Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus offers to those around Him, most specifically His Disciples, metaphors to help them understand who He is and what His purposes are. Jesus uses common phrases to illustrate His point. He does this twenty-three times in the Gospel of John Repeating important. He begins seven of those important statements with two exceptional words, “I AM”. These words illustrate his world-saving purpose. For example in John 6, Jesus makes the profound statement “I am the bread of life” right after feeding a huge crowd and speaking of Moses and the manna God gave from Heaven. Without the manna, the nation of Israel would not have survived their time in the desert. Later, in John 8 Jesus speaks of walking in light versus darkness, and makes the statement, “I am the Light of the world…” We know that a belief in Jesus allows us to walk in the light, to be out of the darkness of sin and death. By the time we reach chapter 10 in the Gospel of John, Jesus is going say again, twice, an “I AM” statement. The rest of this paper will focus on John 10:1-18. It is important however, to understand that what Jesus is doing in these verses is in the midst of a long line of hugely important moments between Him and those He came to save.
In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus makes two huge “I AM” statements. The first one Jesus speaks to is addressed in verses 1-10, and is spoken in vs.7, “I AM the door of the sheep.” The second comes later in vs. 11, “I AM the good shepherd.” In John 10, the structure of the passage comes in two parts, yet concludes with one main theme, Jesus is our true Shepherd. The paper will take a look at the first part of the passage where Jesus talks about being the “gatekeeper”, and then will shift focus into what Jesus being the “Good Shepherd” means. While again, each could be looked at independently, the focus of this paper will be to demonstrate that each part works together to help Jesus’ followers then and people today understand what it means for Jesus to be the one true Shepherd.
It is important to understand weight of each of the “I AM” statements that Jesus speaks in John 10. In order to gain a better understanding of the premise of Jesus as “Shepherd”, here are a few important things to note. First, sheep and goats were two of the most well known and spoken about animals in the Bible. Also, “sheep and goats require constant care, since they are practically defenseless” and such would require a Shepherd, someone to guard them, and provide a constant watch over them. So now, Shepherds became a pivotal part of God’s story. Shepherds not only tended to the feeding and providing of care for the sheep, they guarded and protected them against thieves and robbers. It was the Shepherd’s sole responsibility to care for and tend to his sheep – to make sure they were accounted for and maintained to the best of his ability. Second, even thought this is the first time in John that Shepherding is mentioned, the other Gospels also discus this ‘job’. It is also, as previously mentioned, seen a huge amount throughout the Old Testament. Think back to David or some of the great Prophets, like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, or Isaiah, and you find a vivid picture of what it means to be a Shepherd, one of the sheep, or part of the flock.
In John Chapter 10, Jesus will identify Himself as a Shepherd, and the implications of this are great. Not only does Jesus speak about being the ‘gatekeeper’ of the sheep, He also says that he is the “Good Shepherd”. Both concepts help to illustrate Jesus’ purpose and one main idea, “Jesus is our one true Shepherd”.
In the first part of the passage (John 10:1-10), Jesus is going to identify Himself as the gatekeeper, the guard and protector of the sheep from thieves and robbers. To understand this properly, and to put the first part of this passage in context, we must...