After Jesus had healed the man of his blindness, the man was harassed and cast out by the Pharisees on account of Jesus. Jesus found this man and brought him to a saving faith in Him. This narrative is a fitting backdrop of Jesus’ teachings on the good shepherd in this chapter. The mention of the Feast of Dedication places the events of this passage about two months after the Feast of Tabernacles (7:2).
Did You Know...?
1. The Sheepfold (10:1) “may have been a courtyard (cf. 18:15) near or bordering a house, surrounded by a stone wall and topped by briars, where one or several families kept their sheep. The gate, which probably could be locked, would have been guarded by a doorkeeper (cf. 10:3), who was hired to stand watch.”1/2:98 [ref]
2. The door of the sheep (10:7): “When the sheep were out on the hills in the warm season and did not return at night to the village at all, they were collected into sheepfolds on the hillside. These hillside sheepfolds were just open spaces enclosed by a wall. In them, there was an opening by which the sheep came in and went out; but there was no door of any kind. What happened was that at night the shepherd himself lay down across the opening, and no sheep could get out or in except over his body. In the most literal sense, the shepherd was the door.” [ref]
3. The Feast of Dedication (10:22) was an eight-day celebration commemorating the cleansing of the temple and dedication of the altar by Judas Maccabeus in December, 164 B.C. It is also called Hanukkah or the Feast of Lights.
4. Solomon’s porch (10:23) was a colonnade on the east side of the temple which made up part of the temple complex built by Herod.
- Illustration of the Shepherd and His Sheep (10:1–6)
- Jesus as the Door and the Good Shepherd (10:7–18)
- Division among the Jews (10:19–21)
- Dispute over Jesus’ Identity (10:22–39)
- Beyond the Jordan (10:40–42)
What distinguishes a shepherd from thieves, robbers, and strangers?Hide Answer
1. The shepherd enters the sheepfold by the door, but a thief or a robber climbs up some other way (10:1, 2). 2. The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow him. But they will flee from a stranger because they do not know the voice of strangers (10:3–5).
The shepherd calls his own sheep by name. What does this illustrate?Hide Answer
The shepherd has intimate knowledge of every sheep, and He relates to each individually.
How does the Lord Jesus go before His sheep?Hide Answer
1. He has led the way to heaven by suffering and laying down His life for us (Heb 2:10, 18; 10:19, 20; Jn 14:2, 3). 2. He leads us by His own example (Jn 13:15, 34; 15:10, 12; 1 Pet 2:21–23).
What does it mean for you to follow your shepherd?Hide Answer
Following our shepherd begins with believing that He is our only Savior (cf. Jn 10:25–27). Our trust in Him enables us to obey everything He commands and follow His footsteps wherever He goes (cf. Jn 12:26).
What does Jesus mean that He is the door? How do we enter by Him?Hide Answer
Jesus is the only way of eternal life (10:10, 28; 14:6). We enter this door by believing in Him, acknowledging Him as our Lord and Savior, and receiving the grace of eternal life from Him (this includes being baptized into Him for the remission of sins, letting our feet be washed to have a part with Him, and partaking of His body and His blood).
How is the good shepherd different from the thieves?Hide Answer
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but the good shepherd comes to bring life to the sheep (10:9, 10).
How is he different from the hireling?Hide Answer
The hireling does not care about the sheep because they are not his own, and he flees in the face of danger. But the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep because they are His own (10:11–14).
What are some present-day examples of thieves and hirelings?
What does the image of “go in and out and find pasture” suggest?Hide Answer
Freedom, safety, and satisfaction
How have you found abundant life through the Lord Jesus?Hide Answer
cf. Jn 4:14; 6:35; 7:37, 38
What message is conveyed by the words “I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (14)?Hide Answer
The verse in Greek is literally, “…I know mine, and mine know me.” The shepherd’s ownership of his sheep is emphasized. Therefore, the reciprocal knowledge of the shepherd and his sheep is based on an affection of belonging. It is much more than theoretical knowledge, but encompasses mutual acknowledgment, understanding, and communion.
What do the “other sheep” not of this fold refer to (16)?Hide Answer
According to the prediction in Jn 11:49–51, Jesus would not only die for the whole nation, but also gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. The salvation that Jesus accomplishes goes beyond the boundaries of the Jews and reaches people universally (cf. Acts 2:38, 39). This saying of Jesus has also been interpreted as being prophetic of the future gathering of God’s people who are not yet in His true church.
Why does Jesus speak of His power and authority to take His life again?Hide Answer
If Jesus had no authority to take up His own life, His death would have been a noble act of self-sacrifice but ineffective for our salvation (1 Cor 15:14–18). On the contrary, Jesus is able to bring us abundant life and we can be assured that we shall never perish because He is God Himself, the author and lord of life (Jn 6:57; 14:19; Rev 1:18).
What did Jesus cite repeatedly to authenticate His claim as the Son of God? Why?Hide Answer
Time and again Jesus spoke about His works as His witness (10:25, 31, 37, 38). These were the signs He performed, which revealed His identity as the Christ. In this passage, He urged the people to consider the works He had done because they bear visible testimony that He had indeed been sent by His Father (cf. 14:10, 11). Only the One sent by God could have done such great works (cf. 9:32, 33).
Record what Jesus taught about His unity with His Father.Hide Answer
1. He did works in His Father’s name (10:25, 32). 2. His Father has given His sheep to Him (10:29). 3. He and His Father are one (10:30). 4. The Father sanctified Him and sent Him into the world (10:36). 5. The Father is in Him, and He in His Father (10:38).
What did Jesus do beyond the Jordan that led many to believe in Him?Hide Answer
Jesus stayed there (10:40). Although the passage does not explicitly explain how His stay resulted in such a great impact, we can recall how Jesus led the Samaritans to faith in Him through His word when He stayed with them (Jn 4:41, 42). The words of the people, “John performed no sign” also suggest that Jesus performed signs among them, demonstrating that He was indeed the greater One whom John had preached about (Jn 1:15; 27, 30).