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  Thank you for reading, and have a blessed day!


The Glory of God in Love

I’d usually ask you to take some time to read the Scripture for the post before continuing, but I’ll be in several different places, so instead, spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord to open your eyes to His truth, and may He be seen and read, not me.

Ask yourself this question: How is God most glorified?  Not just in your life, but in general, in the world itself, how is our God glorified? I would answer it is love.  Not a artificial, Lifetime movie love.  Not a Kay jewelers kind of love.  But in the sacrificial, life-changing, redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

Scripture is clear that God is concerned for His glory.  It is clear that this is what God is all about, and in the end, He will receive the glory that is due Him.  God’s primary goal and motivation for what He does here is His glory.  Yet we cannot read that and understand that and see God as a selfish (in the human sense of the word), ignorant, unloving deity.  That is not our God.  God is concerned with His glory, but because He is love, grace, and mercy, He chooses to reveal Himself and glorify Himself through His love for us.

We cannot separate God’s concern and desire for His glory and His love for us.  His means for accomplishing His glory is primarily found in His love for us, in the salvation secured by Jesus.  So God’s glory, and His love, are both best revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, whom this post and this blog is ultimately about.  My desire is that through our understanding of who God is and how He works that we would see more of Jesus, and realize that in order to understand God, and when we do understand God, we must see Jesus.  Jesus is the revealing of God to the world, and we must rest everything on Him.

When people turn to Christ for salvation, the greatest event that occurs is not just their salvation from sin and hell.  It is the glorification of God in the world, in that person’s heart, and in the rejoicing that comes from God’s work.  When God is loved, glorified, and treasured in Christ by His creation, that is when He is most glorified.  When we look at ourselves, we must see Jesus if we are a believer.  Treasuring Him and enjoying Jesus is how we glorify God.

Yet there’s a tendency, at least for me, to focus on one or the other.  I wonder, is it all about God’s glory, or all about His love?  I think the answer is found in Scripture.  So let’s go there.

Ezekiel 11:19–“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”

I know of no greater love that God shows than making us more like Jesus.  God doesn’t do this, this salvation, this removing of a heart of stone, simply because it is on His to-do list.  He does it because He does love us.  I think we can overemphasize God’s love only when we fail to recognize that, in addition to His love, He does have a just wrath towards sin and the subsequent need for our repentance.  But it is foolish and unbiblical to forget how much God loves us.  Again, not in a artificial, pop song kind of way.

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8–“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Notice in verse 6 that it says “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Jesus was no accident.  He came with a purpose, to save us and to glorify His heavenly Father.  So this love was not just something God randomly decided to do.  He ordained and set in motion His plan to both love us and glorify Himself through it before the world was born.  He loves us more than we could ever imagine, in ways we could not fathom.  It is a love that reaches beyond the grave, that sacrifices Himself in Jesus to take our place and take our sin away.  It is a love that never lets go, that never fails, that never stops, and will continue through all eternity.  No country song or Nicholas Sparks movie can ever come close to that.

When we take the love of God out of the gospel, and stress the importance of God’s glory to an extent that we forget how it is shown and given, then we take the heart of the gospel away.  Jesus gave His life for us.  If He had not loved us, He would not have done this.  You don’t willingly die for someone unless you love them.  If we go around telling people that Christianity is the truth, and trying to show them why they should become one, are they really going to come to faith based on the idea that God wants to be glorified?  I doubt it.  We live in a culture where it’s all about “What’s in it for me?”  That may not be the correct question, but it is the question nonetheless.  We can answer that question with love, in telling them that we are sinners in need of grace, but God, in His goodness and love, sent Jesus to bear our penalty on the cross and to give us salvation.  It is then, after we come to faith in Jesus, that we begin to see that our salvation is not for us, and that God saved us for a reason.  While God saved us because He loves us, we are not the end point of salvation.

So that’s what happens when God’s love for us is forgotten within the gospel.  Now let’s look at what happens when we neglect the reason for salvation, which is the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:10–“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We were created, loved, saved, forgiven, and redeemed for a purpose.  It was not so that the world could look at us as God.  We are a reflection of Jesus.  And we are often poor reflectors of His grace and love.  We do not compare to God’s holiness, to His love.  We are to make every effort to, but we are not perfect nor will we be.  Therefore, we must realize that in order for God’s purposes to be achieved in salvation, the world must not look at us, but they must look at God.  They must see Jesus, and come to faith in Him to the glory of God.

When we focus on the love of God and neglect that God loves us for a reason, and it’s not something within us, but for His glory, then we fail to give the honor God is due.  We make Christianity seem like it’s a self-help club, designed to make you feel loved and feel better about yourself.  We tell people it’s okay to just live your life however you want, because God loves you and that’s all that matters.  God loves you and He’s the only one whose love and approval matters, but that is not to be where our walk with Him ends.  The end point of salvation is the glory of God found in the glory of Jesus.  Jesus said right before He gave up His life, “Father, glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify You.”  When we trust in Jesus and pursue Jesus and reflect Jesus, God gets the glory.  That’s what our lives are about, making much of Jesus in all that we do.  As I’ve said before, it’s not about just putting on your khaki pants one day a week and listening to the latest Chris Tomlin album.  It is so much more than that.

Ezekiel 36:22-23–“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.  And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”

It is not about us.  God is jealous for His glory.  He has a right to be, for He is the Almighty Creator of everything.  He does love us, and God is love.  He is the epitome of it, but this love that He has for us carries with it and compels in us a response, and that response is to glorify God.  When people place their faith in Jesus Christ, and repent from their sin, that brings glory to God for His saving work and His love for us.  We glorify God when we love God for His love for us.  His love produces love in us, glory for Him, and in return, our love for Him and glory for His name in our lives.  When the world looks at us, they need to see a love for God and each other, and our good works, but not in a way that glorifies us, but in a way that says we are responding to His love and glorifying Him.  We are not the point of salvation, God is, because He alone is worthy of glory, but yet He loves and saves us so that we can bring Him glory by knowing His love, and reflecting that to the world.  How cool is that!

1 Peter 2:12–“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Again going back to Ephesians 2:10, we were saved for a purpose.  God desires to save us and show us love so that our lives may be lived in response to the salvation in Jesus to the glory of God.  And this should increase our joy.  It should increase our joy to realize that it is not about us, but about God.  It should increase our joy when we serve God in response to His love for us with love for Him and bring Him glory.  Romans 5:2 says that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  When we allow God to work in and through us to produce a life that glorifies His name, we experience His love and blessing.  Again, I know of no greater love than Jesus’, and God’s love for us in making us like our Lord and Savior.  If the love of the gospel does not produce in us the same love for the world, and the desire to glorify God by loving His people, we have failed to truly and wholly grasp the gospel.

I pray that this all points to Jesus, for it is in Jesus that God’s glory and love meet.  For God glorified Himself in showing us love through Jesus, and He continues to do that today as people come to faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the supreme reflection of God, and should be our example as we seek to be like Him and know God and make Him known in the world around us.

May this cause us to treasure Christ, to hold to Him.  May we find in Him the way to glorify God, in making much of Jesus, thereby loving God.  May we show this and bring Him glory in our love for others, a sacrificial love that resembles that of Christ.  May this teaching spur us to God, to know Him and make Him known by going out into the world around us and sharing Him, sharing His love and His glory, and spreading that to the ends of the earth.  May you be encouraged by these words, and may God bless you supremely as you grow in Christ.

God bless,

Neal E.