John 10:1-5 (NIV) 1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
On verses 1-5: Back during Jesus’ time on earth, shepherds would bring their respective flocks together to be placed in a communal pen for the night. One shepherd would be assigned to be the watchman to watch the flocks at night while the other shepherds slept. In the morning, the shepherds would return to the communal pen to collect their sheep. But how would they separate their own sheep from the rest of the sheep in the communal pen? By the sound of the shepherd’s voice. The shepherd would give out a special call, and based on the shepherd’s voice his own sheep would separate from the rest in the communal pen and follow the shepherd.
In contrast, thieves who wanted to steal sheep would not do so by saying, “Here, sheepy, sheepy!” Rather they would try to evade the watchman standing at the gate of the pen. According to Pastor Jon Courson, they would climb over the fence of the communal pen at night, slit the throats of some sheep and throw them over to the other side.
What can we learn from this?
1. This illustration on one hand shows the intimate relationship between Jesus and his people. Jesus does not whip the people from behind and force them into submission. Rather Jesus goes on ahead of his people and they follow him because they recognize his voice. That’s how Jesus leads, not by force, but by His voice.
2. This illustration on the other hand also shows how Satan works. Knowing that the sheep would not recognize his voice, Satan will try to find stealthy ways to get into the pen and steal some sheep.
John 10:6-9 (NIV) 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
On verses 6-9: Jesus was persistent about finding ways to reach his hearers with the truth of who He is. When his hearers did not understand Jesus’ illustration (“figure of speech”) in verses 1-5, Jesus used another illustration. This time he compares himself to the gate of a sheep pen, and saying that if you want to enter God’s sheep pen, you need to enter through Jesus.
What can we learn from this?
1. Jesus is the gate by which we enter the kingdom of God. We can’t get in any other way. We must go through the gate that is Jesus.
2. Jesus is persistent in trying to reach us and teach us. He keeps saying the same message to us, in different ways, until we get it.
3. May we be persistent in showing who Jesus is to the people in our lives. Like Jesus, when our first attempt doesn’t work out, try again in a different way.
John 10:10 (NIV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
On verse 10: To summarize everything that Jesus has been saying in verses 1-9, Jesus gives this powerful statement. Whereas Satan’s agenda is to steal, kill and destroy you, Jesus’ agenda is to give you life, life to the full.
Jesus, thank You that You have come that I may have life to the full. When I am hard of hearing or slow to understand, thank You that You don’t quit. Instead, You persistently try to reach us and teach me what I need to know, even saying the same thing in different ways. Thank You that by Your voice You lead me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!