1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
19At these words the Jews were again divided. 20Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"
21But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
22Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one."
31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42And in that place many believed in Jesus. (NIV)
As we read through John, do not hesitate to ask any questions. As we are reading about a chapter a week, I am not covering nearly all there is to cover, but what God lays on my heart at the time. But don’t limit your thoughts just to mine. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read and ask questions. Your question may be what someone else is thinking.
We come to a passage that many people find very difficult. It is such a simple teaching, but hard for many to understand. Jesus talks about us as sheep and he is both shepherd and gate to safety for the sheep. The message is clear that we can only come to have eternal life through Christ. We see in verse 6, the people did not understand. So Jesus makes it clear in the next few paragraphs.
He says he is the gate through which we pass. He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for us. We have the benefit of Good Friday and Easter to help us understand this passage. So did the readers. But to those hearing Jesus for the first time, did not. It hadn’t happened yet. And then he says he knows all those who follow him. What a great wonder that Jesus knows you and all about you. And then he concludes that he has all this because he lays his life down for all of us. He says it was his to choose to lay down or not. Jesus chose to die for you so that you might have life. Jesus freely did this out of love and that is what makes this so wonderful.
Then we read that there is a confrontation. The people want him to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. His response is, I have been telling you, but those who do not wish to follow me are not hearing it. And that is so true of us humans. So often, we hear what we want to hear. We even hear things that are not true. We hear that we are worthless or unlovable. But Christ speaks words to us that says we are worthy of his love and we are very much loved. We are of value and that is why he laid his life down for us.
We see in this passage that at the end, there were those who believed and those who did not. We choose whether to believe or not. Jesus does not force himself on us. We choose.
As you read this, what do you hear Christ speaking to you? Do you hear his words of love and acceptance? Do you hear his call to follow him every day? Or do you hear the voices of the world saying Christ is crazy and his teaching is bad? There are competing voices trying to get you to follow. Which will you follow?
Blessings and Peace