John 10:1-6 - The Shepherd and His Sheep

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Philip Keller, in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, describes a danger that is unique to sheep.  Shepherds call it “cast down” or simply “cast.”  It has to do with a sheep that cannot regain its feet.  Keller writes:

… even the largest, fattest, strongest and sometimes healthiest sheep can become “cast” and be a casualty.  The way it happens is this.  A heavy, fat, or long-fleeced sheep will lie down comfortably in some little hollow or depression in the ground.  It may roll on its side slightly to stretch out or relax.  Suddenly the center of gravity in the body shifts so that it turns on its back far enough that the feet no longer touch the ground.  It may feel a sense of panic and start to paw frantically.  Frequently this only makes things worse.  It rolls over even further.  Now it is quite impossible for it to regain its feet.  The thrust of Keller’s book is that sheep are utterly helpless.

       Sheep Need A Shepherd for Without A Shepherd Sheep Will Become:

1.      Prone to wonder away (Ps.119:176, 67; Is.53;6); Weary and Scattered (Matthew 9:36)

2.      In great trouble (Zechariah 10:2-3) & destroyed by wild beast (John 10:12). 

3.      This is what we were like until Jesus came and rescued us (1Peter 2:23-25).

       The Occasion for this lesson in John 10 is the excommunication of the beggar from the synagogue (John 9:34). The false shepherds did not care for this man; instead, they mistreated him and threw him out. But Jesus, the Shepherd, came to him and took him in (John 9:35–38).

A.     The Shepherds Relationship To His Sheep

1.       The Sheepfold (v.1)

a)        The sheepfold (v.1a).  A pen or shelter, a place where sheep are kept (v.1)

1)        Jewish Shepherds Kept Their Sheep In Two Kinds Of Sheepfolds: 

(a)      In the Country: a low-walled enclosure made of stone with a narrow opening in front. 

(b)      In the Town: the fold was bigger, and it was a shared enclosure.

2.       The False Shepherds: Thieves and Robbers (v.1b-c)

a)        Do not enter by the door, climbs up some other way… is a thief and a robber (v.1)

1)        Enters The Wrong Way (v.1b)

(a)      Moses Warned In (Deut.13:1-5)

(b)      Ravenous Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing (Matthew 7:13-15).

(c)      False Prophets Are Encouraged With Those Who Are Displeased With God’s Ways

"That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the Lord; Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits." (Isaiah 30:9-10, NKJV)

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NKJV)


(d)      The New Testament Also Warns Against Deceiving, Misleading Spiritual Leaders.

1.         Paul warned the Roman believers (Romans 16:17-18)

2.         False apostles (2Cor. 11:13), false brethren (2Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4)

3.         False Christ’s (Matt. 24:24), false prophets (Matt. 24:11; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1)

4.         False teachers (2 Pet. 2:1-3), and false witnesses (Matt. 26:60; Acts 6:13).

5.         Paul’s Last words to the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:29-31)

6.         False shepherd as “a thief and a robber” (John 10:1, 8).

2)        Is A Thief And Robber (v.1c)

(a)      The Thief & Robber selfishly seek their own ends (Judas & Barabbas).

(b)      The False Shepherd Dispises The Door, And Climbs Up Some Other Way.  His purpose is not to benefit the sheep, but to slaughter them for his own purposes.

(c)      Jim Jones; Heavens Gate

1.         Jeremiah 23:1-4; 50:6

2.         Ezekiel 1:1-24

3)        The Damnation of the False Prophets.

(a)      Sheep and goat Judgment (Matt.25:31-41, 45)

(b)      Matthew 7:21-23; 2Peter 2:3,9,12,17; Jude 13

3.       The True Shepherd (v.2-3)

a)        He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep (v.2)

1)        Enters The Appointed Door (v.2).

(a)      Undershepherd is appointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28)

(b)      The Lord took David from the sheepfold to be ruler over His people (1Chron.17:7).

(c)      Is.40:11; Ps.23:1-3; 78:52; Num.27:15-17; Ezek.34:22-23, 31;  

b)        The Doorkeeper Opens… Sheep Hear His Voice… Calls Them By Name (v.3)

1)        The Shepherd Is Known By The Doorkeeper—A Hired Undershepherd (v.3a).

2)        The Sheep Know Their Shepherds Voice (v.3)

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27, NKJV)

"He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life… the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live." (John 5:24-25, NKJV)

"While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”" (Matthew 17:5, NKJV)

"God… has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2, NKJV)

God Speaks To Us Through His Word & Spirit: "The Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,In the day of trial in the wilderness," (Hebrews 3:7-8, NKJV)

3)        The Shepherd Knows His Sheep By Name (v.3b): Illustration of me calling Britt. in for dinner 

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me," (John 10:14, NLT)

But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for." (1 Corinthians 8:3)

The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness.”" (2 Timothy 2:19, NLT)

But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1; also Psalm 139:15-16)

4.       The True Shepherd Will Lead His Sheep.

a)        He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (v.3)

1)        The Lord Our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1-6)

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go." (Isaiah 48:17, NKJV)

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them." (Isaiah 42:16, NKJV)

"for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”" (Revelation 7:17, NKJV)


2)        The Pastor/Shepherd, Shepherds His Sheep (v.3c)

(a)      Lead Their Sheep To Places Where They Can Find Food, Water And ShelterPastors are to lead you into spiritual nourishment & refreshment, the Word of God (Ps.23; 61:2).

(b)      Protect Their Sheep From EnemiesPastors keep alert lest Satan’s wolves invade the flock (Ac.20:28-31).

(c)      Enable The Sheep To Be Useful In Growing, Providing Milk & Reproducing After Their KindPastors equip the sheep for being useful in the kingdom of God (Eph.4:11-12; 2Tim.2:2).

(d)      Go After The Sheep When They Go AstrayPastors lovingly go after their sheep (Matthew 18:12-14; James 5:19-20)

(e)      Apply Healing Oil When The Sheep Have Been Cut Or BruisedPastors apply the medicine of God’s Word (Psalm 107:20; Matthew 8:8; Jesus sent His Word to heal Peter, he was forgiven Mk.16:7).

(f)       Feed Them With Knowledge And Understanding: "And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:15)… “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things." (Mark 6:34, NKJV)

(g)      Seeks And Saves The Sheep Who Get Lost: "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?" (Matthew 18:11-12; Ezek.34:16 NKJV)…

"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20, NKJV)

(h)      Protects The Sheep. He Even Sacrifices His Life For The Sheep: "“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." (John 10:11; 15:13; 1Jn.3:16; Heb.13:20)

5.       The Sheep (v.4-5)

a)        The shepherd goes before them, they follow him, for they know His voice

1)        Know The Shepherd’s Voice (v.4a)

The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63, NKJV)

Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68, NKJV)

If anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”" (John 8:51, NKJV)

Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”" (John 18:37, NKJV)

2)        Follow The Shepherd Who Goes Before Them (v.4b) see Luke 12:32

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also (John 12:26, NKJV)

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3, NKJV)

For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." (John 13:15)

                             What should we do that Jesus has done (Phil.2:5-11)?

3)                                     Flee From Strange Voices (v.5) Christians hear the voice of the Holy Spirit

(a)      Consider very carefully what” you hear (Mk.4:24)

(b)      Consider very carefully “how” you hear (Lk.8:18)

Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge." (Proverbs 19:27, NKJV)

6.       The Illustration Not Understood (v.6)

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.” ’" (Acts 28:27, NKJV)

Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7, NKJV)

B.     The Shepherds Provision (v.7-10)

A.       The Door of the Sheep: The Only Way to God, 10:7-10

1.      Jesus is the only door of the sheep (v.7-8)

a.  All others are thieves and robbers (v.8a)

Jesus was referring primarily to the religious leaders of that day (John 10:8). He was not condemning every prophet or servant of God who ever ministered before He came to earth. The statement “are thieves and robbers” (not “were”) makes it clear that He had the present religious leaders in mind. They were not true shepherds nor did they have the approval of God on their ministry. They did not love the sheep, but instead exploited them and abused them. The beggar was a good example of what the “thieves and robbers” could do.

It is clear in the Gospel record that the religious rulers of Israel were interested only in providing for themselves and protecting themselves. The Pharisees were coveteous (Luke 16:14) and even took advantage of the poor widows (Mark 12:40). They turned God’s temple into a den of thieves (Matt. 21:13), and they plotted to kill Jesus so that Rome would not take away their privileges (John 11:49–53).

b.  Proof: The sheep did not hear them (v.8b)

2.      Jesus is the only door that leads to salvation (v.9)

a.  “In and out”: Security (v.9a)

b.  “Pasture”: Provision (v.9b)

3.      Jesus is the only door that leads to abundant life (v.10)

a.  All others come to take and to steal (v.10a)

b.  Jesus comes to give life (v.10b)

(1)   The preach that if you come to Jesus, you will have abundant life.

(2)   What happens when persecution arises?  They split.

(3)   John 10:10 is a result of the gospel but v.11 is the gospel.  That is the basis for coming to Jesus.  Not what He will do for you but what He has done for you!  34:16

C.     The Shepherds Heart (v.11-18)

1   The meaning of “Good Shepherd” (v.11-13)

           a.  A sacrificial life (v.11)See: DS2

           b.  Not a hired or employed shepherd (v.12-13)

               1)   He sees danger—acts cowardly, flees (v.12a)

               2)   He causes the sheep to be caught—in error (v.12b)

1)        He lacks genuine care (v.13)

The hireling flees because he does not care about the sheep.  The hireling takes advantage of other peoples needs to benefit themselves (Ezekiel 34:1-16; Zech.11:15-17).   A true servant of God helps others whether they themselves get anything out of it or not.

2   The proof that Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” (v.14-16)

           a.  He knows His sheep (v.14)

           b.  He knows His Father—the Owner (v.15a)

           c.  He will die for His sheep (v.15b)

           d. He works to enlarge the fold (v.16)

3   The final proof is the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus (v.17-18)

           a.  The very reason God loves Him so much (v.17)

           b.  His death was the supreme act of obedience (v.18)

               1)   Was voluntary (v.18a)

               2)   Was a command (v.18b)

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