John 10 – The Good Shepherd
A. Contrast between the Good Shepherd and the false shepherds of Israel.
1. (1-2) Jesus is the true, legitimate shepherd, who enters in the way that is proper and prepared.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”
a. Most assuredly, I say to you: This follows – at least thematically – in John’s gospel after the great conflict with the religious leaders regarding the man born blind. The religious leaders had shown themselves to be so unhelpful and cruel to the man, his parents, and the common people in general that Jesus felt it necessary to talk about the contrast between His heart and work as a leader to God’s people and the heart and work of many of the religious leaders of His day.
i. Most assuredly: “This is a phrase peculiar to the fourth Gospel, and it generally introduces a solemn asseveration about Jesus or his mission.” (Tenney)
b. He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other say, the same is a thief and a robber: Political and spiritual leaders were often called shepherds in the ancient world (Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 3:15). Jesus explained that not everyone among the sheep is a true shepherd; some are like thieves and robbers. One mark of their being a thief and a robber is how they gain entry among the sheep.
i. The idea is that there is a door, a proper way to gain entry. Not everyone who stands among the sheep comes that way. Some climb up some other way.
ii. The religious leaders gained their place among God’s people – the sheep spoken of here – through personal and political connections, through formal education, through ambition, manipulation, and corruption.
c. He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep: A true shepherd comes in the legitimate and designed way: through love, calling, care, and sacrificial service.
i. God always intended that His people be led, fed, and protected by those who come in the legitimate, intended way. The door is there for a reason. Some will always climb over the barriers, but God has the barriers and the door there for a reason.
ii. “Whoever, therefore, enters not by Jesus Christ into the pastoral office, is no other than a thief and a robber in the sheepfold. And he enters not by Jesus Christ who enters with a prospect of any other interest besides that of Christ and his people. Ambition, avarice, love of ease, a desire to enjoy the conveniences of life, to be distinguished from the crowd, to promote the interests of one’s family, and even the sole design of providing against want-these are all ways by which thieves and robbers enter into the Church. And whoever enters by any of these ways, or by simony, craft, solicitation, &c. deserves no better name.” (Clarke)
2. (3-6) The sheep and their shepherd.
“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
a. To him the doorkeeper opens: In the spiritual picture Jesus spoke of, the door for the sheep pen had a doorkeeper – one who watched who came in and who went out. The doorkeeper knows the true shepherd and appropriately grants him access.
i. In towns of that time, sheep from many flocks were kept for the night in a common sheepfold, overseen by one doorkeeper who regulated which shepherds brought and took which sheep.
b. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out: The shepherd calls the sheep by name, showing that the shepherd has a personal connection with the sheep. The shepherd leads them, providing direction and leadership – without driving the sheep.
i. “As we have names for horses, dogs, cows, so the Eastern shepherds for their sheep.” (Dods)
ii. “In my youth some shepherds in the Scottish Highlands not only called their individual sheep by name, but claimed that an individual sheep would recognize its own name and respond to it.” (Bruce)
iii. “In this Gospel, Jesus calls the following ‘sheep’ by name, Philip, Mary of Magdala, Thomas, and Simon Peter; and on each occasion it is a turning-point in the disciple’s life.” (Tasker)
iv. And leads them out: “It was the custom in the eastern countries for the shepherd to go at the head of his sheep, and they followed him from pasture to pasture.” (Clarke)
c. For they know his voice: In the common sheepfolds of ancient times, the shepherd merely gave his distinctive call and his sheep came out from the others, following him out of the sheepfold. Sheep are experts at discerning their shepherd’s voice.
i. “There is a story of a Scotch traveller who changed clothes with a Jerusalem shepherd and tried to lead the sheep: but the sheep followed the shepherds voice and not his clothes.” (Dods)
ii. During World War I, some soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The sleeping shepherd awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.
d. Jesus used this illustration: This is a picture both of the work of Jesus among His sheep and of what those who seek to serve among the sheep of Jesus should focus upon. Adam Clarke described six marks of the true and legitimate minister of God in these first six verses of John 10:
· He has a proper entrance into the ministry.
· He sees the Holy Spirit open his way as a doorkeeper to God’s sheep.
· He sees that the sheep respond to his voice in teaching and leadership.
· He is well acquainted with his flock.
· He leads the flock and does not drive them or lord it over them.
· He goes before the sheep as an example.
3. (7-10) The true shepherd protects and promotes life; the false shepherds take away life.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear 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 does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
a. I am the door of the sheep: Jesus used another picture from sheep farming in His time. Out in the pasturelands for sheep, pens were made with only one entrance. The door for those sheep pens was the shepherd himself. He laid his body across the entrance, to keep the sheep in and to keep out the wolves. The shepherd was in fact the door.
i. “Primarily uttered for the excommunicated man, these words conveyed the assurance that instead of being outcast by his attachment to Jesus he had gained admittance to the fellowship of God and all good men.” (Dods)
b. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: Thief implies deception and trickery; robber implies violence and destruction. These take away life but Jesus gives life and He gives it abundantly. These are the con men and muggers of the spiritual world.
i. Alford sees the all who have come before basically to be those religious leaders who were actually tools in Satan’s hand – as Jesus told some of these religious leaders that their father was actually the devil. “Because the Pharisees are blind leaders, they are also bogus shepherds, and come under the category of those designated in John 10:8 thieves and robbers.” (Tasker)
ii. “Jesus does not say that they ‘were’ but that they ‘are’ thieves and robbers. The emphasis is on His own day.” (Morris)
iii. “Manes (that made heretic) made an argument from this text against Moses and the prophets, as going before Christ. But Austin answereth, Moses and the prophets came not before Christ, but with Christ.” (Trapp)
iv. “Kleptes, and lestes, the thief and the robber, should be properly distinguished; one takes by cunning and stealth; the other openly and by violence. It would not be difficult to find bad ministers who answer to both these characters.” (Clarke)
c. But the sheep did not hear them: Jesus seems to say that His sheep are evident because they will not hear (follow after) the voice of the thieves and robbers who come after the sheep.
i. “They no doubt assumed authority over the people of God and compelled obedience, but the true children of God did not find in their voice that which attracted and led them to pasture.” (Dods)
d. He will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture: Jesus described the settled, satisfied life enjoyed by His sheep, those over whom He exercises a shepherd’s care.
i. Go in and out: “This phrase, in the style of the Hebrews, points out all the actions of a man’s life, and the liberty he has of acting, or not acting.” (Clarke)
ii. “To ‘go out and in’ is the common O.T. expression to denote the free activity of daily life. Jeremiah 37:4, Psalm 121:8, Deuteronomy 28:6.” (Dods)
e. I have come that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly: Jesus said this to contrast His shepherd-like care with unfaithful and illegitimate leaders. They come to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Jesus comes to bring life to His people.
i. “The Greek word for ‘abundance,’ perissos, has a mathematical meaning and generally denotes a surplus…The abundant life is above all the contented life, in which our contentment is based upon the fact that God is equal to every emergency and is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” (Boice)
· Abundant life isn’t an especially long life.
· Abundant life isn’t an easy, comfortable life.
· Abundant life is a life of satisfaction and contentment in Jesus.
ii. “Life is a matter of degrees. Some have life, but it flickers like a dying candle, and is indistinct as the fire in the smoking flax; others are full of life, and are bright and vehement.” (Spurgeon)
· Someone with a lot of life has stamina.
· Someone with a lot of life has increased energy.
· Someone with a lot of life has a large sphere of living.
· Someone with a lot of life has the ability to do things.
· Someone with a lot of life has an overflow of enjoyment.
· Someone with a lot of life has what it takes to win.
iii. Abundant life sheep give honor to the shepherd. They are a credit to him.
4. (11-15) The good shepherd will lay down his life for the flock.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
a. I am the good shepherd: Jesus said it so plainly there could be no mistake what He meant. He fulfills the ideal of shepherd-like care for the people of God as illustrated in the Old Testament and in that culture.
i. Jesus announced “Himself as THE GOOD SHEPHERD – the great antagonist of the robber – the pattern and Head of all good shepherds, as he of all thieves and robbers: the Messiah, in His best known and most loving office.” (Alford)
ii. What Jesus described as a good shepherd is actually a very remarkable shepherd. Shepherds may take risks for the safety of the sheep, but it is probably rare to find one who would willingly die for their sheep.
iii. “In the Latin tongue the word for money is akin to the word ‘sheep,’ because, to many of the first Romans, wool was their wealth, and their fortunes lay in their flocks. The Lord Jesus is our Shepherd: we are his wealth.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Gives His life for the sheep: “He is giving his life still. The life that is in the man Christ Jesus he is always giving for us. It is for us he lives, and because he lives we live also. He lives to plead for us. He lives to represent us in heaven. He lives to rule providence for us.” (Spurgeon)
b. Sees the wolf coming: It was assumed that wild animals (the wolf) or bandits (the thieves and robbers previously mentioned) would threaten the sheep. The question was, “How will the shepherd respond?”
i. “The purposes of this wolf are the same as those of the thief in verse 10, and in the allegory he is the same; – the great Foe of the sheep of Christ.” (Alford)
c. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep: The bad shepherd (a hireling) will not defend the sheep and thinks the flock exists for his benefit, but the good shepherd lives and dies for the good of the sheep.
· The good shepherd sacrifices for the sheep (gives His life).
· The good shepherd knows his sheep (I know My sheep). We think of sheep as being all the same. The shepherd knows they are individuals with their own personalities and characteristics.
· The good shepherd is known by the sheep (and am known by My own).
i. “There is a mutually reciprocal knowledge between Jesus and His sheep. And the existence of this knowledge is the proof that He is the Shepherd.” (Dods)
ii. The faithful pastor will, as an under-shepherd, display the same characteristics as the Good Shepherd. He will sacrifice for the sheep, know the sheep, and be known by them. He will be a shepherd and not a hireling who does not care about the sheep. He can never hope to display these characteristics to the same extent as Jesus, but they should reflect his heart and his goal.
iii. “How many there are of whom we have reason to fear that they must be hirelings, because, when they see false doctrine and error abroad, they do not oppose it! They are willing to put up with anything for the sake of peace and quietness.” (Spurgeon)
iv. The title pastor translates the same ancient Greek word used here for shepherd. It is a title that is only rightfully earned, not granted or assumed.
d. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father: The work of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was rooted in His close relationship with His God and Father.
5. (16) Jesus speaks of other sheep.
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
a. Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: These other sheep are Gentile believers, not of the fold of Israel. Jesus said that He must bring these sheep also, who would also hear His voice.
i. “Do not imagine that I shall lay down my life for the Jews, exclusively of all other people; no: I shall die also for the Gentiles; for by the grace, the merciful design and loving purpose of God, I am to taste death for every man, Hebrew 2:9; and, though they are not of this fold now, those among them that believe shall be united with the believing Jews, and made one fold under one shepherd, Ephesians 2:13-17.” (Clarke)
b. There will be one flock: A fold of sheep is a part of the flock in its own structure or enclosure. A shepherd might separate the sheep into different groups to care for them better. There is one flock and one shepherd; but Jesus calls His sheep from more than one fold (group or structure of people).
i. “Nothing is said of unity of organisation. There may be various folds, though one flock.” (Dods)
ii. “What was to hold this enlarged flock together and supply the necessary protection from external enemies? Not enclosing walls by the person and power of the shepherd. The unity and safety of the people of Christ depend on their proximity to him.” (Bruce)
iii. “The unity comes from the fact, not that all the sheep are forced into one fold, but that they all hear, answer and obey one shepherd. It is not ecclesiastical unity; it is a unity of loyalty to Jesus Christ.” (Barclay)
iv. “All who are one with Christ have a certain family feeling, a higher form of clannishness, and they cannot shake it off. I have found myself reading a gracious book which has drawn nigh near to God, and though I have known that it was written by a man with whose opinions I had little agreement, I have not therefore refused to be edified by him in points which are unquestionably revealed. No, but I have blessed the Lord that, within all his blunders, he knew so much of precious vital truth, and lived so near his Lord.” (Spurgeon)
v. The early Christian Bible translator Jerome, when translating his influential Latin version mistakenly translated one fold instead of one flock in this verse. His Latin Vulgate reading is the erroneous foundation for a doctrine of Roman Catholic exclusiveness.
vi. “In Jerome’s version, Jesus seems to be saying that there is only one organization, and the obvious deduction was that there could therefore be no salvation outside the formal organization of the Roman Church. This became official Roman teaching.” (Boice)
6. (17-18) Jesus claims to have power over life and death.
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
a. Therefore My Father loves Me: God the Father saw the beauty of character and self-sacrifice in God the Son, and He loved the Son all the more because of it.
b. That I may take it again… I have power to take it again: In this sense, we can say that Jesus “raised Himself” from the dead. He had the power to lay down His life, and He had the power to take it up again.
i. “When any ordinary man dies he only pays ‘the debt of nature.’ If he were even to die for his friend, he would simply pay a little earlier that debt which he must pay ultimately, but the Christ was immortal, and he needed not to die except that he had put himself under covenant bonds to suffer for his sheep.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Anyone can lay down his life; only Jesus could take His life up again. Because Jesus has the power to take up His own life, it is evidence of His unique relationship with His Father.
iii. It doesn’t surprise us that the Watchtower (the Jehovah’s Witnesses) deny that Jesus could take His own life up again. Yet some others (such as modern faith movement teachers Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price, and others) teach that Jesus suffered as a victim in hell, and was saved only by the intervention of God the Father – that Jesus did not have power to take it again.
c. This command I have received from My Father: The death of Jesus was completely voluntary, but it was not an indirect suicide in any sense. It was part of a plan to submit to death and then to emerge from it victoriously alive, according to the command… received from God the Father.
7. (19-21) Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed and insane.
Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
a. Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings: Once again, Jesus is shown as the dividing line of humanity. Humanity divides between accepting or rejecting Jesus.
b. He has a demon and is mad: Jesus made such radical claims about Himself that people divided over Him. Some believe He was who He said He was. Others believed that anyone who claimed to be God as Jesus claimed must either have a demon or be mad.
i. William Barclay was right when wrote, “Either Jesus was a megalomaniac madman, or he was the Son of God.” By what we know of Jesus, is if fair to say that He was a madman?
· The words of Jesus were not the words of a madman; instead, they are supreme sanity.
· The deeds of Jesus were not the deeds of a megalomaniac; instead, they were utterly unselfish.
· The effect of Jesus wasn’t the effect of a madman; instead, He has changed millions for the good.
ii. “It was a wonder if the heavens did not sweat, the earth melt, and hell gape at the hearing of these horrid blasphemies.” (Trapp)
iii. “And what was he doing to merit all this? Why, he was instructing the ignorant, and telling the wretched that he was just going to die to save their souls! Amazing love of God, and ingratitude and obduracy of men!” (Barclay)
c. These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind? Miraculous works like opening the eyes of the blind can be a valid testimony, but only in concert with faithfulness to the word of God. These people were right in looking at both the works and the words of Jesus.
B. Jesus at the Feast of Dedication.
1. (22-23) The Feast of Dedication in wintertime.
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.
a. The Feast of Dedication: This feast (also known as Hanukkah) celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 or 165 B.C.).
i. After Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, he instituted a reign of terror upon the Jews of the city. Barclay notes:
· Antiochus stole millions in gold and silver from the temple treasury.
· Antiochus said that possessing a copy of the law was punishable by death.
· Antiochus said that circumcising a child was punishable by death.
· Under Antiochus mothers who did circumcise their children were to be crucified with their children hanging around their necks.
· Under Antiochus the temple was turned into a house of prostitution.
· Under Antiochus the great altar of burnt offering was turned into an altar unto the Greek god Zeus.
· Under Antiochus pigs were sacrificed upon the great altar.
· Under Antiochus 80,000 Jews were killed and an equal number were sold as slaves.
ii. The rise of the Maccabees ended these horrors. “It was told that when the Temple had been purified and the great sevenbranched candlestick re-lit, only one little cruse of unpolluted oil could be found. That cruse was still intact, and still sealed with the impress of the ring of the High Priest. By all normal measures, there was only oil enough in that cruse to light the lamps for one single day. But by a miracle it lasted for eight days, until new oil had been prepared according to the correct formula and had been consecrated for its sacred use.” (Barclay)
iii. It was winter: “Or, it was stormy or rainy weather.” (Clarke) “His meaning must be, ‘it was stormy weather,’ or ‘there was a storm blowing’.” (Trench)
b. Jesus walked in the temple: This is another confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders in the temple courts. However, Jesus does not seem to be teaching when this confrontation began.
i. Solomon’s porch: “Solomon’s colonnade was the name given to the portico which ran along the east side of the outer court of Herod’s temple. It is mentioned in Acts as the place where Peter addressed the crowd that congregated to see the man who had been cured of his lifelong lameness at the Beautiful Gate, and again as the place where the Jerusalem believers regularly gathered for their public witness to Jesus as the Christ (Acts 3:11; 5:12).” (Bruce)
ii. “It appears to have been a very old structure, and was popularly thought to have been part of Solomon’s temple, though this belief, of course, was not well founded.” (Morris)
2. (24-25) Jesus responds to the hostile question from the religious leaders.
Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.”
a. Then the Jews surrounded Him: It isn’t said that Jesus was at the temple teaching, merely that He walked in the temple (John 10:23). The sense is that this was a hostile ambush as Jesus simply walked.
i. “Here the Jews ‘ringed Him round,’ preventing His escape wand with hostile purpose.” (Dods)
b. How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly: The religious leaders (once again described as the Jews) refused to listen to or believe in Jesus. They hoped to blame Jesus for their unbelief (How long do You keep us in doubt?).
i. This was like telling the traffic cop that they should put up a speed limit sign every 100 yards – then you would keep the speed limit.
ii. “The Jews asked this question through extreme perfidiousness: they wished to get him to declare himself king of the Jews, that they might accuse him to the Roman governor; and by it they insolently insinuated that all the proofs he had hitherto given them of his Divine mission were good for nothing.” (Clarke)
c. I told you, and you do not believe: Jesus did not often specifically refer to Himself among the Jews as the Christ, the Messiah. He did this because messiah was a word with political and even military implications that Jesus wished to avoid. Yet Jesus could rightly say that in many ways, I told you and you do not believe.
· I told you, I am the one who came from heaven (John 3:13, 6:38).
· I told you, whoever believes on Me has eternal life (John 3:15).
· I told you, I am the unique Son of God (John 5:19-23).
· I told you, I will judge all humanity (John 5:19-23).
· I told you, all should honor Me just as the honor God the Father (John 5:19-23).
· I told you, the Hebrew Scriptures all speak of Me (John 5:39).
· I told you, I perfectly reveal God the Father (John 7:28-29).
· I told you, I always please God and never sin (John 8:29, 8:46).
· I told you, I am uniquely sent from God (John 8:42).
· I told you, before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58).
· I told you, I am the Son of Man, prophesied by Daniel (John 9:37).
· I told you, I will raise Myself from the dead (John 10:17-18).
· I told you, I am the Bread of Life (John 6:48).
· I told you, I am the Light of the World (John 8:12).
· I told you, I am the Door (John 10:9).
· I told you, I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
i. The problem wasn’t that Jesus was unclear about who He was and where He came from. The problem was that the religious leaders had hearts of unbelief that they wanted to blame on Jesus.
ii. “Notice His ‘ye believe not’. It denotes a present attitude, and not simply a past state, and it indicates the root trouble.” (Morris)
iii. Jesus more specifically revealed Himself as Messiah to those not part of the Jewish community, such as the Samaritan woman of John 4:1-26. With these there was less chance of misunderstanding whom Jesus was and what He came to do.
d. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me: Jesus had told them by His words who He was. Yet, the works Jesus also demonstrated that He was from God, and that He was true to His word.
i. “These works tell you what I am. They are works done in my Father’s name, that is, wholly as His representative. These show what kind of Christ He sends you and that I am He.” (Dods)
3. (26-29) Jesus speaks plainly to the religious leaders about their condition.
“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
a. You do not believe, because you are not My sheep: The religious leaders wanted Jesus to speak plainly, and here He spoke more plainly than they probably wanted. Jesus previously told them they were not true shepherds (John 10:5, 10:8, 10:10, 10:12-13). Here Jesus told them they were not even true sheep, because the Messiah’s sheep believe and hear His voice.
i. “They are not only untrustworthy shepherds of God’s people, but are showing that they ought no longer to be classed among the sheep that pay attention to His voice.” (Tasker)
ii. “Your unbelief is just an evidence that you were not chosen, that you have not been called by the Spirit of God, and that you are still in your sins.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Any person who reads without prejudice may easily see, that our Lord does not at all insinuate that these persons could not believe, because God had made it impossible to them; but simply because they did not hear and follow Christ, which the whole of our blessed Lord’s discourse proves that they might have done.” (Clarke)
b. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: Jesus described the benefits and blessings that come to His sheep. They have eternal life, given by Jesus. This eternal life begins now, but is greater than physical life.
i. “We should not overlook the point that in fact eternal life does not end. It is this aspect that is prominent here.” (Morris)
ii. “Physical life may be destroyed, but those who are united by faith to the Son of God, those who belong to the flock of the true Shepherd, can never lose real life, for he keeps it secure.” (Bruce)
iii. “The one way by which a soul is saved is by that soul’s abiding in Christ; if it did not abide in Christ, it would be cast forth as a branch and be withered. But, then, we know that they who are grafted into Christ will abide in Christ.” (Spurgeon)
c. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand: It is to be expected that the Good Shepherd would take good care of His sheep. The sheep are safe and secure in hand of the Good Shepherd.
d. No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand: God’s sheep find safety in the both the hand of the Good Shepherd and God the Father. It’s comforting to know that the hands that created the world hold on to the believer.
i. My Father is greater than all: “More powerful than all the united energies of men and demons. He who loves God must be happy; and he who fears him need fear nothing on this side eternity.” (Clarke)
4. (30-33) Jesus declares His unity with the Father.
“I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
a. I and My Father are one: This is an important statement regarding the deity of Jesus and the nature of the Godhead. I and My Father means that the Father and the Son are not the same Person, refuting the “Jesus Only” doctrine (anciently known as Sabelianism). Are one means that the Father and the Son are equal in nature, in essence, what they really are – refuting the teaching that Jesus isn’t God (anciently known as Arianism).
i. “One in essence primarily, but therefore also one in working, and POWER, and in will.” (Alford)
ii. “Notice, one is neuter in gender, not masculine: the Father and the Son are not personally one, but essentially.” (Alford) “In the sentence, ‘I and the Father are One,’ the word ‘One’ is neuter, and means one Essence: it is not masculine, which would have been one Person.” (Trench)
iii. Opponents of the deity of Jesus say that the oneness Jesus had with the Father was nothing more than a unity of purpose and mission – even as a husband and wife or father and son may have a unity of purpose of mission, yet still they are not the same person. This however misses the point. First, we never argue that the Bible teaches that the Father and the Son are the same Person – they are one God, but distinct in their Persons. Second, it misses the most obvious point: that even true unity of purpose and mission between a husband and wife or father and son exist only because they are each equally and totally human. The Father and the Son have this unique unity because they are equally and totally God – that is, Divine Being.
iv. Jesus wanted us to be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11, 17:21). Such oneness cannot exist without an equality of essence, and all believers have this equality (Galatians 3:26-28), even as the Father and Son have this equality.
v. Many good works I have shown you from My Father: “All his works were done by the Father’s direction (John 5:19); they were ‘good works’ (erge kala, ‘beautiful works’) not only because they were acts of obedience to the Father but also because they were acts of blessing to men.” (Bruce)
b. The Jews took up stones again to stone Him: The fact that the religious leaders considered the statement “I and the Father are one” to be blasphemy proves that Jesus spoke of much more than a unity of purpose and will. They were wrong in their response, but they understood what Jesus said.
i. “The Greek really means that they went and fetched stones to fling at him.” (Barclay)
ii. It’s clear that they lost the argument. They could point to nothing in the words or works of Jesus that showed He was not the Messiah.
iii. “It was laid down in the Law that blasphemy was to be punished by stoning (Leviticus 24:16). But these men were not allowing the due processes of law to take their course.” (Morris)
iv. “If they cannot answer holy arguments with fair reasonings, they can give hard answers with stones. If you cannot destroy the reasoning, you may, perhaps, destroy the reasoner.” (Spurgeon)
c. Because You, being a Man, make Yourself God: The Jews of Jesus’ day clearly understood what the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others seem to miss – that Jesus clearly claimed to be God.
i. “He is not ‘making himself God’; he is not ‘making himself’ anything, but in word and work he is showing himself to be what he truly is – the Son sent by the Father to bring life and light to mankind.” (Bruce)
ii. “It was blasphemy for a man to claim to be God. And it is noteworthy that Jesus never manifests indignation when charged with making Himself God; yet were He a mere man no one could view this sin with stronger abhorrence.” (Dods)
5. (34-39) Jesus reasons from Psalm 82, and from His works.
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
a. Jesus answered them: The religious leaders surrounded Jesus (John 10:24) and now held rocks to stone Him to death (John 10:31). Jesus didn’t panic and didn’t run; He stopped them with the power of His word. He answered them as an educated rabbi would speak to other educated rabbis.
i. “Jesus rebuts their charge of blasphemy by means of an argument from scripture, of a kind with which they themselves were quite familiar…His question would have made an interesting issue for a rabbinical debate.” (Bruce)
b. Is it not written in your law, “I said, ‘You are gods’”: The judges of Psalm 82 were called “gods” because in their office they determined the fate of other men. Also, in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, God called earthly judges “gods.”
i. “The word law here is in its widest acceptation, – the whole Old Testament, as [John] chapter 12:34; 15:25.” (Alford)
ii. “They were entitled to be so designated, for they represented, however imperfectly, the divine will in so far as they were called upon to administer God’s word.” (Tasker)
c. If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came: Jesus reasoned, “If God gave these unjust judges the title ‘gods’ because of their office, why do you consider it blasphemy that I call Myself the ‘Son of God’ in light of the testimony of Me and My works?”
i. “The argument is from the greater to the less. If in any sense they could be called gods – how much more properly He.” (Alford)
ii. Jesus did not take the statement “you are gods” in Psalm 82 and apply it to all humanity or to all believers. The use of gods in Psalm 82 was a metaphor. Jesus spoke of that metaphor to expose both the ignorance and inconsistency of His accusers.
iii. “The deeper aim of this argument is, to show them that the idea of man and God being one, was not alien from their Old Testament spirit, but set forth there in types and shadows of Him, the real God-Man.” (Alford)
d. And the Scripture cannot be broken: This is a general rule for all Scripture, but Jesus applied it here to a fairly obscure passage where the essential point rested on one word God used to refer to human judges. It is a remarkable demonstration that the specific words of Scripture are inspired, not only the broad themes and ideas.
i. “It means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous.” (Morris)
ii. “‘Scripture cannot be annulled’ or ‘made void’ (Mark 7:13); it cannot be set aside when its teaching is inconvenient. What is written remains written.” (Bruce)
iii. “Notice that he says this, not in connection with some declaration which might be regarded as among the key declarations of the Old Testament, but of what we might perhaps call without disrespect a rather run-of-the-mill passage.” (Morris)
iv. The word of God can’t be broken; it breaks whatever opposes it.
e. Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world: This was a wonderful way for Jesus to speak of Himself. He is the One whom the Father sanctified, and the One whom the Father sent into the world.
i. “The judges as well as the lawgivers and prophets of the old dispensation, as it is pointed out in verse 35, were those unto whom the word of God came, while Jesus is Himself sent by God, the very Word of God made flesh.” (Tasker)
ii. That you may know and believe: “The former of these is the introductory act, the latter the abiding state, of the knowledge spoken of.” (Alford)
f. Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand: Once again, the enemies of Jesus were unable to carry out their violent plan against Jesus.
i. “He went forth out of that closing circle – the power that emanated from Him preventing their laying hands on Him: it was the same power that he allowed to issue from Him on the night of His arrest.” (Trench)
6. (40-42) Jesus goes across the Jordan and any believe.
And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” And many believed in Him there.
a. He went away again beyond the Jordan: Jesus did not remain in Jerusalem among the hostile religious leaders. Knowing the time was short but not yet for His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus went beyond the Jordan.
i. “Perea was the domain of Herod Antipas, where the rulers in Jerusalem had no authority. Jesus would be safe from harassment there – at least temporarily.” (Tenney)
ii. “In the place where one might have thought He would be welcomed men tried to stone Him. Now in despised Perea men believed on Him.” (Morris)
iii. “If, my dear brother, speaking in Christ’s name, you find that you have no place in such and such a town, it may be the Spirit’s will that you should remove to a people who will receive you. Possibly in a place which promises less you may gain more. Bethabara may yield converts when Jerusalem only yields persecutors.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “He always armed himself to meet me by first meeting God. That is why he retired to the other side of the Jordan. He was not running away: he was preparing himself for the final contest.” (Barclay)
b. John performed no sign: It is of both interest and significance that as remarkable as the ministry of John the Baptist was, it was popularly known that he performed no miracles. Yet, everything he said about Jesus was true (all the things that John spoke about this Man were true).
i. “‘And they kept saying (implied), “John (strongly emphatic in the Greek) did no sign,”’ implying that Jesus did many here.” (Trench)
ii. This shows us something about the place of miracles in the normal Christian life.
· John didn’t do any miracles, but he had a high character.
· John didn’t do any miracles, but he had special work to do.
· John didn’t do any miracles, but he had a deep and lasting influence.
· John didn’t do any miracles, but he won the highest praise of Jesus.
iii. “We are so apt to think that special service is only given to very special people, that great tasks are not for common folk but for men of wonder-working gifts.” (Morrison)
c. Then many came to Him… many believed in Him there: Jesus still faced great opposition from the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and their greatest act of opposition was just about to begin. Yet many people still came to Jesus. God’s work went on, despite the opposition of man.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission