The Lord is my Shepherd
When chapter 10 opens, Jesus is still conferring with the Pharisees over the blind man he had just healed. At the end of chapter 9, Jesus tells these Pharisees that they are all blind, in chapter 10, He begins to explain what they are blind to.
Jesus loved to speak in metaphor and parable, and this time is no different. Jesus begins to reference God’s people as sheep. Nowadays, calling someone a sheep has a negative connotation, but here Jesus is not being negative at all. God’s people are meant to follow Jesus like a sheep follows a shepherd.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1 ESV).
Anyone who is not the Shepherd (Christ) who sneaks into the fold is only there to harm the sheep and lead them away from the Shepherd. Anyone who does indeed follow such a person does so at their own peril.
Christ lists attributes that we can follow to know our Shepherd:
- The sheep hear His voice. Not only do they hear, but they heed His voice: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 ESV).
- He knows the sheep by name. They are precious to them, each of them, that He calls each by name.
- The sheep follow Him: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24 ESV).
- He willingly lays down His life for the sheep: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16 ESV).
Jesus eludes here to “other sheep”. Even here He refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Kingdom of God. Our Shepherd isn’t picky about what type of sheep follow Him, He only asks that we do. One flock, one Shepherd.
Just Tell Us Plainly
A little later, Jesus has another conversation with the Jews. Although the Jews would have been used to metaphor and parables since they were a popular form of teaching at that time, they often get tired of Jesus’s way of speaking. Here they demand:
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24 ESV).
Many times the Jews would get fed up with Jesus’s way of teaching, but when Jesus did actually give a straight answer, they rarely liked it. How like humans! We only want to hear what we want to hear, not always what we need to hear.
When Jesus gives them their answer this time: “I and the Father are one“, the Jews pick up stones to stone Him (John 10:30 ESV). Is it any wonder why Jesus would choose to speak in metaphors in the first place? I know I would be reluctant to speak plain truth if I knew it would get me killed. But even though Jesus knows that what He will say will not be accepted by these people, He gives them what they ask for anyway. God’s truths are always there for us, it is up to us whether or not we choose to accept them.
Once again, Jesus riles up the people and once again He escapes them. Why? His time has not yet come. With God, timing is everything. I’d love to know how He did escape though…