This chapter is long. We would suggest you only read enough verses from this chapter to listen to Jesus and journal.
The Good Shepherd
This chapter connects with chapter 9 as Jesus is yet schooling the Pharisees. They were blind; they had no sense of needing God. Being blind, they were deceived and claimed to know how to save themselves morally and spiritually. Jesus will now contrast the blind false shepherds with the true Shepherd.
This entire figure of speech confused the Pharisees and they could not comprehend what Jesus was saying (6). Their confusion ran so deep over the metaphor Jesus used of the Good Shepherd that some again blurted out that He had a demon and was insane. Others, however, held firm and were divided from the demon-accusing group and declared that there was no one who could do what Jesus did in opening blind eyes and being oppressed by demons (20-21).
I AM The Good Shepherd (1-5)
Jesus opened with one of His “truly” statements, calling His listeners to bear down and listen closely to His truth. Jesus pictured a shepherd coming to the sheepfold in the early hours of the morning. The sheepfold Jesus had in mind was one surrounded on all sides by rock walls. On top of the walls were briars and thorns snarled up together. Thieves who seek to enter the sheepfold secretly and robbers who enter the sheepfold violently do not use the door to enter; they find another way in. The shepherd always comes to the door and enters there. The shepherd is known because he comes to his sheep by way of the door (1-2).
The gatekeeper who had been also the watchman by night opens the door to the shepherd. Once in the sheepfold, the shepherd calls out to his sheep. There are several different flocks in the fold. The sheep belonging to the shepherd who has entered by the door calls to his sheep, and they are familiar with his voice and begin following him (3).
The shepherd does not drive them out from behind, for the shepherd is affectionate with his sheep, having given them names, and they naturally follow the lead of his voice (4). In contrast, a stranger would need to drive the sheep out; they would not follow but instead they would fear the stranger and flee from the stranger, knowing a stranger posed a danger to them (5). The Pharisees didn't get it (6).
I AM The Door of the Sheep (7-10)
Jesus changed the figure of speech seeking to help them understand. He again asked them to bear down and listen to the truth they were struggling to hear.
Jesus was moving from the morning time to the day time. He declared Himself to be the door of the sheep. Jesus then portrayed the shepherd leading the sheep to pasture. Once in the pasture, the shepherd finds an enclosure for the sheep to enter and exit. They can go feed or they can remain in the safety of the enclosure. The enclosure has no door so the shepherd becomes the door letting in and out the sheep which belong to his flock (7).
Jesus then makes a rough claim: all who came before Him and pretended to be shepherds were actually thieves and robbers. Some were being sneaky and some were being violent—all were caring for themselves and not the sheep. Sheep would not listen to their voice because they never really cared for the sheep (8). These pretend shepherds came only to steal the sheep so they could kill and sell the sheep or eat the sheep themselves and destroy the flock. The true shepherd was known because he would come to give the sheep life, abundant life, lush fields to feed in, and protection from thieves and robbers (10). All who entered by the Jesus door would be saved from the thieves and robbers. They would come to the enclosure for safety; they would go to the pastures and thrive abundantly with the Good Shepherd, Jesus, watching over them (9).
I AM the Good Shepherd, Further Developed (11-21)
In the first scene of the Good Shepherd story, you have morning. In the second scene, you have the day time. Jesus completed the figure of the Good Shepherd by introducing the night time. In ancient Palestine, nighttime predators roamed the countryside—wolves, panthers, leopards, bears, lions, cheetahs, and hyenas. Those who were hired cared for their own life more than the sheep. When the hired shepherd sees danger, the hired shepherd's instinct and practice is to save their own life while the predators snatch up the unprotected sheep and scatters the flock into greater danger (12). The hired shepherd flees because they care about the money and their own preservation but have no compassionate commitment for the sheep (13). The Good Shepherd will not leave the sheep and will instead risk their life to save the sheep (11). All through Scripture, God's leaders were not so much called leaders as they were called shepherds to God's people. The Pharisees would have understood the analogy because God always uses the shepherd metaphor to describe His leaders.
Even today's leaders are called to "pastor" God's flock. Pastor comes from the Greek word “poimen" where we derived the English word "pastor."
The Good Shepherd not only knows his sheep, but they know him. There is an intimacy between the two; there is caring love (14).
Jesus explains that the relationship between the Good Shepherd and his sheep is modeled after the relationship between the Father and His Son. The Son lays down His life for the Father and the Father for the Son. The Son uses that relationship as a model and He lays down His life for the Father's sheep. Jesus is now shedding light on His death to come. He will lay down His life to save His sheep from the wild beasts of sin who have been unleashed on them through religion and religious hirelings (15).
Jesus then became prophetic and mentioned other sheep not of the Israelite fold, Gentiles. Jesus would become a Good Shepherd to the Gentiles. He would speak to them, and they would listen to Him. There will be one flock of Jews and Gentiles who would listen to and follow Jesus (16).
The Father has a special love for Jesus because of His sacrificial love for His sheep. Four times Jesus makes the point. He, as the Good Shepherd, will lay His life down for the sheep (11,14,17,18).
No one would take Jesus’ life. No one had authority over Jesus' physical life, save His Father. Jesus willingly lay His life down and had the authority to take it up again. Jesus was not some kind of a punching bag for the devil or some helpless pawn in a heaven and hell spat. Not even the Jews would be capable of taking His life. Jesus not only had the authority to lay down His life but He had the power to take up His life again because His Father gave Him such an authority (17,18).
The entire episode which began with the healing of the blind man ended up as it started. There was division—some claimed Jesus was troubled by demons and others could not abide such a person to heal the blind (19-21).
Tell Us Plainly, Are You the Christ? (22-33)
It was December, and the Feast which today is called Hanukkah was taking place. This was an eight-day feast, it was also called the Feast of Lights. Jesus likely would have stayed in Jerusalem from the Feast of Booths in October to this Feast in December. The Feast celebrated the rededication of the temple in 164 B.C.
Alexander the Great had made Palestine a part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. This lasted until 200 B.C. when King Antiochus III made Palestine part of the Seleucid Empire of Syria.
During this time, the Second Temple, the Temple rebuilt by the exiles who returned from Babylon, was looted and its religious services stopped. Judaism was also outlawed. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV then built an altar to Zeus in the Temple and had pigs sacrificed. Antiochus IV eventually banned the practice of circumcision.
All of this led to a revolt under the leadership of Mattathias in 167 B.C. who eventually overthrew Antiochus and the Seleucid army, gaining an independence for Israel which lasted until 63 B.C. In 63 B.C., Pompey conquered Palestine and made it a Roman province.
Three years after the altar had been erected in the temple, Mattathias restored temple worship. To commemorate the victory and the restoring of the light of worship to Israel every December, Israel celebrates the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah.
It was during this Feast when Jesus was walking in the temple among the colonnades of Solomon. The colonnades were a long covered area supported by columns which was built around the temple area. Possibly Jesus was walking there to stay out of the rain.
There the Jews found and gathered around Jesus and were demanding straight talk about whether He was the Christ.
In a rather hostile manner, they were wanting to know if He would do something Messianic for them against Roman oppression like Mattathias had done for Israel to the Seleucid Empire. They wanted no more suspense—was He the One Israel was looking for to free them from Rome? (22-24)
Jesus then told those Jews, or more correctly the leader of the Jews, that His works bore witness concerning His true identity (25). Jesus then informed them that they were not among His sheep so they could not see the works nor hear His words. They were assuming that they needed a Mattathias kind of Messiah to liberate them from Rome. Jesus had come to really liberate the whole world, including Rome (26).
On the other hand, Jesus' flock was responsive to His voice. They were hearing Him and they were following Him. Those who were not His sheep could not hear His voice while those who were His sheep could. The math was simple (27).
Jesus then told the Jews that His sheep, those who hear His voice, are given eternal life. They would never perish because of their sin nor because of physical death. Further, no one would be able to snatch or forcibly take them from the safety of Jesus' hand (28). Jesus then explained to them why this was, just in case they assumed He was seeking attention for Himself.
The Father gives souls or sheep to Jesus. The sheep do not follow Jesus because He has captured their attraction as some celebrity. They follow Jesus because they have been given to Him. They are safe in His hand from forcibly being taken because they are safe in the hand of the Father. The Father is the real focal point (29).
Then Jesus made the outright claim: "I and the Father are One." This was reminiscent of "Shema" language. "Shema" means to "hear." Israel was given a command to “hear"; "Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is One." Jesus in this statement is making Himself a part of what Israel was to hear: God is One and He is the Son of God, One with Yahweh (30).
In 20 B.C., Herod tore down the temple the exiles had rebuilt and built a new Temple. Herod's temple was begun in 20 B.C. and completed in 64 A.D., taking some eighty years to finish. When the Jews heard Jesus say He was One with the Father, they took up some of the stones which were being used for the rebuilding of the temple and thought to stone Jesus again (8:59). They had tried this once before but Jesus hid Himself (31).
Before they could throw a stone, Jesus got in a question: “For which of My many good works are you stoning Me?" It was illegal according to Jewish law for a mob to spontaneously stone anyone. Second, the Jews had not been given the right under Rome to stage an execution (32).
The Jews then announced they were not stoning Jesus for good works but for making Himself God, the religious crime of blasphemy. The crime of blasphemy was based on Numbers 15:30-31 and Deuteronomy 21:22 where those who defiantly despised and rebelled against God were to be executed. In Jesus calling Himself God, the Jews were indicting Him for being defiant to Yahweh (33).
Believe the Works (34-39)
Jesus began a rather complicated defense.
Jesus first directed them to their “law,” not the first five books but the whole Old Testament. The entire Old Testament was considered by the Jews and Jesus to be the law of God.
Jesus chose Psalm 82 as His text to show He was not being defiant to God based on their own law.
In Psalm 82, there was a court in heaven. On earth, there was a court who was supposed to be handing out the justice of heaven in their verdicts upon the poor and oppressed living on earth.
In Psalm 82 verse 5, God calls the judges and oppressors those wandering around in darkness. In verse 6, God calls them "gods." They were human judges, called to carry out God's justice, and as such they were "gods" to the children who belonged to the Most High; not "gods" in the sense that they were divine, but "gods" in the sense of carrying out the justice of God in God's place to His people.
Jesus then brilliantly concluded His logic. If God calls those who bring heaven's justice to earth "gods," how can He be considered defiant in calling Himself one with God if He was sent from God to bring justice to the earth?
Jesus urged them to consider that the Scripture was inspired and inerrant and not breakable. If God said it, it was so.
If He, Jesus, was set apart to bring justice to the world, and His works and words prove He was doing just that, then based on their law, how can He be defiant? He was, as God had declared concerning His judges, "God" (34-36).
No doubt Jesus was referring to Himself as divinity but in a brilliant maneuver was using Bible logic to prove He was within Scriptural bounds to claim the term “God."
Jesus urged them not to believe if He was not doing the Father's works (37). However, if He was doing the Father's works, then Jesus urged them that even if they could not believe in Him, they should believe His works. If they believed in the works of the Father, they would at least understand that the Father was in Him and He was in the Father. They may not be able to get right then to the Deity of Christ but they would be able to grasp that He was sent by God to bring to the earth the loving justice of God (38).
Based on Jesus’ argument, they downgraded their purpose from stoning Jesus to arresting Jesus. Again, when they reached out their hands to detain Him, Jesus slipped away; His hour had not yet come (39).
Many Believed (40-42)
Jesus then decided to leave Jerusalem and gain some separation from Jewish hostility. Jesus went to the eastside of the Jordan, likely to the Bethany (John 1:28) area where John was first baptizing people. Jesus spent some time there (40). People made the journey and came to Him. Even though John was dead, they affirmed his message he had taught them was true. John did no miracle, except everything he said about Jesus was true. Many came to Jesus there and believed in Him based on John's predictions, Jesus' works, and Jesus' words (41-42).