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Sunday School Lesson

April 30

Protecting Love

Background Scripture: John 10:1-15

Devotional Reading:Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14

 

 

John 10:1-15

 

1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

 

2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

 

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

 

4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

 

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

 

6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

 

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

 

8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

 

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

 

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

 

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

 

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

 

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

 

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 

Key Verses

 

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.—John 10:14, 15

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Identify the good shepherd and the sheep.

 

2. Explain the metaphor of Jesus as the door or gate.

 

3. Suggest a twenty-first century, nonagrarian equivalent to the sheep-shepherd metaphor.

 

 

Introduction

 

A. Mistaken Identity

 

Most of us have experienced the embarrassment of mistaken identity. We see someone across the room whom we think we recognize. We wave. That person waves back, but with a puzzled expression. We speak to someone standing behind us, thinking that person is a friend or family member. He or she responds uncertainly, if at all. Cases of mistaken identity cause confusion; those people are not who we think they are.

 

Today’s text is about removing confusion regarding the identity of the one who leads, protects, and provides for God’s people. Many claim to be God’s designate for that role. But our text says that only one such claim is genuine. Only one individual can make us God’s people and give us the life that God offers.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

Our text, from the middle of John’s Gospel, records part of a series of conflict episodes between Jesus and His opponents. Important for context is the account of Jesus’ healing of a man born blind (John 9), which occurs just before today’s text. The healed man was confronted by religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus. But their opposition made the healed man all the more certain that Jesus had been sent by God (9:13-33).

 

The infuriated leaders threw the man out, effectively claiming that they had cut him off from fellowship with God’s people (John 9:34). Subsequently, Jesus identified himself to the man as the one God had sent (9:35-38). The story closes with further confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders (9:40, 41).

 

In providing the backdrop for today’s text, that account addresses this question: Who truly governs God’s people? In other words, do the religious leaders of Jesus’ day decide who belongs in God’s people and who is excluded, or does that authority lie elsewhere? The conflict between Jesus and His opponents concerning who Jesus is and what that means for God’s people was accelerating.

 

Jesus’ use of the phrase “I am the” occurs four times in today’s text (John 10:7, 9, 11, 14). These form part of the larger picture of Jesus’ use of the phrase on other occasions in this Gospel (see John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). The phrases serve as Jesus’ claims regarding His unique role in God’s plan to be the one who fulfills God’s promises in finality.

 

But more than that, the phrase “I am” echoes God’s statement to Moses that he should tell Israel that “I am” was the one sending him (Exodus 3:14; compare John 8:58). As Jesus used this expression, He was saying something about himself that implied that He was divine, God himself in human flesh. Jesus’ opponents certainly didn’t miss this implication, given their immediate attempts to stone Him (John 8:59).

 

Our text focuses on shepherd imagery in regard to “I am the” statements. Keeping flocks of sheep and goats was a vital part of the economy of the biblical world. Shepherds often spent day and night with their animals to keep them nourished and safe (compare Luke 2:8).

 

The Old Testament frequently draws on these practices in depicting God as shepherd and His people as sheep (examples: Psalm 23:1; 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10). His faithful shepherding is contrasted with the harmful shepherding by others (Ezekiel 34; etc.). This history, familiar to Jesus’ audience, is what He draws on as He delivers this discourse.

 

I. Jesus the Entryway

 

                                                                  (John 10:1-10)

 

 

 

A. Imagery (vv. 1-6)

 

1. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

 

The Greek behind the translation verily is often transliterated as amen (example: Revelation 1:6). A word that is often used as a solemn finality, Jesus uses here to begin a statement. The doubled verily, verily stresses the importance and reliability of what He is about to say.

 

How to Say It

 

Ezekiel Ee-zeek-ee-ul or Ee-zeek-yul.

 

Hosea Ho-zay-uh.

 

Isaiah Eye-zay-uh.

 

Jeremiah Jair-uh-my-uh.

 

The image of the door into the sheepfold illustrates the difference between those who intend to harm the sheep and the one who cares for them. A sheepfold is an outdoor area bounded with a low stone wall. Sheep can be kept there overnight for safety. The door is the opening in the wall. It is guarded in such a way so that sheep do not wander out and predators do not enter. Any person or creature who enters by climbing over the wall is clearly not the sheep’s protector.

 

We keep in mind that Jesus makes this point just after His rebuke of religious leaders in John 9:40, 41 (see the Lesson Background). His implication is clear: those leaders who claim to decide who belongs to God’s people and who does not are the ones who come in over the wall.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What plans should a church have in place for dealing with “a thief and a robber” as Jesus uses that phrase?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In terms of advance recognition

 

In terms of notifying leadership (sounding the alarm)

 

In terms of leadership response

 

In terms of repairing damage done

 

In terms of preventing recurrence

 

2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

 

We should note that Jesus’ illustration is not an elaborate allegory. That is, each detail of the story is not intended to correspond with an event in reality. Jesus is probably not thinking of a particular event in His life when He speaks of the shepherd entering by the door. Rather, this detail is intended to contribute to the larger contrast between the shepherd and those who do not care for the flock as the shepherd does.

 

3. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

 

The porter is the assistant shepherd who guards the opening to the sheepfold. He recognizes the true shepherd and gives him access. Likewise, the sheep recognize their shepherd’s voice. Shepherds in the Middle East today reportedly use distinctive calls to which their sheep are conditioned to respond. Jesus seems to draw on a similar custom as He describes the sheep’s response to the shepherd. Only the shepherd leads the sheep out to safe pasture (compare Psalm 23:2, lesson 5).

 

4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

 

The depiction of the shepherd’s care and the sheep’s recognition continues. When daylight comes, it is time to exit the sheepfold for food and water. To get the sheep to the needed nourishment, shepherds of the biblical world do not drive their sheep from behind, but lead them from the front (goeth before them). The sheep’s recognition of the shepherd makes that possible; the word voice is used for the second time for emphasis in this regard (compare John 3:29; 5:25, 28; 18:37).

 

5. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

 

This third use of the word voice contrasts the leading of the true shepherd with that of pretenders (strangers). The sheep do not recognize the voice of others, so they view them as a threat. These sheep are like the man healed of blindness. In contrast with his parents (John 9:18-23), he had refused to cower before the religious leaders but responded to Jesus instead (9:24-38). Bad things happen when wrong voices are heeded (2 Peter 2:1; etc.).

 

What Do You Think?

 

What are some things churches do to ensure that their teachers speak with the voice of Christ?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

With regard to evaluating their track record in teaching (the past)

 

With regard to ongoing training (the present)

 

In terms of periodic monitoring (the future)

 

Other

 

6. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

 

Jesus’ opponents are nearby, listening to Him teach. But as He has said before, they are blind to the truth because they claim that they can “see” (John 9:39-41). They cannot believe that God has authorized anyone other than themselves to speak for Him and to lead His people. Thus, they refuse to listen as Jesus paints the portrait of the shepherd. They will not admit that instead of being shepherds who cares for the sheep, they are more like thieves who fleece the flock.

 

B. Identity (vv. 7-10)

 

7. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

 

Again by use of a doubled verily, Jesus solemnly emphasizes that He is speaking a vital truth. That emphasis is underlined by the use of I am the, with its implications as noted in the Lesson Background. Jesus’ claim to be the door of the sheep may be surprising until we understand that shepherds often block entrances to sheepfolds with their bodies. They do so by lying across the opening at night so that nothing gets in or out without their consent.

 

In light of the controversy over the man healed of blindness, Jesus is making the audacious claim that He alone decides who belongs with God’s people and who does not (contrast John 9:22, 34). The religious leaders do not make that determination. No one does but Jesus. And certainly no one truly decides who belongs to God except God himself. Thus, Jesus uses the suggestive I am to make this statement.

 

Taken with the earlier discourse, we understand Jesus’ point: those who listen to and believe Him are the sheep who listen to the true shepherd. They belong to the true flock. They are granted entry to the sheepfold. Jesus’ followers are God’s true people.

 

8. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

 

There can be only one chief shepherd. Anyone who pretends to be Him is in the category of thieves and robbers. An example of how such false shepherds operate is found in Luke 19:45, 46, where worship acts of sacrifice are opportunities for profit. Most directly associated with the text before us is, again, the situation of the man healed of blindness. Note that the religious leaders would have preferred that the man not be healed rather than have it done on a Sabbath (John 9:14-16). This contrast makes clear that the shepherd stands alone and that there is no legitimate alternative to hearing His voice and following Him.

 

Spiritual Charlatans

 

Jim Jones (1931-1978) started his ministry career in Indianapolis. But it was after he moved his Peoples Temple to California in the late 1960s that he gained notoriety. His ministry focused on issues of social justice, and he developed a large following among society’s downtrodden.

 

For a time, Jones was endorsed by many leading politicians. But following his exposure as a cult leader, he moved his congregation to “Jonestown” in Guyana. His little empire came crashing down in 1978 with the mass suicide and murder of over 900 people there, including Jones himself.

 

In retrospect, Jim Jones was merely one spiritual charlatan in a line stretching back centuries. God had to deal with such individuals even within the ranks of His chosen people (Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 7:9-11; Hosea 7:1-3; etc.). They stand in stark contrast with Jesus, who stands ever vigilant for the well-being of His flock. The saga of Jim Jones reminds us that only Jesus is worthy of unconditional trust.—C. R. B.

 

9. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

Jesus repeats His claim to be the door—the only way to enter the flock of God’s people. The one who enters Jesus’ sheepfold shall be saved, that is, be kept safe from harm.

 

As the sheep are led to and from the sheepfold, they find pasture needed to survive and thrive (compare John 4:13, 14; 6:27, 55). The shepherd’s gift to them is life, and they have it only because of the shepherd.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What are some specific ways your church can better express the truth that Christ is the only means of access to eternal life?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In modification of tradition or routine

 

In special times of the year

 

In church discipline

 

In curriculum selection

 

Other

 

10. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

 

When we watch how the thief behaves toward the sheep, we see only self-interest. Thieves, by definition, do not act in the best interest of the sheep. Rather, they take advantage of the sheep. They bring death. Serving as examples are the religious leaders who seek to dissuade people from faith in Jesus (John 9:22-34). They are thieves who act out of self-interest (11:48).

 

But the true shepherd does the opposite. He doesn’t take, but gives. Jesus gives life; others give death. He protects and provides for His flock. And not just a little! Life from Jesus is abundant, like the overflowing cup in the Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23:5). Jesus gives not just what is necessary for survival but what results in life in its divinely intended fullness.

 

What Do You Think?

 

In what specific ways can and should the nature of a Christian’s abundant life in Christ be apparent to others?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding what unbelievers see, considering 1 Corinthians 9:20; 10:27, 32; Philippians 1:13; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 3:7; 5:13; etc.

 

Regarding what fellow believers see, considering Matthew 6:1-18, 25; John 13:14-17; Romans 14:1, 13; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 11:1; Philippians 1:14; Hebrews 10:25; etc.

 

II. Jesus the Good Shepherd

 

(John 10:11-15)

 

 

A. Giving and Caring (vv. 11-13)

 

11a. I am the good shepherd.

 

Jesus now changes the metaphor slightly, making in the process a claim that is even more direct and audacious. As before, the phrase I am the carries the implications noted in the Lesson Background, particularly with the added descriptor good. The term shepherd is used in Israel’s Scriptures for God or His promised messianic king. Jesus’ claim of it for himself indicates fulfillment (see Genesis 49:24; Psalm 80:1; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24; etc.).

 

11b. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

 

Some Old Testament kings and priests were good at being shepherds of the people in a relative sense (example: Psalm 78:70-72). But Jesus is good in an exceptional way. Not only does He lead, feed, and protect the sheep, He also willingly giveth his life for them.

 

Certainly this description strikes Jesus’ audience as astonishing! They know that a shepherd takes risks to protect the sheep, his most valuable possession. But dying for one’s sheep is out of the question. The sheep live for the shepherd, not the other way around. But Jesus is a shepherd like no other.

 

Time will be needed for Jesus’ meaning to be clear. When He is arrested, Jesus will insist that the soldiers let His followers go free as He surrenders himself willingly (John 18:3-9). His death will not be a case in which someone else takes His life; He will lay it down himself. It will be an act of sacrifice that serves as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

 

12, 13. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

 

Again Jesus depicts figures to contrast with the shepherd. These figures serve to emphasize the shepherd’s one-of-a-kind nature. Certainly we would expect a thief or robber (John 10:1) to have no concern for the sheep. But even a hired undershepherd—one who does not own the flock but is paid to care for it—lacks the shepherd’s commitment. This hireling is just there to do a job; he has no personal interest in the sheep.

 

As fine as other leaders of God’s people may be, only Jesus is the good shepherd in an absolute sense. No one but He places the flock’s well-being first. As the good shepherd, Jesus will give His very life for the sake of His people.

 

Who Cares?

 

A hallmark of the Great Recession that began in 2007 was home foreclosures. These resulted when many people allowed themselves to be lured into taking out larger mortgages than they could afford.

 

The unscrupulous lenders, mortgage brokers, etc., who did the luring were said to have engaged in predatory lending practices. These practices thrived in commission-driven environments that lacked accountability. Many, many home buyers trusted their assurances that housing prices would climb forever. No one seemed to have the client’s best interest at heart, as self-interest ruled. The resulting foreclosures became a tidal wave across the stumbling economy—not just in America, but also in funds worldwide that had invested in mortgages.

 

Jesus’ contrast between himself and those merely hired to do a job still applies. But where do we fit in that illustration? We are not the good shepherd himself, of course. But neither are we to be the hireling who runs away at the first sign of danger. It’s impossible for us to know and care for Jesus’ flock as He does. Peter received instructions in this regard (see John 21:15-17), and he has passed them along to us: “The elders which are among you I exhort ... Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof” (1 Peter 5:1, 2).—C. R. B.

 

B. Knows and Known (vv. 14, 15)

 

14. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

 

A second time Jesus states that He is the good shepherd, again underlining the claim to be and do what only God is and does. The fact that He knows His sheep is a further implication of being able to call them by name (John 10:3, above).

 

The knowing is reciprocal: those whom Jesus knows as His sheep know Him as shepherd in return. A precise example is the blind man just healed (John 9:35-38). Jesus knows the difference between true believers and those superficially impressed with Him and His miracles (2:23-25). Those who know Him as the shepherd are His true sheep, by His declaration, because they acknowledge Him.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What are some specific ways to exhibit confidence that Christ knows us as His sheep?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In what we do routinely

 

In how we react to special opportunities

 

In what we think

 

In what we say

 

Other

 

15. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 

The knowledge of the shepherd and the sheep for each other is mirrored in the knowledge of the Father for the Son. Jesus’ reference to God as Father is noteworthy. In John’s Gospel, this is one means by which Jesus affirms that His knowledge of God is based on something different than others’ knowledge of God.

 

Jesus knows God not by teaching, but by personal experience that no one else has (John 3:13; 7:28, 29; 8:14, 23, 54-58). As a son knows his father, Jesus the Son knows God the Father. As the one who comes from Heaven, Jesus knows God the Father, the one who abides in Heaven. And as Jesus does and claims to be what only God can do and who He alone is, Jesus shows that He knows God because He is God. Jesus’ authority is greater than that of any other, in His own time or in any other.

 

So—how awestruck are we with this one who is very God, the one who willingly surrenders His life for the sake of His sheep? How different is He from any other shepherd—good or bad—of our experience? How far beyond our expectation is His love for us?

 

Conclusion

 

A. Follow the True Shepherd

 

Today’s text is both disturbing and reassuring. It is disturbing because we prefer to think that there are many ways to find God. Yet Jesus says that He is the one who is the shepherd, the door to the sheepfold. Apart from Him, there is no abundant life.

 

But that message is also reassuring. We do not need to discover our own path to God. We do not need to work a plan by which we find real life for ourselves. We need merely to listen to the true shepherd and follow Him. He leads, provides, and protects. We follow, receive, and trust. That is the way of abundant life, the way for true sheep of the good shepherd.

 

B. Prayer

 

Father, we commit ourselves to follow Your Son, to be secure in what He provides, to honor the life He gave for us as we give freely of ourselves for others. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

Accept no substitute shepherd.

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

How to Know the Voice of Jesus

April 30, 2017

John 10:1-15

 

John 10:1-15

(John 10:1) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

Using what we might consider a parable, Jesus emphasized that He was declaring what was factually true about a spiritual reality. He was intentionally and directly applying to the Pharisees what they would not understand. They, along with almost all of the religious leaders in Israel, were either religious/spiritual sneak thieves or robbers who would use any means, even violence, to steal materially, psychologically, and spiritually from their followers. These people thought they were on their way to heaven and salvation, but they did not enter the way Jesus made available to everyone: the only way to salvation was through the gate, through Him. John Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress illustrated this truth brilliantly and graphically as Christian met many people who had climbed into the way to salvation some other way and never reached the celestial city.

(John 10:2) “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.

In Jesus’ illustration here, He is the gate, the door, or the way to be adopted into the family of God. Jesus is also the Shepherd or the Good Shepherd of the sheep. True shepherds of the sheep will lead their followers to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, because Jesus is their Shepherd and they are leading His sheep for and to Him.

(John 10:3) “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

God the Father may be seen as the gatekeeper who opens the gate for Jesus and His sheep. Jesus can also be seen as the gatekeeper who opens the gate for all the true shepherds who serve Him as Shepherd/King and care for His sheep according to His commands. God’s sheep listen to the voice of Jesus, and they hear the voice of Jesus and those He has appointed to shepherd His flock; such as, the disciples, apostles and those who truly followed them and the Scriptures as leaders in the Church throughout the centuries. The Good Shepherd and those serving as shepherds under Him care enough about their flock to know each sheep and call them by name in a personal relationship.

(John 10:4) “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Those who are on the way of salvation follow Jesus daily, even as the sheep know and follow their shepherd to green pastures and quiet waters daily. He can walk ahead of them knowing they know Him and trust Him enough to follow Him wherever He leads. They know and love His voice, and they stay close enough to Him not to get lost or stray from the path.

(John 10:5) “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

In keeping with what everyone knew in Jesus’ day, the true followers of Jesus will never follow a strange God, prophet, priest, or other person who would lead them out of the way of salvation. They can compare the teachings of the Bible with the teachings of false leaders and religions, and they will run away and not be misled by false teaching and false teachers.

(John 10:6) This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

If the Pharisees had understood Jesus’ teachings, they probably would have tried to destroy Him sooner. Jesus will go on to teach, but He came to lay down His life for His sheep according to His Father’s timing. He came to be the gate and the shepherd and He would die rather than let any of His sheep be lost or unable to come to His Father through Him to be saved.

(John 10:7) So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

Jesus compares His followers to sheep in order to illustrate some of the qualities of His followers, and also His ability and willingness to care for them. The sheep in the sheepfold know the true God and recognize when someone has been sent to them from God. The sheep are protected in an enclosure and the gate and enclosure protect the sheep from wild animals, thieves, and those that would harm the sheep. The enclosure and closed gate also protects the sheep from wandering away from the shepherd and getting hurt. The sheep are often in this enclosure at night, when shepherds are not in the field with them. Jesus is the gate to the protective enclosure; so, He will not admit anyone into His sheepfold that He does not approve of being there. The sheepfold is the Kingdom of God or the true Church of Jesus Christ as defined and described in the Bible.

(John 10:8) “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

Prior to Jesus’ coming and afterwards, some came to the Jews and claimed to be the Messiah. Throughout the Old Testament, we learn that some false prophets also came to the Jews and misled some of them, sometimes many of them. Jesus compared these false messiahs and prophets to thieves and bandits: liars who claimed to be sent from God. Those truly committed to following God according to the Scriptures were not misled by these false messiahs and false prophets; these were God’s sheep. God said of His sheep, “For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD—the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid” (Zephaniah 3:12-13). After Jesus ascended into heaven, some came and claimed to be the Messiah. Because of the leadership of a false messiah, the Jews rebelled and the Romans eventually destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Even today, false prophets, false teachers, false messiahs, false religions deceive some, but not those in the sheepfold of God (who may be temporarily confused until God enlightens them by the Holy Spirit using the truth of the Bible).

(John 10:9) “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

The sheep of God do not listen to or follow false prophets, false leaders, and false teachers. To come to God the Father and His sheepfold, the sheep of God come to the gate, Jesus, Who is the only gate into the sheepfold of God. He is the Savior of the sheep who enter God’s sheepfold through Him. Those who truly seek the truth and the true God will find God and come to Jesus. God said, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). Jesus meets all the needs of God’s sheep, and Jesus protects them in the sheepfold (or Kingdom of God).

(John 10:10) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

When we think of different people, groups, and religions that claim to represent God, we know of some that have become known for their killing and destroying. They steal the lives and possessions of those they kill and destroy. Jesus and the true Church of God do not do this evil to others: they love God and their neighbor. Jesus gives life. He gives abundant life. He came into the world to save people.

(John 10:11) “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Jesus added “shepherd” to the illustration of himself as the “gate.” The “gate” admits and protects those qualified to enter the sheepfold (the sheep, those Jesus has saved).  The “shepherd” defends, feeds, and leads the sheep of God out into the world to serve God and share the gospel. To protect and save the sheep of God, the “Good Shepherd” sacrificed His life when He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus not only saves God’s people from external enemies (physical and spiritual), but also from the eternal consequences (and often the temporal consequences) of the foolish, evil, and wrong choices the sheep of God have made. Notice how Jesus defined a “good” person and what this means when He called himself “the ‘good’ shepherd:” “Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone’” (Mark 10:18).

(John 10:12) “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

The hired hand has no financial investment in the owner’s flock of sheep. Hired hands work for wages, and the owner of the sheep pays them for their service. Hired hands may reason that the possibility of injury or death in protecting the sheep of someone else is something they should avoid when weighed against what they are being paid as laborers. Hired hands are working for wages and not for the welfare of the sheep. Hired hands will not do what Jesus does, only Jesus can and will do what Jesus does.

(John 10:13) “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

Jesus said that He was not a hired hand. Jesus is the owner of the sheep. Jesus owns the sheepfold of God. He cares for His sheep. Unlike a hired hand, if a sheep is lost, He is the One Who suffers the loss (so Jesus does not lose His sheep, He finds them and carries them back to the sheepfold: see Matthew 18:12-14!). His sheep are valuable and important to Him and to His Father personally. Jesus risked His life; He gave His life and died to save His sheep; He rose from the dead, and still fights against the enemies of His sheep to protect and save them.

(John 10:14) “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

Jesus is not an absent owner of His sheep. Jesus does not leave the care of His sheep to hired hands. Jesus is with His sheep and in a relationship with His sheep, so He knows the needs of His sheep personally, and each one of His sheep know Him. He is good and spends time, spends eternity, to care for His sheep and all their needs. As they read the Bible, the Holy Spirit helps His sheep hear His voice, know Him, and follow Him.

(John 10:15) even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Jesus knows God the Father intimately, just as in any loving father and son relationship. Jesus compared the knowledge He has of His sheep and their knowledge of Him to this closeness of a loving family, to the closeness He has to His Father. The sheep belong to the Father and the Son, and the Son chose to lay down His life in death to save their sheep and bring more sheep into their fold.

(John 10:16) “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

Jesus had other sheep that were not Jews. During His ministry, He also had Samaritans and other Gentiles, including some Roman soldiers, come to believe in and follow Him. Throughout the last 2000 years, different people from nations and languages all around the world have heard the voice of Jesus when someone has shared the truth of the Bible and Jesus with them, and they have come into his flock of sheep. Eventually, God’s flock will inherit the earth and Jesus will be their Shepherd, for Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

(John 10:17) “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

The word “loves” in this verse means very satisfied and happy with someone because love for God and others motivates their attitude, thoughts and actions. The Father loved Jesus for Who Jesus is as the Son of God, and He also loved Jesus because of what Jesus did and the reasons for why Jesus did what He did (Love, unselfish benevolence, was the grand motive of Jesus for everything He said and did). Jesus does not teach that the Father would not love Him under certain circumstances, because Jesus is the Father’s Son. But if Jesus chose not to obey the Father and not to follow the agreement that they made in heaven before Jesus came into the world, then the Father would not be happy with His decision and would not “love” His disobedience and failure to die a sacrificial death. Of course, Jesus would never disobey His Father, and they were always in agreement.

(John 10:18) “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

When Jesus died on the cross, the devil or wolves in sheep’s clothing did not take Jesus’ life from Him in the sense of being a victor over Him in death. Roman soldiers hanged Jesus on the cross to murder him, so they needed to be forgiven for their sin, and Jesus prayed they would be forgiven by His Father (see Luke 23:34). But Jesus chose the exact moment of His death (when His atoning sacrifice was finished). Jesus also chose the exact moment to rise from the dead on the first resurrection Sunday. Because His Father commanded Him to do these things, in obedience to His Father, Jesus willed His Father’s will and chose His moment of death and the moment of His resurrection. By doing so, Jesus was obedient to His Father and not disobedient. Jesus obeyed His Father when He chose to remain on the cross and allowed himself to be mocked when some sneered, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him” (Matthew 27:42).

 

How to Know the Voice of Jesus

April 30, 2017

John 10:1-15

 “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3).

In His parable, Jesus compared His followers to sheep. He compared His Heavenly Father to the gatekeeper of the sheep’s shelter. He compared himself to the gate for the shelter and to the good shepherd who would lead His sheep out and back into the shelter. Jesus said that the way into the shelter of God is through the gate, Jesus Christ, and the gatekeeper, God the Father, will open and shut the gate. For His sheep to enter, they must follow the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, and come through the gate, Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He knows His sheep and calls them by name; furthermore, His sheep know His voice and follow Him. Because they know His voice, when He calls them He leads them out of the protective sheepfold and to pasture in a hostile world where they will face thieves, robbers, and wolves. In this world and forever, Jesus’ sheep totally depend on Him to meet all their needs (lead them to pasture). They also totally depend on Him to protect them in every way He wisely can out in the world and lead them back into the eternal shelter of God. For their part, Jesus expects His sheep to learn His voice, listen to Him, and follow Him so they will know to run away from strangers who would rob, kill, or destroy them. To learn His voice, Jesus’ sheep prayerfully read and study the Bible, which enables them to know Jesus’ teachings so well that they know what He would and would never teach or ask them to do.

 

Thinking Further

How to Know the Voice of Jesus

April 30, 2017

John 10:1-15

Name ___________________________

1. Why do you think “thieves and bandits” is a good description of false messiahs, false prophets, false teachers, and false religious leaders?

 

2. As the sheep of God, what are some things we can do so we do not get tricked into listening to religious, spiritual, or psychological “thieves and bandits”?

 

 3. What are some things God has done and does for His sheep to keep them safe?

 

 4. Why does Jesus speak so pointedly of there being only one gate, only one flock of sheep, and only one good shepherd?

 

5. Why might it have been important for Jesus to teach that His Father had commanded Him to use His own power when He laid down His life in death and when He took it up again in rising from the dead?

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. Why do you think “thieves and bandits” is a good description of false messiahs, false prophets, false teachers, and false religious leaders?A thief can steal without being seen, though perhaps he is caught later. A false prophet or false teacher can be a thief when they steal the faith and truth from someone without the person knowing what is happening until it is too late to stop the thief. Recovering the faith and the truth that has been stolen from someone is sometimes impossible and often difficult, even after the false prophet or false teacher has been exposed as a thief. A bandit is seen, though he is sometimes masked, when he uses threats or violence to commit a robbery. A false messiah or false teacher (prophet or leader) is a bandit when they use threats or violence to mentally or physically abuse someone in an effort to turn them from their ideas, their faith, their trust in God, or their understanding of the truth. If the “religious” bandit succeeds, they have robbed someone spiritually and have stolen the truth and commonsense from them. People who turn from God when they or their families are threatened, sometimes find it difficult to return to their beliefs.

 

2. As the sheep of God, what are some things we can do so we do not get tricked into listening to religious, spiritual, or psychological “thieves and bandits”?We can read and study the whole Bible, and learn the Bible’s teachings in the context of the whole Bible (so we will not be misled as the devil tried to mislead Jesus when the devil tempted Him by quoting Scripture). We can keep believing that the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of God, and keep trusting in the Bible and keep praying for the Holy Spirit to help us understand, interpret, and apply the Bible to our situations in life. We can memorize some important Bible verses and recall them to mind when tempted or threatened to believe differently. We can pray and trust in Jesus and the precious promises He has given us in the Bible. We do not need to debate the unbelieving thief or bandit, and we can always turn away from them mentally and spiritually, if we cannot turn from them physically. We can turn to God in trusting prayer for God’s help.

 

3. What are some things God has done and does for His sheep to keep them safe? God has given us His Word in the flesh, Jesus Christ. God has given us His Word in print, the Bible. God has given us pastors, teachers, evangelists, and others to teach us about Jesus, help us come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and give us godly and wise counsel as the Holy Spirit leads. God has given us the Church, and the Bible to help us know when a church is being faithful to God and when it has turned from God. God has given us a great variety of ways to learn more about Him and the Bible and the godly way to live, including radio, television, and the internet. God has filled with the Holy Spirit those who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and no one can take the Holy Spirit from His sheep. God has given us eternal life, so if we lose our physical lives for His sake, we can live with God forever in heaven and someday on the new earth.

 

 4. Why does Jesus speak so pointedly of there being only one gate, only one flock of sheep, and only one good shepherd?Because Jesus wanted to instill this truth within our hearts and minds. God provided only one Person to die for our sins so we could be justly and mercifully forgiven for our sins, and that one Person is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Only Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse us from our sins and prepare us spiritually for heaven and life on the new earth. Only Jesus Christ gives us the wisdom and power to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Only Jesus Christ helps us love our neighbors as we love ourselves. No other religion offers or promises all these blessings.

 

 5. Why might it have been important for Jesus to teach that His Father had commanded Him to use His own power when He laid down His life in death and when He took it up again in rising from the dead?  Jesus taught that He only did what His Father commanded Him to do. Jesus obeyed His Father in everything He said and did. He said that His words were the words of His Father. Therefore, He said that when you saw Him, you saw the Father. Some might have thought that Jesus had chosen to die of His own will and that Jesus chose to raise himself from the dead of His own will apart from what the Father wanted Him to do. Jesus wanted to teach that His Father and He were in perfect agreement regarding His life, way and time of death, and way and time of His resurrection. Only God could raise himself from the dead without external help, so in these words Jesus taught in advance that He was God and then He proved the fact by His way and time of death and resurrection.

 

 

Word Search

How to Know the Voice of Jesus

April 30, 2017

John 10:1-15

Name __________________________

 

I L N H F R H K M G D K S X W

P G T L X E Y S D U I Z I O S

H A E Z T N C A H C G O F L G

A T K V G W F V J S H E E P L

R E W A F O P E P E I Q I B H

I K T G E R L D Q B S R H K O

S E R A O J M I D V A U T X B

E E K B K C K E S W Y W S A W

E P B R V S S A B T A R X Y V

S E Y L T T B D H J E K H O P

R R H E R K N O W S T N I N C

A C A O S I B F L O W C S U D

G L Y U V Y D S C X E A G A J

R K O H G N H E E Y O L P M E

Q D E C D Y D S H E P H E R D

 

 

Pharisees

Sheep

Gate

Thief

Robber

Shepherd

Gatekeeper

Jesus

Listens

Knows

Voice

Saved

Steal

Kill

Destroy

Owner

Employee

Wolf

 

 

 

True and False Test

How to Know the Voice of Jesus

April 30, 2017

John 10:1-15

Name ______________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. The Pharisees understood Jesus’ parables about them. True or False

 

2. Jesus compared some religious leaders and teachers to thieves and robbers. True or False

 

3. Jesus compared the Father to a gatekeeper. True or False

 

4. Jesus compared himself to a shepherd. True or False

 

5. Jesus compared His true followers to sheep. True or False

 

6. Jesus compared the Pharisees to the gates of a sheepfold. True or False

 

7. Jesus said His true followers knew His voice and would follow Him. True or False

 

8. Jesus came to save us and give us eternal life. True or False

 

9. Because He is the good shepherd, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. True or False

 

10. Jesus knows His sheep just as the Father knows Him, and Jesus’ sheep know Him just as He knows the Father. True or False

 

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

John 10:1-15

Sunday, April 30, 2017

 

1.    False

2.    True

3.    True

4.    True

5.    True

6.    False

7.    True

8.    True

9.    True

10.True

10.

 

 

Prayer

 

Father, we commit ourselves to follow Your Son, to be secure in what He provides, to honor the life He gave for us as we give freely of ourselves for others. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.