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©Michael Player

Chapter 10:1-21 (ESV)

Posted on August 21, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 10:1-21 (ESV) - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Question to consider: If the Pharisees were the hired hands, who would be the wolves coming to slaughter the sheep?

Even though today’s passage is given its own section in most Bibles, Jesus was still talking to the Pharisees who overheard Him telling the man born blind that He had come into the world “...that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39) Because they professed “to see”, He pronounced that their guilt before God remained.

Prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah both used the image of lost sheep to describe those in Israel who had been led astray by false teachers or unjustly put out of the synagogue. This idea of the good shepherd was a direct reference to Zechariah, and the Pharisees, who held to both the Law and the Prophets, would have known this. If you have not gone through my study of Zechariah, I would recommend reading my book, Beyond Exile, which studies Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Zechariah was commanded by God to buy sheep that were doomed to slaughter and save them from those shepherds who were planning to kill them.

Jesus professed to be this good shepherd and accused the Pharisees of being the hired hands who cared nothing for the sheep and allowed them to be devoured by wolves. We tend to think of wolves in light of Peter’s comments about those who would introduce false doctrine into the church, but in light of the Zechariah passage, we can also look at the wolves as the Roman armies that would slaughter the people of Jerusalem in AD 70. This judgment was coming upon that generation, and those who listened to Jesus escaped it.

The sheepfold would ultimately refer to the church, and the flock that was not of this fold was a reference to the Gentiles who would come to faith. I know that the Latter Day Saints try to say that this was a reference to those who they claimed escaped to the Americas as the subject of their Book of Mormon, but the apostle John has repeatedly focused on Jesus’ words regarding the salvation of the world. These references to the world were not just describing Jesus coming in flesh to planet earth. They were referring to God’s plan to save people from every tribe and nation. So the coming of the other flock to be made one with the Shepherd and His sheepfold was the merging of Jew and Gentile into one church. This was the charge that Jesus received from the Father to lay down His life and take it back up again for the church.

These statements continued to drive a wedge between those who had faith in Jesus as Christ and those who thought He had a demon. Many were not ready to become one church with Gentiles.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending the Shepherd who would care for the flock doomed to slaughter. Help us to have ears that are listening for His voice and gather at His call. Amen.