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The Parable of the Kind Shepherd

10 Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Listen to this eternal truth: The person who sneaks over the wall to enter into the sheep pen, rather than coming through the gate, reveals himself as a thief coming to steal. But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in.[a] And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice. But they will run away from strangers and never follow them because they know it’s the voice of a stranger.” Jesus told the Pharisees this parable even though they didn’t understand a word of what he meant.[b]

So Jesus went over it again, “I speak to you eternal truth: I am the Gate for the flock.[c] All those who broke in before me are thieves who came to steal,[d] but the sheep never listened to them. I am the Gateway.[e] To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction.[f] 10 A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter,[g] and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance,[h] more than you expect[i]—life in its fullness until you overflow! 11 I am the Good[j] Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. 12–13 But the worker who serves only for wages is not a real shepherd. Because he has no heart for the sheep he will run away and abandon them when he sees the wolf coming. And then the wolf mauls the sheep, drags them off, and scatters them.

14 “I alone am the Good Shepherd, and I know those whose hearts are mine, for they recognize me and know me, 15 just as my Father knows my heart and I know my Father’s heart. I am ready to give my life for the sheep.

16 “And I have other sheep that I will gather which are not of this Jewish flock. And I, their shepherd, must lead them too, and they will follow me and listen to my voice. And I will join them all into one flock with one shepherd.[k]

17 “The Father has an intense love for me because I freely give my own life—to raise it up again. 18 I surrender my own life, and no one has the power to take my life from me. I have the authority to lay it down and the power to take it back again. This is the destiny my Father has set before me.”

19 This teaching set off another heated controversy among the Jewish leaders. 20 Many of them said, “This man is a demon-possessed lunatic! Why would anyone listen to a word he says?” 21 But then there were others who weren’t so sure: “His teaching is full of insight. These are not the ravings of a madman! How could a demonized man give sight to one born blind?”

Jesus at the Feast of Renewal

22–23 The time came to observe the winter Feast of Renewal in Jerusalem.[l] Jesus walked into the temple area under Solomon’s covered walkway 24 when the Jewish leaders encircled him and said, “How much longer will you keep us in suspense? Tell us the truth and clarify this for us once and for all. Are you really the Messiah, the Anointed One?”

25 Jesus answered them, “I have told you the truth already and you did not believe me. The proof of who I am is revealed by all the miracles that I do in the name of my Father. 26 Yet, you stubbornly refuse to follow me, because you are not my sheep. As I’ve told you before: 27 My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me. 28 I give to them the gift of eternal life and they will never be lost and no one has the power to snatch them out of my hands. 29 My Father, who has given them to me as his gift, is the mightiest of all, and no one has the power to snatch them from my Father’s care. 30 The Father and I are one.”

31 When they heard this, the Jewish leaders were so enraged that they picked up rocks to stone him to death. 32 But Jesus said, “My Father has empowered me to work many miracles and acts of mercy among you. So which one of them do you want to stone me for?”

33 The Jewish leaders responded, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did—it’s because of your blasphemy! You’re just a son of Adam, but you’ve claimed to be God!”

34 Jesus answered, “Isn’t it written in your Scriptures that God said, ‘You are gods?’[m] The Scriptures cannot be denied or found to be in error. 35 So if those who have the message of the Scriptures are said to be ‘gods,’ then why would you accuse me of blasphemy? 36 For I have been uniquely chosen by God and he is the one who sent me to you. How then could it be blasphemy for me to say, ‘I am the Son of God!’ 37 If I’m not doing the beautiful works that my Father sent me to do, then don’t believe me. 38 But if you see me doing the beautiful works of God upon the earth, then you should at least believe the evidence of the miracles, even if you don’t believe my words! Then you would come to experience me and be convinced that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

39 Once again they attempted to seize him, but he escaped miraculously[n] from their clutches. 40 Then Jesus went back to the place where John had baptized him at the crossing of the Jordan. 41 Many came out to where he was and said about him, “Even though John didn’t perform any miracles, everything he predicted about this man is true!” 42 And many people became followers of Jesus at the Jordan and believed in him.


  1. 10:3 In this parable the gatekeeper would represent John the Baptizer who recognized Jesus as the Shepherd. John opened the gate for him to be introduced to Israel at Jesus’ baptism.
  2. 10:6 They didn’t understand this allegory of the Old Testament law as the sheepfold that became the religion of Judaism, like a pen that confined the people. Christ is the gate that not only allowed everyone in, but he let them out in the New Testament to enjoy all the riches of the pasture. The Holy Spirit is the gatekeeper and the false prophets and Pharisees are the thieves and robbers (Col. 2:8). Remember that this chapter follows the healing of the blind man who was cast out of the “sheep pen” but accepted in Christ. See Gal. 3:23–26. Jesus is the shepherd, the gate, and the pasture.
  3. 10:7 As translated from the Aramaic. There is a word play with “I” (ena) and “flock” (ana). As the gateway, he brings us to the Father and his kingdom realm. As the shepherd, he cares for us and shows us his loving heart.
  4. 10:8 The Old Testament refers to the kings of Israel and Judah as “shepherds.” These kings along with false prophets are shepherds who don’t always have God’s heart for the sheep. After the healing of the blind man, the Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus’ rightful place as shepherd of his flock, so the thieves coming to steal would also refer to them.
  5. 10:9 A sheep pen was an enclosure with walls and no roof that would often have the sheep of an entire village kept within. After the sheep were brought in for the night, it was common for the shepherd to sleep at the entrance so he could protect his sheep. Only the shepherds of the sheep would be recognized by that gatekeeper. Jesus is the one who will remain with his flock and keep his sheep living in peace and safety. His teaching (voice) will guard us from the unreliable teachers who want to steal our hearts and bind us to themselves. They steal and rob the affection that belongs only to Jesus, our kind shepherd.
  6. 10:9 Or “go in and out and find pasture.”
  7. 10:10 The Greek word thuo is not the usual word for “kill.” It means “sacrifice” or “slaughter.”
  8. 10:10 Implied in the Aramaic text.
  9. 10:10 Implied in the Greek text.
  10. 10:11 The word for “good” in Greek (kalos) can also mean “beautiful,” “virtuous,” “excellent,” “genuine,” or “better.” (See Strong’s Concordance, Gr. 2570.) Jesus is also called the “Great Shepherd” (Heb. 13:20) and the “Shepherd-King” (1 Peter 5:4).
  11. 10:16 This “one flock” is the church made up of both Jews and non-Jews. See Ezek. 34:23; Eph. 2:11–14.
  12. 10:22–23 This is also known as the “Feast of Dedication” or “The Feast of Lights.” The Aramaic word for “dedication” is chudatha, which is equivalent to the Hebrew word Chanuka. Contemporary Judaism recognizes this as Hanukkah, celebrated on Kislev 25 on the Jewish calendar. The Greek is literally “The Feast of Renewing” to commemorate the miraculous renewing of oil that burned for eight days.
  13. 10:34 See Ps. 82:6.
  14. 10:39 Implied in the context of being encircled by those with stones in their hands ready to kill him. It was clearly a miracle. He may have become invisible, transported himself to another location, or caused his accusers to be momentarily paralyzed or blinded as he slipped away.

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