John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 10:11-21

Christmas is right around the corner, about 4 months away to be exact, which means it will be time for Christmas plays and pageants again. I don’t know do schools still hold them or are they now banned too? I don’t remember being in one when I was a kid but I do know that a lot of kids like to play shepherds in them. Why? Because they just stand there on stage and hardly have any lines to say unlike the parts of Joseph or Mary etc. They’re insignificant parts really only good for parents to take cute pics while their kid stands on stage picking his nose basically doing or saying nothing! LOL! Did you know that in reality though, shepherds are very important and that was especially true in biblical times. A lot of Jewish heroes of The Bible were shepherds…Moses, Abraham, Jacob and his sons, David, and the prophet Amos to name a few. Which is why Jesus uses the picture of a shepherd with his sheep talking to these people in Chapter 10 of John. Shepherds were common and everyone understood the analogy or at least most of them.

One thing you notice when you read the Gospels, and not just John’s, is that Jesus really didn’t care what other people thought about Him. Jesus didn’t seem to care about appeasing people’s ideas about how He should be or act. He said what He said; He is who He is. What people thought about Him determined their own eternal destiny, not His. That is why I titled this study in John’s Gospel “But who do you say that I am?”, even though this question doesn’t actually appear in John’s Gospel, because your answer to it is going to determine your eternal destiny…like it or not…believe it or not. Jesus seemed only to care about what His Father in heaven thought about Him and how to best care for His sheep.

Here in this passage that we are going to look at in this post, is the fourth of the great seven “I am” statements that Jesus makes in John’s Gospel. So far, Jesus has said, “I am the bread of life”; “I am the light of the world”; and we looked at the third one in the last post…”I am the door”. Now as we continue in Chapter 10 is the fourth statement that Jesus makes and the most well known and beloved for those of us who truly follow Him…”I am the Good Shepherd”. We’ll look at this in depth. Let’s get started and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and audio are provided so you can follow along but before we get started, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word…

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for this time in Your Word once more. Bless this time and make it fruitful. Lord, we remember when You saw an enormous crowd and saw them as being sheep with no shepherd. They were weary and scattered just like sheep that don’t have a shepherd. Lord, there are people out there who might be reading this post that are the same way. They are weary and are scattered by the ways of the world’s pleasures that just haven’t been satisfying enough for them. We may be scattered as well because of all of the uncertainty of the times right now looking for someone to turn to. We all have great needs whether we are believers or unbelievers and we pray Lord that You will show us that all we need is You to provide those needs. Right now Lord, as we open up Your Word, we put away all distractions and open up our hearts and our minds to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In Jesus’s name we pray…Amen!

John 10

Let’s look at the passage for this post…

 (11) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (12) But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (13) The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (15) As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (17) “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. (18) No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (19) Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. (20) And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” (21) Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” … John 10:11-21 NKJV

Let’s look at this post more closely now starting in verse 11…

v 11 – (11) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

The English translation of the first part of verse 11 doesn’t have enough force of the true meaning of this statement…I am the good shepherd. You have to look at the way it was originally written in Greek to fully grasp what Jesus is saying here. In Greek, the translation is Egó̱ eímai o poimí̱n o kalós. It means “I am the shepherd, the good one”. What Jesus is saying is He is a shepherd in a class of His own, no one can compare to Him. No one can compete with Him. When He says, I am the good shepherd, He’s actually saying, “I am a shepherd” in the sense that no one has ever been a shepherd before. “I am the supreme shepherd. I am the greatest shepherd”. That’s important because then you will understand the negative reaction that Jesus gets as we go along. It’s actually another statement of fact by Jesus that He is God! Remember what God said to Moses when he asked God what he should tell the people when they asked him for more proof that God had sent him? Remember God’s response to him? He said I AM WHO I AM. Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you, in Greek Egó̱ eímai.

What we have here is a second analogy. The first one that Jesus used, was, I am the door and now He says I am the good shepherd. You might be asking yourself “How can Jesus be the door and the shepherd at the same time?”. Very simple actually. A shepherd would lie down at night in front of the opening of the pen or sheepfold. So there’s the door…the shepherd. The sheep were not able to get out of the sheepfold and no one or nothing would be able to get in without going through the shepherd first. The shepherd was the protector just as Jesus is our protector. Just like any good shepherd, The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Being a shepherd is dangerous work. Shepherds lead their sheep from the safety of the sheepfold, the pen or corral, to the countryside and unknown dangers. David for instance, fought off a lion and a bear to protect his sheep. In 1 Samuel, we read…

(34) But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,  35  I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. … 1 Samuel 17:34-35 NKJV

There are many stories of shepherds actually giving their lives to protect their flocks. What Jesus is saying here, The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep, is a preview of what would happen in about six more months when Jesus would go to the cross. He goes into His crucifixion and resurrection further as we move along in the passage. Moving along…

vv 12-13 – (12) But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  (13)  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

What is a hireling? Well, in short, it is someone who is paid, an employee if you will. He serves for money. None of us work out of the goodness of our hearts or to soak up the ambience! LOL! We expect to get paid for our services to our employer. Sometimes, not often though, a shepherd would pay someone to watch over the flock while he was away. The problem was though that person did not own the sheep so the first signs of danger, like a wolf or robbers, they would flee and leave the sheep at their mercy. Since the sheep wasn’t theirs, they really didn’t care what happened to them. The Pharisees, in a way, were hirelings. Their interest in the people was prompted by the money they received in return. Today, there are many “hirelings” in the church. They are pastors, televangelists, and others that lead people to God only because of the money. They have no true interest in saving souls only to increase their pocketbooks. Good example is Peter Popoff. In Jeremiah, God warns about leading His people astray. ….

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD.  (2)  Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. … Jeremiah 23:1-2 NKJV

In verse 14, Jesus restates that He is the good shepherd. He is unique and the only one. He also restates that I know My sheep, and am known by My own. He knows who His followers are and we know Him! Moving to verse 15…

v 15 – (15) As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Many Bible scholars feel there is an unfortunate punctuation break here with a new sentence. Verse 14 and 15 probably should be tied together like this…”and I know My sheep, and am known by My own, just as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father.” Jesus compared His relationship with the sheep with the relationship that existed between Himself and His Father. The same union, communion, intimacy, and knowledge that there is between the Father and the Son also exists between the Shepherd, Jesus, and us, the sheep. Jesus also again refers to His crucifixion once more at the end of verse 15 when He says and I lay down My life for the sheep. He was referring to going to the cross as the ultimate substitution to save all of us sinners. To verse 16…

v 16 – (16)  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Verse 16 is sort of cryptic in nature and it’s also the key to the entire chapter. What Jesus is referring to here is Gentiles, non-Jews, that will hear the Gospel message and welcome it. His own people rejected Him, for the most part, so now Jesus will bring other sheep I have which are not of this fold, meaning other people from other nations. These people will hear the message of the Gospel and except it with a joyful heart. We see many examples of this in the Gospels. There is the Samaritan woman at the well that we read about in John Chapter 4, the Canaan woman with the demon possessed daughter in Matthew 15, the Samaritan leper in Luke 17, and the Roman centurion with the dying servant told in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 just to name a few. We also see this as well later on in Acts when Paul tries to spread the message of the Gospel and is rejected also by the Jews. In Acts 28 when Paul is in Rome talking to the Jews there, it says…

(25) So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,  (26)  saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY: “HEARING YOU WILL HEAR, AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND SEEING YOU WILL SEE, AND NOT PERCEIVE;  (27)  FOR THE HEARTS OF THIS PEOPLE HAVE GROWN DULL. THEIR EARS ARE HARD OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” ‘  (28)  “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” … Acts 28:25-28 NKJV

Today in America, our nation, as a whole, has rejected Jesus and the message of the Gospel as well. We have forgotten the warnings in The Bible about God’s people becoming too progressive and allowing idol worship and what happened to Israel and its people because of it. I am not exactly a fan of missionary work in other countries and lands outside of America. I believe that there are plenty of people here that need the healing power of the Gospel rather than going outside our borders to find them. Even Jesus tells His disciples…

(35) Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! … John 4:35 NKJV

We are so intent on reaching out to the world when we should be concentrating on reaching people here in America! That being said, in my job, I have ran across a lot of people from other countries, such as Africa, India, and The Middle East, who have turned their lives over to Christ and there is a remarkable difference between them and so called “Christians” here in our country. These people don’t play games with their faith and they are literally on fire with the truth of the Gospel! How many of us can say that? Moving on to verse 17…

vv 17-18 – (17) “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. (18)  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Jesus is clearly talking about His crucifixion and resurrection in these verses. Jesus’ death on the cross was not an occupational hazard or an accident. It was something planned from the foundation of the world! The first mention of it is in Genesis 3:15…

(15) And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” … Genesis 3:15 NKJV

The Seed is Jesus. The “bruising” of His heel is the prophesy of the crucifixion and the “bruising” of your head was Jesus’ ultimate victory over Satan when He rose from the dead. In verses 17 and 18 of this passage in John, is Jesus explaining how He would bring elect Jews and Gentiles to Him. It would be the final sacrifice for man’s sin. He would lay down His life but that wouldn’t be all…He would take it up again. In other words, Jesus would rise from the dead. There is no way that anyone could possibly make this claim unless they were truly God! True, men did kill Jesus. That point is clearly made in Acts 2:23…

(23) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; … Acts 2:23 NKJV

and 1 Thessalonians 2:15. Starting in 1 Thessalonians 2:14, Paul says…

(14) For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,  (15)  who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, … 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 NKJV

However death could not keep Him down because He was God and all of this was according to the command I have received from My Father. The Father had commissioned or instructed the Lord to lay down His life and to rise again from among the dead. His death and resurrection were essential acts in fulfillment of the Father’s will. Therefore, He became obedient unto death, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. Moving on now to finish out the passage…

vv 19-21 – (19) Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings.  (20)  And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”  (21)  Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Nobody could really make up their mind about Jesus and His claims. Some said He has a demon and is mad while others objected saying These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?. Either way, Jesus’s sayings caused a division again among the Jews. When Jesus enters homes and the hearts of people, it causes division. It produces a sword rather than peace. Even Jesus said this in Matthew. In Matthew 10, Jesus says…

(34) “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  (35)  For I have come to ‘SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW’;  (36)  and ‘A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THOSE OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.’ … Matthew 10:34-36 NKJV

This is just a figure of speech because Jesus actually did come to make peace…the peace between humanity and God. He came so the world would be saved through Him. However, people back then and still today had their own opinions about who and what Jesus is. The point is that when people became followers of Him, their families would turn against them. A converted father would be opposed by his unbelieving son, a Christian mother by her unsaved daughter. A born again mother-in-law would be hated by her unregenerate daughter-in-law. This also is true today. When we become followers of Jesus, many times the opposition comes more from our own families and friends rather than the outside world. Nothing should take precedence over the love and allegiance to our Savior though if we are true believers. In verse 21, this is a statement sort of like, “the proof is in the pudding”. Whoever Jesus was they could not deny that Jesus made a blind man see again and they knew that Jesus couldn’t possibly be a demon because He provided the marvelous miracle sight to someone who once was blind!

So in closing, is Jesus your Good Shepherd? When the chips are down, do you turn to Him for protection and guidance? Do you have big problems and a small God or do you have small problems and a big God? In Psalm 23 which most of us know, David says…

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. … Psalms 23:1 NKJV

Is this what you truly believe as well? Some of you out there may not even know the Good Shepherd but you can change that today…right now! Without Jesus Christ, we have reason to be worried. Without Jesus Christ, we should be fretting. Without Him, we have no hope, no future, no forgiveness, no eternal life. But when we come to the cross of Calvary where Jesus died for our sins, when we ask for forgiveness on the basis of his blood shed there, when we pray to him, asking him to become our Savior and Lord, He saves us and sets us free. He gives us peace. Do it right now! Just pray this simple prayer…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed the above prayer with a sincere heart, then you are saved. I pray with all of my heart that you prayed the above prayer! For those of you who have made a decision to accept Christ today, I would love to hear from you or if you have comments, good or bad, I’d love to hear from you as well. The e-mail address for my blog has changed. It is now thechristianpatriot2020@gmail.com God bless and keep the faith!