Jesus and Abundant Life

 

A Bible Study of the Gospel of John

 

 “Jesus the Good Shepherd” – John 10

 

 

In John 2 Jesus did His first sign at a wedding in Cana which showed like God, He can turn the water of the word into the wine of redemption and like God He saves the best for last. In John 4 Jesus did His second sign of healing the nobleman’s son with a mere spoken word; a feat showing that like God His word is powerful. In John 5 the third sign of Jesus is His healing a man who had been lame for 38 years. In John 6 we see the fourth and fifths signs of Jesus as He walks on water and feeds over five thousand people with a few morsels of food. In John 7 establishes Himself as Messiah and the Source of the outpoured Holy Spirit. And in John 8 we saw Jesus proclaim Himself the light of the world and great I Am.  In John 9 we saw the sixth of seven miraculous signs of Jesus mentioned by John in his gospel, the healing of the man born blind.

 

In chapter ten we will see Jesus speak of Himself as the Good Shepherd. We are probably not too familiar with sheepherding. But shepherds and their flocks of sheep were a common thing in Biblical times. In Jesus’ day sheep and shepherds were a very common thing. The relationship a shepherd had with his sheep was well known to people and was useful, as we will see, to illustrate God’s relationship with His people.

 

The word “shepherd” occurs 102 times in 93 verses of the Bible (NKJV). The word “sheep” occurs 194 times in 183 verses in the Bibles. The book of Job is considered to be one of if not the oldest book of the Bible. Job is said to have owned fourteen thousand sheep (Job 42:12). Abel was a keeper of sheep (Genesis 4:2). Abraham’s wealth was based in part on the sheep he owned (Genesis 12:16). Moses had shepherding experience (Exodus 3:1). David drew a great deal on his experience as a shepherd (1 Samuel 16:11; Psalm 23 etc.). At the dedication of the Temple Solomon offered one hundred and twenty thousand sheep in sacrifice to God (1 Kings 8:63). We see sheep and shepherds used throughout the Old Testament as a means to illustrate truths about God and His people (e.g. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Zechariah). So using the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep would be using something familiar and known to the people to illustrate truth.

 

In His word God frequently refers to Himself as a Shepherd. The LORD is “my shepherd” according to David in Psalm 23. In Ezekiel 34 God portrays Himself as a Shepherd who indicts false lazy self-serving leader-shepherds of His people. He speaks of gathering His people/sheep like a Shepherd and protecting them. God inspires Old Testament writers to use this shepherd/sheep imagery elsewhere but these two chapters are prominent examples.

 

In the New Testament the angels of heaven announce the birth of Messiah Jesus to shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). In the Gospels the Messiah is associated with a coming Shepherd who would come to care for God’s people/sheep (Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2). In John 10 Jesus will show He is the fulfillment of this Messianic imagery. In the Gospels Jesus looks upon the crowds of people and laments they are like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34). On His march to the cross Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7 saying “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock with be scattered” (Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27). At the end of the age Messiah Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats or the righteous from the unrighteous (Matthew 25:32.)

 

Jon Courson explains some of the practices of the shepherd with his sheep that are valuable to keep in mind as we examine this chapter in John’s gospel:

 

A shepherd of Jesus’ day would wear a cotton tunic held together by a leather cord belt, upon which hung a leather pouch to carry dried fruit or small stones for the sling that also hung upon his belt. The sling was used not only to ward off predators but also to herd wandering sheep, for an experienced shepherd would have such precise aim that he would be able to drop a stone right in front of the nose of a straying sheep, thereby drawing it back to the flock. Another item attached to the belt of the shepherd was a horn of oil. Oil was used to anoint the heads of the sheep in the flock—not only as an insect repellent but also to reduce the friction that occurred when they butted each other. Fourthly, attached to the shepherd’s belt was a small clublike instrument called a rod that was used to fight predators in close “hand-to-hand combat” situations. . . . Finally, in his hand the shepherd held a staff—a large stick seven or eight feet long with a crook at one end with which the shepherd would hook lambs or sheep headed in the wrong direction. With this picture of a Middle-Eastern shepherd in mind, Jesus begins His discourse…[1]

 

 

Breaking Legs

 

In relatively recent times stories have circulated about how shepherds would deal with sheep who persistently stray from the flock by breaking their legs and then carrying them on their shoulders from place to place until they heal. This supposedly would serve as discipline as well as a time of bonding as the shepherd carried the sheep around. However there is no scriptural evidence for this practice. As our Shepherd God will at times allow us to experience the consequences of our sinful choices (e.g. Jeremiah 2:19). And God will at some point pour out His righteous wrath on a Christ-rejecting world (e.g. Revelation 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1; 16:1, 19; 19:15). But break the legs of His sheep? Not likely.

 

God does discipline us (Hebrews 12:3-11). But the breaking of a lambs legs seems to be more cruel than disciplinary. Jesus speaks of a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine of his flock to go after one stray lost sheep and then of the shepherd’s rejoicing when he finds the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-13). Jesus speaks of the shepherd then taking that once lost sheep, putting it on his shoulders and taking it home rejoicing all the way. Once home the shepherd calls his family and friends together to celebrate the recovered sheep (Luke 15:4-6). Then Jesus comments, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). There is no talk of the shepherd breaking the sheep’s legs.

 

Breaking a sheep’s leg would be a very dangerous and life threatening proposition. A shepherd would not likely put a sheep under his care at risk this way. Breaking a sheep’s leg and then carrying it for the weeks it would take for it to heal would also be pretty impractical. It would distract the shepherd from proper care of the other sheep of the flock. There is such a thing as braking sheep. That is when a shepherd disciplines (short of severe physical abuse on the animal) to keep them from straying. It may involve tying something to the sheep’s leg to anchor it and hinder it from straying. When the sheep that was prone to stray learns to stay with the flock the “brakes come off.” But breaking its leg is not an acceptable practice.

 

The imagery of a shepherd breaking a sheep’s legs has no scriptural basis and seems out of sync with the nature of God. Instead we see in scripture, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV). That is more consistent with what God seems to be revealing about Himself and His people by referring to the relationship of a shepherd with his sheep.

 

Suffice it to say what we see in John 10 regarding Jesus as the Good Shepherd mentions nothing about breaking the legs of the sheep. Quite to the contrary, Jesus knows His sheep and they know Him. Jesus calls His sheep; He searches them out. The Good Shepherd Jesus lays down His life for the sheep. No leg breaking here. If you get out of line, Jesus is not going to break your legs. Bad shepherds break the legs of their sheep. Criminals break legs. Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd does not.

 

John 10 

 “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 robber.

Shepherds frequently herded their sheep into the fields and surrounding countryside in order to find green pastures. At night they would keep the sheep in temporary sheepfolds. These sheepfolds were made of branches and surrounding brush. This was designed to keep the sheep together for their protection and provision. This makeshift coral of the brush was made with a single opening for the sheep to enter in and exit out of. At night, the shepherd would lay himself at the entryway to block any sheep from wandering out and to be a wall against any predator or thief getting in.

Stealing sheep was a common practice in those days. One thief would climb over the wall, jump down, grab a sheep, slit its throat, and then hand the dead body over the wall to an accomplice.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

Each flock of sheep have a shepherd to protect and provide for them. The rightful shepherd of each flock “enters by the door.” He doesn’t climb over the wall. He doesn’t knock down the wall. The shepherd enters one way; the right way to gather his sheep and lead them to where they need to go.

To him the doorkeeper opens,

Each village had a common sheepfold for when the shepherds brought their sheep home from the fields. It was made of stone walls about six feet or higher. The sheep from various shepherds would stay together in this community sheepfold. This stone sheepfold also had one opening to enter and exit through. The shepherds would herd their sheep into the village sheepfold and then return to their homes to sleep. One of them would be assigned or they would take turns guarding the sheep in the entryway as a “doorkeeper” (John 10:3).

and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name

With sheep from various shepherds you might wonder how did they know whose sheep belonged to which shepherd? How did they avoid a mix-up of the sheep?

Jesus said, “and the sheep hear his voice.” The sheep knew their shepherd’s voice. Sometimes each shepherds had a unique call for his sheep. Other times the shepherd would call his sheep with a song. When he whistled, called or sung a song, his sheep would know it was time to go with the shepherd.

And Jesus also adds, “and he calls his own sheep by name.” The shepherd gave names to his sheep. He knew each sheep personally. He gave them names so he could call them individually. If “Buffy” wandered off he would just call her by name. If “Benedict” was lagging behind he’d call him to speed it up. Names are important. Names enable the shepherd to give instructions to a specific individual sheep.

and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

When we think of s shepherd we may have an image of a shepherd driving the sheep from behind. We may picture in our minds a shepherd with a stick whacking the sheep in line. But this is not the case. Shepherds lead their sheep and the sheep follow him. If you go to Israel today you will see a shepherd walking in front of a herd of his sheep. Shepherds lead. Sheep follow. They know the shepherd’s voice.

 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Sheep are very skittish and easily frightened. They respond to the warm and familiar voice of their shepherd. But they immediately know and fear the strange voice of someone other than their shepherd.

Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again,

Jesus used the imagery of a shepherd with his sheep to communicate to the people. But the people didn’t understand. But notice, Jesus didn’t berate those who didn’t understand. He didn’t belittle them for not picking up on what He was illustrating. Jesus simply “said to them again.” Jesus is very patient with us. He will communicate to us in the clearest of ways. And if we don’t pick up on what He is trying to communicate to us, He will patiently speak to us again and again until the message becomes clear to us.

 

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

 

Jesus says “Most assuredly,” (Greek Amen, amen) or without a doubt I say to you, I am.”  Again we see Jesus using this powerful “I am” phrase with regard to Himself. At the end of chapter 9 it almost got Him stoned because “I am” is a clear association with deity (compare Exodus 3:14). In this chapter Jesus will use the phrase “I am” six more times (John 10:7, 9, 11. 14, and 36). It is clear that Jesus is using the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to point out He is the Shepherd God as David in the psalms proclaimed with the words, “The LORD is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).

 

Jesus is a Shepherd at heart. When Jesus looked at the multitudes of people he “was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). Jesus yearns to gather people into His fold. And as he looks with compassion on the wandering straying sheep of the world, He sees teaching them many things as the means to feed their hungering souls. Will you repent of your sins and call Jesus your Shepherd? (E.g. Psalm 23).

 

Jesus is “the door of the sheep.” The sheepfolds in the fields and the community sheepfold in the village had no physical door or gate. The shepherd or “doorman” served as the door to enter and exit the sheepfold.

 

Jesus as “the door” is to be differentiated from “a door.” There are not many doors to the sheepfold of the Lord. There is only one door, “the door” Jesus. Jesus is the most assured and certain entryway to finding protection, peace and provisions for all we need. He is the way, the truth and the life and only way to salvation and eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the only way into God’s heavenly eternal sheepfold.

 

Jesus as “the door” is our Provider. Jesus provides for us. He leads us to green pastures in His word. He leads us to refreshing water of His word (Eph. 5:26). “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).

 

Jesus as “the door” is our Protector. As the door of the sheepfold Jesus would guard against robbers stealing the sheep. Jesus is our Shepherd He points out false shepherds, wolves in sheep’s clothing so we can run from them and into the arms of Jesus (Matthew 7:15). “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:4-5).

 

Jesus as “the door” is our Preventer. Jesus will also corral the person who has a bent to wandering from His flock. He will do everything possible to keep people from straying from his fold. He will leave the Ninety-nine and go searching for the one lone sheep who has wandered off (Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4-7).  That’s how much we mean to Jesus individually. That’s how much He loves us. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6).

 

All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

 

There are those historically and even today who try to supplant and replace Jesus as the means to what a person needs in life. The ultimate usurper will be Antichrist. But watch out for people who speak much about themselves and little about Jesus. Watch for people who put the focus on themselves. Watch for those who fleece the flock of God instead of feed them.

 

How do we identify the “thieves and robbers”? Jesus said, “the sheep did not hear them.” True sheep, those genuinely saved and in love with Jesus will not follow wolves in sheep’s clothing. The greatest defense against wolves is to run into the arms of the Shepherd Jesus. Fall in love with Jesus and you’ll fall for nothing else or no one else.

 

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

 

Notice a few things about Jesus words. Again he asserts Himself as “I am the door.” There are no alternatives or substitutes to Jesus.

 

Jesus says, “If anyone enters by Me.” “If” means there is a condition, a decision to be made in regards to Jesus. Jesus presents the truth of the gospel and we must respond in faith.

 

Jesus continues, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” Saved from what? Saved from the dangers of this world? Yes, though there will be times when in this world we will have to face dangers and even trials and suffering. But Jesus offers safety in and through such circumstances. Jesus speaks of salvation in the context of the illustration of a shepherd and his sheep. His prime point is not merely protection from the dangers in this world. Jesus is offering the way of salvation from this world into the next. Jesus is offering the way salvation from sin’s dangers and life eternally.

 

Then Jesus states, “and will go in and out and find pasture.” When Jesus is our Shepherd, we will travel in this world and Jesus will keep us well fed spiritually all the way.

 

 

 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

 

Remember this, Satan wants to steal from you, to kill you and ultimately to destroy you. Satan is a thief. He lures the sheep away only to prey on them. When you live outside the fold of Jesus you can expect to be robbed and murdered. Satan and those who present themselves as substitutes or alternatives to Jesus only seek to steal from you to enrich themselves and will do so at your expense.

 

Beware a church and ministry that is constantly begging for money. I have heard of churches that literally post bouncer like ushers at the exits of the sanctuary to prevent congregants from leaving until the desired amount of money has been extorted through offerings. That is a travesty. That is heretical. That is apostasy. That is blasphemy. If you know of such practices in a church run away, run away. God never endorses extortion techniques as a means to raise funds for ministry. Remember that (cf. 2 Peter 2).

 

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 

Jesus came to give us spiritual life. He comes to show us the way to experience the second birth; a spiritual birth; eternal life (John 3). The life Jesus offers is a life “more abundantly.” The word “abundantly” (Greek perisson) means extraordinary, profuse, abundant. Jesus offers to take ordinary me and make extraordinary abundantly me. Life with Jesus is extraordinary. Life with Jesus is a life of meaning, purpose, and extraordinary worth. That is what this Gospel of John is really all about. It is about the extraordinary life Jesus lived and how we can follow in His steps. There are no ordinary followers of Jesus. There are only extraordinary followers of Jesus.

 

And what is even more blessed is to understand that God does abundantly extraordinary things through ordinary available people. Ability is good and valuable, but it is not all that God looks for. God gifts people and enables people to fulfill His callings. But more importantly, God is looking for ordinary people who make themselves available to Him in faith. Then God does extraordinary things through ordinary people. That is the glory of God’s work.

 

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

The adjective “good” (Greek kalos) means good, ideal, excellent, beautiful, advantageous, noble. There is nothing bad in Jesus. What makes Jesus the “good shepherd” is that “The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”  Three times in this passage Jesus speaks of laying down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15, 17).

On the cross, Jesus laid down His life “for” (Greek huper) the sheep; for us. Jesus gave His life in behalf of or instead of us. Jesus is our sin-Bearer. He was made sin for us so that His righteousness could be given to us as we put our faith in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Think about that.

Jesus is the ideal Shepherd for us to model our lives after. He is a beautiful picture of loving sacrifice. His redemptive work on the cross provides sinners who put their faith in Him the greatest of advantages through Him. And there is no Shepherd as noble, no Shepherd who is as worthy of honor as Jesus is.

 

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.

 

A “hireling” (Greek misthotos) is a hired hand, someone who works for pay. Jesus points out He was not a hired hand who would run from danger. Jesus is the Owner of the sheep in His fold. A hired hand, even if paid well, we not risk their life for the flock. At some point they will say, “Enough is enough,” or “They’re not paying me enough to do this.” Not so with the owner of the sheep. The owner of the sheep has their life invested in the sheep.  Jesus will never desert those He gave His life for.

 

This tells us something about Jesus. It tells us He never did and never will run from danger. Jesus doesn’t leave us when the wolves circle the flock. Jesus sticks with and protects His flock. Jesus never runs off and leaves us at the mercy of predator enemies. Jesus is our Defender!

 

This tells us about the character of a Hireling too. Based on the grammar Jesus tells us a hireling will always flee and keep on fleeing from danger (“leaves”: Greek pheugei – Present/Active/Indicative of pheugo). Jesus tells us the hireling “does not care about the sheep.” “Not care” (Greek ou melei) means doesn’t think about, doesn’t care about, isn’t concerned about. A hireling is only looking to profit from his job he isn’t personally invested in and doesn’t take ownership of the sheep.

 

Ministry is more than money. If you enter ministry to earn money, you will be greatly disappointed. Ministry involves cost. Ministry involves misery. Ministry involves personal sacrifice. Being an under-shepherd or Shepherd’s-assistant of Jesus requires you have the same self-sacrificing attitude to His sheep. A shepherd serving Jesus’ flock is called by Jesus to serve and understands it is at personal cost, danger, and life-sacrifice for the glory of Jesus. The shepherd serving Jesus’ flock understands from the point of calling and accepting that call it is all for Jesus.  

 

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

 

Jesus says again He is the good shepherd. What makes Jesus a “good shepherd”? Jesus says, “I know My sheep.” The word “know” (Greek ginosko: Present/Active/Indicative) means to know, be aware of, perceive, understand, be conscious of. Jesus is aware of us and always has us on His mind. That’s good. That’s very good.

 

But Jesus adds, “and am known by My own.” The word “known” here is from the same root word (ginosko). The grammar (Present/Passive-Middle/Indicative)   of the word “known” here though conveys the thought of being enabled to know. Jesus is good not only because he actively takes the initiative to know us, but that He enables us to know Him!

 

Are you groping in the dark for something or someone? The Bible says God created humanity with an inner desire to know Him (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Another meaning of “know” (ginosko) is to see things as they truly are separate from opinion or speculation. If you want to reach a place of understanding come to Jesus and get to know Him.

 

Do you know Jesus? He knows you. And He invites you to know Him. If you heed His call and turn from your sins to Him, He will forgive your sins and enable you to know Him. And there is no better Shepherd, no greater Person to know that Jesus!

 

 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

 

Jesus has a special relationship with the Father. The Father knows Jesus in truth. Jesus knows the Father in truth. Jesus and the Father have the perfect relationship. And out of that perfect relationship flows the words of Jesus, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” Redemption, salvation, the gospel flow out of the Father and the Son’s relationship.

 

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.

 

When Jesus speaks of “other sheep” He is likely alluding to Gentiles who would receive Him as Savior and become a part of His flock. Jesus came first to redeem Israel (cf. Matthew 10:6; 15:24). The Gospel came first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Romans 1:16). Jesus was therefore speaking prophetically of the gospel being brought to the Gentiles after it had been offered to the Jew. But even with the chronological priority of Israel Jesus ministered to Gentiles too (cf. Matthew 15:21-28). God is impartial (Romans 2:11). Any priority placed on sharing the gospel to Jews before Gentiles was not a prejudiced priority but rather a planned priority. God always planned to reach as many in the world for salvation as possible. He desires none to perish (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). But His plan involved working with and using Israel as an instrument to this end. Israel was to be a light to the Gentile world (Isaiah 49). And this was fulfilled in Israel’s greatest descendant, Jesus Christ the Messiah. And today all who are saved in Christ are called to be a light to the Gentiles and Jews and to all people (Acts 13:47).

 

Jesus doesn’t speak about a particular denomination or group. Jesus speaks of a unifying bottom line – hearing Jesus’ voice and coming together in Him. The New Testament mystery of the church is to unite Jew and Gentle in Jesus. Jesus came to break down petty prejudices that divide people. Jesus came to unite people in Him (Ephesians 2:11-33). Whenever we show favoritism, or allow ourselves to exalt ourselves over another in the body of Christ, we work against the purposes of Jesus. There is no place for exalting Jew over Gentile or Gentle over Jew. There is no place for saying one denomination is better than another. The bottom line is that we know Jesus and hear His voice of unity and come together in Him.

 

There is a misplaced notion in the church today that is divisive. Under the guise of “relevance” churches are being divided according to age groups, races, academics, economics and other grouping. That is sad. Jesus came to unite diverse people in Him. One of the greatest blessings in Christ is the uniting of diverse people into one unified church body. There is only “one flock and one shepherd.” Jesus came to unite. The Bible is relevant to all people. The love of God poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit covers a multitude of sins that would normally separate (cf. Romans 5:5; 1 Peter 4:8). The world preaches inclusiveness at the expense of truth and holiness. The church preaches a powerful gospel that sanctifies in truth and transforms into the glory of Christ (Romans 1:16; Acts 26:18; Romans 12:1-2). We need to stop thinking that we have to be the same age, the same race, the same anything in order to minister to a person. If the Spirit brings someone across your path by divine appointment, then minister to them. God knows where we are at. He makes no mistakes. Minister in the Spirit and leave the outcome to the Lord.

 

That’s what Jesus did. Jesus was sinless and perfectly holy. He was and is and ever shall be the Son of God. Yet He ate with sinners. Jesus is our Model. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to whom He desires you to minister to whether it is family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or whomever. God knows what He’s doing and who He wants to do it with.

 

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

 

The Father loves Jesus because of His unifying work. What work is that? “Because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” Jesus is alluding to His atoning death on the cross as well as His resurrection. The love of the Father and Son Jesus is exhibited in this redemptive work.

 

God loves us as much as He can. We can do nothing to make Him love us more. But when we love others we please our heavenly Father. If you want to please God, love sacrificially like Jesus did. When you do, it will bring a smile to the Savior’s face.

 

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.”

 

Jesus laid down His life, no one took Jesus life. Jesus never lost control on the cross. Jesus willfully submitted Himself to His executioners for the purpose of being a substitutionary atoning sacrifice for our redemption from sin. This was the plan of the Father and Son Jesus all along.

 

In New York City on February 24, 1925, Dr. Evans Keith, a surgeon who had practiced medicine for thirty-seven years, took part in an operation he had performed dozens of times previously. The only solution for the patient complaining of severe intestinal pain was an appendectomy—a rather common operation. This particular appendectomy, however, was unusual for two reasons. One was that it was the first time in medical history that a local anesthetic was used. Dr. Keith had been arguing for a number of years that the use of local anesthesia was a safer, less complicated procedure. Yet although other doctors agreed in theory, none would endorse the practice until it was actually performed successfully. And therein lay the problem, for no one was brave enough to volunteer for the procedure. Consequently, this day in February was unusual not only because of the medical procedure, but because of the patient, for, you see, the patient was Dr. Keith. The doctor became the patient in order that patients might trust their doctors.

Jesus did something infinitely more remarkable than that. He willingly laid down His life that we might find life. The Shepherd became a Sheep that we sheep might know our Shepherd.[2]

 

We are called by Jesus to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23-26). But we don’t come into the presence of God based on what we do. We have access to the throne room of God because of what Jesus did for us. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

 

“The Puritans rightly said that not all unity is holy, and not all division is from hell.”  [3]Jesus offers an opportunity to know Him. But there will always be some who resist and reject that offer. It was clear Jesus had opened the eyes of the man born blind. That was evidence enough for many that He was from God. But those who willfully were set in their ways and rejected God accused Jesus of having a demon.

 

Notice, is was those who rejected Jesus who were agents of division. They accused Jesus of having a demon, but in reality, they were instruments of the divisive tactics of the king of demons; Satan himself.

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.

The Feast of Dedication or Feast of Lights was a commemoration of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BC. It is an eight day holiday that starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev (November-December). It marks the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire by Judas Maccabee. Today the holiday is celebrated as Hanukkah.

Sometimes we think of Israel as a desert. There is a desert portion of the Holy Land, but there are also seasons. It snows in Jerusalem! What happens here was in winter.

Here is the story of Hanukkah:

 

In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig – both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.

Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.

Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.

This is the miracle of the Hanukkah oil that is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit.[4]

Jesus is the light of the world that will never go out. Perhaps the miracle of the extended light on Hanukkah speaks to this end.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus was surrounded by His enemies. Jesus had already spoken very plainly of His identity. It was only the willfully resistant who didn’t believe.

 

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.

 

People don’t disbelieve Jesus for lack of evidence. People disbelieve Jesus because they will not believe.

 

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

 

Who are the sheep of Jesus?

 

Jesus’ sheep hear His voice. Jesus is calling. Will you listen? The word “hear” (Greek akouo; Present/Active/Indicative) means they hear and will continue to listen to Jesus. Being a sheep of Jesus involves a life of listening to His voice. It means whatever you are doing, when Jesus calls, you come running. It means Jesus and His voice is your top priority. When you hear Him, you drop everything and give Him your full attention.

 

Is there so much noise in your life that it drowns out the voice of Jesus? Is there so much activity in your life that Jesus can’t get your attention, even if He shouts? Are you listening for His voice? Do you know what it sounds like? Do you jump to attention and are you ready for action when you hear the voice of Jesus? Or do you hear the voice of Jesus and it means little to you; when you hear Jesus’ voice do you just keep doing what you’re doing? Jesus’ sheep hear His voice.

 

The voice of Jesus should demand and get your attention. The voice of Jesus can be a still small voice (Psalm 46:10). It can be a voice that speaks with thunder (Exodus 19:16). It can be a “still small voice” that speaks softly after a storm (1 Kings 19:12). The voice of Jesus should wake us up like reveille (Exodus 19:18-19). The voice of Jesus should be like the sound of a child’s voice in the night to their parent. The voice of Jesus should be like an ambulance siren. The voice of Jesus should be like the voice of your lover (Song of Solomon). The voice of Jesus should be like the voice of the One you love most and care the most about.

 

The voice of Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The voice of Jesus says to our storms, “Peace be still!” (Mark 4:39). The voice of Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). The voice of Jesus says, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). He says, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The voice of Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32). The voice of Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). The voice of Jesus says, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20). The voice of Jesus, when we hear it, should immediately jump to the top of our priority list. Do you hear and attend to the voice of Jesus?

 

Jesus’ sheep are known by Him. Jesus knows who are and who aren’t His sheep. Jesus’ sheep are in a relationship with Him. Being one of Jesus’ sheep is more than external religious effort. Jesus commented in another gospel that some who refer to Him as “Lord, Lord,” some who have “prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name” would not be known by Him. To some who did things in His name He will ultimately say, “I never knew you: depart from Me you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:32-23).

 

Does Jesus know you? How would He know you? Jesus would get to know us by us spending time with Him, by walking side by side, hand in hand with Him each day. A relationship grows by spending time together. Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you give Him the time of day? Does He know you?

 

Jesus sheep follow Him. Being a sheep of Jesus is not merely saying so in word. Belonging to Jesus means you follow Him. “Follow” (Greek akolouthousin of akoloutheo – Present/Active/Indicative) means follow for life, accompany for life, cleave steadfastly to one for life. If you say you know Jesus, are you following Him? Are you following in the steps of Jesus? (1 Peter 2:21). Are you walking like He walked or at least endeavoring to do so? (1 John 2:6). Do you have your eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:1-2). Jesus’ sheep follow Him. Who are you following?: the world, someone else, yourself? Are you following Jesus?

 

Are you in the flock of Jesus? Do you hear the voice of Jesus? Does He know you? Are you following Jesus? Whose sheep are you?

 

28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

 

Jesus gives us eternal life. This is His provision. This is His promise. We can depend on Jesus. And because of that we can be sure we “shall never perish.” “Perish” (Greek apolotai of apollumi) means destroy, ruin, kill, lost, be lost, perish, and put to death. The death spoke of here is not annihilation. It is the eternal death of torment imposed on those who have decided not to follow Jesus. Jesus offers us eternal life. Though we will die physically, we can see physical death in light of the eternal life Jesus provides. Death for the follower of Jesus is only a transition to eternal life.

 

neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

 

Like parents crossing a busy street each holding the hand of their child, Jesus and the Father won’t let go of us! When we give ourselves to Jesus and the Father, we can be assured They won’t let us go.

 

Jesus gives His followers eternal life. He provides His followers with assurance and security in their relationship with Him. And if that were not enough, He affirms that the Father is greater than any enemy that might threaten the sheep. We can rest assured that “no one is able to snatch” us, “out of My Father’s hand.” We don’t have to worry losing our salvation. As we abide in Jesus we are secure in Him. He and the Father are able to handle any enemy attacks we might face.

 

In his first epistle John writes, “That you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, 24). I encourage you to read that short five chapter epistle if you are doubting your salvation. It’s possible to know we are children of God. The Holy Spirit within us assures us that we belong to God (1 John 3:24; Romans 8:12-17).

 

30 I and My Father are one.”

 

Earlier in the conversation Jesus detractors asked Jesus to state plainly whether or not He was the Christ (John 10:24). Well, this is about as clear as it gets.

 

Throughout this passage Jesus is connecting Himself with the Father. Here is another assertion to that end by Jesus. “Are” comes from the verb “to be” (Greek eimi) and its grammatical form (Present/Active/Indicative) conveys the idea of continued being. Jesus is and always has been one with the Father.

 

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

 

Jesus’ opposition knew exactly what Jesus was affirming – His deity and equality with the Father. Jesus’ detractors asked Jesus questions, but they weren’t really interested in the truth of the answers. They just wanted to argue and oppose Jesus.

 

32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

Someone has said, “The fact that the Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus proved they understood His claim to deity. The fact that they were unable to throw them shows they experienced the proof of His deity.” [5] Jesus claims were clear and they were understood by those who heard them. The issue was not clarity and understanding of what Jesus said. The issue was deciding to accept His words as truth or not. The same issue is before you today.

 

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

 

In the Old Testament “law” God referred to judges as “gods” (Psalm 82:6). Moses was “a god to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1). Jesus argument is that if God referred to His human representatives as “gods” in the Old Testament, how much more worthy is He to be referred to as God?  Of these men “the word of God came.” But it is never said of Jesus, “the word of the Lord came to Him.” With mere human prophets such as John the Baptist, the phrase, “the word of the Lord came to him” was commonly used (e.g. Luke 3:2; cf. also Gen. 15:4; 1 Kings 17:2, 8; 19:9; 2 Kings 20:4). Jesus on the other hand was sanctified or set apart and sent into the world directly by the Father! Jesus spoke the words of the Lord!

 

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. 40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

 

Jesus points out the undeniable truth of the works that He did. His opponents still rejected Him. Miracles aren’t always the most effective means of persuading opposition. So Jesus escaped and went east beyond the Jordan River to where John had been baptizing and he stayed there.

 

41 Then many came to Him

 

Why did the people come to Jesus? They came to Jesus because he wasn’t a stranger or distant from them. Jesus walked among them and got to know them and let them know Him (John 10:4-5, 14). They came to Jesus because He didn’t come to rip them off. Jesus came to give them abundant life (John 10:7-10). They came to Jesus because He was a good Shepherd who genuinely cared for the sheep (John 10:11-13). They came to Him because He came to lay His life down for them (John 10:14-15, 17-18). They came to Him because He was not sectarian or prejudiced (John 10:16). They came to Him because He was the door to eternal life (John 10:28). They came to Jesus because he offered them certainty, security, and salvation (John 10:28-29). They came to Jesus because he and the Father were one (John 10:30). They came to Jesus because He proved by His deeds the truth of who He claimed to be (John 10:37-38).

 

and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

 

Once beyond the Jordan people came to Jesus and put their faith in Him. But notice something about what the people said about John the Baptist, “John performed no sign.”

 

Jesus said of John the Baptist, “for I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but the who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). Miracles aren’t what make us powerful. According to Jesus John the Baptist was the greatest prophet up to that point; greater than Elijah and Elisha; greater than Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea and all the rest. He was the greatest and yet never performed a miracle-sign. What then made this man John the Baptist so great? John the Baptist was great because, “all the things that John spoke about this Man [Jesus] were true.”

 

Do you want to be great in God’s kingdom? Don’t seek miracles, share Jesus! Seek to be known as one who speaks the truth about Jesus. Talk about Jesus, point people to Jesus, lift up and exalt Jesus. Worship Jesus. Great is the one who speaks the truth about Jesus.

 



[1] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (pp. 520–521). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 523). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 524). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[4] http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/hanukkah.htm

[5] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 524). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.