John - Following the Good Shepherd
Dr. Dowell Flatt
Seminar in the Gospel of John (MIN 516)
13 November 2000
Following the Good Shepherd
Text: John 10.1-5
Thesis: To prove that Christians as the true sheepfold must know their Shepherd and follow His voice.
1. “The allegory of the Good Shepherd is closely connected with the events occurring in the preceding chapter and was delivered to put in contrast true and false teachers” (Woods 202).
2. The idea of the Good Shepherd was familiar to the Jewish mindset.
- The psalmist wrote about God as the Good Shepherd (Ps. 23.1ff.).
- The prophets spoke of leaders in terms of being shepherds, but as ones who had failed (Jer. 23.1-4; 25.32-38; Zech. 11; Is. 56.9-12; and Ezek. 34).
- Nevertheless, prophecies were made about a Shepherd who was coming who would truly be over God’s people and tend to them correctly (e.g., Ezek. 34.23) (Morris 443).
3. The text will be considered by noting three points:
I. The Good Shepherd enters in the approved way (John 10.1-2).
A. Jesus speaks of some who try to enter in by “some other way” (John 10.1).
1. “All who claim to be caring for God’s flock but who do not enter into the sheepfold through the door which is Christ Himself – all, in other words, who hold out before men and women the prospect of a higher and better life apart from the necessity of redemption through the blood of Jesus, are deceivers, spiritual charlatans depriving men of salvation that might otherwise be theirs” (Tasker 128).
2. Christ Himself tells us that He alone is the door and that no man can truly enter in except through Him (John 10.7; cf. John 14.6).
3. People who come in by any other way have no right to enter.
B. In contrast, the Good Shepherd enters in by the proper way (John 10.2).
1. This is the mark of the Real Shepherd (Howard 621).
2. Jesus “came as the legitimate heir of the chosen seed and claimed to be the fulfillment of the promises of the OT revelation” (Tenney 108).
3. “He has the right to enter, and this is recognized when the doorkeeper opens to him” (Morris 446-47).
4. Also, all who enter in by the proper way are of the same character of the Good Shepherd (Westcott 152) (Woods 203).
II. The sheep know their Good Shepherd (John 10.3-4).
A. This is as a result of “the personal bond between the shepherd and his sheep […]” (Bruce 224).
1. The Shepherd calls his sheep by name, which “has a distributive force meaning that he calls each sheep by its own name knowing individually his own sheep” (Pack 1:166).
a. “In the Old Testament, God called his special ones, his closest servants, by name (Exodus 33:12, 17; cf. Isaiah 43:1)” (Keener).
b. The Shepherd knows all about us, even to the point of knowing the number of hairs on our head (Matt. 10.30).
2. How much do we know about our Shepherd?
B. These sheep were able to distinguish between their Shepherd’s voice and other shepherd’s voices because they had heart it and listened for it often.
1. Are we able to discern between our Lord’s teaching and man’s teaching?
2. Do we listen and hear our Lord’s voice often (cf. 2 Tim. 2.15)?
a. The sheep learn “to trust it, to rely on it, but even more significant, to actually enjoy hearing it” (Keller 61).
b. Do we love the Words of our Shepherd more than gold and consider them to be sweeter than honey (Ps. 19.10)?
C. These sheep would not know a stranger’s voice (John 10.5).
1. “They will flee as if from a wolf or from the plaque” (Robertson 175).
2. “The flock would instantly detect the difference and would scatter in panic” (Tenney 108).
3. In Palestine, people who were not the shepherd, even while wearing shepherd clothing, calling for sheep have only succeeded in making the sheep run away (Morris 448).
III. The sheep follow their Good Shepherd (John 10.4-5).
A. “The sheep follow readily because they know their own shepherd’s voice and his name for each of them and because he had led them out before. They love and trust their shepherd” (Robertson 174).
B. The Shepherd leads, not drives, the sheep (Carson 383).
1. Why then do they follow?
a. The Shepherd goes before them assuring the sheep of safety and protection.
b. The Shepherd had been faithful in all of the other times before.
c. The Shepherd had never led them to danger.
d. Therefore, they fully trusted in Him.
2. They follow because of their knowing the Shepherd’s voice, which entails “knowing the revealer and understanding his revelation” (Schnackenburg 2:283).
a. The Revealer was the one who was willing to and did lay down his life for His sheep (John 10.15-18).
b. The Revelation is one that leads the sheep on the path to Heaven.
c. Therefore, “Where He leads, I will follow.”
3. Also, the Shepherd’s leadership of love and grace moved the sheep to follow wholly.
C. “For the sheep live in their shepherd, the center of their unity, the guarantee of their security, and the pledge of their prosperity […]” (Freeman 20).
1. Christ is the Good Shepherd and He has gone on before us to insure safety and protection.
2. His voice cries out to us to follow Him.
3. The only proof “that we are Christ’s sheep is that we hear his voice and follow him” (Johnson 159).
4. Will we follow the Good Shepherd?