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The Good Shepherd: Part I
All believers in Jesus Christ are in the fold of the Lord,
who is the Good Shepherd and the door to the gate.
The tenth chapter of the Gospel of John is a most beautiful chapter indeed. It is
thrilling to read it because it has so many things in it concerning our Lord and His
ministry on earth. It is a chapter that is filled with prophetic words because the sermons
that are preached there, the teachings that Jesus gives, are based on that 34th chapter of
Ezekiel where God really looked down upon the shepherds of Israel who had been
responsible for the people of Israel and yet had caused them to scatter. God's judgment
was against those religious leaders of Israel who had failed in their duty.
There was the promise out of that chapter of one shepherd and one fold that
would eventually come. In this tenth chapter of John, Jesus identifies Himself as that
The Text – John 10:22-33.
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus
walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him,
and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ,
tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works
that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not,
because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I
know them and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life and they shall
never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which
gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father's hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to
stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my
Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying,
For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that thou,
being a man, makest thyself God.
A. The Setting
1. The Man Who Was Born Blind
In the last lecture, we talked to you about the man who was born blind, who was
healed, who went through the fiery ordeal of being questioned, put through the third
degree by neighbors, by friends and then by the religious leaders, with the result that
finally they kicked him out of the Synagogue. They disowned him completely. The
wonderful works that Jesus had done in his life – they disowned and disclaimed.
So, it is very fitting that following that story would come the words of Jesus and
the story that are involved in this portion of the Gospel of John where Jesus says, "I am
the door to the sheep fold."
2. The Feast of Dedication
As we've already mentioned, behind each chapter in this glorious Gospel and each
great event there stands one of the feast days and the holy days of the Jews. Behind this
particular chapter, is the Feast of the Dedication, at which time the Jews would be
gathering around the temple. They would be worshiping God and they would be thanking
God for all that the temple had meant to them. They would be celebrating that time of the
year when they had dedicated the temple in the first place.
3. Jesus Is the Door
It's in the midst of this that Jesus comes, standing right in front of the doors to the
temple so to speak – where they had cast out a man and said, "We don't want you and we
won't have you." It is right in that context that Jesus comes standing in front of the great
temple and saying, "Even though you've cast somebody out, and even though you're
celebrating that holy day of the dedication of the temple, yet, I am the door into the sheep
I'm glad that when the world has turned us aside, or even when organized religion
may have turned us aside, that Jesus Christ, nevertheless, stands as the door into the fold
– the eternal fold of God. He is the one through whom any man and every man must go in
order to get through to God and have eternal life. It doesn't matter what religious doors
may close in this world, it does not matter what kind of doors may close to us, yet the
door to life eternal and the door to all the beauty of God is opened up to us through Jesus
4. The Jews and Their Proselytes
Here in His words that form the third "I am," Jesus says, "I am the door." At one
time Jesus had talked to the Jews and said, "You circle the globe – you travel all over the
world – to get one proselyte. And when you do, you make him two fold more a child of
hell than you are yourselves."
The Jews were noted for all that they did to get members into Judaism and all the
laws that one had to subscribe to. They were noted for all their requirements and all the
things they laid down as requirements to get into the Synagogue and to get into the
Jewish worship--food laws, dietary laws, the keeping of the Sabbath and circumcision.
There were all kinds of regulations that they trusted in and built up by the hundreds.
5. Jesus Is the Only Way Into the Fold
Jesus stood right in the face of it all. He said, "You can do what you will in order to
attract people to God, but all your laws and regulations do not bring men in touch with
God because I am the door. If a man is going to get in the fold, he must come by me and
through me because I am the door and there is no other way of salvation and of receiving
This lets us know in this chapter, Jesus uses some very strong language and by
this time, that moment of conflict or that period of real out and out conflict is coming to a
head and coming to a climax. It's reaching its highest kind of clash between Jesus and His
teachings and the religious leaders of that day. If you think for one moment the religious
leaders or the world looked upon Jesus with any kind of kindness, you will find out very
soon that this conflict gets so severe until they're ready to stone Him to death and ready to
seek His life.
6. All Others Are Thieves and Robbers – Hirelings"
But He says, "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers." He begins to
describe in terms like we would perhaps never use. He describes methods and means and
the kinds of people who have led the religion of Israel up until this very hour. He says
they were thieves and they were robbers and they were motivated by the desire to steal
and to kill and to destroy. He said they were hirelings and He said the hireling flees when
danger comes and when trouble comes the hireling flees because He is a hireling. That's
the reason he flees.
When pressure comes and when trouble emerges and when the flock is attacked
and when there's a real need for a shepherd to stand in the gap and face the wolves and
face the enemy, when there's real trouble he says the hireling flees away because he is a
hireling and he's just there for what he can get out of it.
B. The Old Testament Background
1. The Good Shepherd in Ezekiel (Chapter 34)
He is speaking from this text out of Ezekiel where Ezekiel, that prophet, thunders
out to the priesthood system and religious system of that day. Ezekiel says, "Woe to you
shepherds of Israel because you feed yourselves and not the flock." "You scatter the
sheep." "The afflicted you have not visited and the lost you have not found, and you have
not sought them."
Ezekiel 34:1-12; 23-26; 29-31
And the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, prophesy against the
shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto the, Thus saith the Lord God unto the
shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not
the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye
kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was
sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought
again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost;
but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And my sheep wandered
through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered
upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God,
surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast
of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for
my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;
Therefore, 0 ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God;
Behold, I am against the shepherds and I will require my flock at their hand, and
cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed
themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may
not be meat for them.
For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and
seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his
sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of
all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day (vv. 1-12).
And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant
David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be
their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.
And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to
cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in
the woods. And I will make and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I
will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of
blessing (verses 23-26).
And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more
consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any
more. Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they,
even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God. And ye my flock, the
flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God (vv 29-31).
So Jesus, out of the context of that great message of Ezekiel, is pointing a finger
of accusation at organized religion and the priesthood system in His own day. I want you
to know that it's enough to arouse the anger and wrath of these people.
He goes on to say that God has promised a time when there would be one fold and one
shepherd. He says, "I am the Good Shepherd." And when He says, "I am the Good
Shepherd," they know who He's talking about because that expression is rooted deep into
chapter 34 of Ezekiel.
2. The Good Shepherd in the Old Testament
It comes out of the very heart of the Old Testament. It comes out of the Psalms of
the Old Testament, especially the 23rd. That Good Shepherd theme runs throughout the
entire Bible--the Lord reaching down to the world, reaching down with arms of love to
embrace those who would hear His voice and who would follow Him. I want to tell you,
that same voice still calls and that same voice still reaches and that same arm still reaches
out tonight and God is still calling and reaching and saving and gathering and bringing in
to one fold to have one people who are redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
I'm glad I know the Shepherd's voice. If you do, just raise your hand and just say,
"Praise the Lord." Would you say it together with me, "The Lord is my Shepherd." If you
really believe it, if that's the way you feel about it, say it again: "The Lord is my
He says, "I am the Good Shepherd." He talks to them further in this chapter about
what real dedication really means. Because He says He is really the dedicated one
because He is sent of the Father. He is the one who is not a hireling, but He has been
sanctified or dedicated by the Almighty God and He is sent of God. He has come with all
of His heart to do the work of a Good Shepherd.
All believers in Jesus Christ are in the fold of the Lord, who is the Good Shepherd and the door to the gate.
Thompson's Chain Reference: 3264 (Christ - The Good Shepard)
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