The Good Shepherd
Tim Temple


There are various places in the Gospel of John in which Jesus says, “I Am this,” or “I Am that.” Bible teachers refer to these as the I Am sayings . Jesus said, “I Am the Light of the world.” He said, “I Am the Bread of life; I Am the Water of life.” In chapter 10, we have two I Am sayings. We are going to find Jesus saying, “I Am the Door,” and “I Am the Good Shepherd.” It is a significant chapter that we are entering in this study. We are not going to have time to get through the whole chapter, but we want to look at the first part of it.

Chapter 10 is divided into two entirely separate discourses of Jesus. The first discourse was delivered after the Feast of Tabernacles following the giving of sight to the man who had been born blind, which we talked about in chapter 9. The second discourse was given probably at least three months later at the Feast of Dedication. We know that because those feasts follow on specific dates on the calendar. It was in answer to pressure from the Jews, and so this one chapter spans a longer period of time than you might think in just reading through it. Both of these discourses are linked together in this one chapter. John reports on both of these things in one chapter because they have as their common denominator the fact that He is the Good Shepherd.

Before we look at the text of the chapter, there is some background that we need to look at to be able to understand all that is here. We need to focus on it from two different directions. Sometimes these well known statements such as, “I am the Good Shepherd,” or “I am the Door,” we take for granted because we hear them so often, and so I want us to think about the background in which Jesus said these things.

First, we need to see the setting in the book where He said this. We also need to talk about eastern shepherds, because they are different from the shepherds that we may be familiar with in our part of the world. Let me remind you of the context in which Jesus painted this picture of Himself as the Good Shepherd. The first part of the chapter is simply a continuation of chapter 9. That was the chapter in which Jesus healed this man who had been born blind, and since that was an obvious miracle and it could not be explained away, the Pharisees had to find some kind of explanation for that. They eventually cast him out of the synagogue and told him that he could no longer worship there because the man who was healed refused to say that this was done by miraculous power.

Jesus uses this parable about the difference between good shepherds and bad shepherds to illustrate the difference between what the Pharisees were supposed to be doing and what they actually did to this man.

Here they were supposed to be the shepherds of this man and other Jewish believers, and they had actually cast him out of the flock rather than take care of his needs. It is really a precious thing to realize that Jesus had this particular man in mind when He made some of the most precious statements that we find anywhere in the Word of God here in chapter 10. Probably this former blind man was standing with Jesus. He had been cast out of the synagogue and, in the last part of chapter 9, Jesus went and found this man and told him Who He was, and the man accepted Christ as his Savior. Probably he was still standing there with Jesus when Jesus made this first parable in the first part of chapter 10.

Characteristics of Palestinian Shepherds

That is the textual background. That is where we are in the book, but we also need to think about the characteristics of shepherds, because Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. The ways of caring for sheep and the characteristics of Palestinian shepherds in the days of Jesus were very different from the modern methods of sheep herding that are used today in this part of the world. The life of a shepherd in Judah was a very hard life, a very simple life. The sheep grazed in the hills and mountains of Israel. Grass was very sparse there, and so they had to be led from place to place. The shepherd had to keep looking for fresh grass, and the sheep would sometimes wander away from the flock onto a dangerous precipice, so the shepherd was always on duty. The sheep not only needed to be protected from themselves and their tendencies to wander, they also had to be protected from wild animals, especially wolves that were abundant in that part of the world at that time. Besides that, there were always robbers seeking to steal the sheep for themselves.

People who have been to Israel describe seeing shepherds even today who still work in much those same conditions. They wear the same kind of garb as the shepherds of Jesus' day. Usually these men are described as weather-beaten, leaning on their staff, caring for the sheep almost like a father would care for a little child or a mother would care for a little child. They also had different methods than we use today. The shepherd in Israel in that day had four basic pieces of equipment. First, he had a little leather bag that he would keep his food in. This usually consisted of bread, dried fruit and olives and cheese. This bag was called a scrip .

The second item that he always had with him was his slingshot and some small stones. The shepherds of Israel were very adept at using this shepherd's sling. That fits into the background of the story of David and Goliath in I Samuel, chapter 17.

The Palestinian shepherds do not use sheepdogs as a lot of shepherds in this country do. Because of that, they would use the stones in a way to help herd the flock. If a sheep was beginning to stray from the flock and they could catch it in time, he could sling a stone just ahead of the sheep and scare him and get him to turn around and come back into the flock. Also, he would use the sling against the foxes and other animals that might try to harm the sheep.

The third thing that every shepherd had was a rod that was like a club that he used to help fend off the wolves or whatever predators they ran across. Then he had the staff. The rod and the staff are famous because of Psalm 23, but they were only two of the four items that every shepherd carried with him at all times. The staff was shoulder high and looked like a walking cane. It had a crook at the top of the cane, and he would use that to pull the sheep back from a precipice, or if he couldn't get it's attention any other way, he would hook the animal around the neck and bring it into line—get the wandering sheep straightened up.

At the end of the day, when the sheep entered the sheepfold, the shepherd would hold the staff low over the entrance and every sheep had to pass under the rod. In Ezekiel, chapter 20, God speaks of His sheep, Israel, passing under the rod of discipline. The shepherd would make the sheep pass under his rod. They had to slow down almost to a crawl to go under the staff, and the shepherd could check and see if there were any cuts, bruises and injuries that he needed to take care of.

That is a good example of God's discipline in our lives sometimes. He makes us pass under the rod and slows us down and makes us examine ourselves so that He can show us the things that need to be changed in our lives. That is the picture that Jesus knew would be in the minds and hearts of His listeners as He is going to say in a few verses, “I am the good Shepherd.” It was something that they would know instinctively when they heard Him say that, that some of us need to be brought up to speed on.

The chapter is divided into four parts. First, in verses 1-6, Jesus gives some instructions about good shepherds. In verses 7-18, we have the identification of the Good Shepherd, and that is the section in which Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd . In verses 19-39, we have the insurrection against the Good Shepherd, where the Jews, as they so often do in this part of the book, rebel against Him and argue with Him. In verses 40-42, there is the identification with the Good Shepherd. We have the identification of the Good Shepherd in verses 7-18, but there in the very end of the chapter, we find the Good Shepherd once again identifying with the sheep. This chapter ends very much like chapter 9, with Jesus personally getting involved with the people who were willing to open their hearts to Him.

Jesus' Instruction About Good Shepherds

Let's begin our study of the chapter by looking at Jesus' instruction about good shepherds, in verses 1-6. The first thing that He talks about is the characteristics of false shepherds in verse 1. In verse 5, He splits up His instruction about false shepherds. We will look at those verses together even though a few verses separate them. Notice verses 1 and 5:

John 10

1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

In these verses, Jesus is encouraging this excommunicated former blind man to realize that the people who had cast him out of the synagogue were not the true shepherds of God's people. He, like most other people, trusted the Pharisees. Many people—I think the numbers are declining these days—have kind of an instinctive trust for somebody in the ministry. Jesus wanted this man to understand that just because a person was a religious leader like the Pharisees, it did not necessarily mean that he was a good shepherd. In fact, it was just the opposite. In God's eyes, these men were thieves and robbers who tried to steal sheep and use them for their own purposes.

Jesus gives two proofs that these were not true authorized shepherds of God. First, in verse 1, they refused to enter in the prescribed way:

John 10

1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

If the Pharisees had been true shepherds of Israel's flock, they would have entered the fold by God's prescribed door. What was that? The promises of Abraham and the instructions of the prophets all pointed to Jesus Christ as Savior, so if they had been true shepherds, they would have entered by the door of the Old Testament teaching about Jesus. Looking on it with hindsight, we can see very clearly how those prophecies and instructions pictured Jesus Christ the Messiah. These men had decided for their own purposes not to accept Him as their Messiah, so they weren't entering through the door of faith in the promises of Abraham and the prophets—the door of faith that Abraham demonstrates. Because they refused God's way and tried to lead the sheep the wrong way, Jesus called them thieves and robbers, in verse 1, and He is going to call them that again, in verse 8.

The second way we know these Pharisees were false shepherds was that the sheep would not follow them, but actually fled from them. That is what He said in verse 5: “The sheep will by no means follow a stranger.” When He said that, he was speaking to people who knew that that was true. In Jesus' day, the sheep would usually be with their shepherd for years. The primary market for sheep in those days was not for the animal itself, but was for the wool. Most of their cloth was made from sheep's wool. A sheep would be used for many years to grow that wool and most of the sheep would be with the same shepherd for many years, and so a relationship would develop between the sheep and the shepherd.

A book called In the Steps of the Master , gives a lot of details about shepherds, and it is written by a man by the name of H.V. Morton. He describes how the shepherd talked to the sheep and would use certain little sounds and changes in the tone of his voice. It wasn't really spoken language. It was like people work with their dogs today. They may say a few words of English, but they don't talk in complete sentences. They give vocal signals to the animals, and that is the way it was with the sheep. The sheep would know their own shepherd's voice and would respond to the voice and the commands. This man, Morton, listened to the shepherds talking to their sheep and he tried it, but he couldn't get the sheep to do anything, even though he thought that he was coming pretty close to the sounds that the shepherds were making and the tone of voice. That was because even though he was making the same kinds of sounds, they knew the difference between his voice and the shepherd's voice. They actually turned around and ran from him, he said.

In the terms of Jesus' illustration, God's true sheep instinctively refused to hear the voice of the Pharisees, and that is true if you remember back in chapter 9. This man saw before long that the Pharisees were not on the same side as he was when they would continue to harass him and question him and grill him about Who Jesus was and what He had done and try to get him to call Jesus a sinner. He became very sarcastic with them, and about the third time they questioned him, he said, “Why do you want to know about Him? Do you want to become His disciples, too?”

That was an extremely unusual thing for a layperson in the Jewish culture to talk sarcastically to the Jewish religious leaders, but this man could see that these were not true sheep. In the picture that Jesus is using of the animals, this man realized that they were not true shepherds; and like a sheep, he stayed away from them. This is another characteristic of false shepherds—they are powerless to draw the sheep after them. They might draw away people who don't know the Shepherd, but when a person knows the Shepherd, he is not going to go after the false shepherd.

To Know Our Shepherd's Voice

Of course, that is true of us as Christians, and it ties in with something else that we have said many times before, and that is that we really need to spend our time in knowing the voice of God. Today the way that we know the voice of God is through the Word of God. We need to focus our attention and our energy on learning the Word of God, and then when we hear something that is not in sync with the Word of God, we will know it, because we know what our Shepherd's voice sounds like. We know the kinds of commands our Shepherd gives, so when someone comes along and says something that is contrary to the way our Shepherd speaks, we may not know all about where he is off base, but we will know that he is not our Shepherd.

So many people get bogged down in trying to learn all the details of all the cults to be able to analyze what is wrong with this false teaching and what is wrong with that false teacher. Some people have been called to do that, and they have written helpful books, and they have made helpful tapes; but for the average Christian, we don't need to get bogged down in all of that. We need, rather, to become expert in recognizing our Shepherd's voice, and then even though we may not know why someone else is a false shepherd, we will know that they are. We will recognize it when we hear it.

Since there are some very helpful books and other sources available about the false teachers, once you realize that someone is a false teacher, that is where the details may come in. You may then need to get one of these books or tapes and dig into that particular false teaching that you or someone close to you is being exposed to, but the basic thing that we need to do is pay attention to the Word of God as thoroughly as we can and then know that these other resources are available if we have to fine-tune our understanding of some false teaching. If we will learn the voice of our Shepherd, we will not be drawn away by false shepherds just exactly like these sheep. I think Jesus was not just using a careless illustration when He said these things about true shepherds and false shepherds. I believe that these are promises from God Himself.

Authorized By the Doorkeeper

In verses 2-4, Jesus now comes back and gives the characteristics of true shepherds. Later on in the passage, He is going to speak of Himself as the Good Shepherd, but here He is just talking generally about what constitutes a good shepherd. He emphasizes two characteristics. First, the true shepherd enters by the door, and more importantly than that, He is authorized by the doorkeeper. Look at verse 2:

John 10

2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

The true shepherd comes in by the prescribed way. He doesn't come over the wall to get into the sheepfold. He can confidently come in through the door. His immediate hearers didn't know, but we know that Jesus is about to say that He is the Good Shepherd, and so in this parable the door would be the prophecies of the Old Testament which Christ fulfilled when He came. He came in through the principles of the Word of God. The guardian of the door or the doorkeeper in the terms of this parable probably represents the Holy Spirit. It was the authority and the power of the Holy Spirit Who revealed Jesus to the sheep as the true Shepherd. Look at verse 3:

John 10

3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

The Shepherd Knows Each Sheep By Name

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to understand the truth of God's Word, to enable us to recognize the voice of the Shepherd. In this parable, the doorkeeper would be the Holy Spirit. There are three points that I want us to notice about this. Notice that the shepherd knows each sheep by name. Look at the last part of verse 3:

John 10

3…and he calleth his own sheep by name…

That is a blessed thing to think about—Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows my name and your name. He knows us by name. Jesus said on other occasions a lot of other things about how well He knows us. The hairs of our heads are all numbered, and all that kind of thing; but the giving of a name is much more significant to those people who heard Jesus say this even than it is to us. We identify with our names, and we are glad to know that Jesus knows us by name, and we are very impressed when some human being knows us by name, but it is even more significant than that in the day in which Jesus spoke.

The giving of a name always means penetration into that person's personality or it indicates some changing of his disposition. For example, in Genesis, chapter 32, Jacob was fleeing from the crime he had done by stealing his brother's birthright. He knew that he was in trouble, and he was running away. You remember, he stopped for the night, and there he wrestled with God. As he wrestled with God, he begged for a blessing, and God changed his name to Israel . The word Israel means “prince with God,” and in fact, that is where the name of the nation of Israel was taken. The name Jacob meant basically “cheater” or “usurper.” God changed Jacob's name to a prince with God , and so that had great significance for him.

In John, chapter 1, we saw that when Jesus met Simon, He changed his name to Peter . The word Simon means “a little stone.” The name Peter means “a rock,” and so Jesus said, “I say to you that you are Simon, a little rock, but you shall be called Peter , which means “a large stone.” Later on, when Peter recognized Jesus as the Savior, He said, “On this rock I will build My church,” but He was using a play on words there. He wasn't saying, “On Peter, I'll build My church.” He was saying, “On the rock of your faith, I will build My church.” It was all tied in with having given Peter this name of a rock instead of a little pebble.

There is an interesting statement in Revelation, chapter 2, verse 17, which says that when we get to Heaven all believers will be given a new name which will be known only to us. We don't have time to go into that, and it is largely speculation about what that means anyway, but it will carry that significance that the changing of the name in the Bible days carried. Probably it will be a name that demonstrates our true character there in Heaven. I read recently a novel about Heaven, and it was speculation, but it was very interesting speculation. This novelist suggests that in Heaven, we will recognize each other by our character instead of by our outward appearance. On earth, we recognize each other by our outward appearance, and our character is inward. His idea, and I think he probably bases it on Revelation, chapter 2, verse 17, about this new name that God will give us, is that in Heaven we will see each other and will recognize each other by our character, and our outward appearance will be secondary. Anyway, the giving of a name is a very significant thing.

The changing of a name is a very significant thing in the Bible, and there are lots of incidents of that in the Bible besides these few that I have mentioned. The changing of a name is always a proof of intimate personal contact and affection, so this phrase of a shepherd calling his sheep by name reminds us of God's relationship to individuals who truly belong to Him as a conscious person-to-person recognition. You know, that seems like a very simple thing, but stop and think about the God of the universe who hung the stars in space knowing you by name.

That is such a condescension when you look at the stars and see all of that and realize that we only see a very tiny fraction of what is actually out there, and if you are willing by faith to recognize that God put all of that there, and yet with that immense ability, at the same time He knows your name. He not only knows your spoken name, but He knows the name of your character. He knows the name that really represents you to Him. That is a mind-boggling thing, but it is a very thrilling thing. When people know the Governor or the mayor personally, they think they are pretty important. When they know the President, they think they are really privileged, but we know the God Who puts all of those people in places, and He knows us, which is more important. He knows us by name.

A Good Shepherd Leads His Sheep to New Pastures

The second characteristic of a good shepherd is that he leads his sheep out to new pastures. Look at the last part of verse 3:

John 10

3…he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

He brings them out of the sheepfold and out into where their needs are going to be met. Here is an example of this right here in the previous chapter when the Pharisees turned out this new believer. Jesus went out and found him and led him to an understanding of Who Jesus really was and became his Shepherd then and led him on through the various affairs of life after that.

The True Shepherd Leads the Way

The third characteristic is in verse 4:

John 10

4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

Just like a true shepherd on earth, the Lord Jesus Himself leads the way before us. The things that He said while He was on earth are written down for our instruction. The Holy Spirit has inspired other men to write other things based on what Jesus said, and so He leads us in this day and time through His Word, but He leads us as we go through the activities of life.

A thrilling thing about our Shepherd is that He has already faced all of the difficulties. A good shepherd would go out and become familiar with the new pasture. If he was going to lead his sheep to a new pasture, he would go out and make sure that he knew where all of the potholes and the drop-offs were. He would remove any big stones that might bruise the sheep. Jesus did exactly that. One of the many purposes of His coming as a human being was to go before us and prepare the way. Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 15, says that He was tempted in all points like as we are. Listen, there is not an emotion of sadness or of happiness that you will ever face that Jesus did not face. There is not a temptation of any kind, including sensual or sexual temptation or financial temptation, that Jesus did not face—every kind of temptation. The Scripture doesn't give us the details about those things, but it says that He did face every kind of temptation, yet without sin.

The Scripture tells us that because of that, we can come to Him as our high priest and make our wants and wishes known. We can pray about that thing that we are going through because the Good Shepherd has already been out there and scouted it out, and He knows exactly what we are talking about. He knows how we feel, and that is a thrilling thing, too. When we are going through a difficult time, a loss or a disappointment—whatever thing we go through—Jesus has been there and He understands that. Others can sympathize with it and others can try to help, but the person who has been through that is the one who can most easily identify with and pray for and help that person who is going through it.

The good shepherd went out and went over things and prepared the way. Jesus did that and that has that practical application to us. This excommunicated man here in John, chapter 10, has nothing to fear from this Good Shepherd to whom he has come.

Identification of the Good Shepherd

John goes on to give us, in verses 7-18, the identification of The Good Shepherd. These are the verses in which we are going to find Jesus saying that He is the Good Shepherd. It was natural that sooner or later Jesus would identify himself as the Shepherd of the sheep because the Old Testament speaks often about the picture of God as the Shepherd of sheep. It is given throughout the Old Testament. The earliest reference to it is kind of a mysterious prophecy in Genesis, chapter 49, verse 24, where Jacob was giving his blessing to his sons as he was on his deathbed. Verse 24 refers to the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. In the context, it is obvious that he is talking about God's blessing on one of his sons, and it is the first place where God is referred to as a Shepherd.

In Psalm 77, God is described as a Shepherd leading His people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. When God led the Israelites in the wilderness those forty years with Moses and Aaron as their leaders, it was really God leading them like a shepherd leading his flock.

In Psalm 23, He was David's own Shepherd; in Isaiah, chapter 40, Isaiah pictured the Messiah who was coming as the true Shepherd: “He shall lead his flock like a shepherd. He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom. He will gently lead those who are with young.”

The prophets often talked about true shepherds and false shepherds just like Jesus was doing here with the Pharisees. If you want to see some chapters like that, you might read Jeremiah, chapter 23, verses 1-4, and Ezekiel, chapter 34. It was a very common terminology for the Messiah. Even the coming of the Antichrist is spoken of in Zechariah, chapter 11, as a false shepherd and a foolish shepherd and an idol shepherd. Zechariah uses all of those terms about the Antichrist. So it was to be expected that Jesus, somewhere along the line, would bring that up because He was truly the Good Shepherd Who had been prophesied as a shepherd all through the Old Testament.

The Picture of the Good Shepherd

In verses 7-10, Jesus gives the picture of the Good Shepherd and then in verses 11-18, He gives the pronouncement of the Good Shepherd. We are not going to get all the way through this section, but let me just talk first about the picture of the Good Shepherd. Look at verse 7:

John 10

7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Another thing that I should have mentioned earlier that is important in understanding this picture that Jesus draws about good shepherds when He says, “I am the door,” is that there were two different kinds of sheepfolds. In the winter, they would use a sheepfold that was like a barn. Usually it would be a circular fold, and it would be a communal thing where several shepherds in the area would put all their sheep together in this one sheepfold. That would be the sheepfold that would have the gatekeeper, the doorman. He would be the one who knew who the shepherds were and who the shepherds were not. He would admit the shepherds to come in; they would call out their sheep by name, and the sheep would hear their voice. That is what Jesus was talking about in those verses about sheep hearing the shepherd's voice.

In the summertime, usually they would make a little sheepfold in their own area. Each shepherd would have his own little sheepfold that would really only consist of maybe a wall of rocks three feet high with an opening in the rocks. At night he would put the sheep in that individual sheepfold. It would be big enough to hold the whole flock. Obviously the fold would vary in size depending on the size of the flock. There was no gate on that kind of fold. There was no door of any kind, but the shepherd himself would lie down in that opening. He would get the sheep in there, and then he would lie down across the opening in the sheepfold and actually become the door. He would lie there, and that was where he slept at night. So this is what Jesus is talking about here in this part of the parable when He says, “I am the door.” Again, this is something that all of these people would have understood instinctively without anybody having to explain it. They had all seen this kind of thing a hundred times.

Jesus said, “I am the door,” and if you understand that metaphor in the setting of that day, you can understand why that was so significant. He is saying that He Himself is the only doorway into the kingdom of God.

To Find Salvation

In verse 9, he gives two promises to people who enter by Him. He says, “I am the door. I am the entrance into the fold of the sheep of God.” In verse 9, He says, “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” Obviously, He is not talking about literal sheep. He is talking about spiritual sheep.

It is interesting that Jesus used this term saved . That term is not politically correct in the religious world today. We don't talk very much about people being saved. We use other terms that communicate that, but I am not sure that I realized until I studied this passage carefully in preparing these comments, that the term saved originated with Jesus Hmself. We talk about people being saved, and I think that I have had in my mind, to whatever extent I thought it through, that D.L. Moody or one of the evangelists from a hundred years ago came up with that term; but Jesus Himself coined that term, and there is no reason for it to be out of style. There is no reason for us to think that it sounds hokey to talk about people being saved. The Savior Himself came up with that term: “By Me if anyone enters, he will be saved.” We talk about people knowing the Lord. We talk about people being born-again. All of those things are all right, but why not go ahead and use the term that Jesus used—they are saved.

Of course, that pictures the fact that every human being is on their way to Hell without God, separated from God by sin, and God saves us out of that by sending Jesus to die on the Cross, by getting that information to us so that we can accept it. That is what salvation is about. It is being saved from that condemnation of God that we are headed for unless somebody steps in and saves us, and that is exactly what Jesus did. If Jesus chose to use that word, I think we ought to try to use it as much as we can also.

To Find Security

The second promise, in verse 9, is that they will find security. They will find salvation, and they will find security. Notice He says:

John 10

9…he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

That phrase, to go in and out , is another phrase that those Jews would have recognized because it is also used a lot in the Old Testament. It describes being able to move about freely. What Jesus was talking about here was if a person is saved, he will be able to move through life freely, not hindered by guilt and shame and torment or have to worry about what is going to happen when he stands before God. He can move about freely. He can go in and out because he knows the sin question has been settled, because he knows even if he does yield to temptation and commits sin, God forgives that. To be able to go in and out is to be able to move about freely and safely.

In Numbers, chapter 27, as Moses had been told by God that his life was about to come to an end and that God was going to find another to take his place, Moses prayed, in verse 17, that God would give Israel a man who could go in and out before them and guide them and protect them. In Deuteronomy, chapter 28, verse 6, it says that God blesses a man. “He blesses his going out and his coming in from this time forth and even forever more.” In I Kings, chapter 3, verse 7, David refers to a child as a person who is too immature to go out and come in safely. Psalm 121, verse 8, gave the promise to God's people: “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in forever more.” Jesus was alluding to an Old Testament term that they would have been familiar with in talking about the great freedom that comes by being saved—again using Jesus' own terminology.


We live in a day and time of unrest and uncertainty, insecurity, the future unknown in so many areas of life; and it is very comforting that in that kind of setting, the Word of God comes to us that we are with God in Christ, that He is as much the Good Shepherd today as He was when He spoke these words 2,000 years ago. God will make provisions for us as we go out and as we come in to guide us and to protect us as the Good Shepherd.

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