[13]   Signs and Discourses 10: the Good Shepherd (10:1-42)


[C14]  10:1-42........... SEVENTH Discourse - the good shepherd

Jesus uses the figure of good shepherd to differentiate his ministry from that of false shepherds and to stress the voluntary nature of His sacrifice for His people. (see Eze 34:23) Nowadays we think of the shepherd in terms of tender care and concern for the flock but in biblical times, the imagery is also used to emphasize the thought of sovereignty.

Jesus is both the door and the good shepherd. As the Door, He is the only way of entering salvation. As the Good Shepherd he is the one who cares for the sheep and provides for their salvation at the cost of His life.

10:1     “I tell you the truth” again (also v.7). There is no great break from the previous section.

Thief and robber are similar, engaging in violence and dishonesty.

10:3     Not all details in an allegory are significant (same for parables), such as the doorkeeper. The verse simply describes the shepherd’s right to enter.

The Eastern shepherd often has an individual call for each of his sheep and they respond to it. The call can function as a way to separate sheep of many owners.

10:4     The shepherd leads the sheep to their destination by walking before them and the sheep follow.

10:5     The sheep do not know and do not respond to the voice of a stranger.

10:6     “Figure of speech” appears to mean “proverb”. It denotes language of which the meaning is not obvious, but which conveys spiritual truths of importance.

10:7     “Therefore” shows this is an explanation because the hearers fail to understand His saying.

There is only one door to a fold, and sheep and shepherds must enter by this door.

10:8     “All who came before me” refer to the Jewish religious leaders, not the prophets. They were not interested in the well-being of the sheep but in their own advantage. The Sadducees were known to make a lot of money out of temple religion. The present tense refers to Jesus’ day.

Those who really are the sheep, given by the Father, have spiritual discernment.

10:9     The words “through me” are in an emphatic position; it is He and no other who enables people to enter salvation. “Come in and go out” indicate free and secure movement.

10:10   The thief steals or kills but Jesus came that the sheep might have a more abundant life.

10:11   Death for His sheep was His set purpose. It was a voluntary acceptance of death.

10:12   The hireling shepherds work for pay. Their interest is wages, not sheep.

10:15   It is a relationship of mutual knowledge, with implied love.

10:16   The words look to the world-wide scope of the gospel. The other sheep (Gentile church) are not to remain distinct from the existing sheep (Jewish church). There shall be one flock.

10:17   With the death is linked the thought of the resurrection.

10:18   Jesus lays His life down completely out of His volition. He claims authority (emphasis by repetition) both to lay down His life and to take it again.

10:20   Having a demon and being mad are apparently equated and closely connected.

10:22   Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights) commemorated the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 BC. It recalled the sovereignty of God who brought deliverance and hope to His people. The feast began about November to December and lasted for 8 days. The use of lights was very important in the feast (like the Feast of the Tabernacles).

10:23   The term “Colonnade” denotes a roofed structure supported on pillars. It was along the east side of the Temple where the scribes normally held their schools.

10:24   The act of encirclement may indicate a determination of the Jews to get an answer.

The words of the Jews may also mean “Why do you plague us?” or “Why are you taking away our life?” The meaning is that Jesus’ teaching would mean the end of Judaism as they knew it.

10:25   While Jesus spoke explicitly to the Samaritan woman (4:26) and the blind man (9:35), He never clearly told the Jews that He was the Messiah. The word “works” likely means the miracles but can also mean His other works of kindness or His whole manner of life.

10:27   The present tense denotes a habitual following.

10:28   “No one” likely refers to Satan.

10:29   The statement can mean: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all” or “What my Father has given me is greater than all”. The first one emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the second one means that the flock is greater in Jesus’ eyes than anything else on earth.

The statement here is stronger than the previous verse. In v.28, the future tense says that “no one will snatch them”; here, the present tense means “no one is able to snatch them.”

10:30   The Father and the Son belong together and are as one. For the Jews, this was blasphemy.

10:31   In the Law, blasphemy was to be punished by stoning (Lev 24:16).

10:33   This is the first time with the charge of blasphemy. The Jews understood Jesus correctly.

10:34   “The Law” refers to the whole OT. Ps 82:6: “you are gods,” referring to the judges of Israel in the exercise of their high and God-given office.

10:35   “If He called” refers to God. Jesus’ point is that the Bible uses “gods” for humans. The Jews, as the recipients of the Word of God, were required to hear and heed and obey that Word.

10:36   “If in any sense the Psalm may apply the term ‘gods’ to men, then much more may it be applied to Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world.”

10:37   Jesus is ready to stand or fall by the works.

10:38   The expression translated “that you may learn and understand” contains the same verb twice. However, the first verb is in aorist tense meaning “that you may come to know,” while the second verb is in the present meaning “and keep on knowing.” Jesus wanted them to first have the insight and then to remain permanently in the knowledge about the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, through a right perception of the works.

10:42   The word “there” (Perea) may imply a contrast with Judea where people tried to stone Him.



§         Jesus wants believers to have a sense of security about their faith as not even Satan can snatch their faith away (v.28-29) because of the all powerful God and the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

§         The Good Shepherd knows and communicates with every individual believer (v.4, 27). We need to learn to listen to God’s voice and commands, and then follow.


Hymns of Life no.51 “The King of love my Shepherd is” (paraphrase of Psalm 23)

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine forever.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,

With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid,

And home rejoicing brought me.

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise

Within Thy house forever.