John 10 – Session 12

John 10 – Jesus, the Good Shepherd

In John 10, the Lord takes on the picture of God’s provision as the Old Testament Prophets’ Shepherd  God, the One Who “shepherds” His people Israel.  The Shepherd of Israel Who leads His people like a flock, Psalm 80:1-2.  Here are some more OT verses that show this truth about the Messiah.  As a contrast, the prophets would condemn Israel’s spiritual leaders who were “worthless shepherds”..

  • Psa. 23; 80:1-2; Eccles. 12:11; Isa. 40:11; Jer. 3:15; 31:10
  • Jer. 10:21-22; 12:10; 23:1-4; Eze. 34:2-4, 9-10
  • Zech. 13:7-9, Jesus identified deeply with this picture – relate to Eze. 34:23-25; 37:24-28

Jesus ministered to the common people who would be intimately familiar with the Near Eastern shepherd lifestyle.   For example, the shepherds worked together to maintain a pen for their sheep. There were two types of pens, one more structured and permanent, which would be used when they were close to their home village.   The other was a rough, more temporary structure, out on the countryside, built of stone, wood, and branches.  Either structure would have just one opening or gate for entry.  They often would hire a watchman to guard the sheep, and sleep in the doorway in order to restrict access.  The shepherds would come to the pen, let the sheep go out, and the sheep would gather around the shepherd whose voice they recognized.  Then the shepherd would guide them along as they travelled, keeping them in a group and out of danger by calling them by name.  It was also unique to Near East shepherds that they led the sheep at the front of the group instead of prodding along at the end.

Bible Study Journal
Be sure to take time in your Bible Study to look references like these up to see & understand how they expand your understanding of the verses in John we are studying!  When you look the verses up, make notes in your Journal of what the verses say that links to John 10.

Bible Study Alert!  John 10 has a lot of substance in it 40 verses so this study goes a little longer than normal.  You might consider breaking this study into two weeks.  God bless your time in His Word! 

John 10:1-6, The Sheep & the Shepherd

  • 10:1, Thieves & Robbers
    • The two Greek words used here mean “trickery” & “violence”, referring to people bent on doing harm.
    • Not only does this describe the failed legacy of Israel’s spiritual leaders, but it is an effective description of Satan’s attacks even on us today.

  • 10:4, The care of the shepherd
    • The Savior’s sheep know His voice, 10:27 and they go to it. 
    • Compare this to the Holy Spirit’s witness to us as believers – Rom. 8:16; Eph. 1:13-14.
    • The Shepherd leads the way, He shows us the path to take, patiently, one step at a time.
  • Sheep are a great picture of our desperate need for a shepherd.  Just like sheep, we are totally helpless.  They wander from place to place grazing all day, never looking up, they will get lost, they will fall into life-threatening danger, they have no instinct for returning “home”, they won’t return to the sheep pen even if they can see it, and they are followers even if the lead sheep falls off a cliff.  Think about how that might describe our life sometimes!

  • 10:6, John provides commentary to help us understand
    • The Greek word used in the Synoptic Gospels for “parable” isn’t used by John.   He does refer to a “parable” four times in his Gospel but uses a different Greek word.  Scholars suggest it’s likely better to translate the word in John as “illustration”, “allegory”, ‘illustration”,
      • The parables in the Synoptics are metaphors, an implied comparison – “this is the same as this”.  Jesus told these parables in order to see “example in real life”.
      • In John 10:6, the “paroimia” is a simile, an expressed comparison – like saying “by the way” or “as the saying goes”.  Compare Jn. 16:25, 29 – “it’s like what you see over there”.  Note the NAS “figure of speech”, NKJV “illustration”.  It is probably best not to refer to this story as a parable.
    • The sheep & shepherd story Jesus tells here is best referred to as an allegory, a loose story to draw a picture – not a more closely interpreted parable.

John 10:7-18, The Shepherd Speaks

  • Jesus’ great sermons
    • In Jn. 8:12-38 (the first “I Am” proclamation) Jesus gives the great sermon about His being the Light of the World
    • Here in 10:7-18 (the 2nd & 3rd “I Am” proclamations), Jesus now gives another very important sermon about Him as the Great Shepherd
    • In the “big picture” of the Gospel, these two sermons sum up the whole:  First, Jesus is the Light of the World – He brings salvation to man.  Then second, Jesus describes His Shepherding Care for the person who has placed his faith in Christ’s salvation and now enjoys all the privileges and benefits of  a Child of God.
  • 7-10, Jesus is the Door
    • “I am” – The One True God, Jesus is the True & Legitimate Provider & Protector of His (God’s) people
      • I am the Door, v9 – you become one of God’s “sheep” by trusting in Christ as Savior.
      • I am the Shepherd, v.11 – Our life after salvation is a process of following and being provided for by Christ, our Shepherd.
    • In this section, Jesus shifts from 3rd to 1st person (see John 9:35-41).
      • I am the way – John 14:6
      • A great contrast to the religious leaders who are Thieves & Robbers (v8)
  • 10:10, Abundant Christian living
    • This is an essential Gospel truth:  Why did Jesus come to earth?
      • To provide salvation so that we have real, everlasting life.
      • And so that we can possess it in abundance even now on earth.  
    • This is a great verse to have ready to share with a person wanting to know more about being a Christian.  
    • The redeemed will go in & out to find life and provision – the Bible often uses the provision for sheep to help us understand  God’s care for us.  Psalm 23 is perhaps the best example of this.
    • Even though our path may not always be easy, the Christian can still live “abundantly” in Christ because our confidence and hope are in Him!
    • Just as God is the One Sovereign God and our Creator, He is also the One Who has provided one way for us to establish a relationship with Him
    • Is Jesus offering us a “wonderful life” where everything will be perfect?
      • Obviously not, we are still fallen beings, we will struggle and make mistakes.
      • But in Christ we have “real life” – our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:11) and confidence in our Savior gives us the ability to rise above those struggles.

Bible Study Journal 
Look at these verses and make some notes about how each has something to say about the “abundant life” we have in Christ.

      • Phil. 1:6; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 4:16; 10:35-37

  • 11-18, Jesus is the Shepherd
    • The Good Shepherd – He is sinless, compassionate, sacrificial
    • The Chief Shepherd – He is risen & victorious, the Lord of Lords
    • There are Other Sheep, v16 – Interesting to think how the Lord brings to mind all the countless millions of people who will believe in Him as Savior for the coming centuries – including us!  He speaks of this care for future generations of believers further in John 17.
  • 10:19 – “A division occurred…”
    • Once again the hateful animosity of the Jewish leaders rises up, even trying to suggest that Jesus, the kind and gentle Shepherd is demon-possessed.
    • This is actually a final flare up of this opposition to Jesus as He prepares go into Jerusalem and be crucified.  Note that John 11 is the raising of Lazarus which serves as a dramatic precursor to Jesus’ final week.

Sheep Talk

  • Sheep are known for having an uncanny ability to recognize their owner’s voice.  Also, many shepherds will give each of their sheep a name and the sheep will respond when they hear their name called.
  • How well do we know our Shepherd’s voice?  Sadly, much of the time we don’t know Him very well.  We don’t focus enough on knowing Him well.  As a result, we hardly recognize the sound of His voice when He speaks to our heart.  Tragically, that makes it much easier for us to hear some “other voice” of the world and rush off to hang on every word

    Bible Study Journal
    Look at Phil. 3:7-11 – how does this passage relate to us listening to the Savior’s voice?

  • How well do we commune with the Savior.  Morning devotions is good – but does He just get those fleeting few minutes before you rush into your busy day?  How often do you stop and spend sustained time occasionally reading His Word, listening to His comfort and counsel.  He’s such a special Friend, our heart choose jealously find time to be alone with Him!
  • This is the Abundant Life that only Jesus Christ provides – 1 Tim 6:17.  Look at the vast wealth of beauty and enjoyment God provided us in the Creation, and the leads us to rediscover in our new life in Christ.
  • An interesting fact:  Much of how God provides His shepherding care for His own is by their being in a flock, functioning as a part of a Bible-believing church (Eph. 4:15-16; Heb. 10:24-25).

Bible Study Journal
What kind of sheep are you?  Staying close to the Shepherd, do you love hearing His voice?  Or…  Make some notes in your Journal of what these verses tells us about being “good sheep”…   Heb 13:20-21; 1 Pet. 5:4; Jn 21:15-19

John 10:18-42 – More Opposition, More Opportunity

  • John 10:22 indicates that time elapsed, and this is likely 2-3 months after the Good Shepherd sermon.  It’s  now winter time and the Temple portico gives shelter from the chilly weather.
  • The “Feast of Dedication” is called Hannakuh today.  It is a  seven day “feast of lights”, which is celebrated in late November or into December.
  • John 10:24, the Jewish leaders say to Jesus “tell us plainly” –oh really!  Did they really want to hear the simple, clear truth? And honestly, hadn’t they already heard that truth from Jesus many times in the last couple of years?
    • John has already shown how Christ has made His claims clear:
      • John 5:17-19,20-30; 6:37-40; 8:58
    • But indeed Jesus was careful with His words and He has been clearly delivering the message through miracles, teachings, and conversations (e.g. Nicodemus).
  • In John 10:22-40, Jesus is teaching great doctrinal truth about His work as the Messiah/Savior.  The beauty of God’s Word is that as Jesus spoke those words, He was teaching them for us today as well!
    • verses 22-30 – Amazing, Christ is God’s promised Messiah! This is the fulfillment that faithful Jews had been anticipating  for 2000 years.
    • verses 31-39 – Christ is God– “my Father”, which is the key theme of Jn. 5-9
  • vv40-42, A great ending as many believe

10:28-30 – The Eternal Security of the Believer

  • 10:27-28 – Real, legitimate sheep have distinctive characteristics:
    • The sheep know His voice and respond to it
    • They follow the Shepherd (obey His commands) so all can see
    • Illegitimate sheep are obvious by not doing those things
  • What is “Real Life”? The world wants it, but can they get it?  Only by being Redeemed, a child of God, living in Christ and following His steps.
    • The Greek word for “never perish” is a very strong Greek expression.  The important fact is that while we “show” we are real, it is Christ’s work to actually “make” us real.
    • No one can take our salvation from us, and no one can take us from the Father.  Once you 1) sincerely and completely acknowledge your sin and need of a savior (Rom. 3:23; 5:8), and then 2) receive the gift of salvation you realize God offers you in Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23), and 3) acknowledge “out loud” your acceptance of salvation (Rom. 10:9-10), God does the rest!  You are born again – He adopts you into His family, and He will never let you be taken away.  His Holy Spirit indwells you, you are given a “new spiritual nature (2 Cor. 5:17).  
    • We are “given” (called) by the Father to the Son – see how Jesus speaks about that in John 17.
    • Interesting to see the word “snatch” – it is a special word also used in 1 Thess. 4:17 talking about future time when Jesus “snatches” the Church up to be with Him in heaven.  
    • We are “safe in the Father’s hand!

Bible Study Journal
What does each of these verses have to say about the permanence of our salvation?

    • Rom. 8:35-39; Eph. 4:30; Jude 24

10:31-38 – Jesus’ Execution Decided

  • Jesus’ assertion attacks the Jewish leader’s pride
    • Salvation is totally God’s work, entirely in God’s hands, completely the word of His grace
  • This was serious enough in their legalist mind that they made a third attempt to stone Him to death – 5:18; 8:59
    • v33,37-38 – Just like many people around the world consumed with humanistic thinking, the Jews refuse to listen to clear, simple truth.
  • v35, Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, where God condemns unjust judges who attempt to be “gods”.  This is a great single verse establishing the sanctity of God’s inspired Scriptures as explained by the Son of God Himself.
    • We agree with having a high view of Biblical inerrancy & authority, the Bible is our single authoritative source of Truth.
    • You can’t “pick & choose” God’s Word – the same God Who inspired the OT prophet also spoke audibly for and through His Son.
  • vv38-39, The raw anger of the Jews is unbridled and now is flowing hot and propelling Jesus towards the Cross
  • Jesus escaped out of the hands of the angry leaders once again
    • Recall 10:15, 17 – Jesus chooses if and when to lay down His life.
      • Although this didn’t last long – see Jn. 18:12.

10:40-42, God’s Sovereignty Prevails

  • “Many believed” – what a great testimony to the prevailing hand of God in the affairs of man.
  • Jesus’s life is always with measured steps forward.
  • Having left the Jews behind, He ministers to the crowds and many believe.
  • Interesting that these three verses put Jesus back down at the southwest area of the Sea of Galilee
    • This is basically where John the Baptist began his ministry 
    • This would have been a 3+ day journey from Capernaum
    • From there He goes another two days or so to Bethany (Lazarus’ resurrection) before going on to Jerusalem.


For Further Study…

  1. Who are some people you have “followed” in your life?

2. In 10:1-10, how is Jesus like a door into the sheep pen?  What does that mean to you?

3. Have you experienced being a “door” for someone in you in your life?

4. Who would Jesus call “thieves” today? Why?

5. In 10:11-21, what did Jesus mean when He said “I am the good shepherd?  How is He like a good shepherd for you?