Summary: How Jesus compares himself to the shepherd and door of the sheep.
SBC Philippi, 3/19/06 am; Rev. Jeff Simms
Jesus the Good Shepherd; John 10:1-18
Jesus the Good Shepherd
Primary Purpose: How Jesus compares to a good shepherd and door of the sheep.
Jesus actually uses two common analogies to compare himself to his relationship to his sheep in this passage. He is both the door of the sheep and the shepherd. Some people believe that the door is comparable to the shepherd because when the shepherd would sometimes laid down at night he would lay down in the doorway and in effect become the door or entryway to the sheep. That may be part of the idea here, but there is more to it than that. The analogy of God being the Shepherd though is not a new one and is found in several places in the Old Testament.
If you notice in Ezekiel 34:13-16; 22-24 the Lord compares himself to a loving shepherd who cares for his scattered sheep. He leads them to good pasture and they experience safety and contentment. God promises in verse 22 to deliver his flock from prey. This picture is also repeated in Psalm 78:52-53 where it calls God one who led forth his own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. That would be a reference to when God guided his people across the wilderness to the promise land. (see also Psalm 77:20) Then again, we all probably know the verses in Psalm 23 where it says the “Lord is My Shepherd”. That favorite psalm contains the promise that He will lead us to still waters and restore the soul. So, when Jesus begins talking about himself as a Shepherd caring for the sheep it shouldn’t have been a hard idea for the people to follow. Interestingly, they seem confused about his analogy vs.6.
We should understand what Jesus says here in Chapter 10 with what came before in chapter 9. A blind man had been healed by Jesus. The man had been thrown out of the Sanhedrin for being a follower of Jesus. Then, Jesus came about and found the man John 9:35. Jesus sought out the man who the other leaders cast out. The man worshipped Jesus and heard and received what Jesus had to say. He is one example of the true sheep.
How is Jesus like the shepherd and the door? Let me give you a couple of possible ways that they were similar. First, by staying close to the shepherd the sheep were protected. In an enclosure at night, the sheep were protected because the shepherd was the only way in or out. But, during the day, the sheep could get hurt pretty easily if they wandered away from Him. Safety was staying close to him where you could hear his voice.
It reminds me of what David said to Saul one time in 1 Samuel 17:34,35 when he said, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him and rescued him from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. . . “ In an environment like that if you strayed away from the shepherd there would be no guarantee that the shepherd would hear your cry for help or get their in time before you got mauled. Likewise, if we want to stay safe under his care then we must stay close to the Lord.
If we take that analogy out a little further, we could say that sin creates distance between us and our shepherd. That is why confessing sin is so important to us. Sin creates a gulf between us and God. It doesn’t change the relationship, but it creates distance in the fellowship. Only by staying close to Him can we follow His voice and lead. We get into trouble exactly the way the sheep did in Jesus’ day, when we try to create our own plans, our own paths. Safety comes from staying near him.
The analogy of shepherd and sheep speaks of personal relationship. The shepherd in Jesus’ day would have a small enough fold that they would individually name their sheep. Most shepherds believed that they would respond to their own names being called. The sheep would have experience with hearing the shepherds voice out in the fields and instinctively follow Him. That name may have something to do with their characteristics or a marking. The sheep also know the voice of the shepherd vs.4. They don’t follow the voice of a stranger, but they follow Jesus.
The analogy of a door speaks of authority to give life. The word door in the Greek is Thura which means gate or door. It is the entryway, Jesus is not just talking about himself being the protector of the sheep, but the way to the sheep. He’s the dividing line between the world and the sheep. Between being in the fold and out of the fold. Jesus talked about the door as being the entryway. Notice in verse 9 that he says, “If anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall g in and out, and find pasture.” This is similar to what he would say later when he said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”