The Good Shepherd
One of the great images of Jesus is as the “good Shepherd” (10:11). First, He is the gate to the sheep pen, meaning that no one can enter the fold through any other means than Jesus Himself (10:1, 7–9). Only through Jesus Christ can anyone be made right with God leading to eternal life. Second, Jesus leads His sheep. No other voice is the true voice of leadership (10:3b–5). Third, as the good Shepherd, Jesus protects His flock—even to the point of death (10:11). Unlike someone who watches sheep for employment, Jesus is a Shepherd motivated by love for His sheep (10:12–13).
OVERVIEW: The shepherd leads the sheep rather than following them, and he gathers them in rather than letting them wander (CHRYSOLOGUS). He instructs them in Scripture, which is the door of entry into the sheepfold of Christ (CHRYSOSTOM). Those who confess the true Christ enter through that door (AUGUSTINE). Shepherds use the door while thieves use whatever entrance is possible (THEODORE), including the side door (CLEMENT). When the true shepherd enters by the door, he enters in by Christ (AUGUSTINE) and demonstrates he is a worthy shepherd by faithfully teaching the flock and keeping from them any doctrine that might lead to their slaughter (THEODORE)
BRINGING IN THE SHEEP. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS: Each year, when spring with its breezes begins to usher in the birth of so many sheep and to deposit the numerous young of the fruitful flock about the fields, the meadows and the paths, a good shepherd puts aside his songs and leisure. He anxiously searches for the tender little sheep, picks them up and gathers them together. Happy to carry them, he places them about his neck, on his shoulders and in his arms. He wants them to be safe as he carries or leads them to the protecting sheepfolds.
THE SHEPHERD OF THE SHEPHERDS. AUGUSTINE: Above he said that the good Shepherd entered through the door. If he is the Door, how does he enter through himself?…
Just as he knows the Father through himself and we know the Father through him, so he enters into the fold through himself and we enter through him. Through Christ we [pastors] have a door of entrance to you; and why? Because we preach Christ and therefore enter in through the door. But Christ preaches Christ too because he preaches himself; and so the Shepherd enters in through himself.… He is also the door to the Father, for there is no way of approach to the Father except through him.… And indeed brothers and sisters, because he is the Shepherd, he has permitted his members to bear the office of shepherd. Both Peter and Paul and all the other apostles were shepherds: all good bishops are shepherds. But none of us calls himself the door. TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 47.1, 3.