This passage is figurative. (John 10:6) There are 8 components of the extended metaphor in this section: The shepherd is the caretaker and owner of the sheep. The sheep (flock) are the animals that the shepherd loves and cares for. The thief is the one who tries to steal the sheep away from their rightful owner, the watchman is the one who opens the gate only for the shepherd, the hired hand watches the sheep, but lacks the dedication of the shepherd. The wolf is a predator that terrorizes kills and scatters the flock, and the sheep pen is the protective enclosure in which the flock is kept for safety during the night.
The Set Up
1-5: He begins with the thief; the thief enters the pen by any manner other than through the gate. He sneaks in by some form of subterfuge for the express purpose of stealing the sheep away from the flock. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd, who is recognized by the watchman as the legitimate shepherd. In addition, he is also recognized by the sheep who love and trust him. He calls them by name (has a deep relationship with them) and they will follow him where ever he goes. They will not follow anyone who is not the shepherd, because they are strangers to the sheep; they only follow the shepherd.
7-10: Jesus begins to make His point here. Jesus Himself is the gate; no one enters the flock except through Him. If they enter the pen through Jesus, they will be saved and have life to the full. The thief on the other hand, enters the pen by a means other than Jesus; his motive is to steal, kill and destroy. The sheep do not follow such a person.
The Good Shepherd
11-13: Jesus is not only the gate, but He is the Good Shepherd. He is the “good” shepherd because when all others run away, He will lay down His life for the salvation of the sheep. His caring is so great for His sheep that He will die for them.
14-18: In this final section, Jesus sets out the theology of His coming sacrifice on the cross. He will willingly lay down His life for His flock. No one will take it from Him, for His act is voluntary. It is authorized and ordained by His Father in Heaven, for it will result in the redemption of all Mankind. This act will not only seal the salvation of His sheep, but redeem Mankind back to fellowship with God, something that has been absent from creation ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. This will also highlight the separation of those within the flock, and those without the flock; nothing will ever be the same again.
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
This verse comes at the end of a rather long discussion between Jesus and the Jewish leaders that began with the validity of His testimony, and moved to a discussion of both His and their paternity, and now has simply come down to who exactly Jesus is (John 8:12-59). Jesus was quick to tell them in vv. 54-55 that He is God’s Son. In the next verse He tells them that He knows Abraham’s thoughts as well when He says that Abraham looked forward to this day and rejoices in it. It is important to note that Jesus did not say this so as to speculate on what Abraham would have thought, but instead He is stating it as a fact; He is acting as a witness to it.
This completely blows their minds.
Their response in verse 57 is not one of amazement but is instead ridicule; they are marginalizing Him again so as to reduce or eliminate His credibility with the rest of the people. Verse 58 is the tipping point in the discourse: Jesus claims to be God. To make the statement that Jesus made here is one that is direct, to the point and undeniable in its meaning. “Before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus is telling them two things, first that He has been around since before Abraham; He isn’t thirty-something, He’s at least 2,000 years old. Second, notice that Jesus didn’t say “before Abraham was born, I was alive” no, He said “I am”. I Am is the name God used to identify Himself to Abraham, thus Jesus is telling them that He is none other than God in the flesh. They understood this, and since they knew blasphemy when they heard it, they proceeded to grab for stones with which to execute Him. Jesus slips away, for His time had not yet come to die. It is worth pointing out that for all of the reasons Jesus cited, these people did not stop to consider the possibility that He might be telling the truth.
These great men of God, these teachers, lawyers and scholars were actually following the devil, and their haste to shut Jesus up when He states the greatest truth of all is a poignant reminder to all of us that we must “continue in His word” to ensure that we are recognizing the truth when it is spoken in this difficult and dark age in which we live.
As we move into the Christmas season and look forward to our celebrations, perhaps we too should stop and ask ourselves just who it was who was born in that Bethlehem manger so long ago; clearly He was not just the son of an obscure carpenter.
“When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”
Picture this: The soldiers have come to arrest Jesus, who asks them who they are looking for. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they say. “I am he” relies Jesus, and the armed toughs who came to arrest him fall to the ground on the strength of his words.
Consider this; God incarnate has just stated His name: I Am!
The soldiers are lucky that they weren’t struck dead when they heard this!
The past several Notes we have posted contain the great “I Am” statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel. Consider the power of this for a moment… Jesus IS the great I AM! It was He who spoke the words and the universe came into being! His word holds the entire creation together, and it is His Word that will guide us through life if we are wise enough to learn it and let it guide us. His Word is the power of God for salvation of mankind; maybe it deserves a little more priority on our part.
‘…”I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’
This is one of the great “I am” statements that Jesus made in John’s Gospel. Notice that Jesus is saying that he is the light of the world. It is hard to realize sometimes that our world largely lies in darkness. This darkness is not an absence of lighting, but rather the darkness of sin, rebellion and of the spirit. Our world lacks the light of true life; God’s presence.
As we go through our days, are we in the light as Jesus used the term; the light of God’s truth? When we walk with Jesus we are… The question is, are we walking with Jesus?
I recently spoke to a guy who was complaining that life wasn’t going well. He was upset because nobody appreciated his efforts, his work and his contributions. It seemed that everyone around him overlooked everything that he was doing for them. I asked if he was concentrating his attention of his relationship with Jesus, and he told me that he was! Yet, all he was concerned about was what other people were thinking, and whether or not they appreciated him. I hate to say so, but this poor guy is living in darkness. If we are walking with Jesus that is, in His light, we don’t even notice that we are being slighted, because our attention is illuminated by the light of His truth. If we are not walking in the light of His truth, it is very easy to be consumed by slights and snubs…
‘”I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”’
Jesus was before Abraham! This came as a shock to those who heard Him say so, and even more so because of the way He said it: “Before Abraham was born, I am”. Notice the switch from past to present tense; Jesus was telling people that He is God in the flesh, for “I Am” is one of the names of God.
It is interesting how many people say that they believe in God, but that they don’t even want to hear about Jesus. I suppose there may be several possible reasons for this, but just think of it: Jesus and God the Father are one! Jesus is the One who defeated the works of the Devil: sin, death, lies…
Gee, I wonder, is there a spiritual reason that people fear the name of Jesus?
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
Another of the “I am” statements of Jesus, this time He is saying that He is the gate to the pasture. Nobody can find salvation except through Jesus Christ. We may think we have found something great, but only Jesus can offer us “The Way”. This is for good reason, too.
Jesus is the one who paid the price for sin, the One who made the peace treaty between Man and God. It is through this reconciliation that we can be in fellowship with God. This is the way that God designed, and this is the way that God will accept: we really aren’t in a position to dictate terms to God.
So, Come on in! Enter through the gate and find pasture, that is to say find rest, peace and security. This is what Jesus has to offer, and it sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Well do you?
The reply that Jesus got to this question was: “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:27)
Jesus Christ is our hope for eternal life, of this there can be no doubt whatsoever. But this is not all, He is also our hope for life on this earth. In Christ we can find fulfillment, satisfaction, peace and purpose. If you want to live a full life, you will find it in Christ; when you really come to understand what you have and how to live. As you go to work today, or as you deal with all of the cares of life, keep your focus on what you have in Jesus… see how your outlook will change. For more on how our lives can gain purpose and direction, see my recent post on Individual Prayer.