This appears to continue without a break, from the healing of the Blind man after the Feast of Tabernacles.


Read John 10: 1-21

1 ‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold 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.


Sheepfolds were often made of stone (There were many stones and few trees!), with an opening sometimes sealed simply by the shepherd himself lying across the entrance. If it was a large fold, shared by several flocks and shepherds, someone would still act as the gatekeeper. Sheep always followed their shepherd and would come when he called – so mixing sheep in one fold was not a problem.

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 recognise a stranger’s voice.’ 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

What was Jesus telling them? Let’s break it down: (Ask what each phrase means)

7 Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 

‘I am the gate’ (or ‘I am the door’) There is only one way into the Kingdom of God, and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-9). Some people will try to tell you that all roads lead to God, that he is a loving God and will never turn people away if they are good; but Jesus says that those who tell you to attempt to enter by some other way are actually robbing you of your chance of salvation.

8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 

These words were addressed directly to the Pharisees (v1) and are a direct condemnation of them. They had ‘lost the plot’ and instead of leading people towards God, they were actually driving people away (v5).

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.

Many think that becoming a Christian will mean a life of bondage, with rules that must be obeyed; giving up our own wills and desires to live a pious life. The truth is that the Christian life is actually a life of true freedom, with a fullness not experienced before.

Would anyone like to share their experience of this ‘fullness’?

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.

Wolves approaching a sheep pen have no interest in the man lying across the entrance; if he leaves they will not attack him. However if he stands his ground they will attack him in order to get at the sheep. A shepherd would fight to the death to save his own sheep; a hired hand might make an attempt to drive wolves away, but not if it put his own life in danger.

What does ‘the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it’ mean in today’s Christian Church? (Matthew 7:15)

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.

Again, this was directed at the Pharisees, and they would have understood exactly who he claimed to be, although no one would have yet understood how literally Jesus would lay down his life for the sheep.

16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

This was teaching totally contrary to Jewish thought: that non-Jews could also join the Kingdom of God. It had been hinted at in the Prophets (Isaiah 52:13-15, Micah 4:2), but that had been ignored. And Jesus had already stated it in Matthew 8:11-12.

There shall be one flock and one shepherd’.  It has been commented that Jesus is not saying that there will be uniformity, but unity.

What’s the difference?

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.’

The reason my Father loves me’ seems a difficult phrase – is that the only reason God loves his son? Surely not!

We will read in John 10:30 ‘I and the Father are one’ and we have already read in John 3:35 and 5:20 ‘The Father loves his son’.

As Father and son there had been mutual love since before the beginning of the world. But as we approach the climax of God’s plan of salvation we read:

John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son

God’s love is immeasurable; it is so great he will even give the life of his one and only son as a sacrifice. But Jesus had to be willing to lay his life down. The love of God for his son reached its pinnacle as Jesus was prepared to go to the cross – but it had to be that way, no-one could take his life from him without his willing acceptance.

By killing Jesus, the Devil thought he had won; by coming back to life, Jesus demonstrated that he hadn’t!

And Jesus could be confident as he went to the cross: the authority he had to lay down his life and take it up again was given to him as a direct command from Father God.

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?’

‘Demon-possessed’ and ‘raving mad’ are very strong terms – why do people today still demonstrate a strong reaction against Jesus?

The world, the flesh, and the devil all fight against the righteous claims of Jesus, and it is one of these that always intentionally or unintentionally leads people into sin. Then our consciences react against goodness – either
accusing us, or excusing, us (Romans 2:15) but all the time knowing we are sinful. So it is actually the battle between good and evil that produces such a strong reaction.

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?’

Always there are some who will admit that Jesus is right and will turn to him, however tentatively.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus and his disciples would have lived outdoors in temporary shelters, or ‘booths’. Now it seems that for the next six months, leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus and his disciples did not return again to Galilee. Initially they crossed the river Jordan and went north to the area where John the Baptist had been operating (v40). (It is quite possible that some of John’s disciples had originated from that area and had joined themselves to Jesus. So there may have been families who would now willingly accommodate them). Then after the death of Lazarus they may well have stayed on in Bethany.

The events of those months are covered from verse 22 through to the end of Charter 12. (Then the remaining chapters, 13-21, starting with the final week, concentrate on Jesus’ teaching directed to his disciples; before going on to tell of the events leading to his crucifixion and resurrection.)

Two months have gone by. Jesus’ disciples were of course always with him as to them he was their Rabbi, and again they had gone to the Temple for a feast.

22 Then came (Hanukkah, ‘the Festival of Lights’) the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered round him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’

The Jews obviously fully understood who Jesus claimed to be, but he had never used a form of words that they could quote, with witnesses, that would back up a charge of blasphemy. Now they were determined to catch him out.

Of course Jesus knew their hearts and intentions

25 Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 

For those who wanted to believe, the miracles said enough. If people refuse to believe, nothing will persuade them.

26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Look at the order contained in this phrase:

You do not believe’  therefore ‘you are not my sheep

Should that not have read:

You are not my sheep’  therefore ‘you do not believe’?

Jesus chooses and calls us by name – but we still have to accept his call: if we believe then we become his sheep.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.’

We could spend time unpacking these verses, but they belong together as an amazing statement of the safety and certainty of the promises of God towards his children.

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 

Why is it that for those who refuse to believe there is still an irrational desire to kill Jesus and those who trust in him?

Is it at this point that the devil clearly shows his hand?

32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

Here was a man who performed miraculous signs, and claimed to be the son of God. The evidence of their own eyes pointed to the fact that he was who he said he was. But the Jews couldn’t for one moment even considers that they might be wrong – they felt that they had the authority to defend God’s honour and therefore they must kill the blasphemer.

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are ‘gods’”? 

What is the passage of scripture that Jesus quotes?

Psalm 82:6

Who is this psalm addressed to?

Leaders and Judges of the people: read the psalm!

Was it appropriate to quote this psalm to those who considered themselves to be the current Leaders and Judges?

35 If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?

More or less saying: ‘if people like you can be called gods, surely God’s own son can claim that title?’

Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ 

In other words Jesus was saying: ‘Forget your legalistic prejudices and consider the miracles themselves – don’t they point irrefutably to the fact that God is in me, and therefore I am In God?’

But they found his claims to be too outrageous, so

39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

They had no further arguments; they could now only attempt to kill him. But the time had not yet come, so Jesus again simply left them.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptising in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, ‘Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.’ 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

John 9aJohn 11a

John 10:1-21 I am the Door, the Good Shepherd
        10:22-42   Plain talk

If you would like to PRINT or copy this study, click  HERE  for the PDF version, then Rt Click, and select ‘Print’, or ‘Save as’