Jesus, the Shepherd
By Scott Fiddler
The Word: John 10:1-6
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
2 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.
3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
Jesus has just finished healing a man born blind. The religious leaders (Pharisees) confront Jesus. Jesus tells them they are blind to Truth, which is the perfect thing to say to your detractors right after you have healed a person who is physically blind.
Jesus then uses the Parable of the Good Shepherd to show the difference between the truth and the religion the Pharisees were propagating. The parable is easy enough to figure out. Jesus is the door (v 1, 2; cf. v. 7). He does not say He is “a” door. All must go through the same door and that door is Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t stop there.
Jesus also makes it clear that He is the shepherd in the parable, and in describing the relationships between the shepherd and the sheep He provides a model against which people can compare their religious experience to determine whether they are part of the sheepfold or merely religious like the Pharisees. Jesus says, (1) the sheep hear His voice; (2) Jesus calls them by name; and (3) Jesus leads them out. (v. 3).
First, Jesus speaks to His sheep. The idea that God will actually speak to people is something people who are merely religious have never been able to accept. Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4). Communication is the foundation of every relationship.
Second, Jesus calls his sheep by name. The relationship between Jesus and His followers is personal, so personal that He does not merely know each and speak to them as part of a group but as individuals He knows and calls by name.
And third, Jesus leads His sheep out. Being a Christian is not merely mental assent to religious propositions; it’s a relationship and journey with Jesus. If you are not following Jesus you are just being religious. There is no question about whether Jesus will lead you somewhere—“He….leads them out.” (v. 3). The difference between those who are merely religious and those who know Jesus is that those who know Jesus follow Him, laying down their own preferences and desires to go where Jesus wants them to go and do what Jesus wants them to do.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus where there is personal communication? Are you following Him, laying down your own desires and preferences to go where He wants you to go and do what He wants you to do? Or are you merely religious?