Morning Devotions: John 10 – My Sheep
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!
Yesterday was the Lord's Day and it became very difficult to get John chapter 10 out. I'm hoping this morning, after a number of technical difficulties that this will be the last time that I record this chapter.
What I'm going to do is read the 10th chapter of John's gospel, make some observations from particularly the first half of the chapter, apply it to our lives and then I'm going to close in a word of prayer.
Let's read from John chapter 10 beginning at verse 1.
John 10 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
10 “Truly I tell you, anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus gave them this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Jesus said again, “Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” 19 Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and he’s crazy. Why do you listen to him?” 21 Others were saying, “These aren’t the words of someone who is demon-possessed. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” 22 Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly. 25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?” 33 “We aren’t stoning you for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, I said, you are gods? 35 If he called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God? 37 If I am not doing my Father’s works, don’t believe me. 38 But if I am doing them and you don’t believe me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father.” 39 Then they were trying again to seize him, but he eluded their grasp. 40 So he departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41 Many came to him and said, “John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.
John chapter 7 to the first half of chapter 10 is really one narrative unit. It's one story. It's one episode in the life of Jesus Christ. The division comes in verse 22 of chapter 10, where we are introduced to Jesus and a discussion that happens at another Festival in his life.
There are three things that I want to point out to you from chapter 10 verse 1 to verse 21, and they are three metaphors. This metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep.
- Jesus Christ: The Shepherd
The first metaphors in verse 1 to 6, when Jesus describes himself as the shepherd and the metaphor really is about the sheep listening to the voice of the shepherd.
You know today, if you have to go to a sheep farm, you might see a dog herding the sheep together and then driving the sheep into a sheep pen. That's not the way it would work in New Testament times. In New Testament times, there would be a shepherd whom the sheep were familiar with and instead of driving them in the direction he wanted them to go. He would speak, the sheep would literally know his voice and be able to distinguish it from other shepherds. And sheep belonging to that shepherd would follow the shepherd, where he needed them to go. It reminds us of Psalm 23, doesn't it? Where the Lord Is our Shepherd and he leads us besides quite waters.
2. Jesus Christ: The Gate
The second metaphor is again a sheep and shepherd metaphor. We read about it in verse 7 2 verse 10.
Instead of Jesus describing himself as a shepherd, he describes himself as a gate. In ancient times, there would be sheep pens even out in pastures in the fields. There would really just be high walls, made out of stone, with a single narrow entrance that a shepherd or gatekeeper could lie across. That way, none of the sheep could get in or get out, and thieves wouldn't be able to break in and steal the sheep.
Jesus is metaphor really as a picture of Salvation, saying that the entrance is narrow and that sheep must enter into the narrow entrance. Then he points to himself as being the only way that men can enter into Salvation. To be saved, we must put our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ alone. There are no other ways to be reconciled with God.
3. Jesus Christ: The Good Shepherd
The third metaphors is in verse 14 to verse 21. And here again, Jesus returns to this idea of him being the shepherd. Now, he calls himself the Good Shepherd who takes care of the sheep and really conjures in the mind’s eye of the listeners, this is picture of God in the Old Testament describing himself over and over and over again as the Good Shepherd. We mentioned Psalm 23, but we could easily mention Ezekiel chapter 34. The bottom line is Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of the sheep, in contrast to the religious leaders of his day and the Pharisees who were leading the people astray.
How can we apply this text?
If you're an unbeliever and you reading chapter 10 of John's gospel, I would point you firstly to John 10 verse 9. “If anyone enters through me, he will be saved.” And make the statement. Friend, you can be saved. You look at your life and you realize you are a wretch. You hear something of the Holiness of God and you hear that he is separated from Sinners, you realize as you look at your own life that you are sinful and therefore separated from God. You need to hear that Jesus came into this world and lived a perfect life and then died on a cross as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. He died in your place, absorbing the full wrath of God against sin. Salvation has been made available through the person of Jesus Christ. You are but to put your faith and your trust in his finished work on the cross. Repent from your sins and cast yourself fully upon Jesus Christ that you might live. He says if anyone enters by me, he will be saved. You may be saved this day.
Secondly, if you are a seeker, and you are reading John chapter 10 for the first time or the first time in a long time and you genuinely are seeking for God, find him in the person of Jesus Christ. John chapter 10:3-4 says that “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Friend, if you are hearing the voice of God speaking into your life, calling you away from sin, making you aware of your sinful state, calling you into right relationship with God, then realize even this day that that is the voice of Jesus Christ. He's calling upon you to put your faith and your trust in him that you might believe. Not only in this moment, but for the rest of your life, that he is the Son of God and that you might have eternal life through his name.
Lastly, if you are a believer reading this for the first time, or even a brand new convert, I want you to take great encouragement and assurance out of this text. In John 10:27-29, we read that “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My father who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."
The picture is one of Jesus, literally holding in his hand, those whom he loves, and saying these words of mine which casts stars into heaven, these words are eternal words of life. And when you put your faith in your trust in me, I'm the one who grants life and I'm the one who holds you. You cannot lose your salvation because I'm the one who keeps. And not only does the Son of God do the keeping, but God the father has you in the palm of his hand. You are safe, friend! That you give you great encouragement, great boldness, and even great comfort at this time when the world is running helter skelter, not having any sense of security.
If you’re believer, I also want to draw your attention to verse 16, it says “But I have other sheep that are not from the sheep pen; I must bring them in also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus, a Jew, was born in a time in a space in history, in the midst of God's people, the apple of his eye, Israel. But the truth is, the gospel message was never intended for that people alone. The gospel message was intended for all men, Jew and Gentile. That's how it would have come to South Africa, how it might have fallen on our ears that we might believe because we are those sheep, from another sheep pen, that are being grafted in and added in to those who will be saved. Believer, it's our responsibility to take that message to a world right now that’s in trauma, in darkness and in need of light. We need to call on men to recognize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and put their faith in their trust in him.
Let's closed in a word of prayer.
Father God in heaven, I do ask even as we read chapter 10 of John and see Jesus Christ as the Great Shepherd, that we, his sheep, might follow him and live our lives to his praise and glory. Help those who have not yet put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, believe. And Father God, to those of us who do believe, help us to be involved and to take this gospel message into a world which so desperately needs to hear of Jesus Christ, the Son. I pray in the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.
My little God richly bless you.