Sunday School Lesson Sunday, April 30, 2017 The Good Shepherd’s Love
To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator
Time: A.D. 29 Place: Jerusalem
Golden Text: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:14-15).
Lesson Outline: I. Following – John 10:1-6; II. Entering – John 10:7-10; Trusting – John 10:11-15
Lesson Outline: I. Following
John 10:1 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. John referred to Jesus’ teaching on shepherd and sheep as a figure of speech or illustration rather than a parable. Parables usually have one main point of instruction, but this illustration has several parallel truths. A sheepfold was an enclosure where the sheep were put at night or during a stormy weather for protection.
The enclosure were sometimes inside caves but was often built with solid walls made of stone and sometimes topped with thorn branches. There would be one entrance which served as a gate or door to the pen. It was a common practice for the shepherd to lie across that opening as he slept. Since there was only one entrance into the sheepfold if anyone trying to enter by climbing over the wall was doing so with sinister intentions. Jesus said they were thieves and robbers. A shepherd would never climb into the fold by going over the wall but would always enter by the door, confirming that he was the true shepherd and has reason to access the sheepfold. ” Some other way” the Pharisees has secured their power by illegitimate means. “A thief” steals in secret; a robber plunders openly with violence. The Pharisees supported themselves in their opposition to Christ with this principle, that they were the pastors of the church, and that Jesus was an intruder and an imposter and therefore the people were bound in duty to stick to them, and against Him. In this Scripture Jesus describes who were the false shepherds and who was the true shepherd, leaving them to infer what they were.
John 10:2 – But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. In contrast to the thief, the true shepherd would come through the door. Jesus in this parable distinguished the shepherd from the robber. He makes Himself to be both the door by which the shepherd enters and the shepherd that enters by the door. Jesus is the door and the shepherd of the sheep. Jesus Christ is the door of the shepherds so that none who come not by Him are to accounted pastors, but thieves and robbers though they pretend to be shepherds.
John 10:3 – To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. In Jesus’ day sheep were kept in an enclosure for the night with a watchman to guard the gate of the sheepfold against thieves. Thieves would avoid the watchman by seeking to enter the fold through a way other than the gate. It was common for several shepherds to shelter their sheep in the same fold. There would be a watchman who stepped outside to allow a shepherd to enter and get his sheep. Although there were several sheep in the fold other than the shepherds when he called them they knew his voice from the other shepherd. Shepherds knew their sheep well and gave them names.
John 10:4 – And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. Shepherds in that day never drove their sheep they led them, they walked ahead of them with a protective staff, in this, the shepherd made certain that nothing dangerous was lying in wait to attack and destroy his sheep. Jesus is our Shepherd, He walks along with us through this life journey. We often forget in the middle of hard times that our Shepherd is ahead of us leading and preparing the way, He never leaves us alone. Jesus’ sheep know His voice, only those who belong to Him know Him as their Shepherd and confidently follow him. In order to hear the Shepherd’s voice, we must have a relationship with Him, this come through communicating with Him on a daily basis, reading and studying the Bible, fasting to make your spirit more sensitive to His voice, and making the physical desires that are contradictory to the Word of God come submissive to the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
John 10:5 – And a stranger will they not follow, but flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. A stranger is anyone whom the sheep do not know, not necessarily a thief and a robber. Sheep would not follow a stranger’s voice even if he used the shepherd’s call and imitated his tone. The sheep knew the voice of their shepherd and they wouldn’t follow a stranger. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus is faithful, His attention never wavers. He knows each of us intimately, He knows our voice, He knows our strength and weakness. Although Jesus has many sheep, He knows each of us by name. Under His guidance, we experience protection and an abundant life. When we build a relationship with Him, we know His voice, we know the Word of God, and if anyone tries to lead us astray from the Word of God we know not to follow.
John 10:6 – This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Many listening to Jesus that day could not comprehend what He was saying, especially the Pharisees. Those who were not already part of God’s flock could not understand the truth Jesus presented. The first thing they needed was to believe in Him and the message He presented about Himself. Unbelievers can’t make sense out of an illustration like one Jesus used as a parable. The Jewish leaders were not the shepherds they were supposed to be and took advantage of the sheep rather than caring for them. Jesus is the true Shepherd, He comes to His sheep in the proper way according to the Father’s will. Only those who belong to Him know Him as their Shepherd and follow Him.
Lesson Outline – II. Entering – John 10:7-10
John 10:7 – Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. In contrast to the thieves and robbers who were the false teacher and religious leaders who had come before Him and only done the sheep harm, Jesus is the true Shepherd who properly guides, nurtures, and guards the sheep but He is also the Door of the sheepfold, the only way to enter is by Him. In general, He is as a door shut, to keep out thieves and robbers and such as are not fit to be admitted. He is a door open for passage and communication. By Jesus, as the door, we have our first admission into the flock of God. By Him God comes to His church, visit it, and communicates Himself to it. By Him, as the door, the sheep are at last admitted into the heavenly kingdom.
John 10:8 – All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. Jesus not only explained that false teachers (thieves and robbers) would come but also that His identity as Shepherd involved a sacrifice. He laid down His life not only for the good of the sheep but in their stead. The false teacher that came before Jesus didn’t have their best interest at heart, Jesus came to give them life and to bring them into a relationship with the Father. We all were once sinners, but coming to Jesus and having Him as our Shepherd, our sins has been forgiven and now we have entrance to the Father and in our transition an entrance to heaven.
John 10:9 – I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. Jesus, the Shepherd, gives spiritual life and access to spiritual food. The Word of God is food for our spirit, it nourishes it, strengthen it, guides, comfort, rebuke, instruct and gives us peace knowing how much Jesus and the Father love us. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were promoting themselves as the “door” to a right relationship with God. After all, they were the educated and trained ones when it came to the spiritual truth, so they were the ones who should be trusted in spiritual leadership. In reality, they were hindering people from finding salvation, partly because of their of their pride and self-exaltation. Jesus said that He was the true Door and the means of a right relationship with God, through Him and Him only salvation could be found. That salvation would lead to inner satisfaction in much the same way sheep were satisfied when feeding in luxurious green pastures. Them going in and out indicates the complete liberty people find in knowing Him as Savior. He provides salvation, security, and provision, and these are continuous with every child of God throughout life.
John 10:10 – The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The thieves take life, the Shepherd gives it. Abundant life includes salvation, nourishment, healing, and much more. Life here refers to eternal life, God’s life, it speaks not only of endlessness but of a quality of life. With Christ, life on earth can reach much higher quality, and then in heaven, it will be complete and perfect. Those outsides of Christ have no guarantee of eternal life with Him and do not know how to lean on Him to meet their needs. Rather we are a believer or nonbeliever, each will have an eternal life either with Him or without Him. We are spirit beings, and our spirit does not die. Jesus wanted His followers then and now to be certain of the truth. He is the Good Shepherd, He knows every one of His sheep personally and by name. At the same time, His sheep needs to know Him. Knowing Him is vital for a healthy spiritual life in this sin-stricken world. As we grow spiritually, we will grow in the deeper knowledge of Him.
Lesson Outline: III. Trusting – John 10:11-15
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Jesus is the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep as opposed to the wicked thief who takes their lives. While life refers to eternal life, life here refers to physical life. Jesus laid down His physical life in order to give us eternal life. A good shepherd will go so far as to give his life for his sheep, a hireling, or hired hand, who will run away and leave them at the earliest provocation. A hired hand was motivated only by the money he could earn, he had no personal interest in the welfare of the sheep. Our Good Shepherd knows us to the same degree His Father knows Him and He knows the Father, this intimate knowledge is what enabled Him to carry out His Father’s will which included laying down His life for His sheep. Our growing knowledge of Jesus is what will enable us to become more and more obedient to God’s will for us. Jesus’ self-sacrifice, motivated by love, saved His elect from the danger of eternal death and brought them into the green pastures of eternal life.
John 10:12 – But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. A hireling is a hired shepherd, a mercenary, who tends the flock for his own interest. When hired shepherd sees a wolf coming he flees, not caring about the sheep. Jesus carefully explained the difference between a hireling and a good shepherd. The shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep, the hired hand or hireling who does not own them would run to save his life when he saw a wolf approaching the flock. Many who are ministering today are hired hireling, they are in it for the money and not for the leading of the sheep. Many of them don’t know the name of their flock or what the flock is going through unless they are told by others. Shepherds are to have a close relationship with the Father in order to know what is going on with the flock even when the flock doesn’t come to them with their problems or issues. Many are secular educated and spiritually dead, they can’t hear the Father and the Father is not hearing them because they don’t have a relationship with Him.
John 10:13 – The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. A hireling doesn’t care what happens to the flock because he’s only in it for the money or for his best interest. When the flock is in need of counseling the hireling is never in reach to minister to them and when they do minister to them it isn’t effective because he or she is not being led by the Spirit of God. It’s not by power, or might, but by the Spirit of the Living God, a shepherd or leader can minister to the sheep.
John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus’ relationship to His own is as close as His relationship with His Father. Because of this intimate relationship, His love compelled Him not only to risk His life but also willingly lay it down at the cross for His people. Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep knows Him, they abide in Him and in the Word of God meaning they follow the written instructions of the Bible for their daily life.
John 10:15 – As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. Jesus had a close relationship with the Father, He knew the Father and the Father knew Him, and He knew how much the Father loved His people and Jesus was the only One honorable enough to redeem His people from their sins. He laid down His life for His people only to resume it, God loved Him too much to leave Him in the grave. He yields to death, and conquered death, and triumph over the grave. Jesus did this for the believer, and all we have to do is live according to His Father’s commandments. As we love Jesus, it will be easy for us to keep the commandments.