The Good Shepherd

by Mike Ratliff

Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· (John 10:11 NA27)

I am the Good Shepherd. The good one lays down his life for the sheep. (a personal translation of John 10:11 from the NA27 Greek text)

In our last post, The Son of Man is the Good Shepherd, we looked closely at John 9 and the Lord’s healing of the man born blind. This caused a large confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders who could not refute the healing, but refused to believe that Jesus was from God because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus absolutely refused to conform to their religious expectations in any way. There was not one iota of compromise in His method of ministry in order to be as “inclusive” as possible. No, after the fact, after these men had cast the man whom Jesus had healed out of the Synagogue, Jesus found and as we see in John 9:35-41,  this man believed and worshiped our Lord, but those who refused to believe, our Lord confronted further saying that they had no excuse for their unbelief since they claimed to believe the Law and the Prophets, which our Lord was fulfilling with His life and ministry. Then in John 10:1-6 He makes it very clear that all leaders like them are false shepherds of the people. He makes it clear that the true sheep hear the voice of the true shepherd and follow Him, referring to Himself. Now we come to John 10:7-21. 

Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων. πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον [πρὸ ἐμοῦ] κλέπται εἰσὶν καὶ λῃσταί, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἤκουσαν αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι᾽ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ σωθήσεται καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει. ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· ὁ μισθωτὸς καὶ οὐκ ὢν ποιμήν, οὗ οὐκ ἔστιν τὰ πρόβατα ἴδια, θεωρεῖ τὸν λύκον ἐρχόμενον καὶ ἀφίησιν τὰ πρόβατα καὶ φεύγει – καὶ ὁ λύκος ἁρπάζει αὐτὰ καὶ σκορπίζει – ὅτι μισθωτός ἐστιν καὶ οὐ μέλει αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν προβάτων. Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς καὶ γινώσκω τὰ ἐμὰ καὶ γινώσκουσί με τὰ ἐμά, καθὼς γινώσκει με ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ γινώσκω τὸν πατέρα, καὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου τίθημι ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων. καὶ ἄλλα πρόβατα ἔχω ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τῆς αὐλῆς ταύτης· κἀκεῖνα δεῖ με ἀγαγεῖν καὶ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούσουσιν, καὶ γενήσονται μία ποίμνη, εἷς ποιμήν. Διὰ τοῦτό με ὁ πατὴρ ἀγαπᾷ ὅτι ἐγὼ τίθημι τὴν ψυχήν μου, ἵνα πάλιν λάβω αὐτήν. οὐδεὶς αἴρει αὐτὴν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐγὼ τίθημι αὐτὴν ἀπ᾽ ἐμαυτοῦ. ἐξουσίαν ἔχω θεῖναι αὐτήν, καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχω πάλιν λαβεῖν αὐτήν· ταύτην τὴν ἐντολὴν ἔλαβον παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου. Σχίσμα πάλιν ἐγένετο ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις διὰ τοὺς λόγους τούτους. ἔλεγον δὲ πολλοὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν· δαιμόνιον ἔχει καὶ μαίνεται· τί αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε; ἄλλοι ἔλεγον· ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα οὐκ ἔστιν δαιμονιζομένου· μὴ δαιμόνιον δύναται τυφλῶν ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀνοῖξαι; (John 10:7-21 NA27)

Therefore, Jesus said again, “Amen, amen I say to you that 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 through me, he will be saved and will go in and out and will find pasture. The thief does not come except in order that he may steal, kill, and destroy. I cam that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The good one lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, not being a shepherd of his own sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees and the wolf seizes them and scatters them because he is a hireling and it does not matter to him about the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine and mine know Me. Just as I know my Father and my Father knows me, so also I lay my life down for the sheep, and other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Those it is also necessary for me to bring, and my voice they will hear, and they will become one flock with one Shepherd. Therefore, 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 myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” There was a division again among the Jews because of these words. Many were saying because of them, “He has a demon, and He is mad, why do you listen to Him?” Others said, “These words are not of one who is demon possessed. Can a demon open the eyes of a blind man?” (a personal translation of John 10:7-21 from the NA27 Greek text)

Once again, our Lord plainly lays it out there with no gray areas of compromise. We learn several things here. There is a specific people who are the sheep in the two folds who make up the flock of our Lord. They are the ones who hear His voice, believe the Gospel, repent, and are saved. No one else does. Jesus’ death, His laying down of His life and taking it up again was His propitiatory work on the Cross as the Father imputed the sins of those in those two folds to the Son. His death paid the penalty for their sins. His taking up of his life again was his resurrection and that means that all of us in Him who have believed, have that blessed hope of being resurrected as well.

We also learn in this passage that all who claim to be Christian leaders, but who corrupt the Gospel and or lead the sheep astray or expose them to wolves in sheep’s clothing, are only hirelings, not true shepherds at all. That is why when we have these pastors recommending that is perfectly fine for their people to be exposed to the teachings of heretics and apostates then we know that that person is just a hireling. Real Pastors care for the sheep and warn them about these things. In our culture and greatest sin is offending someone, but as you can see, our Lord had no issues with risking that one and neither should we.

Lastly, notice that when Jesus’ words are really heard, they always cause division. They do not bring everyone together. Instead, some believe and the rest do not. Those who believe are usually reviled by those who do not and on it goes. We cannot let the fear of man stop us from obeying our Lord in sharing the Gospel and ministering as we are supposed to do.

Soli Deo Gloria!

(This is a repost from 6-19-2011. I am traveling and will return on April 11th. )