Summary: Shepherds were known for their devotion to the sheep in their care. This parable illustrates Jesus's love for us as the shepherd of our souls who laid down His life for us. His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.

John 10:1 - 10:  “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (NRSV).


Text: John 10:1-10

A man came close to the edge of the Grand Canyon, lost his footing and plunged over the other side, clawing and scratching to save himself. After he went out of sight and just before he fell into space, he encountered a scrubby bush which he desperately grabbed with both hands. Filled with terror, he called out toward Heaven, “Is there anyone up there?” A calm powerful voice came out of the sky, “Yes there is.” The tourist pleaded, “Can you help me?” The calm voice replied, “Yes, I probably can. What is your problem?” “I Fell over the cliff and am dangling in space holding on to a bush that is about to let go. Please help me.” The voice from above said, “I’ll try. Do you believe?” “Yes, I believe!” “Do you have faith?” “Yes, yes I have strong faith .” The calm voice said, “Well in that case simply let loose of the bush and everything will turn out fine” There was a tense pause, the the tourist yelled”Is there anyone else up there?” (James S. Hewett. ed. Illustrations Unlimited. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1988, p. 480). You would think that the tourist would be a man of faith. That is one angle you could throw at this story, but there is also another. The other angle you could use to look at this story is given to us in John 10:4: “… the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (NRSV). What would you have done if you had been that tourist?

Shepherds were known for their devotion to the sheep in their care. This parable illustrates the of Jesus love for us as the shepherd of our souls who laid down His life for us. His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.

If you were to focus three simple things from this parable what would they be? Here are three that I suggest, the gatekeepers, the sheep and the Shepherd.


Why did Jesus speak speak about the lifestyle of the shepherd?

1) Shepherding industry: Jesus spoke about the lifestyle of the shepherds for two reasons. First, the imagery of shepherds was a common and secondly, because in many ways we are a lot like sheep who need the protection of a shepherd. Jesus also spoke about the role of gatekeepers and the sheepfold to illustrate how we are vulnerable just like sheep. Gatekeepers monitored the gateway so that they could let the sheep into the sheepfold---sheep pen.

2) Gatekeepers: If you have ever been to the movies, then you have encountered a gatekeeper. In a movie theater there are employees that will not let you in unless you have a ticket. If you were to try to get in the movie through the fire escape at the back of the theatre, then you obviously would not be an honest person but a thief. In this parable Jesus tells us that there are gatekeepers who keep watch at the doorway of the sheepfold.

3) Sheepfold: A sheepfold was a walled in structure that had no ceiling. The only way into a sheepfold other than through the door kept by gate keepers was to climb in over the wall which the way in of thieves and bandits.

Would you say that intentions determine integrity or that integrity determines one’s intentions?

1) Impostors: Jesus tells this story about the integrity of those who watch after sheep in such a way that it could be tied to the previous chapter. In the previous chapter Jesus healed a man who was born blind. There was opposition from the Pharisees who were supposed to watch out for those who were vulnerable. Jesus rebuked them for their blindness as leaders. Gatekeeper leaders like the Pharisees obviously had a religious role to be honest and dependable.

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