John 10:11-13 (NIV) 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
On verses 11-13: Here Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, the one who owns the sheep and loves the sheep so much that he would lay down his life for the sheep. This is exactly what Jesus would do for us when he would die on the cross for our sins.
Who is the “hired hand” that verses 12-13 are referring to? It is not clear. However, Israel had had its share of corrupt kings, lying prophets and false messiahs who should have led and taken care of Israel but only took care of themselves. Prophets like Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 23:1-4, for example), Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 34:2) and Zechariah (see Zechariah 11) would speak against these “hired hands”.
John 10:14-15 (NIV) 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.
On verses 14-15: Here Jesus the good shepherd speaks about the intimate relationship he has with his sheep, how he knows the sheep and the sheep know him (v14). He compares the closeness and intimacy of that relationship to the relationship Jesus has with the Father (v15).
What can we learn from this? They say that in business it’s not what you know but who you know. That is even truer in the kingdom of God. No matter how much you think you know about the Bible, religion, or philosophy, you only come into the flock called the kingdom of God by knowing the shepherd who is Jesus. It’s a relationship with Jesus, not your own knowledge, that saves you.
John 10:16 (NIV) 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
On verse 16: Who is Jesus referring to when he talks about “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen” and that he must “bring them also”? He is referring to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people of this world. Jesus came to rescue and save people from every nation, background and culture. Together all those who trust in Jesus form one flock under one shepherd.
John 10:17-18 (NIV) 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to 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 authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
On verses 17-18: Four times in John 10:11-18 Jesus talks about laying down his life. In other words, Jesus would voluntarily give up his life for us, as verse 18 emphasizes. At the same time, we also learn from these verses that laying down Jesus’ life was something that the Father commanded Jesus to do, and that is why the Father loves him (i.e. is so proud of him). So which one is it: was Jesus commanded to lay down his life or did Jesus choose to do it? Both. Jesus, in obedience to his Father’s will, chooses to lay down his life for us.
Finally, notice that not only would Jesus lay down his life, but he would “take it up again” (v17). Here Jesus refers not only to his death but also to his resurrection. By his crucifixion Jesus took care of our biggest problem: sin. By his resurrection Jesus conquered our business problem: death.
John 10:19-21 (NIV) 19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
On verses 19-21: Many Jews thought Jesus was demon-possessed and crazy (v20), while other Jews believed him based on what he said and what he did (v21). Thus there was great division among the Jews over who Jesus is (v19). It goes to show that you cannot please everyone and you will not be loved by everybody, but you don’t need to please everyone or be loved by everybody. Just like Jesus, focus on being faithful to what God has called you to.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Thank You that by Your undeserved grace we can know You because You laid down Your life and rose again to make it possible for us to have a relationship with You. Thank You that You love me, know me, care for me, lead me, and protect me. Since you have other sheep to reach, please use me to bring those other sheep to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!