Study 9: A New Shepherd – He laid down his life for his sheep
Read John 10:1-40
The previous chapter of John is dedicated to restoring sight (see, seeing, light, believe, etc.). the sight of the man born blind was restored. He confesses, “I was blind but now I see.” (9:25). The healed man said of Jesus that He was “a prophet” (9:17). The remarks of the parents are striking, His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know.” (John 9:20–21, NKJV)
Their decision to not say more was because “… they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.” (John 9:22, NIV)
The last few verses of chapter 9 are remarkable- it’s just stacking up all the concepts we have studied up to this point:
- “open your eyes” (9:26)
- “you did not listen”, “hear it again” (9:27)
- “we know”, “we don’t know”, “where He comes from”(9:29)
- “You don’t know”, “where He comes from”, “opened my eyes” (9:30
- “we know”, “God does not listen to sinners,” “does his will” (9:31)
- “heard”, “opening the eyes”, “blind” (9:32)
- “from God” (9:33)
Jesus met with this man later on and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man.
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:36–38, NIV)
The role “The Jews” (or Pharisees 9:15) played in this episode describes their attitude as “shepherds of the flock” – they knew nothing themselves and threw the healed man out of the synagogue. In fact they were blind (9:40-41)
With the blind shepherds in mind, Jesus contrasts his own shepherd-ship with theirs.
1. Read 10:1-2. What is the typical behaviour of thieves and robbers?
“We can picture it thus. During the night the door-keeper has been with the sheep. He is acquainted with the shepherd. Hence, when in the morning he hears the shepherd’s voice, he opens the door. The sheep also immediately recognise the voice of their own shepherd. They not only hear (more or less unconsciously) but listen. They obey. This is true with respect to actual sheep (the animals).” (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. [1953–2001]. Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, p. 104). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
It was common practise for different shepherds to have their flocks guarded at night by a hired watchman in the same gathering yards.
2. Read 10:3. What is the typical behaviour of the watchman?
“It is not unusual for shepherds to give names to their sheep just as we do with dogs, cats, horses, fish, etc. Every sheep recognises his own name, and comes when called. Travellers in lands where old-fashioned sheep herding methods are still used, have noticed the readiness with which the sheep of a large flock will recognise the shepherd’s voice. Though several flocks are mingled, they speedily separate at the command of the shepherd, while the command of a stranger would have no effect on them.” (Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. . Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 518). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.)
3. Read 10:3-4 How do the sheep react to the guidance of the shepherd?
The word “listen” in verse 3 corresponds with “recognise” (1:5, 10), and has the implicit meaning of “see” and “believe”. In 10:5 the opposite is to “not recognise”.
4. Read 10:7-9. What does Jesus say about Himself in relation to his relationship with the sheep. He seems to say that He acts in two roles.
5. Read 10:10. What is the contrast between Christ’s shepherdship and that of all other pretend-shepherds?
6. Read 10:11-12. What is the relationship between the good shepherd and his sheep?
7. Read 10:12-13. What is the relationship between the hire hand and the sheep?
8. Read 10:14. What qualifies the relationship between Christ and the “sheep”?
9. Read 10:16. the “farmer”, Jesus Christ and his Father, have expansion plans. Explain what “other sheep”, “one flock” and “one shepherd” mean in this context.
10. Read 10:17-18. What was God’s design to “call” the sheep into his flock. What gives them the ability to “hear” and to “listen”?
11. According to verse 18, what is so astonishing about the sacrifice of Christ?
12. According to verses 18 and 29-30 what do we learn about the relationship between Christ and the Father in the rescue and “expansion” plan of the flock?
13. Read 10:19-20. What are the responses on the teachings of Christ? Also read 1:1-12.
14. Read 10:25-26. Why did “The Jews” do believe when Jesus said He was the Christ?
15. Read 10:29. What is the great promise embedded in these words? Read 10:12 again.
The consistent teaching (right through the Gospel) of our Lord that He came from heaven with authority from the Father and that He and the Father are one, was not “understood” and “comprehended” by the Jews. This was because they did “not know” and did “not believe” (read 1:5, 10, 11 again). They were spiritually blind, living in darkness. the result is that they wanted to kill Him by stoning Him to death on the charge that He was a blasphemer by applying Leviticus 24:16.
Our Lord defends Himself from the Scripture be referring to Psalm 82:6.
- Scripture cannot be broken. The Old Testament, as it lies there in written form is inspired, infallible, authoritative.
- Now Scripture calls men gods. It uses this title with reference to judges, because they represent divine justice: the Word of God had come to them.
- The Jews then speaking to Christ have never protested this use of the term. They have never said that God committed an error by calling these judges gods.
- Then all the more they should refrain from protesting when Christ calls Himself the Son of God.
Note the differences:
- The Word of God (in written form) had come to the judges, but Jesus is himself, in very person, the Word of God (the Word Incarnate)!
- The judges were born, just like other men, but Jesus was sent into the world (having come from above).
- The judges were sons of God in a general sense only, Jesus is God’s only-begotten (see on 1:14, 18; 3:16).
- The judges received an important but, as compared with Jesus, an inferior task, but Jesus was consecrated (set aside and qualified, cf. 17:19) and sent (from ἀποστέλλω; see on 3:17, 34; 5:36–38) into the world to be the Savior.
Hence, the Jews have no right whatever to say to Jesus, “You are blaspheming,” when he says, “I am the Son of God.”
16. Read 10:40-42. “The Jews” remained spiritually blind. But was the coming of Christ into the world to restore the sight of the blind and to be the Good Shepherd a hopeless case? Also read 1:32-34
- Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who knows and calls his sheep
- The sheep of his flock listens to his voice because their sight and hearing is restored
- Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who protects his sheep
- Christ is the One sent by the Father: He lays down his life for his sheep. He rose again to give them eternal life.