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076 The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep’  John 10:11

Key Verse:

“I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”   (John 10:9)

(John 10)

In the last lesson, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He must die in Jerusalem and rise from the dead on the third day. Jesus knew that He had been born into the world to shed His blood as a sacrifice that takes away sin. We also saw the Lord Jesus display His great glory when He was on the mountain with three of His disciples. The face of Jesus shone like the sun, and His clothes radiated a shining pure white light. Thus,

the glory of God which resided in Jesus revealed itself.

We would like to continue in the holy Gospel and hear how the Lord Jesus compared those who followed Him with contented sheep. We have already seen in the Holy Scriptures that God repeatedly compares the children of Adam to lost sheep without a shepherd. However, God does not want the children of Adam to perish like sheep without a shepherd. That is the reason He sent down from heaven a mighty Shepherd to guide us in the way of peace and to save us from our most vicious enemies: Satan, sin, death and hell.

Do you know the Good Shepherd,

whom God sent to the children of Adam? If you do not, we invite you to study carefully this lesson.

We are reading in the Gospel of John. One day, Jesus said to the Jews: (John 10:1-2,6-7,9-15,17-39) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door in the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep … This parable spoke Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spoke unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep …

I am the door;

by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

I am the good shepherd;

the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is a hired man, and not the shepherd, whose own sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd,

and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep … therefore doth my Father love me, because

I lay down my life,

that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and

it was winter.

And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because

ye are not of my sheep,

as I said unto you. 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, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

I and my Father are one.

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but

for blasphemy;

and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and

the scripture cannot be broken,

say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe the works, that ye may know, and believe, that

the Father is in me, and I in him.

Therefore, they sought to kill him; but he escaped out of their hand”.

Did you hear what Jesus said to the Jews? Since our time does not allow us to explain all the words of Jesus in detail, we will centre our thoughts upon two of the names by which Jesus referred to Himself. Did you hear them? Those two names are:

The Gate for the sheep

and

the Good Shepherd.

First we heard that, after Jesus compared the children of Adam with sheep, He said to the crowd, “I am the gate for the sheep . . . whoever enters through me will be saved.” Why did Jesus call Himself

the Gate for the sheep?

In that era, a shepherd would make an enclosure of thorny branches or rocks, constructed with a single doorway by which the flock could enter. When evening came and the sheep had entered, the shepherd himself would sleep in the doorway of the sheep pen to guard his sheep. Thus before any wild animal could enter the pen and kill a sheep, it would have to come through the doorway where the shepherd lay. The shepherd would then chase the wild animal away before it could harm the sheep. In this way the shepherd himself was

“the gate for the sheep.”

The Lord Jesus called Himself “the Gate for the sheep.” This means that Jesus cares for all those who belong to Him. This also means that before you can become a part of God’s “flock,”

you must come through Jesus.

Whoever wants to be saved from the snares of Satan, from the penalty of sin, from the power of death and the punishment of eternal hell must pass through Jesus. He alone is the door that can admit sinners into eternal life. That is why God’s Word says: Neither is there any salvation in any other; for

there is no other name

under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Jesus is the one and only door to Salvation.

Can you remember what we read some time ago concerning the prophet Noah and the flood? How many doors did God command Noah to make in the boat which would be a refuge to all who wanted to escape the judgement of the flood?

Only one door.

Anyone who wanted to escape the flood had to go through the one door of the boat. Whoever entered through the door was saved. Whoever did not enter through the door perished! Similarly, concerning the Day of Judgement, the Holy Scriptures confirm to us that God has opened only one door of salvation for the children of Adam. The Messiah Himself is the Door that can admit people into eternal life. That is why Jesus said,

“I am the door;

by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved … he that entereth not by the door in the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:9,1)

The second name by which Jesus referred to Himself is much like the first one. Jesus is not only “the Gate for the sheep,” He is also

“the Good Shepherd.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, because He is the One who loved us and gave His life for us. Oh,

what a wonderful Shepherd He is!

Concerning Him, the prophet David, wrote in the twenty-third Psalm, saying: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” (Psa. 23)

What we need to realise is that

the Messiah Himself is the Good Shepherd

of whom David wrote. That is why Jesus could say, “I am the good shepherd!” and,

“I and [God] the Father are one!”

(John 10:11,30) However, when Jesus declared that He was one with God, the Jews accused Him of blasphemy and picked up stones to throw at Him. They could not accept the idea that Jesus was God in a human body. To this very day, most of the children of Adam stumble over these words of Jesus. Some mistakenly think that to say Jesus is one with God must mean that there are two Gods. But that is not the way it is, for the Scriptures of the Prophets clearly declare the unity of God, saying: “The LORD our God is One!” (Deut. 6:4) But the fact that

“God is One”

did not prevent God from revealing Himself on earth as a man.

Perhaps an illustration will help. Think about the sun which shines on the earth giving us light and heat. How many such suns do we have?

Only one.

Where is the sun? It is far out in space, yet it is also here on earth, penetrating our lives with its life-giving sunshine. The fiery sun and the warm sunshine are one. Similarly,

God and Jesus are one.

Jesus said, “I and [God] the Father are one!” The Lord Jesus came into our world to communicate the light of God’s love and salvation to us. Read what the Holy Scriptures declare about God and Jesus: “For our God is a consuming fire … dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto … No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him … who,

being the brightness of his glory,

and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high … for it pleaseth the Father that in him should all fulness dwell … for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily (Heb. 12:29; 1 Tim 6:16; John 1:18; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:19; 2:9)

Yes, that is what the Word of God declares: In Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily (Col. 2:9) Thus, the Lord Jesus could say, “I and [God] the Father are one!”

Christ Jesus is the Good Shepherd

who came from heaven, became a man, lived on earth, and laid down His holy life in order to redeem us from the curse which our sin brought. He is also the One who rose from the dead and offers

eternal life

to all who believe in Him. That is why Jesus could say: “I am the good shepherd … I lay down my life for the sheep … I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:14-18) Beyond all question, Jesus is “the Good Shepherd,” because

He is the One who loved us enough to give His life for us!

Before we end our study, let us read once more the wonderful words of the Lord Jesus, who said: (John 10:9-12,14,27-28)

“I am the door;

by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved … but he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep … I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine … 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, neither shall any man pluck them out of my Father’s hand”.

Dear friends, who are you following? Are you following the Good Shepherd?

Or are you following someone else?

In the next lesson we hope to study what Jesus taught about the compassion which fills the heart of God.

God bless you as you remember what Jesus the Messiah said about Himself:

I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved … I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:9,11)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have