Today’s key chapter contains what is known as the “Good Shepherd Discourse.” In this important sermon Jesus used the metaphor of a shepherd and his flock to describe His relationship with His followers.
The context should be considered here: Jesus was talking to the Pharisees who had just excommunicated the blind man He healed. Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd” (v.11) — good in contrast to the Pharisees who were bad shepherds. They were the thieves, robbers, and cowardly hired hands who did not truly care for the sheep. Jesus had come to lead His sheep out from under the shepherds of Judaism and into Christianity. The “other sheep” of verse 16 are the Gentile believers who would unite with Jewish believers under Jesus, forming one great flock under one great shepherd. This is the church, the flock of Jesus.
This passage teaches that as the Good Shepherd, Jesus saves the sheep (v.9). The only way into the flock of salvation is through Him — Jesus is “the door of the sheep” (v.7). Jesus leads the sheep, and we follow His voice (His commands and teachings, v.27). Jesus lays down His life for the sheep (v.11, 15). He willingly did so, dying for our sins and rising from the dead (v.18).
By laying down His life, Jesus made life possible and available to us. This life is both abundant (a unique quality of life) and eternal (an unending quantity of life). And our Good Shepherd protects the life He gives us, keeping us safe from predators (v.12-14) and from being stolen out of His care (v.28-30).
Reality check (v.26-27): Are you part of Jesus’ flock? Are you listening to His voice? Are you following His lead?
I notice in this chapter that it is the same today as it was then: when people hear the gospel and see how Jesus can change lives, many will believe and be saved (v.42). Jesus went “across the Jordan” to reach them (v.40). Are you willing to follow Him across the street, across the classroom, across the office, or across the county with the gospel?
Many will believe if we tell them, but others will reject the message. When Jesus preached, some wanted to kill Him (v.31), some misunderstood Him (v.6), and some said He was crazy (v.20). If someone rejects your witness today, just move on and remember that Jesus was rejected, too.