Study Notes

John 10:1-21


Last week, we saw Jesus healing a blind man, and the Jewish leadership getting bent out of shape because He did it on the Sabbath day, a day when no work was supposed to be done.

Jesus said that those who said they saw clearly were truly the blind ones. The Pharisees said, "You're calling us blind?" and Jesus began to tell them,

John 9:41 ... "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

Now, continuing, He tells them...

10:1 The Sheep

The Bible often refers to people as sheep...

Ps. 78:52 ...He led forth His own people like sheep, And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;

Ps. 95:7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand...

Isa. 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way...

Ezek. 34:31 "As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God," declares the Lord GOD.

We are sheep. Little lambs. In Jesus' day, sheep, when they were not out at pasture, would spend the night in a community sheep fold. This was an open structure with walls 6 or 7 feet high surrounding it, with the exception of the single open doorway.

Thefts were common with this setup. Often, a man would stand on another's shoulders to get into the fold. He would cut the throats of sheep, and toss them over the wall to his partner.

Consequently, Jesus makes the point, "

John 10:1 "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.

Remember, He is speaking to the Pharisees, who pretended to be shepherds of God's people. But in refusing to enter through the door (who Jesus will reveal was in fact Himself), they proved themselves to be sheep killers rather than sheep keepers.

The prophets had much to say about these self-proclaimed shepherds.

Jer. 23:1-2 "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD.

Ezek. 34:1-10 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat {sheep} without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one to search or seek {for them.} "'" Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but {rather} the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I shall deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them."'"

These Pharisees were not true shepherds, but actually thieves and robbers. Killing the sheep, leading them to their destruction.

How many so-called shepherds today are leading their flocks to destruction by giving them religion instead of relationship? By leading them in legalism instead of love? By teaching them false doctrines instead of faith and discipline?

10:2-5 They Know His Voice

This communal sheepfold was watched by one doorkeeper. When a shepherd came to get his sheep, he entered by the door. Now the sheep weren't branded - the way that everyone knew whose sheep were whose was that they simply knew their shepherd's voice. He would make his certain call, and they would come out to him.

This is why Jesus says,

John 10:3-5 "...the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

Shepherds then and now in the Middle East do not force their sheep. They simply lead them. As the shepherd walks, the sheep follow behind them, following his lead, following his voice.

The Pharisees had such difficulty maintaining their authority over the people. They threatened them, they beat them, they intimidated them. But along comes Jesus simply teaching the Word of God, and thousands are flocking to Him. Sheep know the voice of their shepherd.

This is why I don't believe in annual tithe commitments, and in pledging church membership, and teaching such things as "if you don't belong to our church, you're not saved." "If you're not baptized by me, then you're not going to heaven." If I have to threaten and intimidate and bind you, then I am no different than the Pharisees.

I got a call the other day from someone who said, "I sure wish I could come to Calvary Chapel, but my church is in the middle of a huge building program, and they've made me feel so obligated financially, that if I leave, I would feel so terribly guilty." That is not a sheep who is willingly following a shepherd that loves her. She will flee as soon as she feels she won't be harmed in the escape.

10:6-10 I Am The Door

Not only is Jesus our Shepherd, but He is the door. The only way the sheep could get in was through that one single entryway. Jesus says, "I am the door." Jesus Christ made several statements like this that do not allow you to believe that He is simply one of many roads that lead to God. He said,

John 10:9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved..."

John 8:24 "...Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins."

John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

He is the one way in.

Abundant Life

Now, false shepherds are thieves. They steal, kill, and destroy sheep. How many of us have nearly been killed by false shepherds? They beat us from the pulpit, they kill our faith, steal our joy, destroy our hearts for God.

Jesus said, "That's not from Me. I came that you might have life - abundant life!" Christianity is not supposed to make you feel dead, beaten, or ripped off. When Jesus Christ saved you, where did He write your name? In the Book of LIFE!

10:11-15 I Lay Down My Life For The Sheep

Sheep at pasture are always in danger from predators. Bears and wolves will attack and kill sheep. A good shepherd will go to battle to defend his sheep, even if it means he might die. But a hireling who cares nothing for the sheep will bail out as soon as a wolf shows up.

The word translated "pastor" in both Greek and Hebrew means "Shepherd." Now, of course, the Lord is our Good Shepherd, our Great Shepherd, our Chief Shepherd. But he has called pastors to be undershepherds. Not hirelings who just do the job for a paycheck. Hirelings bail out. But God's heart for His sheep is that they will have undershepherds that love the sheep, that care for them, feeding them, and protecting them from wolves. Paul was a great example of this. Remember what he told the Ephesian elders:

Acts 20:27-31 "...I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears."

Sometimes you will hear me warning you against a certain movement or ministry. Please don't be offended by this - I'm trying to protect you. "Yes, but aren't they just sheep?" you might think. Yes, they may appear that way, but satan is a smart guy. He doesn't bring his wolves in without a disguise - he dresses them up like sheep! Jesus warned,

Matt. 7:15-16 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits."...

Every time I make a stand to protect you, it is at personal risk to myself. This isn't because I'm a masochist. It is because you are God's sheep - I love you, and want to protect you.

Jesus showed the epitome of love for His sheep when He willingly laid down His life for them. He died that each of us could live. What an awesome Shepherd!

10:16 Other Sheep

There were other sheep that the Jews didn't yet know about. The gospel would be preached to all the world, and soon, the apostle Paul would herald,

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

We are those other sheep!

10:17-21 A Division

People were divided over Jesus Christ then, people are divided over Jesus Christ now. What were and are they divided over? His words. Why? Because...

Rom. 10:17 ...Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

The Word of Christ will cause one of two things: Faith, or a hardened heart. This is why it causes division. Because one person says, "Praise the Lord! I believe that!" and another says, "That's garbage! He was insane or demon-possessed!" No one who hears the Word of Christ remains neutral. The Word of Christ brings faith or a hard heart.

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