Lucia's Blog: 2021
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, June 14, 2021

MY FOURTH BOOK: WALKING THE NARROW WAY

 




Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce the completion of my 4th book, "Walking The Narrow Way."  I have a link that will take you to the publisher's page, Gospel Armory, where you can order the book at a pre-published discount price.  I am very happy that this book will be available to the public.  I hope that it will bear much fruit for the Lord.  To Him be the glory!



Luci


Thursday, May 6, 2021

THE CUSTOM OF FOOT WASHING

 

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
John 13:14-15


One of the keys to understanding the character of God is to know the goodness or kindness that He shows toward His beloved creation, especially mankind. One of Jesus’ favorite quotations is taken from the prophet Hosea.  

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  (Hosea 6:6)

"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.'"  (Matthew 9:13)

"But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.'"  (Matthew 12:7)

The word mercy or compassion is from a very important Hebrew word that broadly encompasses goodness, kindness, generosity, and mercy. It is the very character that Jesus revealed by His example as He walked among men. He did not regard it as impossible for men to achieve. Indeed He ordered the apostles to practice that kindness among themselves.

In John 13:14-15, Jesus washed the apostles’ feet and urged them to follow His example.  He commanded them to wash each other’s feet.  Does this command apply to us today?  Are we supposed to observe a ritual of washing each other’s feet as worship in the church? 

Let us first examine the whole context of John 13:1-20 to understand what Jesus was teaching.


I.   WASH ANOTHER’S FEET:

  • Background:  (John 13:1-5)

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him."


John 13 begins by saying, 

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (verse 1).   


Jesus knew that "His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father." Although He found Himself distressed in anticipation of the events that were about to occur, He didn't allow it to affect His actions toward His disciples. Instead of allowing the circumstances to absorb Him and take control of Him, "He loved them to the end," showing His love in many ways.

"And during supper," we find the twelve apostles present for the Passover supper (cf. Matt. 26:20).  We likewise see that “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him.”  (John 13:2; cf. Luke 22:3)

John 13:3 declares, 

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.”  


Verse 3 highlights three specific things that Jesus knew: 

  1. He knew that He was divine and had come from the Father (cf. John 1:1, 14).
  2. He knew that He would be returning to Him soon, to the glory that He had laid aside to save mankind (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).
  3. And He also knew that He had all power and authority in heaven and on earth befitting one who had come from heaven and would be returning to it (Matt. 28:18).


John 13:4-5 declares,

Rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him."


John writes in a very detailed way Jesus’ humility.  Jesus’ actions showed a big contrast to the apostles’ behavior.  Why?  Because they had shown selfishness, worldly ambitions, and arrogance while they were arguing about which of them was the greatest at this dinner feast (Luke 22:24ff). How sad to be fighting for a throne and not for a towel!

To better understand the greater lesson that Jesus is teaching us, we must consider what is happening.  Let us take a look at John 13:3-5.

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’”


In verses 3-6, Jesus is laying aside His garments and putting a towel around His waist, taking the form of a servant.  Jesus is performing an act of humble service as He became a servant to them.  When Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter said to Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet.”  Why do you suppose Peter asked this question?  Because the work that Jesus was performing was for someone else to do, not the son of God.  Indeed, this was a great lesson of service and humility!

Let us not miss out on what Jesus was trying to accomplish when He assumed the position of a servant.  Jesus’ purpose for washing or cleaning their dirty feet was to teach them true greatness. Every Christian must learn that greatness comes through faithful service and humility (cf. Micah 6:8; Matt. 5:3).  


II.  WHY DID JESUS WASH THE APOSTLES’ FEET?

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’ 8 Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’ 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”  (John 13:6-11)


  •  So, What Is The Lesson of Foot Washing?

Let us consider four great lessons that every Christian must learn from Jesus’ example of servitude and humility.

    • It Was Needed:

Back in those days, the typical footwear in Palestine was a pair of sandals.  The people of those days did not wear tennis shoes to walk on pavement and concrete like we do today. .And though they protected their feet from rocks and other sharp objects, they could not keep the feet clean from dust, dirt, and mud.  Their feet would become dirty quickly.  It was the custom of the day to take off one’s sandals at the door where a basin of water was usually kept to wash one’s feet or those of a visitor. However, the service of foot washing went undone since there was no host present and no volunteer to perform such a lowly task in the upper room when Jesus and His apostles arrived.   Since Jesus was aware of this, He took the responsibility on Himself, girding Himself with a towel which He used to dry the feet of the apostles after He had washed them.  

Likewise, they did not sit at the table but reclined at the table with the feet tucked back. You see, when we sit at the table, we can hide our feet.  Foot washing was a custom done in people’s homes.   

Do you remember in Luke 7:36-50 when Jesus was in Simon, the Pharisee’s house, and the sinful woman was washing Jesus’ feet with oil and her hair?  Jesus said that Simon did not even offer him a basin of water to do His feet. In those days, foot washing was customary and necessary.  


    • It Was a Great Act of Humility:

Jesus' actions showed that what He was doing was much more than merely cleaning the apostles’ feet.  Why?  Because Jesus was teaching them a powerful lesson about true greatness and humility. However, His apostles did not fully grasp the message until later (cf. I Pet. 5:5).  Isn’t it remarkable how Jesus humbly washed their feet only a few hours before He surrendered to death on the cross for our purification!  Remember that it was through His sacrificial act of humility, His crucifixion, that mankind would be offered purification from their sins.

      • "You shall never wash my feet!"
 Although Peter's first response is understandable, he shows self-righteousness and arrogance as he questions the judgment of Jesus.
      • “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

Here, Jesus answered Peter swiftly and sharply.  If Peter had refused to let Jesus wash his feet, it would have meant that he, Peter, did not want to take any part in the Lord’s work, His coming kingdom, and in the ultimate blessings to be bestowed upon the faithful. So, why did Jesus respond to Peter so strongly? Because one of the first and most important requirements of discipleship is complete and unquestioning submission to the will of God. I believe Peter was way out of line at this point.  He seems to understand this when he makes his next comment.

      • "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!"
Although washing was required for sharing in the work and favor of Jesus, Peter could not understand what Jesus was trying to teach them.  He reasoned that he could not have too much of it. Peter bounces from one extreme to the other, perhaps because he loves Jesus.  
      • "Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’”

The language of John 13:10 implies that they had bathed before coming to Jerusalem. Only their feet had become dirty and needed to be rewashed. 
      • "For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.'"
Jesus is talking about the heart of Judas.  And though Judas’ body was physically clean and Jesus had washed his feet, his heart remained evil.  Evidently, Jesus is using the act of foot washing as a symbol of inner cleansing. While it is true that He knew the other eleven apostles’ hearts as clean and pure, except for Judas, He was utterly aware that they had their own weaknesses of selfishness and jealousy. The heart of Judas had been impure and evil for some time (cf. John 6:64,70).  Most likely, Judas was aware that Jesus was on to him. And though this might have made Judas cringe, it did not keep him from completing his evil plan.

    • It Was The Correct Response To Christ’s Love:

"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'"  (John 13:12-17)
      • "Do you understand what I have done to you?"
Although Jesus’ apostles were aware of what He had done by washing their feet, they still did not understand the significance of this act.  
      • “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.”
Even though they called Jesus their Teacher and Lord, Jesus did not seek a position of fleshly preeminence and honor. Instead, He humbly sought to serve others out of love. Jesus wants His apostles to learn from His example and be willing to serve others (and each other), even in the most menial tasks.  Were they supposed to see only the washing of feet? No! They were supposed to observe the humility of Jesus.  And though God does not need humility, He is everything. Think about it!  Listen to Paul’s words about Jesus.

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."  (Colossians 1:16–18)

      • “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

Jesus showed humility when He took the lower role. Godly love is self-sacrificing. A faithful disciple of Jesus has the mind of humility, for he practices humility like Jesus.  Jesus has shown us how to treat others with a humble and giving heart without regard for the shame, status, or honor codes.  Jesus became a servant to all even though everyone is lesser than He.  We cannot be His disciples unless we show humility.  

Sadly many of our friends in the religious world misinterpret this passage to say that it is our Christian duty today to wash each other's feet in the assembly. Foot washing, as a church ordinance, did not begin until the fourth century.  It was long after the great apostasy had set in. I must stress that Jesus did not institute the practice of foot washing since it was already a common and culturally accepted practice.  Jesus simply used foot washing to demonstrate the spirit of humble service.  Later that evening, Jesus did institute the Lord's Supper memorial. The Lord’s Supper memorial is something that He certainly wants Christians to practice in their assemblies (as seen clearly in the New Testament example, Acts 2:42; 20:7; I Cor. 11:23ff). The only other time foot-washing is mentioned in the New Testament is in connection with other individual acts of service (cf. I Tim. 5:10).

“And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.”


In 1 Timothy 5:10washing the saints’ feet is listed as part of that lady's personal life (widows), service, and doing good to others. Again, it was not a worship activity, and it certainly was not a ceremony in which people washed feet.  

It is critical to acknowledge what Jesus was implying in John 13:15 when He said to do "as" He had done for them, and, unlike the Lord's Supper, He did not give instructions for the act of foot washing to be done until He comes again (cf. I Cor. 11:26).  Jesus wants His followers to have an attitude of selfless service.  The practice of foot washing in those days was an act of humilityHowever, in our society today, foot washing has never been a cultural act of courtesy or hospitality. For a person today to wash someone's feet would be to miss Jesus' point completely.  To follow Jesus' words literally would mean introducing a strange and ridiculous practice today.  It would greatly embarrass and inconvenience our guestsWhy?  Because the literal act of foot washing was to remove dirt from one's feet.  Jesus’ intention is to symbolize the spirit of humility and the need to perform the most menial acts of Christian service to others in love for all future generations. 

      • “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”  
A servant must always be willing to do that which his master does.  He must never be ashamed of it.  We are acting as if we are greater than Jesus when we refuse to give ourselves to serve others. We must be willing to serve even those beneath us.  We must give ourselves up for one another, for we are not greater than our Master.  But serving others beneath us is exactly what our Master did!  Let that sink deeply into your hearts!
      • "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”  (cf. Matt. 7:21; James 1:22) 

We must know that we must be humble servants to bring God’s blessings.  Practicing humility the way Jesus did means that we overlook the offenses of others committed against us. It implies a desire for reconciliation with each other and a heart of forgiveness, not bitterness. It means to give of ourselves to each other. It means that we do not consider what we deserve or what is beneath us, and is not worthy of our time or action. Humility means more than swallowing our pride, for pride blocks humble service and godly thinking. 

We are blessed when we refuse to think about ourselves when the occasion arises for us to serve others. We must not disregard Jesus’ teaching and example. We must give, give and give some more even when we cannot give anymore.  We must give ourselves to the undeserving (John 13:18-20).


    • We Must Humbly Serve The Undeserving:  (John 13:18-20)

"I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.'" 

      • "I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'"
"He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me." (cf. Psalm 41:9


Jesus declares that there is a betrayer among them. Why is Jesus making the point that He knows whom He has chosen? Because one of them is not a servant but a betrayer. Even though Jesus knew, "from the beginning" (John 6:64), that Judas would betray Him, that does not in any way mean that He forced such even to happen. Indeed, God can see the end from the beginning without causing it.  He can foretell anything without originating it.  The point of Jesus quoting Psalm 41:9 is to show that this betrayal is a painful one. Why is Jesus pointing all this out? Because Jesus had humbly served the betrayer, even though He knew he was the betrayer. This is to show that there is no loophole in our acts of humble service

You see, Jesus did not send out the betrayer and then wash the apostles' feet. Rather, Jesus washed Judas’  feet, the betrayer, and then sent him out.  No one gets the label of “undeserving of service.”  No one is exempt. Jesus served him whom He knew was going to harm Him.  Thus we must serve others and follow Jesus’ example.  We must not serve only those we like, are nice to us, or treat us well.  We must give ourselves completely in service, even to those who hurt us.  Yes, we must serve the one who lifts his heel against us!
      • "I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he."

If Jesus had not spoken of Judas' betrayal, the disciples might have found enough reason to doubt Him, thinking that Jesus was completely surprised by Judas' deception. However, Jesus mentioning Judas' betrayal ahead of time led to the strengthening of their faith. Jesus did not want Judas’ deceitfulness to shake the faith of the other apostles. 
      • Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” 
Jesus wanted the apostles to believe that He was sent from the Father and that His messengers were also messengers of the Almighty God.  
 

CONCLUSION:

Foot washing was indeed a remarkable act of humility!  It was uncommon for someone of esteem to wash another’s feet. Why?  Because foot washing was the work of slaves or something that one did himself.  By Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, He was teaching us a great act of humility and selflessness.  He left an excellent example for His disciples to follow and for us as well (John 13:15).  So, the question at stake is:  Did Jesus leave the example to perform an outer act of foot washing, or did He leave the example as a godly act of service and humility? God was not commanding an outward ritual act, for He wanted them and us to grasp the message of the outward act.     

For Jesus to perform such a menial service for His inferiors was a powerful lesson to them, and it should still be such for us today. No disciple can ever rightly claim to be above the performance of even the lowliest of services. If Jesus was willing to act humbly as a servant in His infinite greatness, there is not a single follower of His today who should consider themselves as being beyond such service.

In John 13:12, after Jesus had finished washing the feet of the disciples, He asked them, 

“Do you understand what I have done to you? 


Verse 12 is the key phrase here.  Jesus is challenging His disciples to grasp the significance of what He had done.  The answer to Jesus’ question is not just a “yes” but the excellent lesson that He is teaching His disciples. 

So why don’t we perform foot washing today? Because foot washing is not necessary today like it was in Jesus’ day.  Also, it would not have the same meaning for us today that He wanted His disciples to grasp.  And though it is not necessary for us today to literally wash each others’ feet, let us not cast this away as cultural, ignoring the Scripture.  Why?  Because we still must perform acts of service for one another as commanded by our Lord.  We still must do those things that we believe are beneath us to please God and go to heaven. 

Jesus’ message of humility and selflessness to His disciples back then still applies to us today.  God expects no less of usWe must humble ourselves and do those things we think are humiliating when serving others!  Nothing must be beneath us when we serve others. Jesus, our Lord, has left an excellent example of servitude and humility as He became our Servant.   We must serve others as Jesus did.  There is nothing culturally obsolete about that. 

So what happened after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet?  Judas went out from the foot washing and the supper and betrayed Jesus (John 13:29-30).  Imagine Jesus serving the very person who would betray Him!  What Jesus wanted them to learn was a much deeper, life-changing lesson, humility. He wants you and me to learn it also. How well are we learning?  Jesus is asking what we will be: self-serving like Judas or serving others with humility like Him? When we refuse to humble ourselves, that is, bring ourselves low to serve others, even our enemies, we are unworthy servants and self-serving.  

You see, servants serve. Servants serve others. Servants do what must be done.  Since Jesus was willing to carry out the lowest of tasks on behalf of His apostles, we also must surely learn to serve. These are profound lessons that Jesus is teaching us to put into practice today to serve others humbly.  But to accomplish Jesus’ example and teaching of humility and servitude, we must first start thinking like a servant and esteem others as better than ourselves.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4).


May we obey Jesus’ teaching of servitude and humility and train ourselves to think and act like a true servant of Christ.  May we humbly serve others as Jesus did when He washed the feet of His disciples.  May we serve Jesus, taking the way of the cross, for the cross is humility.  May we never forget that we are servants of Christ and that our lives, relationships, and actions are not about us but for Jesus and others in humble service.  May we love and humbly serve Jesus and one another, for this pleases our Father in heaven.  May we always strive to do God’s will.  


Luci


Friday, April 30, 2021

THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.'" 
John 10:1-4, 14-17, 27
 


When Israel had kings, God called on Samuel to anoint a shepherd to become king. David was one of the most beloved kings in the history of Israel, and God promised that the Savior of lost humanity would descend through his lineage. Kings thereafter in the Sacred writings were called “shepherds.”

One of the most beautiful and powerful passages in the Bible to me is John 10:1-30.  In John 10, our Lord Jesus declares who He is and what His purpose was for coming to earth.  He makes a staggering declaration.  

“I am the good shepherd.”  


As the Good Shepherd, Jesus gathers His sheep so that they might have abundant life.  The central focus of John 10 is that the Good Shepherd leads His sheep and protects them from harm and danger.  As the Good Shepherd, He leads His sheep tenderly as He walks near them and steers them past dangerous places, narrow and slippery paths, with strength and provision.  Our Good Shepherd moves us along with His rod and staff to help and encourage us.  Without the Good Shepherd in our lives, we do not have God's deliverance to overcome harm and danger.  Our Good Shepherd is always working on our behalf.  However, the sheep must hear the Shepherd’s voice and obey Him to be saved (John 1:1-10).


I.   THE SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE:  

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.  7 So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and 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.’”  (John 10:1-10)


Before we begin our study of John 10, it is important to notice there is no break in our narrative.  In our previous chapter, John 9, we read of a man that Jesus healed, for he was born blind.  Jesus brought light back to this man’s eyes.  However, the religious leaders of that time thought their vision was just fine, so they chose to remain in their sins.   Jesus forgave only those who acknowledged that they were in darkness and needed the Light.  This is true for us today as well.  However, those who deceive themselves, believing that they can still see in darkness, will remain in the same darkness and never see. In chapter 10, Jesus shifts His focus to the relation between the sheep and the shepherd.  In John 10:21, Jesus’ audience is still the same. Some of them declared that Jesus had a demon and was insane, but many recognized that His words were not of one who was demon-possessed. They said, “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” Jesus was trying to teach those who thought they could see already by enlightening them to what they were not seeing. They thought they were saved but were not.   Hence as we read John 10 with the eyes of our hearts wide open, we must distinguish between those who truly belong to Him and those who are truly fooling themselves.  

  • The Shepherd Calls His Sheep, and They Hear His Voice: (John 10:1-6)
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” 

Jesus begins with an illustration to describe who He is, His role, and His work. Jesus declares that anyone who does not walk through the door, but climbs in another way, is a thief and a robber (verse 2).  This statement is true not only of sheep pens, but of any other place.  When we look out our window and see someone climbing through a window of our neighbor’s house, who is not the owner, we know immediately that such a person is a thief. He is a robber. So Jesus begins His discussion by declaring that anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the door is not the right person. However, the one who enters by the door is the true shepherd of the sheep. This illustration is quite simple. Why?  Because the shepherd comes and calls his sheep. It is what shepherds do, and this is exactly what Jesus is, a shepherd. As Jesus is declaring this truth, the religious leaders think that He is crazy.  The truth is that Jesus is gathering His sheep, which is normal, not crazy! 

The key to our first illustration is verse 3 of John.  

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” 


This is an interesting fact in shepherding. Why?  Because the sheep know the voice of their own shepherd. The sheep will not follow another shepherd who is calling them.  Shepherds put their sheep with the sheep of other shepherds in the sheepfold. But in doing so, the sheep are all mixed up in the pen. Thus, when it is time to lead them out to pasture, the shepherd must call for his sheep to come to Him.  But only those that are truly his will recognize their shepherd’s voice and come out to him. Jesus uses the illustration of the shepherd and his sheep in this verse because it was common in ancient times.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd gathering His sheep as He calls them.  The sheep know His voice and follow Him (10:4).  
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”

  • The Shepherd Guides the Sheep:

In Matthew 9:36, Jesus saw that the people were distressed and scattered like sheep without a shepherd. You see, sheep must have a shepherd to lead them, for they depend completely on shepherds to guide and nourish them.  Otherwise, they will be lost, starve, etc.  The Shepherd calls His sheep, leads them out, and they follow Him (John 10:2-4).  The Lord is our Shepherd who leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalms 23:3).  Of course, that guidance is provided through God’s Word.  Sadly in our modern society, many are lost to spiritual confusion and error. It is like a wilderness where Jesus leads His people in the same manner as a shepherd leads his flock.

We know we are Jesus’ sheep when we hear His voice and obey Him.  We hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him. In John 9, we notice that when the blind man heard the voice of Jesus, he did what Jesus told him to do to be healed. On the other hand, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders refused to listen to the voice of Jesus and follow Him.  They chose to remain in their sins and darkness. What about us today?  Do we obey the voice of Jesus, or do we follow the voice of strangers? Jesus declared that His sheep know and hear His voice, running away from strangers.  Jesus’ sheep know and follow their Shepherd, running from all charlatans or pretenders.  They are not easily deceived, for they refuse to go after all of the pretenders’ false ways.  They run from all falsehood and deception that might hinder them from obeying their Shepherd’s voice and waysWe deceive ourselves when we think we belong to God when in fact, we do not belong at all!  This must compel us to seriously examine ourselves to see if we truly are listening to the voice of Jesus and are following only Him. 

  1. Do you know and understand His teachings? 
  2. Do you read and obey His words? 
  3. Do you do exactly what Jesus commands? 
  4. Do you follow Jesus wherever He goes? 

Eastern shepherds do not drive sheep. They lead their sheep, and sheep follow their shepherd. By the same token, Jesus does not drive His sheep. He leads them. Are you following him and obeying or following His voice?

There is so much value and reward in following Jesus’ voice. Listen to the words of verse 3 again. “He calls his own sheep by name.” Jesus, our Good Shepherd,  knows our name. Jesus knows who we are. Jesus knows His sheep by name.  Jesus calls His sheep by name. It is truly beautiful!  Is there anything greater and better than this truth?   Jesus knows us and calls us by name to follow Him and do His Father’s will. He knows us. Such words of hope and encouragement!

However, in John 10:6, we notice that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time do not understand what Jesus is saying even though He had made a glorious illustration. He is calling His sheep to Him.  Those sheep that are truly His listen to His voice and follow Him. Yet, these religious leaders do not understand. They think they see but prove they are blind.  Could this be us? Do we deceive ourselves, thinking that we are following Jesus, walking His path, but He is nowhere near us?  Remember, every step a sheep takes must be behind the shepherd.


  • Why Is Jesus Gathering His Sheep?  (John 10:7-10)
“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and 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.’”

Jesus tries once more, changing His illustration since the audience is still darkened in their understanding.  Jesus declares that He is the door of the sheep. He is our Protector. As our Protector, He provides protection to those who pass through the door.  He is our Guardian. Sadly, those sheep on the outside of the pen are not protected. Only Jesus’ sheep are protected.

In John 10:8, Jesus declared, 
“All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” 

Oh, what a truthful statement!  With this powerful statement, Jesus was stating a serious charge against all those leaders before Him.  God’s prophets repeatedly condemned Israel’s leaders for harming and deceiving God’s sheep (Ezekiel 34; Isaiah 56:9-12; Jeremiah 25:32-38). Notice the following example from Jeremiah 23:1-4.

"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!' declares the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: 'You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD'"


The leaders of Israel were selfish, self-centered, and did not care at all for the souls of the people. They harmed the sheep and scattered the flock.  Today is no different!  Why?  Because we are surrounded by a great number of “leaders”preachers, elders, and many who want to be looked up to as leaders in local churches.  They ignore the fact that God will judge them for harming the sheep and scattering the flock. Those who want to be leaders of God’s flock must rid themselves of selfish thinking. There is no room for selfish thinking!  In Jesus’ day, the true sheep were not listening, nor were they following these false leaders. This is exactly what the blind man was. He was a true and faithful sheep.  He stood up to the blind leaders of his day to the point of being cast out of their society. Israel’s shepherds had failed this blind man. These religious leaders were robbers and thieves. They mislead the sheep away from God while claiming to be their spiritual leaders.

After Jesus makes serious charges against the leaders of Israel, He refocuses on His role and purpose.  He says,  “I am the door.” If we don’t go through the door, Christ, we are thieves and robbers, walking in darkness.  Jesus has come to gather His sheep for a glorious purpose. Notice the three things that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is offering to those who want to come through Him, the door

  1. Anyone who chooses to enter through the door will be saved.  Those who wilfully come to Jesus will find salvation from their sins. The leaders of Jesus’ day chose to remain in their sins.  They refused to listen to the Shepherd’s voice, Jesus’ words, and follow Him.  Following or obeying Jesus’ words is the only way to be saved.
  2. Whoever enters by Jesus will be secure. Jesus declares that those who enter by Him “will go in and go out and find pasture.” Indeed, there is spiritual safety and security in Jesus, for He is our Protector who protects us.  In Jesus, we are secure and safe. But we must follow Him to be protected by Him.
  3. Whoever enters by Jesus will be satisfied and find pasture.  Jesus provides for us and satisfies us.  In Him, we can receive security and joy, for He acts for the sheep’s supreme good.  Jesus provides full satisfaction and perfect guidance.  Can there be any better Shepherd to lead His sheep than Jesus, our Lord, and Savior?


John 10:10 sums up these blessings completely. 
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

Hear His words! Abundant life is following Jesus, doing His Father’s will. Abundant life has nothing to do with possessing stuff!  His pasture isn’t stuff. The pasture that Jesus is offering is full and abundant life.  Seeking this world is not a full life.  It will not satisfy our souls.  But following Jesus, the Good Shepherd of the flock is abundant in life.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came to this world of darkness to bring the Light and give us abundant life.  Now think for a moment about this.  Jesus is calling His sheep to give them abundant life to the full! 


II.   I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD (John 10:11-21)

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.'  19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, 'He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?' 21 Others said, 'These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'"


Indeed, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. As the Good Shepherd, He laid down His life for us, the wandering sheep.  In Psalm 23, we have a beautiful illustration of who the shepherd is.  This magnificent Psalm begins, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The Word of God describes the Lord as our Shepherd.  Likewise, Psalm 80:1 declares this same sentiment about our Good Shepherd.

 “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.” 


God is the shepherd of Israel. God is the great shepherd, ruler, and king. When Jesus, our Lord, took deity upon Himself, He called Himself “the shepherd.”  Consider Isaiah’s prophecy about how the Shepherd would tend to His people, the flock, bringing comfort to them.  

“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:10-11).


God was going to come with strength, might, and a reward. He was going to tend His flock and gather His sheep. Jesus was the Son of God, taking the role of deity upon Himself.  Jesus is not merely “the shepherd” but “the good shepherd.”  According to Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus was not going to be like the past shepherds. Why?  Because the previous shepherds of Israel were robbers and thieves. They scattered and harmed the sheep (Ezekiel 34; Isaiah 56:9-12; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Jeremiah 25:32-38). The prophesied “good shepherd,”  Jesus, our Lord, would lay down His own life for the sheep.  You see, the shepherds of the Old Testament did not do this. Although shepherd-kings were commanded to lead and protect the sheep, no shepherd died for his sheep. This was not the norm for eastern shepherding. But Jesus, the “good shepherd,” will do what no shepherd will do. He will lay down His life for the sheep.

Jesus did not say that the shepherd would be killed, but that He would lay down His life. So what makes Jesus the Good Shepherd?  His own sacrificeHe gave and volunteered His own life for the sheep. We are the sheep, and Jesus is the Shepherd. So, who is in charge? Only Jesus is in charge, not us. We must follow Him and heed His words if we want to be saved by the Good ShepherdHis sheep must listen to His voice and obey Him (10:3-4).


  • The Good Shepherd Dies For the Sheep:  (10:11)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”


The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep.  In John 10:11, 15, Jesus repeatedly declared that He was the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. The death of our Shepherd was essential to save us from our sins.  Sometimes a shepherd dies fighting wolves or other enemies of the sheep.  His death shows how terrible sin is and Jesus’ great love for us.  The Good Shepherd suffered a horrible death to give us life and protect us from the consequences of our sins.  

“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  (1 Peter 2:25)


Our Good Shepherd guides, nourishes, and seeks us when we go astray.  He also gave His life to save us from spiritual deathWe remember the death of our Good Shepherd each first day of the week as we partake of the Lord's Supper.

We Christians have enough reasons to rejoice and be thankful. Why? 

  1. Because Christ is our Good Shepherd who died for our sins. 
  2. Our Good Shepherd became our sacrificial Lamb, accepted by God that we may be made alive (Luke 24:46; 1 Cor. 15:20-22; Romans 6:3-4; Gal. 3:13). 
  3. Our Good Shepherd brought peace and reconciliation to God by taking the guilt of sin away. 
  4. We, Christians, have been raised from death because of sin to newness of life in the Spirit of Christ. In Christ, we have abundant life, which He shares with His flock (John 10:10). 
  5. Our Good Shepherd came to this world that we might go to heaven. What an incredible hope!  Deity left heaven and came to this ugly world of darkness so that humanity might have the chance to go to heaven. This is marvelous beyond our comprehension! This beautiful story of redemption shows God's love for us. “15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”   (1 Timothy 1:15).  Jesus, our Lord, and Good Shepherd was born of a woman that we may be born of God (Galatians 4:4-5; Isaiah 7:14; 1 John 5:4; John 3:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 3:1). 
  6. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was rejected that we might be accepted of God (John 1:11-12). We know that Jesus was despised by men during His ministry here on earth. So much so that He was nailed to a cross! It was all according to God, the Father's plan (Colossians 1:19-21; Acts 10:35). 
  7. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, became the Man of sorrows that we might rejoice and be glad (Isaiah 53:3).
  8. Our Good Shepherd accepted sorrow and sadness that we might have a reason to rejoice. We have so much to be thankful for! We were like lost sheep without a Shepherd. Let us keep in mind that His sorrow and grief make our joy and gladness possible. 
  9. Our Shepherd accepted poverty that we might enjoy riches in heaven (2 Cor. 8:9; Luke 9:58; Eph. 2:6-7). Jesus became poor so that we might be able to inherit eternal riches! 
  10. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, was made sin for us that we might be righteousness for Him (2 Cor. 5:21, Isa. 53:6; 1 Peter 2:22-24). Through His blood, we are justified and made righteous.  "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."


  • The Insufficiency of The Other Shepherds To Perform The Task:   (10:12-15)

He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”


Verses 12-13 declare that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the only one who can do what must be done to protect and save His sheep.  All other shepherds are insufficient for the task. The hired hand does not care for the sheep like the shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He acts differently than the other shepherds. Jesus came to deal with the wolves.  He will not run away when the wolves come against us to harm us. Jesus never runs from our troubles.  He cares for His sheep more than anyone else. Notice the important point that Jesus is trying to teach us in verse 13
“He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” 

You see, others do not care for the sheep like Jesus does. Jesus cares for you and me more than any person you have ever known! Jesus is committed to us more than any person we know.

In John 10:14, Jesus demonstrates with His first illustration the point He was making about Himself as the Good Shepherd and His sheep knowing His voice. 

“I know my own and my own know me.” 


Jesus knows who are His. His sheep know His voice, listen to His voice, and follow His leading, His teaching. Jesus knows who belongs to Him. Jesus knows His relationship with us, His sheep. Just as the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father, so Jesus knows us, and we know Him. This is a truthful statement indeed!  What a picture of the depth of knowledge and intimacy in our relationship with our Good Shepherd!

Being the Shepherd’s sheep is much more than knowing a bunch of facts about Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus, our Good Shepherd, must be like the relationship that God the Father has with His Son.  

  1. Is our relationship with the Shepherd a matter of a few minutes or hours? 
  2. Is our relationship with our Good Shepherd Sunday morning only?  
  3. Can’t we see the big picture here?  Jesus lay down His life for us the sheep!  
  4. Are we even making an effort to be one of the sheep? 
  5. Or do we claim to be His sheep but refuse to be devoted to our relationship to Jesus, showing Him our love and faithfulness as His true sheep?  

Our relationship with our Good Shepherd must be an intense devotion, not just a hobby or casual relationship. 
“I know my own and my own know me.”


  • How Does The Good Shepherd Gather His Sheep? (10:16-21)

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.’  19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ 21 Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”


After Jesus finishes talking about the relationship between Himself as the Good Shepherd and us His sheep, He moves on to talk about the other sheep that He must bring in. There are more sheep to call.  In our narrative, Jesus is calling His sheep from Israel. But the calling of the sheep must also go out to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were going to be the sheep outside the fold of the Jews that also would belong to Him. Isn’t it remarkable that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was going to call them as well because they were going to listen to His voice!  Isaiah prophesied that in Isaiah 56:8.

“The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, ‘I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”’


The result is glorious when Jesus calls the Gentiles to listen to His voice.  
“So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” 

Jesus will be shepherding beyond the limits of physical Israel. His present audience in John 10, the Jewish religious leaders, were not His sheep, for they refused to listen to His voice.  They refused to belong to Him. Today is no different, for Jesus is calling His sheep so that they may no longer be scatteredThe glorious result is one flock with one shepherd. Ezekiel beautifully prophesies this.
"Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 24 'My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.'" (Ezekiel 37:21-26)

The new David was going to come, according to Ezekiel 37:21-25.  It was a messianic reference. The Son of David, Christ the Savior, would come and rule over them as their shepherd to save them from their sins. Jesus came to form one flock, consisting of sheep from all over the world, regardless of race, culture, gender, and background. Jesus came to fulfill the task the Father gave Him to accomplish! The Son delights in His Father’s approval because of His absolute obedience to His will (10:17).  Hear Jesus’ words in His shepherd discourse.  
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” 

Notice that this is the third time in this narrative that Jesus declares that He will lay down His life (John 10:11, 15, 17). He is laying down His life that He may take it up again. Although we might lay down our lives, sacrifice ourselves for another person, and give our lives to protect our family, we cannot take it back up again. That is a truthful fact!  No one can take their life back again after giving it over to death. Jesus’ death always had the resurrection in view.

Listen to the rest of Jesus’ words. 

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord.” 


You see, no one can take life from Him. Is that true for us? Of course not! No one could harm Jesus unless He allowed it. Let us take our minds back to the cross.  
  1. No one could put their hands on Jesus to arrest Him until he allowed it because He is Lord.  
  2. No one could take the scourge and brutally whip Him without His consent. 
  3. No one could put nails through His hands and feet unless He allowed it. 
  4. No one could kill Jesus on the cross unless He allowed it. 
“No one takes it from me.” 

Truly, this is what makes Jesus our Good ShepherdJesus has all authority to lay His life down and take it up. Jesus exhibited His authority throughout everything until the end of His life. He never behaved as a helpless victim of His enemies’ hatred and violence. It was no accident. The Lord’s Supper is not a memorial of an accident that happened, where tragedy took place. Why?  Because it was God’s planGod planned for Jesus to give His life, laying it down for His sheep.  I must stress that no one took Jesus’ life from Him. Jesus was in complete control.  He had full authority for everything that happened during His betrayal, arrest, beating, and deathWhy would Jesus go through all this?  Because it was the only way to gather the lost sheep. It was the only way for the sheep to have their sins forgiven.   Jesus came to call and gather His sheep into one flock with Him as the Good Shepherd to lead them.  The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep.  Jesus cares so much for His sheep that He died for them.  Thus, no one took His life, for He gave it for you and me. What a beautiful thought! It is beautiful beyond what words can express!  How can we ever repay our Good Shepherd for saving us, His sheep, from our sins and saving us from the wrath of God!

"He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls"  (1 Peter 2:22-25).


In John 10:19-21, we read,

“There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ 21 Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”


What did the heavenly hosts sing when Jesus was born? Did they sing peace on earth and goodwill towards all men?  Was Jesus going to bring peace and goodwill to humanity? Notice what Jesus declared in Matthew 10:34-36.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.”


Of course, Jesus wants peace on earth.  Dissension is caused by carnal-minded men who destroy that peace.  Throughout John’s account of Jesus, he mentions the dissension among the Jews regarding Christ (John 6:52, 69, 66; 7:12, 25, 43; 8:22; 9:16, 17; 10:19, 24, 41; 11:37; 12:19, 29, 42; 16:18, 19).

In John 10:20-21, Many of them said that Jesus had a demon and was insane.  The Jewish leaders reprimanded the people for hearing Jesus’ wordsDemons cannot perform wonders like Jesus did when He opened the eyes of the blind man.  They are liars (Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2: 9).  

"Others said, 'These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'"

 
The Good Shepherd knows and loves His sheep and gives His life for them.  Demons cannot do this. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?  Only God can open the eyes of the blind (Ex. 4:11; Ps. 146: 8). Therefore, this question expects a negative answer.  “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Demons take the eyesight away but cannot give it back.   Some Jews could reason correctly with Jesus, but others persisted in saying that Jesus was demonized and mad.  

 All of us are faced with the question that disturbed the Jews: Was Jesus of Nazareth a madman or a divine being? There is no middle ground. It is extremely absurd to say that Jesus was one of the best, greatest men and one of the best teachers in the world, and yet say that He was simply a man.  It can not be. Even the Jews, though fanaticized, understood this point better but chose to accuse Him of being demonized (mad). It is a logical conclusion: if Jesus was not the Son of God, He was crazy.

  1. So what do you think of Jesus’ words (His teaching)? 
  2. Are they the teaching of a madman?  His actions?   
  3. Are they the actions of a madman?  
  4. What effect or influence has Jesus had on others?  
  5. Has a madman ever had the influence and impact that Jesus had on humanity? 
  6. What do you think?

III.  IF YOU ARE THE CHRIST, TELL US PLAINLY:   (John 10:22-24

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”’


In John 10:22, 23, The Feast of Dedication was celebrated in Jerusalem. 
"It was instituted by Judas Maccabeus to annually celebrate the purification of the Temple (165 BC), which had been desecrated in 162 by order of Antiochus Epiphanes. It was similar to that of the Tabernacles, and the Jews celebrate it to this day" (VE ). 
"It was not one of the great festivals, and it could be observed anywhere without going to Jerusalem" (ATR).

It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple through Solomon's porch.  The details in this class are important because they indicate that John was an eyewitness.

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”’


The Jews, especially the leaders, wanted Jesus to make a formal statement to accuse Him. Jesus clearly told the Samaritan woman (John 4:26) and the blind man (John 9:37) that He was the Messiah.  If the blind man had spoken explicitly to the Pharisees, claiming that Jesus was the Messiah, they would have understood that to mean that He would save them from the yoke of the Romans.


IV.   I TOLD YOU, AND YOU DON’T BELIEVE:  (John 10:25-30)

"Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.'"


  • Verse 25:  “Jesus answered them, 'I told you (that He is the Messiah), and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me.'"

They did not believe because of their hate and because they had covered their ears and eyes.  The works that Jesus did were by the Father’s authority.  There is no room for any discussion about His works. Anyone can doubt and rightly argue about the statements that someone makes about himself, but he cannot argue when faced with that same person’s works.

Jesus' works said the same thing as His teaching. There was no difference between His message and His worksBut the Jews were unwilling to judge Jesus' words in light of His works which proved that God was with Him.

Jesus identified Himself daily with the Father (e.g., John 5:19; 8:58).  His teaching and His works proved that He was the Messiah. When they asked Jesus in John 8:25

“Who are you?” Jesus said to them, ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.’”


The works that Jesus did were the signs (“I did one work, and you all marvel at it.... I made a man's whole body well," John 7:21, 23), and they were the works of the Father (John 5:36; 9: 4; 10:32, 37, 38).  After healing the paralyzed man at Bethesda, He said, 
“The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). 


Therefore, the Father bore His testimony about the Son through the Son’s miraculous works (signs). In this way, the Father confirmed that He had sent him. 
"This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him'" (John 3:2, 3).  

The chief priests gave their testimony about the signs of Jesus (John 11:47). So why didn't they accept that He was the Messiah? Because they expected another kind of messiah.

There was much dissension among the Jews over the signs of Christ (John 9:16; 10:19-21). The works (signs) not only confirm the revelation of God but are themselves a revelation of God. The signs given by Christ declared that He is the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God.

The Jews did not deny the reality of the signs. Rather, they denied the message (the revelation) of the signs; that is, they recognized that Jesus performed miracles but refused to accept that Jesus was the Messiah because He was not the messiah they expected. Therefore, they refused to be fair and honest about the meaning of Jesus' miracles.

    • John records seven signs done by Christ:

      1. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), and, in doing so, He manifested Himself as the Lord of creation. 
      2. By healing the official’s son (John 4:46-54), He manifested Himself as the Lord over distance and space because He healed him from afar. Compare Luke 7:6-10. There were no barriers to the power of Christ.
      3. By healing the paralytic of Bethesda (John 5:1-9), He manifested Himself as the Lord over time. If he had "been sick for thirty-eight years" or thirty-eight minutes, it was the same to Jesus. There was a great difference between the tradition of the people regarding the stirring of the water and the reality of the power of Jesus.
      4. By multiplying the loaves and fishes (John 6:1-14), He manifested Himself again as the Lord of creation. He created grains of wheat that grow to feed a multitude, but the same Creator can eliminate the process made possible by the sun, the rain, and the fertility of the soil, and in a moment, produce the same quantity.  He provides for the physical needs of man.
      5. By walking on water (John 6:16-21), He manifested Himself as the Lord over natural forces (wind and waves), as well as the Lord over the force of gravity. At the same time, He expressed His concern for His disciples, who were alone in the middle of the storm. He wants us to know that He is present when we need something and that in His hands, He has control of all the forces of the natural world.
      6. When He opened the eyes of the man who was born blind (John 9: 1-12), He manifested Himself as the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), the Lord over darkness, as well as over man's adversities. He can change darkness into light and make us forget the years of darkness in which we have walked.
      7. Finally, as the climax of the signs, raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:39-44), He manifested Himself as (the cause of) resurrection and life (John 11:35).

These signs (works of the Father) clearly and widely reveal the deity of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • Verse 26:  "But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep."

They did not believe the irrefutable testimony of the Father. They did not believe the signs that were the Father’s acts, the testimony of the Father.  What does the expression "you do not believe because you are not among my sheep" mean? Does it mean that because they were not Christ's sheep, they could not believe?  According to Calvinism, they were not His sheep because God had predestined them to be lost and, therefore, they could not believe, but in reality, they were not sheep simply because they did not believe; that is, they condemned themselves. The works and teaching of Jesus did not convince them to follow Him like sheep. Those who are unwilling to believe cannot be convinced by intellectual argument, not even by signs like the ones Jesus did.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”  (John 10: 27-30

  • Verses 27-28:   “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

Many of our friends like Charles Stanley cite this verse, saying, 
"If our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say about those to whom He gives eternal life, 'and they shall never perish' (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus’ words a lie?'" (Charles Stanley 1990, p. 18).  

Although what Charles Stanley is saying may seem compelling, we must point out that Stanley dismisses the condition stated by Christ about those who “shall never perish (KJV)."

Calvinists like Stanley contend the phrases “shall never perish” and “no one will snatch them out of My hand” are proof of the impossibility of a child of God ever being lost.  However, both phrases are predicated upon the present active verbs “hear” and “follow” (v. 27).  These verbs ("hear" and "follow"express continuous, ongoing activity, not a one-time subjective belief of certain facts.  His contention is the moment one believes, he has eternal life, after which he may abandon Christ and stop  walking in the light, returning to his old ways of darkness without jeopardizing his eternal salvation.

Our Calvinist friends link salvation to “faith alone,” making void any obedience whatsoever.  But Jesus surely uses words to indicate that His sheep must keep on listening to and following the Good Shepherd.  This implies “keep[ing] His commandments” (1 John 2:3).

Only those who “remain faithful until death” will ultimately receive the crown of life (James 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; 1 Pet. 5:4; Revelation 2:10).  Jesus declares the same thought in John 10:27-28, promising eternal life to those who continually hear and follow the things He commands.  Calvinists deny that. Calvinists argue for an “all” or “nothing” GraceYet, Jesus taught the truth of God’s Grace being conditional (Matthew 18:23-35).

You see, the Grace of Christ is not a blanket thrown over the sinner from which he cannot escape.  Many of our Calvinist friends like Stanley disagree, saying, 

“Even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand.”  (1990, p. 74).


Although it is quite comforting to hear these words to the itching ear, it is evident in black and white that some have turned “away their ears from the truth” and have turned “aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4).  It is astonishing to see anyone reading the Bible and reaching such a conclusion as that stated by our friends of the religious world.  Yet, the false doctrine that they embrace demands it to be so.

The Grace of Christ is accessed initially when we obey the Gospel.  But Calvinists regard Grace and obedience as enemies.  They ignore the fact that Paul declared that Grace is accessed by faith (Romans 5:1-2).  Since “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), it should be evident that the only way to obtain God's Grace is by an objective body of inspired revelation, i.e., the New Testament Scriptures or Teaching.  Paul affirmed, “For the grace of God hath appeared...  instructing us... ” (Titus 2:11-12). 

The New Testament contains instructions whose primary purpose is to teach us how to enter a saved relationship with Christ and how to remain in that saved relationship until we reach our final destination. Grace and obedience are handmaidens to salvation.  Grace demands both understanding and obedience.  Sadly, today our church friends have a very minimal understanding of Grace and obedience!

Many of our friends are confused by passages used to defend "once saved, always saved." We must understand their arguments and how to answer them. And though some passages do offer hope and security to believers, they are conditional passages.  Sadly, these conditions are often overlooked. If we study verses such as John 10:27-29 in light of what we read and understand, we will see that they give security only to those who are faithful.  They do not teach unconditional "once saved, always saved."

If it were to be true that a Christian, that is, a believer, cannot depart from the Grace of Christ by walking “away from the faith,” then why did Paul urge believers “to continue [present tense–indicating sustained action] in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43)?  Paul also urged the Christians in Corinth “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).  The Grace of Christ must be embraced continuously by obeying the conditions bound by the apostles, or else one will have received it “in vain.”  Paul declared that certain Christians “have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). 

John 10:27-28 does not teach the impossibility of apostasy, but it does teach that those who remain faithful in hearing and following Christ throughout life will not perish.  So what about those who “walk away from the faith”?  Jesus does address apostates in numerous other passages (cf. Revelation 2-3).  Although a child of God cannot be “snatched” away from Christ contrary to his/her own determination, they can depart voluntarily, choosing to “walk away from the faith.”  Judas is a clear example. 

  • Verses 28-30:  "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one'" (John 10:28-30)

Indeed John 10:28-30 is a wonderful promise!  But such a promise is conditional. Notice that the word “and” is repeated in our context.  To receive life and never perish is tied to hearing and following Jesus.  These are conditions taught by our Good Shepherd.   

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects His sheep so no one can destroy them.  Jesus has promised to protect His sheep as long as the sheep hear Jesus and follow Him. But what if they cease to hear and follow Him?  As long as we obey the Shepherd’s conditions, neither Satan nor anyone else, nor anything else can steal us from the Lord, the Good Shepherd.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has given us the assurance that the devil will flee from us (James 4:7).  But of course, we must "resist the devil." Sheep can stray from the shepherd's protection (Luke 15:3-7; Acts 20:28-30).  Wolves may enter among the flock, speaking perverse things and drawing away the sheep. But they cannot force us to follow them and be lost.  We have a choice to follow the Lord's voice. Still, false teachers can lure us, attract us, tempt us, and thus be lost eternally.

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."  (I Peter 5:8, 9


Satan is a roaring lion seeking to devour us. If we do not resist him, he will capture us as his prey and destroy us completely.   Thus we must be vigilant and resist him with steadfast faith.  Jesus, our Good Shepherd,  promised us this in John 10 (John 17; 6:37-40; I Pet. 2:25).  Think for a moment.  If the sheep can never go astray, even out of their own free will, then this, of course, would deny our free moral will to choose.  So we can never be lost even if we follow Satan!  

“I give them eternal life.” 


Here is the plan of salvation! The sheep hear, Jesus knows them, they follow Him, and He gives them eternal life, and they will never perish as long as they continue to follow Him.  The word perish does not mean annihilation, but the loss of spiritual well-being; that is, they will never be separated from God, so long as the sheep follow Him.  

When Jesus said, 

“I and the Father are one.” 

He was talking about His deity, which does not include Himself in the word “all.”  Why?  Because He is equal to the Father (John 5:18).  He and the Father are one (verse 30), for they are inseparable.  


CONCLUSION:

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said, 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”


As I look around me, I see many people scattered like sheep wandering in the desert of sin.  Some are seeking spiritual nourishment, for they want to be right with God.  But where are they going to go to get this spiritual nourishment?  Only to the Good Shepherd, who provides nourishment for the sheep.  

In John 10:9, our Good Shepherd said, 

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”  


In Psalm 23:2, we read this about the Good Shepherd

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.”


The Good Shepherd’s teachings provide the spiritual nourishment we need to be right with God.

The Good Shepherd seeks the lost sheep.  Sheep are the most defenseless of animals, and without protection from their shepherd, they are in danger of being harmed by predators or stolen by thieves.  Our adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8).  It is a fact, not fiction!  The greatest danger to sheep is when they wander from the flock (Isaiah 56:6; John 10:10; Luke 15:3-7).  Since Jesus leads the sheep, they must choose to follow and not wander away.  

“The LORD is my Shepherd” is a two-word affirmation in the Hebrew.  Indeed, this is a mighty declaration!  The word “shepherd” says it all.  God is our Shepherd who looks after us, provides for us, sustains us, and encourages us until we reach our destination, heaven.   As we walk with our Good Shepherd faithfully, we can confidently partake of His provisions.  Living or dwelling with Him implies that we submit to Him.  That is that we obey Him as sheep who follow their shepherd.  Dwelling with God means that we walk His path of righteousness, wanting to do His will.  Dwelling with Him means delighting in Him, praying to Him, doing His will, and worshipping Him with all our heart and mind.  This boils down to knowing the Good Shepherd.

In John 10:27-29, the Good Shepherd declared,

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”


Many of our friends argue, according to John 10:27-29that no one can snatch any of Christ's sheep from His Father's hand (“no one shall snatch them out of my hand”).  Therefore, no one who is saved can ever be lost. This argument is false!  Here are the reasons:

  • The phrase “no one shall snatch them out of my hand” is not talking about what the believer can do or not do, but rather what Christ can do.  Besides that, it is conditional since He says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." 
  • Becoming a “sheep” being placed in God's hand is conditional. It requires, according to our text (John 10:27-29):
    • Hearing Christ (verse 27).
    • Believing Christ (verse 26) and 
    • Following Him (verse 27). 
  • Likewise, remaining a “sheep” is conditional. That is, that as long as we, the believers, remain faithful to Christ, he “shall never perish” (verse 28). But the sheep can stop hearing, reject His voice, stop following Him and go astray (fall from grace). Why? Because the sheep willfully refuses to submit to the will of God.


Although our text, John 10:27-29, affirms that some will never perish, to whom is Jesus speaking? To whom will Jesus grant eternal life? Who will never perish?  Only those sheep that hear His voice and follow Him.  It implies that there are some conditions to obey.  Those who are Jesus’ sheep hear His words and follow Him. The expressions "hear" and "follow" in our context are present tense in the Greek, meaning that the action is not a once-for-all-time act but continuous.  

You see, the sheep must continue to listen and obey their shepherd’s voice to continue having fellowship with Him, the Shepherd.  But if one of the sheep stops hearing His words, that is, the sheep stops obeying, the sheep stops being a sheep. Thus, true believers, that is, the true sheep, in Christ have eternal security as long as they continue being genuine believers in word and deed.  Those who cease being genuine believers and faithful to their Shepherd do not have this promise of confidence or eternal security.  That simple!

Indeed, only those Christians, genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are secure when they obey the Shepherd’s voice, all His commandments.  In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He declared, 

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matt. 7:21-23). 


The sheep who obey the Shepherd’s voice do the will of the Heavenly Father. They have nothing to fear, for their salvation is secure with God.  However, those who refuse to submit in faithful obedience to Jesus' Lordship are not genuine believers, Jesus’ sheep (e.g., James 2:18-26).  Thus, we must endure to the end.  We must refuse to be lukewarm for the Lord. 

Our Good Shepherd, Jesus, died for us (Jn. 10:11-15, 17-18).  He died voluntarily (Mt. 26:53; Jn. 19:10-15).  The Good Shepherd came to this world to give His life for us (1 Pet. 3:18; Rm. 5:10).  

  1. Have you returned to your Shepherd? Jesus died to gather you into His fold, to save you from eternal hell, and to forgive you of your sins. Jesus knows His own, and His own know Him.  
  2. Are you listening to His voice?  
  3. Are you obeying His leading?  
  4. Are you faithful or lukewarm? 
  5. Who are you listening to? 
  6. What are you listening to? True disciples, the Shepherd’s sheep, only listen to the voice of Jesus, their Good Shepherd.  
  7. Who are you following? True disciples only follow Jesus. 
  8. What life do you have? True disciples receive salvation, safety, and satisfaction. They have abundant life, for they follow the lead of their Good Shepherd.  


May we, His sheep, hear His voice to receive salvation, safety, and satisfaction.  May we follow the lead of our Good Shepherd to have abundant life and glorify our Father in heaven.  May we never wander from the flock, for we run the danger of being harmed by predators and thieves and lose our salvation.  May we heed the Good Shepherd’s teachings that provide the spiritual nourishment we need to be right with God, have fellowship with Him, and go to heaven one day.


SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US



Luci