Lesson 58


The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

<10:1 "Most assuredly, I tell you, he who doesn't enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 10:2 But he who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 10:3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. 10:4 Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 10:5 They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don't know the voice of strangers." 10:6 Jesus spoke this parable to them, but they didn't understand what he was telling them.


 Today's Lesson 

Chapter 10 begins as abruptly as chapter 9. There seems to be little or no transition between the incident that ends chapter 9 (the man who had been born blind worshipping Jesus) and the teaching that begins chapter 10. Nevertheless, chapter 10 is one of the best teaching chapters in the Gospel. In this chapter Jesus expresses His mission in clear terms.

 

He begins with a parable drawn on the everyday life of the world around them. He talks to them about sheep and a shepherd. In the common life of these people, this story would have been well known. Communities developed a common area where sheep were brought into the fold at night. One man, or several boys, would be appointed the gatekeeper and his responsibility was to make sure that no one other than the shepherds came in and out during the night. The sheep of the entire community would be put together safely for the night.

 

In the morning, the shepherds would begin to come early to the fold. The gatekeeper would open the gate and the shepherd would call to his sheep. His sheep would hear him and they would begin to come out of the fold, eager to get away from the fold and into the hills where food and water were more plentiful. The shepherd would walk in front of the flock and they would follow him out into the countryside.

 

Now Jesus has two points to make with this teaching. The first is that the shepherd comes to the sheep through the gate. He is the legitimate leader of his flock. There is no need for him to sneak into the fold and carry away his sheep. He simply goes to the gate, the gatekeeper lets him enter, and his sheep are eager to follow him. The thief or robber, on the other hand, does not enter by the gate. They climb over the fencing or walls and carry the sheep away in the night. The gatekeeper does not let them through the gate because they do not legitimately belong.

 

The second point that Jesus is trying to make is that the sheep will follow their rightful shepherd. Another reason the thief does not come to the gate is that even if the gate were thrown wide, the sheep would not follow him. Indeed, they might scatter and this would defeat his purpose. But, the shepherd goes through the gate and when he calls out, his sheep will follow.

 

Jesus will continue to build on these ideas over the next several days. He will use this illustration to explain his own legitimacy and as a means of judging whom the people of God are.

 

Jesus taught people with stories that were pulled from their own lives. In the same way, God speaks to our hearts today. God desires an intimate relationship with us. Our God does not speak from afar. His desire is to be at the very core of our existence. God wants to be a part of our every moment. God's day and God's time is not some special part of the week that we hold as holy, it is every moment that we spend in communion with Him.

 

God wants to spend some time with you today. Can you fit Him into your schedule?

 

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