Jesus, The Good Shepherd - John 10:1-18

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 10:9

When God calls Jesus the Good Shepherd He suggests several truths. He suggests that there are some characteristics which distinguish Jesus from other shepherds who are not good. He suggests that there are sheep who need His care. He suggests that there are dangers which threaten the sheep, and which show clearly the goodness of the Shepherd, because of the way in which He meets these dangers and protects the sheep from them. He suggests that the sheep receive some marked benefits through the ministrations of the Shepherd. These suggestions in the name "The Good Shepherd" are unfolded in rich and blessed teaching in the lesson which we study today.


John 10:3, 4, 11.

The richness of Jesus' love for His sheep is seen in three statements which are contained in these verses. Each of these statements reveals some characteristic of His love which distinguishes Him from all other "shepherds" and gives to Him alone the right to the name "The Good Shepherd." The first of these statements is, "He calleth His own sheep by name." This shows us that Jesus' love for His sheep is a personal love. He is interested in every one. Nothing can happen to the smallest and weakest without His notice. So minutely does He care for them that He could say, "The very hairs of your head are numbered." (Matt. 10:30.) Yes, Jesus loves each one of His sheep personally. He cares for the smallest details of each life. The second statement is, "When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them." This shows us that His love is a guiding love. He leads the way before His sheep, in order that He may ward off any dangers that may lie in wait. He leads the way in order that He may choose the best and safest paths for them to walk in. How wonderful and how sweet such love is to the believer! Our paths are directed by the good Shepherd. No matter where He may call us to go, and no matter how steep and rugged the path, we have His assurance, "When He putteth forth His own sheep. He goeth before them." Surely we can trust such a Shepherd as that. Surely we may safely follow where He leads. The third statement is, "The good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." Here we find that Jesus' love is a protecting love. When dangers threaten His sheep He is willing to give His life for them. It is by virtue of His death on the Cross that we are saved from the greatest danger which could threaten any man, — the impending judgment of God upon our sins. Jesus suffered for them on the Cross. And the same death which saves us from the torments of hell, can also deliver us from the power of sin, — from the temptations which surround us on every hand. We may, if we will but trust Him, overcome all our enemies by the power of His shed blood. Jesus' love is thus greater than that of any mere man, for "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." "But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." John 15:13; Rom. 5:8; Prov. 3:5-6; Psa. 119:105; Heb. 2:9; Rev. 12:11.


John 10:4, 5, 12.

God also teaches three facts about the sheep, in three other statements in these verses. Now "sheep" in God's Word is used as a symbol of the believer. It is used particularly to mean believing Israel. But by application it also refers to the individual believer, for Israel is typical of the believer's soul. The first of these facts speaks of surrender. It is this: "The sheep follow Him." , This does not necessarily mean that the sheep must always follow Him, or else they are not sheep. Not at all. It does not mean that there may not come times of stubbornness, and wandering. But it does mean that the sheep will follow. It may be a very poor following. Some of the sheep may follow afar off, as poor Peter did at one time. Others may become entangled in briers, or marshy places, by the path, or perhaps they may slip and fall, and lie injured. But if this does happen they will not be happy and satisfied. Their hearts will be longing after the shepherd. So believers may sin. They may step aside from the path in which the Shepherd would lead them. But they will not be happy. They will be yearning, perhaps only secretly, yet yearning after the Shepherd. Again, the second fact speaks of separation: "A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him." The stranger may ensnare the sheep. He may overcome it. But the sheep will always fear the stranger. Never will it be content when in his toils. So the believer should flee from strange teachers, and from the lure of worldliness. He should live a life of separation. And, if at any time he finds that he has slipped unawares into following after a stranger, he should immediately cry out to the Lord Jesus for deliverance and pardon. His attitude toward such wandering believers is beautifully illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep. He loves even the wanderer, and goes after him until He finds him. The third fact speaks of security: "He that is an hireling seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth : and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep." The sheep may be scatterd. "How strange to say that this speaks of security," some may say. But such is the case. The sheep may be scattered, but they are still sheep. The sheep may be scattered, but they are still the shepherd's own. And have we not the promise that if a sheep be lost He will go after it until He finds it? A believer may backslide, but he can never slip out of the Shepherd's love and saving power. He has the guarantee of restoration, and has the guarantee that he shall never perish. Should we not then be obedient sheep, following the shepherd, and fleeing from strangers? Lu. 15:1-7; Jno. 10:28-29; Rom. 8:32-39; I Pet. 1:5; Ezek. 34:11-13.


John 10:1, 12

The three enemies of the believer's soul are suggested in these "verses. They are the Devil, the flesh, and the demons. First we see that the sheep are in danger from robbers and thieves. This suggests the first enemy, the Devil. He is a thief. He seeks to steal what belongs to the Lord Jesus. When Jesus died on the Cross He purchased the soul of every man. He offers, to every one eternal life through faith in Himself. But the Devil deceives men and keeps them from accepting Him, and thus he steals their souls. Then when one has become a believer he is a sheep, belonging to the Lord Jesus. Satan tries to lead the believer astray and thus seeks to rob God of the service which His children should render to Him. The hireling suggests the flesh. He represents the old nature in the believer, which tries to persuade the soul that he cares for his interest but really does not. And he particularly represents the false, worldly pastors who really do not care for the sheep, but who are serving merely for the wages they receive. God has some very plain things to say in condemnation of such pastors, or "shepherds." Such service as they render is the service of the flesh. Then there is the wolf. The wolf which scatters the flock represents the false teachers who teach instead of the Word of God, the doctrines of demons. Nothing else scatters the flock as do the inroads of false teaching. Jesus seeks to guard His sheep from their three enemies, and surely we need His protection. Ezek. 34:1-10; Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-30; I Jno. 2:15-19; I Pet. 1:18-19.


John 10:9.

Three blessings are clearly indicated in this verse, each of which comes to the believer through his relation to Christ. The first and greatest is the blessing of salvation: "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." The second is Christian liberty: "And shall go in and out." And the third is nourishment for the soul : "And find pasture." How marvelous the love and care of Jesus for the believer really is. He saves us from the penalty of sin. He sets us at liberty. And He provides the spiritual refreshment which we so sorely need. Psa 23; Jno. 3:16; Gal. 5:1; Jno. 6:50-54; Jno. 8:36.