle difference between those things that would rob us of Gods joy. The robber is one who steals from us openly, whereas the thief is one who steals from us secretly.
There are things that openly try to rob us from having a relationship with Christ. These would include sin and temptations, losing our temper, frustrations at work, and aggravations throughout the day that cause us to lose our focus on Christ. These all try to rob us of our joy.
There are other things that slip in secretly to distract us. They may steal our focus on God with such things as spiritual doubts, discouragement, depression, or self-pity. We dont realize when these thieves sneak in, but suddenly we find ourselves spiritually down in the dumps.
10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
6. (verse 10) What do false religions offer us? What does Christ offer us?
Jesus contrasts the difference between the true God and all false religions. The false religions will steal our happiness, kill our joy, and destroy our peace. They will offer false hope that can never satisfy the need in our life for a Savior. But Christ is the one who offers us forgiveness and who brings us life. He not only promises us a life of joy, but also an abundant life. Our heart will be overflowing with his love.
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
7. (verse 11) How do these word apply to a real shepherd? How do these words apply to Christ?
From the story of David when he was a shepherd, we know he had to face danger to protect his flock. He used his sling shot to kill a bear and a lion which came to steal from his flock. He did not hesitate to confront these predators because the sheep belonged to him and he felt bound to protect them. During the summer grazing, the shepherd would be the only one between the sheep and danger.
Christ cares for us a lot more than any shepherd could. He loved us so much that he came to die for us that we might have eternal life. He has shown his love for us. Are we willing to return that love by following him and obeying him?
12 "But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
13 "The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
8. (verses 12-13) Does this tell us anything about pastors who take off at the first sign of trouble? How can we get more of an attitude like the Good Shepherd?
On large ranches there might be men hired for the purpose of guarding the sheep. But since they didnt feel the sheep were as important to them as the risk of a predator attack, they might flee from real danger such as a wolf attack. Over the years I have been very frustrated by the number of ministers I have seen who get a church going, and sometimes growing, but at the first sign of problems (or sometimes simply a better offer elsewhere) they take off and run. The wolf is none other than Satan. He wants to chase away the hireling and scatter the sheep. Notice what verse 13 tells us, "the hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep." Christ cares about his church. Give us ministers who also care about his church, who are willing to stick through bad times as well as good to see the flock grow and become whole.
14 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
15 "As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
9. (verse 14) How well does Christ know us? How well do we know Christ? How can you be more aware of Christs voice?
We who are Christs are known by him and know him. But how well do we know him? Do we spend the time alone with him in communion and prayer to get to know him better? Jesus knows everything about us. How much do we know about him? In order to be more aware of the nature of God, we need to spend time in prayer, in communion with Christ, in Bible reading and meditating of Gods word. The more time we spend learning about Jesus, the more we will know and understand how God works in the world around us, and in our own lives.
16 "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
10. (verse 16) What other sheep is Christ talking about? What does he mean by one flock and one shepherd?
This is one of those great verses in the Bible. Christ is speaking to the Jewish disciples about another fold. He already had the fold of Israel, but through the disciples he was going to bring in new sheep from those that were not of this fold of Israel. The Christian message would spread throughout the Gentile world. What would be the result? There would no longer be Jews and Gentiles. There would be one new flock of believers all under the care of the Good Shepherd.
The message in this verse is for you and me. We were the barbarians and outcasts for whom Christ came. He is welcoming us into his family. We do not enter the family as a second-grade flock, but we have all the benefits and privileges of the original sheep fold. We are all one in Christ. What a blessing this is to us.
17 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
18 "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
11. (verses 17-18) Whos decision was it for Christ to die for us? Who had been given the power to raise Christ from the dead?
In these two verse we see that it is Christ who makes the decision to die for us. As the old song goes "He could have called ten thousand angels, but he died alone for you and me." Some theologians teach that Christ was powerless in the grave, but notice verse 18 says that it is Christ who had the power to lay down his life, and it was Christ who had the power to take it again. Jesus did not enter the grave beaten and helpless. He entered it obediently. He did it to lay down his life for the sheep for us. That we might receive Gods grace and forgiveness. Knowing this, doesnt that make us want to be an obedient flock and follow him wherever he wishes to take us?
This study on John 10:1-18 © 1998 by David Humpal. All Rights Reserved.
All scripture unless otherwise noted is from the New King James Version © 1984, Thomas Nelson Publishers