Vs. 11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus brings up a well-known picture of the shepherd and his sheep. It is wintertime during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) and Jesus is teaching at the temple. The Old Testament is rich in teaching that God is the shepherd of Israel (Genesis 49:24, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:10-11). It’s also noteworthy to mention that both Moses and David were shepherds. The Feast of Dedication remembered the cleansing and restoration of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus (165 B.C.). Because of the lack of spiritual shepherds at that time, Jesus uses this as an example in the present to share the shepherd/sheep illustration (vs. 1-21). In this figure of speech (vs. 6), John shares the third I AM statement that Jesus is the gate (vs. 7) as well as the good shepherd (vs. 11). The reality was, there were also bad shepherds who would lead their sheep astray or not be willing to die for their sheep. Once again the crowds around Jesus are divided concerning who they think He is (vs. 19-21). In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 22-42), the Jewish leaders demand Jesus tells them who He is. Jesus gives a beautiful explanation concerning the true sheep and how they will always be protected (vs. 25-30). They are furious now because they accuse Jesus of blasphemy (dishonoring God) by claiming to be God (vs. 33). Jesus’ response (vs. 34-38) helps to answer their inquiry, but at this point they are ready to seize Him (vs. 39). Jesus escapes and goes to the Jordan where John the Baptist had been and ministers to many there (vs. 40-42).
Regarding application…Shepherd’s Voice. Vs. 27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Question: Do you know the Shepherd’s voice? Being a dog owner, I appreciate this illustration. My dog Frankie knows my voice. It’s really funny when we are watching family video’s and my voice comes up on the television. Frankie is confused because he hears my voice but know I’m not physically speaking. He’ll cock his head left and right and get really confused. Dogs are intelligent animals, much smarter then sheep. Regardless, if animals can recognize their master’s voices, how much more should we know Jesus’ voice? One of the questions I have been asked repeatedly over the years of ministry is, “How do I know where God is leading me?” One of the first things I start with is asking them about their walk with the Lord. If you do not know God’s word and read it, then you will not know His voice.