Bible Reading: John 10:1-21
Over the next few days we will consider one of the most wonderful passages in John’s Gospel. It includes two of the “I am” sayings of Jesus, “I am the door,” and “I am the good Shepherd.” As the death of Christ approaches we He speaks more about His death, the abundant life that he offers, and hearing and following the Shepherd’s voice.
We must be careful not to read more into the imagery of this passage than Jesus intended. For example, some have pictured the sheepfold as God’s kingdom, but it is not a perfect analogy because we do not go in and out of God’s kingdom [v.9]. Jesus is also speaking primarily about His covenant people the Jews, although the eternal truths of which He speaks are equally true for Gentiles, who are “not of this fold” [v.16].
The context of this passage is John 9:35-41 where Jesus called the religious leaders blind. In John chapter 10 Jesus refers to them again, not just as blind, but also strangers [v.5] and thieves [v.8]. These were the false shepherds, described by Ezekiel [Ezekiel 34:1-10], who fed themselves but not the flock. The sheep were scattered because the false shepherds did not care for them. This description of scattered sheep is exactly what Jesus meant when He saw the weary multitudes, scattered like sheep without a shepherd [Matthew 9:36]. The people given the task of caring for the sheep did not strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, or seek and bring back the lost [Ezekiel 34:4]. They failed, but Ezekiel prophesied that the Messiah, great David’s greater Son, would be a true Shepherd [Ezekiel 34:23-25].
Jesus, the Good Shepherd heals the broken-hearted, strengthens the weak, brings back the lost, protects and provides for them. Speaking about His death, Jesus quotes Zechariah, saying, “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” [Zechariah 13:7 and Mark 14:27]. Satan knew that if he could destroy the Shepherd, then he could scatter the sheep.
The word translated as pastor in Ephesians 4:11 is the Greek word ‘poimen’ meaning shepherd. A pastor is a shepherd. Elders are called to the shepherd the flock of God [1 Peter 5:1-4]. In restoring Simon Peter Jesus said, “Feed my lambs” [John 21:15,16,17]. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, but He has given to others the responsibility to be shepherds under Him. The real pastors are not always the people on the platform but those godly people in the congregation, who others feel comfortable to come to for prayer and counsel.
Read Isaiah 61:1-3. What ministries of the Shepherd are found in this Messianic prophecy?
How would you describe the responsibilities of a shepherd of God’s people today?
What are the major differences that we see in our reading today between a true shepherd and false shepherd?