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The gate and the shepherd

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The Gate and the Shepherd (John 10:7-18)

The magnificent teaching in John 10 is a comment on the sorry scene in John 9. Jesus had given sight to a man blind from birth. The Pharisees then "threw him out" of the temple (v. 34). As the Good Shepherd, Jesus found him and brought him into spiritual life (v. 35): The religious establishment of Jesus' day was pseudoministers who did not really care for the people. Jesus compared them to hireling shepherds who fled in the moment of need.

Jesus contrasts Himself to the false religious leaders. He, by implication, contrasts His true ministers with false ministers. Jesus acts as the Gate to His church and as the Shepherd to His sheep.

Jesus Serves as the Gate for His church

Jesus serves exclusively as the Gate (vv. 7, 9). Twice in the Greek He makes the emphatic statement, "I, and I alone, am the Gate." Jesus declared that all approach to the fold must be "through me" (v. 9). The claim of Jesus Christ is an exclusive claim. He is the Gate into the fold (the church) for both His shepherds and His sheep. Both His ministers and every believer must come in by that one exclusive gate. Notice that He is the gate "for the sheep." The sheep are more important than the fold, the living people more important than the institutional church that enfolds them. The fold exists for the sheep, and not the reverse.

Jesus serves benevolently as the Gate (v. 9). The shepherds and the sheep—the ministers and the people—who use only Jesus as the Gate will find security ("will be saved"), liberty ("will go in and out"), and support ("find pasture"). He is only and always the Gate to life and abundance. He gives life as an enduring possession and an overflow of all that makes for life (v. 10b).

Jesus serves protectively as the Gate (v. 8, 10a). Contrasted to the bright picture of the Gate is the dark picture of those who refuse to use the Gate. The religious establishment of Jesus' day harmed the sheep. Rather than giving life, they were thieves and robbers. Rather than giving abundance, they destroyed even the sheep. The words stand as a solemn warning concerning bogus religious leaders in every generation.

Jesus Serves as the Good Shepherd for His Sheep

Jesus serves exclusively as the Good Shepherd (vv. 11, 14). Twice He emphatically states, "I, and I alone, am the Good Shepherd." The language indicates that He is in a class by Himself as a beautiful, noble Shepherd. There are two contrasts here. None of His under-shepherd ministers are as good as He is. In contrast to all false religious leaders, He alone is the Good Shepherd.

Jesus serves sacrificially as the Good Shepherd (vv. 11, 17-18). Usually, the sheep served as a blood sacrifice for the shepherd. Uniquely, Jesus acted as a blood sacrifice for the sheep. He did this in a voluntary way (v. 18). He did it in an effective way. He not only laid down His life, but took it up again. Had He only abandoned His sheep in His death, they would today have no Shepherd. Many have died for others. Only the Good Shepherd died and took up His life again for others. The words emphasize, in the strongest way, a substitutionary death for others.

Jesus serves knowledgeably as the Good Shepherd (vv. 14-15). Four times in two verses Jesus uses the word "know." The word suggests affectionate knowledge that comes from experience and appreciation. He dares to say that the mutual knowledge of the shepherd and sheep reflects the knowledge of Father and Son. All of His sheep want to sing "Savior, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need thy tender care."

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