John 10:7-21 (ESV)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may 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 I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Jesus had said he was the shepherd and his people were his sheep. He then continued to teach about himself and his relationship to his people using the analogy of shepherding, but he explained his role in a second way here. Jesus declared, “I am the door of the sheep.” This was the third of the seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John, and it meant that no one could go into the sheepfold except through Jesus. According to this illustration, the only way to become a part of God’s flock is to enter through Christ. While others come, trying to win over the sheep, only Jesus promises abundant life, because he is the only provision for the sin of humanity. Then, Jesus made the fourth of the seven “I am” declarations in John’s Gospel. He declared, “I am the good shepherd.” What was the difference between the shepherd and the “good shepherd”? Often, shepherds would hire others to take care of their flocks. When danger came to the sheep, the hired hand wouldn’t invest as much into protecting the sheep as the true or “good” shepherd did. In fact, the good shepherd was willing to risk his own life for the safety of his sheep. The hired hand would quit his job before he took a chance with his own personal peace and safety for someone else’s flock. Jesus wasn’t simply a shepherd, but he was the Good Shepherd.

Jesus was qualified to be the good shepherd because of his total control over all of life’s circumstances. He affirmed that he would both lay down and take up his own life. No one could take it from him without his permission. Jesus was and is fully capable of taking care of each and every one of his sheep. Jesus also said that some of his sheep were not from Israel and not even born yet! The latter includes all of us! If you are a follower of Jesus today, you are a member of his flock. He laid down his life for you, not only to protect you from wolves, but to liberate you from the penalty of your sin. As a part of his flock, you have abundant life. Because you continue to follow his voice, your life will overflow with much to do for your shepherd. As a Christian, your life can make a difference in this world and the world to come. Now that’s abundant living!