10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
V10 contains such a wonderful promise – life to the full through Jesus. What a wonderful example of this is presented in the previous chapter with the restoration of the man who was born blind. Not just a physical restoration to wholeness, but freedom from a life of judgment (Ch 9v2) and an existence governed by rules (Ch 9 vv14-16). The man recognised Jesus’ voice (v4) as a man of God. Jesus is offering so much more – he is bringing eternal life with God to all who believe in him, who follow him (v4). It’s the offer of a restoration of God’s original plan for everyone one of us.
The image of the Shepherd reminds us of Psalm 23. Jesus is saying I am the Shepherd who will always be there, walking ahead, showing the way, providing and caring. There is something more though and to me one of the most powerful truths Jesus spoke is in v 14. We are each known by him. When you think about sheep, well really they do look a lot alike. But no, Jesus is saying each of us is known personally by him, because he is our loving God. There is an immensity in a God who can know every person, but at the same time loves and understands each individual. He is after all a God of relationship, which is at the heart of this fantastic passage.
Jesus I know your voice. Thank you for the conversation we will have today and for the life you have given me. Amen
Written by Claire Moore