Summary: The Good Shepherd (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: John chapter 10 verses 1-


Reaching the end of a job interview,

• The interviewer asked a young applicant fresh out of university,

• "And what starting salary were you looking for?"

• The applicant said, "In the neighbourhood of £25,000 a year,

• Depending on the benefits package."

• The interviewer said,

• "Well, what would you say to an five-week holiday,

• 14 paid holidays,

• Full medical and dental cover,

• With the company matching your retirement fund to 50% of your salary,

• And a company car leased every two years, say, a BMW or Mercedes?"

• The young applicant sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

• The interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it."

At the time of Jesus being a Shepherd was not a good career move:

• It was a job done often by the youngest in the family;

• So that the other family members could do something more important!

• In society shepherds were the butt of jokes;

• Similar to the way we used to say; “There was this Irishman.....”

• Sheep were seen as stupid animals, that could not even find their way home;

• And so those who looked after them were also seen as stupid!

Now our passage this evening divides into two halves:

• Verses 1-21 took place right after the events that you looked at last week.

• The healing of the blind man and his casting out of the temple.

• Verses 22-42 took place two or three months later.

• John brings these two incidents together not because they are chronological,

• But because they are the same subject matter;

• They are tied together by the symbolism of a shepherd and his sheep.


• At the time of Jesus;

• The shepherd with his sheep would have been a very familiar sight.

• The reason for it is the topographical scenery of Judea (The layout of the land).

• The land has what is called an open backbone,

• The central plateau of Judea stretches:

• About 35 miles long and at its widest point is about 17 miles wide.

• The central plateau of Judea is not a land, for agriculture, i.e. for the farmer,

• But was naturally more suited for the pastoral, i.e. for the shepherd with his sheep.


The sight of a shepherd with his sheep out grazing on the Judean hill side.

• Was as a familiar sight to Jesus,

• As cars on the Motorway are to us.

(A) The illustration Vs 1-6):

• Some versions in verse 6 call these verses a parable;

• A better word would be allegory, the N.I.V says “Figure of speech”.

• Jesus in these verses;

• Is simply reminding his listeners of what shepherds and sheep are like.


• We are used to English shepherds and sheep

• In the Middle East things are slightly different.


• If you were a Middle Eastern shepherd,

• You raised your sheep and you kept your sheep,

• And you did not kill them as we do in England,

• You kept your sheep for the purpose of the fleece,

• The sheep had heavy coats of wool and they were shorn regularly,

• And often a shepherd would be with his sheep for decades,

• So long that he even called them by name according to verse 3

• ill: Julie. (Cows) & Gardener's (Pigs).

(1). In the village.

• You would often keep your sheep at night in a communal pen (Sheepfold)

• One large pen was kept by a guardian who was called the door keeper,

• During the night he would have many different flocks in his pen

• Too many for one person to look after;

• And so he would then hire other men to keep the sheep safe through the night,

• While the shepherd went elsewhere to get a good night’s rest

• The next day the shepherd returned for his sheep

• And the door keeper would allow him entrance to them.

• He would open the gate and the shepherd would call his sheep by name

• Ill: Actually the shepherd had the ability to make with his throat;

• A clucking noise or a light high whine sought of tone,

• And his sheep would know,

• Would recognise the sound from the shepherds throat.

• ill: Same as a dog knows its owners whistle (ill: Irish shepherd calls his sheep joke).


• Just like pulling different coloured threads from a jumper

• A shepherd could call out his sheep from the other flocks gathered.

(2). In the countryside.

Now if a shepherd was out on the plains;

• And could not get back to the village pen by night fall.

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