“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must suremnly be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.”
So, on the heels of John 9, where the last thing that’s discussed is the blindness of those who have had the word of God all along–namely the Pharisees, but who are spiritually blind. Jesus says in conclusion here that some who are blind the find the truth and simultaneously find spiritual sight. He also says that some that have possessed the truth of God’s word are spiritually blind because they’ve never believed.
So as chapter 10 starts, Jesus talks in language they can understand very well – He talks about a shepherd.
Now, in an illustration or what we call a parable, He reasons with them that someone who is a real shepherd (not an imposter) and who is there for the sake of the sheep will enter the sheep pen by means of the gate. (A sheep pen in those days was a small rampart that was built to protect the sheep from wolves, lions and other predators, while they and the shepherd rested. It had high walls, but no gates that closed because they were mobile.) Jesus says that if anyone who enters the sheep pen anyway except through the gate, is a thief. The shepherd will use the gate!
Not only will the legitimate shepherd use the gate, at night he IS the gate! (He says this because at night the likelihood of a predator’s visit was greatly increased.) The mediterranean shepherd would lie down across the narrow entrance to the sheep pen. He would protect his sheep while they slept with his very life. In order to get to the sheep, the predator had to go through the shepherd. Thus, He says I AM the gate (vs 7)!
Verse 10 states the purpose of the thief– he comes to steal, kill and destroy. Proverbially, the thief here is equated with the devil, the enemy of our souls. Mark it down that his ONLY agenda in your life is to steal from you, kill you or in some way, destroy you.
Finally, in vs 11, Jesus states, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Jesus is not like a hired hand who will take care of the sheep most of the time, but bails when real danger comes (vss 12-13). No, He loves us– His sheep and will not forsake us nor leave us no matter what comes our way and no matter why it comes our way (even if we are at fault (Heb 13:5))!
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays His life down for the sheep just as the mediterranean shepherd was the gate to the sheepfold, separating the sheep from danger. The Good Shepherd fights on our behalf just like David in the Old Testament fought for his sheep (I Sam 17:36) Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Are you in His Sheepfold?
Think about it!