The Good Shepherd (v1-21)
John records 8 great identity declarations from Jesus. We have already read “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the World” and “Before Abraham was I am.” The fourth is this: “I am the Good Shepherd.”
1. He’s not a here to steal the sheep, but has been authorized by God ‘the watchman’ to come and gather his sheep.
2. His sheep recognize his voice.
3. He is the gate for the sheep: he is the one who leads them in and out for safety and pasture.
4. He has come to give life, while thieves only come to kill and destroy.
5. He lays down his life for the sheep. When he sees evil approaching his sheep, he defends them.
6. He knows his sheep, not only those in Israel. He will soon gather all the father’s flocks together, from every nation on earth.
Central to his role of Shepherd is this laying down of his life: it is repeated 5 times here, and his resurrection is referred to twice. It sounds like the repeated reference to his death is why some scoff at him, “No one is trying to kill you,” they think. They did not believe he was in danger, yet he was less than two weeks from being Crucified.
Belief and Unbelief. (22ff.) Jesus is being clearer than ever in openly saying he is the Christ. Now when people ask who he is, he answers first by pointing to his miracles and then declaring, “I and the Father are one.” The answer seems too much for them, they think it is blasphemy (and it would be, if he were lying).
Jesus points out that, in the truth of Scripture, God calls all people ‘gods,’ (in a slightly sarcastic way), yet if it is OK for every day people to be referred to as ‘gods’, how much more is the one God sent into the world able to be called the Son of God? But they do understand that Jesus is again presenting himself as equal to God, and they continue to oppose him. What would it take to get them to accept that these claims Jesus makes are true?
In a brief segue, Jesus returns to the Jordan River, where those who remembered John’s ministry believe in Jesus and are brought to salvation.