John 10:24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Every few years an author or scholar or even a movie maker raises new questions—or the same old questions—about Jesus’ identity. Often such portrayals show him wandering around the earth in a daze, trying to figure out why he came and what he is supposed to be doing.
Nothing could be further from the account given us by John, Jesus’ closest friend. According to John, Jesus was a man on a mission who knew exactly what he had come to Earth to accomplish. John states his purpose in writing very clearly: to get people to believe in Jesus the Messiah (see John 20:31). His book selectively features incidents from Jesus’ life to demonstrate who Jesus is.
Shepherd of Israel
“I am the gate,” Jesus says in chapter 10; “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:9,11). Jews who hear these words undoubtedly think back to Old Testament kings like David, who were fondly thought of as the shepherds of Israel. Unlike modern-day shepherds, who use dogs to drive their flocks, shepherds in Jesus’ day walked ahead of the sheep, calling them to follow; the sheep would respond only to a familiar voice.
In the Old Testament, God is also called the “Shepherd of Israel” (Psalm 80:1). In claiming to be the good shepherd, Jesus is asserting his leadership over a flock he is willing to die for. When some challenge him bluntly, “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly,” Jesus answers them with equal bluntness, saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:24,30).
The pious Jews, understanding Jesus all too well, pick up stones to execute him for blasphemy. Not even these hostile reactions surprise Jesus, though. He expects opposition, even execution. As he explains here, a truly good shepherd, unlike a hired hand, “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). This chapter explains why he makes that choice.
What difference does it make to you that Jesus is God, not just a man?