“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him, the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”.
Understanding And Applying the Text
A monk added the chapters and verses to the scriptures in the 16th century. He added them to aid scholars in looking up text in the Bible. The chapter breaks are not part of the inspired word of God. In the main they are helpful. But in this case, the chapter break is not helpful. It distracts from the continuity of the story. The break may cause us to forget this passage is part of a larger discourse. Jesus was talking with the Pharisees after he gave a man born blind, his sight.
The Pharisees called Jesus a sinner. They excommunicated the man Jesus healed. They excommunicated him for saying Jesus was from God. Jesus has just said, “For judgment, I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” The Pharisees understood Jesus was talking about them. They asked, “Are we also blind?” This is the continuation of Jesus response to that question. Jesus not only said they were blind, he said they were thieves and robbers. It is clear Jesus did not read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
The Pharisees were the pastors of the Church. Christ stripped them of that title. Christ said He is the Shepherd. But wait! Jesus only had a handful of followers. Pharisees had a large number believing their doctrines. They had large numbers following them. Isn’t that evidence God blessed their ministry? Christ also said those following the Pharisees are not the true Church.
The size of the congregation does not indicate a true Church. The number of followers does indicate a true shepherd. He could just be a good thief. In fact, you could make a case the small church is evidence of true teaching. (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:22-24)
The number of sheep a shepherd has does not the determine a true shepherd. Not all who claim to be part of the Church are part of the Church.
The one who enters by the door is a shepherd. Christ compares Himself to the door because He is the only way to the Church. There are many false shepherds today with large congregations. They do not proclaim Christ. They do not come to the Church through Christ. They insist on devotion to their vision. They insist the congregation honor their work. They insist the congregation follow them. They use Christian vocabulary. But they come on their own. They do not come through Christ.
The sheep flee from a stranger’s voice. We are to flee from the false shepherds. A true under-shepherd calls us to repentance. Churches today do not know how to hear Christ’s voice.
Going to a building on Sunday does not mean you went to Church. Listening to someone give a sermon does not mean you heard the Gospel. Christ calls us to repentance. The Gospel is about Christ’s atoning work.
But wait! Aren’t we told we are not to judge? “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) Being able to tell the difference between truth and a lie is not passing judgment. It is fleeing for your life. This a world of difference between discerning truth and error and passing judgment.
Yet when we point out the lack of Gospel, they blame us. They call us Schismatics. They say we disturb the peace of the Church. Yet the truth is if they submitted to Christ there would be no disturbance.
His sheep hear His voice. But why do they follow? They can distinguish shepherds from wolves and thieves. This is spiritual discernment. Those who belong to Christ discriminate between the truth of God and the false doctrines of men. When they hear the voice of false shepherds they flee. They do not stick around to see if they can turn the false shepherd into a good shepherd.
Anyone who does not come into the sheepfold through the doorway comes to do harm to the sheep. The shepherd enters the sheepfold through the door. He does not need to sneak into the sheepfold. Jesus says here He is both the door and the shepherd. There are pastors and others who are also called shepherds. But they are under-shepherds.
Christ is the door. The principal point is this. We need Christ first, last and always. No other way to the soul is available.
Christ said, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers.” We can understand the same as Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” This does not mean you can have other gods. But Jehovah must be number 1. It does not mean you cannot have a god before Jehovah was your god. It means you cannot have any other gods in His presence. Since He is omnipresent, you cannot have any other gods.
All who came before Christ are not those who came before Him in time. All who came before Christ are those who placed themselves ahead of, or instead of Christ. That is why this does not apply to Moses and the Prophets.
When Christ said, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” This gives us comfort. Believers are not in danger. We are safe. And Christ feeds us. The phrase “going in and out” is often used in scripture as describing normal daily living.
Christ comes that we may live. The false shepherd comes to destroy. They may even promise Christ. But they lead people away from Christ. Their pleasant demeanor hides their venomous lies.
“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Christ’s concern for our salvation is so great He lays down His life.
Augustine said this passage tells us about church government. It tells us what we ought to desire, avoid and tolerate within Church government. A Church well governed is safe. Christ is the good shepherd. He keeps the church safe through His agents. Men who are pastors of Christ flock submit to Christ. They show He is the actual shepherd.
In verse 12 Christ makes all pastors hired hands. The pastor does not own the flock. The congregation is not theirs. They are caretakers only. That is all. Christ said the hired hand flees when the wolves come. This is not to say it is OK. It is obvious it is not OK. Christ compares Himself to others. He proves His zeal and affection for His sheep, i.e. us. He holds this out as an example to His under-shepherds. A pastor is to prefer his flock or even a single sheep to His own life.
Christ’s reference to “sheep that are not of this fold” is a clear reference to Gentiles. His hearers may have understood Him to mean the northern tribes disperses in 2 Kings 17.
Christ said he must bring them into the fold. This should comfort us. What He says he will do, He will do. All who the Father has given Him He will gather into the fold. (John 6:37)
As Augustine’s commented on this passage, there are many wolves within the church. And there are many sheep outside the church.
Christ said there is one fold. And there is one shepherd. He will gather us into one body. And there is one holy universal Church. As Paul said, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Christ said he lays down His life on His own. No one takes His life. Here He calls our attention to the eternal purpose of the Father. He cared so much about our salvation, He gave us His great and excellent Son.
Repent and trust Him today.