Jesus is the gate, the good shepherd. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;” Jesus came to provide life to the full. The good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sheep, not so with the hired hand. In this passage Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees; some hear the lesson while others think he is insane. Odd isn’t it? Same story, same words, diametrically opposed reactions. Some things never change.John 10:1-21
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One Reply to “The good shepherd and his sheep, Jews divided”
As I begin to look at this passage, I can’t help but provide the Pulpit Commentary’s first sentence: “The discourse which now follows was the Lord’s parabolic or allegoric reply to the conduct of the Pharisaic malignants.” Wow! Now that is a loaded statement! Yet when we read the allegory, we see that Jesus is being quite direct even though he speaks in common terms of the shepherd and his sheep. He does not mince words.
“…I tell you Pharisees…” Jesus addresses the Pharisees who must have separated themselves from the larger group to try and understand who he was, at least that’s my perspective here. The group that excommunicated the man Jesus healed has concluded its session, but there are many who are lingering about trying to figure out what’s next. The last words of this passage indicate they’re still talking about the man born blind who can now see. As Jesus told his disciples, “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed” (John 9:3).
Listen Pharisees, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he is The Gate, but don’t expect to recognize his voice because you are listening to a different shepherd, following a different path and living in a different pasture — all of your own accord. Sheep are not intelligent. The whole metaphor of sheep is a bit demeaning, but it’s used frequently because it is well known in that society and easy for us to appreciate in our “modern” society. The do however listen to the voice of the shepherd, the one who is there to protect them. Their blindness is related to ignorance more than eyesight, but we can draw the parallel very easily. They don’t see well–the Pharisees don’t see well either. The former from DNA, the latter by choice.
The Pharisees possess the capability of understanding. I’m led to believe they were truly intelligent men, thinkers and philosophers, those who could memorize large chunks of Scripture had minds that were sharp, yet they could not see Jesus as the Messiah right in front of them. As I continue to study Apologetics there are so many references to the super intelligent PhDs that I sincerely appreciate why the people listen to the Pharisees. Their arguments are convincing, well thought out and spoken in terms that people respected as wisdom. However, there is this one distinction: they were wrong. Now I sound like a Pharisee! Maybe, but I’m not claiming to be the one who is right. Rather, I prefer to point to Jesus. Jesus is the I am:
This is a great distinction drawn here between the thief and the shepherd. It’s hard to think like a thief, but it’s not hard to appreciate their motivation is only to exploit those who are weak, to take advantage of their knowledge to gain that which doesn’t belong to them. I don’t think the Pharisees considered Jesus was comparing them to thieves, they were above that, but if you look at the text and consider those who have positions of power today, they are indeed thieves of the worst kind. Misleading, misguiding, intentionally directing people to go one way rather than the right way, these are the actions of thieves.
Jesus lays out this story for those who would hear. As usual, some did and some didn’t. We should learn something from this as we try to break down barriers constructed by those who don’t know Christ: some will hear and some will not. Seriously, if Jesus couldn’t get through to these Pharisees, why should I think I can get through to those who have staunchly decided not to hear the Word of God? My job, our job, is to tell the story and let the Holy Spirit do the work. Of course, in telling the story, we need to continuously examine our motivation and make sure we are speaking in love and not in manipulation, not taking advantage of our position, whatever we perceive that to be. Lord help us to hear your voice clearly, to follow your lead.