For an introduction to this series, click here.
May 9, 2007
This is really a rich chapter, but I don't really want to split this in two, even if that means we don't really go all that deep. We'll see what happens.
The first section of this chapter is the discourse on the Good Shepherd. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and expands on that quite a bit. I'm sure you are familiar with it. A couple of things I want to comment on. "A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (10:5) This is a very important statement. True believers in the Lord Jesus do not follow blatantly false doctrine, at least not for very long. I hope you understand the difference between differences of opinion or application and blatantly false doctrine. I am a Baptist, and I believe that the biblical mode of baptism is by immersion. That does not mean a Methodist or Presbyterian who has been sprinkled is not born again. But a truly born again person will not be persuaded to follow Mormonism or some other such false doctrine. At least that is what I believe this verse teaches.
Second thing I want to point out is the exclusivity of the Gospel. "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." (10:9) You will find lots of people, even Christian leaders, who say God will honor the sincere efforts of those who follow other religions. While that sounds very nice, it is simply not the case, according to the Bible. It is our job to confront everyone with the truth of the Gospel. If God accepted those who follow other religions, why would He command us to preach the Gospel to all nations?
One last thing: "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." (10:16) I think the primary interpretation of this passage is that Gentiles will be welcomed into the Church, and not only Jews. Of course, this is the passage that Mormons say teaches that Jesus went to North America after His resurrection and preached to the Indians. There's absolutely no anthropological or sociological evidence to support that story, but Joseph Smith wasn't exactly known for his honesty. Anyway, I want you to notice the tense of the verb Jesus used. Jesus says "I have" other sheep in a different fold. Jesus said this before a single Gentile believer was added to the church. That means you and I were already part of God's plan before we were born. That's really exciting to me.
Jesus goes on and says about His sheep: "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. I and the Father are one." (10:29-30) Notice Jesus says that the Father has given all of His sheep to Him, already at that point in time. Jesus also blatantly says He is equal to the Father. It is fashionable among skeptics to say that Jesus never claimed to be God. This is not true. He claimed to be God numerous times, and here is an example. Note the Jews' reaction: "The Jews picked up stones again to stone him." (10:31) They knew exactly what Jesus was saying. They knew He was claiming to be God, and they were ready to stone Him for it.