Jesus Died for His Sheep–John 10:1-30

John 10:7-18 says “So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.'”

This may be one of the more challenging passages of Scripture that I’ve gone through, because there is just so much to unpack.  So bear with me, and let’s see what Jesus is telling us here.

The first thing I want us to see is this: that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to get to God.  Why? Well…He is God.  That helps, right?  Here’s the problem with believing that people will get us into a right relationship with God: they’re sinful, just like us.  Our pastors, leaders, prophets of the past, including great men like Abraham, John the Baptist, and Paul, are sinners.  Because of this, there is no way that we can, through them, get to God.  God had to come down Himself to bring us back, and He did this in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ.

All “gods” of this world: Buddha, Allah, idols, pagan gods, and material idols (money, sex, cars, fame) will pass away and burn.  But Jesus, God the Son, came to become the road we need to find God.  The greatest news of all: Jesus traveled the road to get to us, and invites us to walk that road with Him throughout our lives as we move closer to eternal rest in our Father.

Verse 9: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Jesus says in John 14:6 that no one can come to God except through Him.  With the passage above, we see this in the image of a door.  There is no door number 2 or 3.  There is one door and it is Jesus.  We cannot miss this or misinterpret it.  Some parts of the Bible are harder to understand than others, and some require digging deep to figure it out.  But this is not one of those.  Jesus is it.  No Jesus, no God.  There is no salvation apart from Christ Jesus.

The next thing I want us to see is that Jesus is a GOOD shepherd.  Notice His description of the bad shepherd, that cares not for the sheep, but only for himself, and flees at the first sign of danger.  It appears that Jesus is calling the Pharisees out, and they would understand this.  So what they hear is Jesus condemning them for being false shepherds, being “thieves and robbers,” feeding themselves off the sheep, and not serving them or taking care of them.  Perhaps this is why in the next few minutes, the Pharisees pick up stones to chunk at our Lord.

Notice verses 11, 17-18: What does it say?  That Jesus was murdered, killed, and forced to die?  Not at all.

Jesus “lays down his life” for us.  For His sheep.  He even says that no one takes it from Him, but that He willingly died for us.  That magnifies and multiplies, or at least it should, our view of His death on a cross.  What it means is that He didn’t have to do it.  It wasn’t a punishment.  It was His choice.  John 19:30 says that He “gave up His spirit.” We didn’t kill Jesus, as some have said.  Jesus willingly died for us, to take our sin away.  Now, our sin made a death needed, but we must understand this if we will understand our God: He didn’t have to meet that need.  He didn’t, and doesn’t, owe us anything, except eternal hell because of our sin and rebellion.  But Jesus came and died for us because God loves us.

Jesus calls His sheep, and knows them by name.  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know my Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  Jesus knows who He is dying for, and it is those whom God has promised will call on His name.  Jesus died specifically for those who will place their faith in Him.  This refutes universalism, which states that everyone will be saved because Jesus died for everyone.  No.  Jesus’ death only paid the penalty for sin for those that believe.  If you don’t believe Christ, and reject Him, His death becomes not your salvation, but the stumbling block that will have you tumbling to hell.

We don’t like to think about this, but we have to.  We must decide what to do with Jesus.  If the Word is true, and I believe it is, Jesus will either be our salvation, if we are His, or He will be the stumbling block to those who do not believe.  Saying His death covered everyone, even if they haven’t believed, is like saying you can look at the top of Everest and imagine you’re there, and you actually are there.  It’s just not possible.  Am I saying it is wrong to tell people Christ died for them?  Absolutely not!  For He did die for them…if they believe.  Jesus has not failed, but in order for our status before God to change as a result of Jesus’ death, we must first place our faith in the fact that He did die for our sin, and only He could do that, which we’ll look at more about in the next post.

Clearing up verse 16, which says there are sheep “not of this fold,” Jesus here states that not only will some Jews be saved, but outside of the fold of the Jews, He will save Gentiles as well.  And they too will hear His voice.  Jesus came for Jew and Gentile.  There will be only “one flock”–those who belong to the “one shepherd”–Jesus.

Jesus calls us sheep in this passage.  I’m not too familiar with sheep, but one thing that we should know is this: they’re stupid.  Is Jesus calling us stupid?  Not directly in this passage, but yes, we are stupid.  Even the wisest man on Earth is stupid when it comes to the infinite wisdom of God, and to knowing Him, for we cannot do it alone.  This is why we need a shepherd.

God must call us to Himself.  The idea of divine calling, of election, is a biblical truth that we must embrace.  We cannot save ourselves, and we need God’s help to get to God.  In Jesus, in this passage, we see that He came to lay down His life for those whom God calls and respond to Jesus.  Verse 27 of this chapter says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  Jesus calls His sheep so that they may follow Him.  Don’t miss this: Jesus called you so that you would not remain in sin anymore.  He calls us to die to ourselves to follow Him because He died that we may live.

How do I know if I’m called?  Do you desire Jesus?  Do you see the truth in the Word?  Do you want Jesus?  Good news…He is calling.  Answer.  It’s not a point we debate within ourselves at the moment of salvation.  If you desire Jesus, He is calling, and He begs you to make Him Lord and Savior of your life.  The shepherd stands at the door, knocking.

Jesus is also one with God.  He is the Son of God, He is also God the Son.  The Father has given the sheep into Jesus’ hands, and He will not lose them.  Verses 28-29: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Good news Christian: Jesus has placed you in the Father’s hands, and He’s not going to drop you or lose you.  While we struggle and sin, and He has to do major work on us, He doesn’t lose His true children.  Why?  Not because they are constantly faithful and being great super-Christians.  But because His sovereign love bought them, and He will keep them.  You know the real reason I decided to come back to Christ a few years ago, and commit to dying to myself, and give myself back to God?  Because God made that happen.  God called, and told me it’s time to come back home, that He still loved me, and His grace reminded me I was free.  He called me to follow Him again…and I knew it was truth.  This is the concept of Jesus calling, that when our Lord calls us, we will know it is Him.  Only He could save me, and only He could have called me back several years ago.  And it is only Him whom we serve.

We also need to see this: Some are not called.  Verse 26 says “But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”  This was directed to the Pharisees.  Am I saying that before someone is born, God has decided whether they will follow Him or not?  No.  I’m not sure what to think of that statement, and honestly, I’m still wrestling with that concept.  But I do believe in a sovereign God who has a right to do whatever He wants.  Why?  Because a God who is not in control is not a God at all.  All of us deserve hell, so we can’t argue that God isn’t fair.  In fact, God is ridiculously unfair by our standards, by giving us salvation.  Should we worry about which people are going to respond to the call God gives out in the gospel and who will not?  No, for God is the one who saves.  Our duty is to preach the gospel, and those who God has called will be saved, not from our efforts, but by His grace.

Lastly, know that Jesus’ main purpose was not for us to go to heaven.  It was that we have life, and have life abundantly in God.  For years, I thought being a Christian meant I got to go to heaven, and I just had to go to church once a week.  I was busy living for myself, trying to figure out how to battle sin on my own, how to live my life the way I wanted while still somehow making God happy so I could get heaven.  What I realize now is this: I was too busy living, and I needed to die.  To die to myself, to stop trying to do it on my own, and come back to the God who saved me, to my heavenly Father who sent His Son to die for me, and to follow His lead, to become a sheep again as my beautiful shepherd lead me.  Can I tell you that dying to myself and what I want, and dying to my own efforts at being righteous have led to a holier lifestyle, a more Godly attitude, and more joy and love for God and for people than ever before?  Can you believe that?  That our God works in and through us by grace.  He came, not just for fire insurance, but to give us a full life that can be lived with Him.

God is not to be just another part of our life.  He is to be more than life itself for us.  Jesus says in verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Abundantly.  Would we rather live lives filled with worldly things, temporal pleasures, pleasing ourselves?  Is there anyone who would sacrifice all they have, die to themselves, and enter into a life lived for God, a constant relationship with the Almighty Creator who is our Father and will bless us with His love, protection, peace, and joy, in ways that my words can never fully describe?  I want that.  I pray that you would want true life, that you would want truth, joy, and peace, and a love that only God can give.  Michael Kelley said recently that the message that Jesus is both the means and end of the gospel, that in Jesus we are rich, and that in Jesus we have all we need for an abundant, God-filled life, is a much better message than “Hey…hell is really hot.”  I believe that.  Do you?

May you be encouraged knowing that the good shepherd willingly laid down His life for yours.  May we never forget the sacrifice Jesus made.  May our message to the world be that the only door is Christ.  May our message be, not just one of scare tactics, but one that offers abundant life in God through Jesus, while warning of sin and hell with the rejection of this life.  May we seek our Shepherd, our Jesus, above all things.  My prayer is this, that Jesus would call, and that we, His sheep, would answer to the one who died for us.

God bless,

Neal E.

As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for future posts, you can comment here or email me at rembry@forum.montevallo.edu  Thank you for reading, and have a blessed day!

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