Who is the Good Shepherd
Tim Temple


Most people think that if they could have just been alive when Jesus was on earth, it would have been easy to believe in Him. To see the miracles, to hear the teaching would have made it an easy thing to be one of His followers. But the testimony of the New Testament is that there were many people for whom just the opposite of that was true. The fact that He was there actually hardened their hearts toward the things of God and toward the teaching of Jesus.

John, chapter 10, is one of the clearest of the passages that shows us that. Jesus is teaching about Himself in this passage, and it is built around the illustration of a good shepherd. That is the basis for the outline of the chapter. In verses 1-6, we talked about how Jesus gave instruction about good shepherds, and in doing that, He gave instructions about bad shepherds. In verses 7-18, he began to identify Himself as the Good Shepherd, and we got through the first part of that. We are going to pick up with that, but we also are going to see in this lesson that there was insurrection against Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Then at the end of the chapter, there were some people who did identify themselves with the Good Shepherd.

Pronouncement of the Good Shepherd

In our last lesson, we looked at the first section and started into the second section. We saw, in verses 7-10, the picture of the Good Shepherd that Jesus gave as He was identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd. We are going to pick up with verse 11, where He makes the pronouncement of the Good Shepherd. In these verses, we have the third parable that Jesus told in the chapter. We saw in our last lesson that He used the parable of the Good Shepherd, and then He told another parable about how the Good Shepherd is the door for the sheep. The emphasis in that parable is how the shepherd gives his very life for the sheep. He is coming up with that principle in verse 11. He actually makes the statement, “I am the Good Shepherd.” He has been leading up to that in these other verses, but now He says:

John 10

11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus Himself is the One around whom this whole chapter is built—Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Remember, He was using these parables to describe the Pharisees who had actually excommunicated the man Jesus had healed who had been blind from birth. They were trying to get this blind man to say that Jesus was a sinner because He did that work on the Sabbath day. The man refused to say that Jesus was a sinner, whether He worked on the Sabbath day or not. He had done this miracle that changed this man's whole life, and so the Pharisees had excommunicated him. They had taken away his synagogue privileges. Jesus, in those first six verses, was talking about them when He talked about the false shepherds.

The False Shepherds

He was really describing those false religious shepherds. He says, in verse 11, that He is the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd gives His very life for the sheep. If it was necessary, He would even give His life for the sheep. The Pharisees had done just the opposite. Look at verse 12:

John 10

12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The reason for that is that the false shepherd, of course, doesn't care anything about the sheep. All he cares about is himself. Look at verse 13:

John 10

13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

These Pharisees, the religious leaders of that day, didn't really care about the people. They only cared about their position, their authority, their privileges, their recognition and all of that kind of thing. They only led and taught others for what they could get out of it in terms of fame, position, money and power. If trouble came, and it was going to come in just a few years when the Romans came in and sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Pharisees were nowhere to be seen. They didn't care anything about the people who had lost everything. It was every man for himself. This is the kind of thing that Jesus is talking about. The true Shepherd, Jesus Himself, takes care of any need that we His sheep have. He was willing to give His very life for the greatest need that we had—the need for salvation. Of course, He is saying by application that we, as the sheep, need to emulate Him and be willing to do whatever we need to do to help those under our care.

A Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep

To complete the pronouncement, in verses 14-18, Jesus gives nine qualifications of the good shepherd. In the first part of verse 14, He says:

John 10

14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep…

That is the first characteristic of a good shepherd. He knows his sheep. Isn't it a wonderful thing to know that Jesus was talking about us? Jesus knows you and me. That is something that is hard for our minds to grasp. With all of the people in the universe, all of the people who have lived in history, people who live all around the world, what Jesus is saying here is that He knows you. He knows what your needs are. He knows what your weaknesses are. He knows you as if you were the only sheep He had. He is the Good Shepherd, and a good shepherd knows His sheep.

His Sheep Know Him

The second characteristic of a good shepherd is that His sheep know Him as their own Shepherd. The last part of verse 14 says:

John 10

14…and I am known of mine.

That is another beautiful thing. Not only does Jesus know us, not only do we have the confidence of knowing that Jesus knows us, but we have the privilege of knowing Him. How many of you are personally acquainted with anybody who is in an official place of power? I know that some of you are acquainted with people in power, but here is the greatest authority in all the universe, and we know Him. He has told us all about Himself in the Scriptures. Jesus said to His disciples, “I do not call you servants , for the servants do not know what their lord does, but I call you friends because all things that I have received from My Father I have revealed to you.” The way that we know Jesus is because of all the things that He has written down about Himself in His Word.

It is a very encouraging study to make—and we ought to do it periodically—to read through those portions of the New Testament that deal with the life and the teachings of Jesus and realize how much there is that we can know about Him. We can know Him better than we know any human authorities and human powers that we have to deal with. He knows the sheep, and the sheep know Him.

The Good Shepherd Knows God

In verse 15, the Good Shepherd knows God perfectly. The first part of verse 15 says:

John 10

15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father…

Of course, God the Father and God the Son are one and the same, and yet they are also separate, and that whole doctrine of the Trinity is one of those things that our minds can't really comprehend, but here Jesus is speaking on earth as the Son of God, and He says, “I know the Father perfectly.”

I am sure that you have heard the illustration before of the Civil War veteran who was not getting the benefits that he had been promised. He had come to Washington and gone through all of the various levels of appeal. He had gotten no satisfaction, and finally he was sitting outside the White House, trying to get an appointment to see President Lincoln with no success at all. President Lincoln's young son, Todd, was playing on the White House grounds and ran across this soldier who was disgruntled, sitting on a park bench. Todd Lincoln struck up a conversation with him, and he said, “What are you doing here?” The soldier said, “I am trying to see the President.” Todd said, “You want to see the President? Well, come with me.” And Todd walked him right into the White House. The guards stepped back and let the President's son come through. The soldier just followed right along with him. They went right up to the office and walked in to see the President because the son knew the father, and the father knew the son. That is what Jesus is talking about here. He knows the Father, and the Father knows Him, so if we know Jesus Christ, which is just what He has gotten through saying, and He knows us perfectly, automatically we have an entrance to God the Father Himself.

A Good Shepherd is Willing to Die for His Sheep

The fourth characterisitic of the Good Shepherd is that the Good Shepherd is willing to die for the sheep. In the last part of verse 15, He says:

John 10

15…I lay down my life for the sheep.

Of course, that is exactly what He did. He demonstrated that He was our perfect Shepherd by ultimately giving His life for us.

A Good Shepherd Seeks Other Sheep

The fifth characteristic of a Good Shepherd is in verse 16, and that is that He seeks other sheep also. He says, in verse 16:

John 10

16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Here is one of the earliest hints that Christianity was going to include Gentiles. This was one of the big problems that the Jews had in the book of Acts when Jesus had gone back to Heaven and things were beginning to develop on the earth. It was extremely difficult for the Jews to believe that God would allow Gentiles to be a part of the worship of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself had hinted of that here. The Good Shepherd is willing to take care of other sheep also. At the Cross, Jesus was manifested as the Savior of the whole world—certainly the Savior of the Jews, the Messiah of the Jews, but also the Savior of anyone who would come to Him. The death of Christ makes all believers a part of one body, regardless of our color, our nationality or our gender.

We are all one in Jesus Christ, and that is something that we need to keep in mind. In fact, really the only hope that we have for unity in our world is the unity that comes through faith in Christ. There will never be a unifying of people on earth in our part of history unless more and more people become believers in Christ. The only hope for peace in the world ultimately, even though this may sound like a large overstatement, is for more and more people to become believers in Christ.

In the Tribulation period, unbelievers will be greatly unified and try to attack God, but that is a completely different thing. That is a phenomenon that God is going to allow in that part of history. The only hope for unification in a real sense is among people who know Jesus Christ as Savior. That ought to put us on notice with these little disagreements that we have between ourselves. Here we are, the people who have the only hope for true unity in all the world, and Satan gets us off base with each other. We get to criticizing each other and demanding our rights from each other and all of those kinds of things when we are the very people God has allowed to have a basis for peace between ourselves.

A Good Shepherd is Loved By His Father

The sixth characteristic of the Good Shepherd is that He is loved by His Father. In verse 17, He says:

John 10

17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

A Good Shepherd Obeys His Father

The seventh characteristic is in verse 18:

John 10

18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

In the first part of that verse, He is talking about the Resurrection, which is the seventh characteristic. In the last part of the verse, He is talking about the fact that God had designed this whole thing in the first place. Christ's obedience to the Father was something that He talked about all the time, and again, Jesus was God; but for purposes of communicating with us as human beings, They took upon Themselves this relationship.

I think that when we get to Heaven, we will understand fully. We will not understand until we do get to Heaven how They can be three and yet one. When Jesus was on earth, He communicated to us in terms of Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and He constantly stressed His obedience to the Father. He did that so people would not just see Him as some itinerant evangelist who had come up with this plan of His own that somehow He was going to die and meet the needs of mankind. Rather, this was a plan of God Himself, and so He talked a lot about His obedience to the Father.

Here is another interesting point about this verse. It is true that Christ died on the Cross for our sins because He loved us. In John, chapter 3, verse 16, Jesus said to Nicodemus that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and Christ died on the Cross because He loved us. That is a wonderful, comforting thing that He loved you and me enough to die for us, but it is also true that Christ died on the Cross because it was a matter of pleasing the Father and obeying the Father. So, He is not only an example of great love, but He is also an example of great obedience. We need to appreciate His obedience to the Father as well as we appreciate His love for us.

Think about the Good Shepherd's power over death as He described it in verse 18. He says that He had the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again. There are verses that describe His death on the Cross, which say that He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me,” and then it says, “He dismissed His Spirit.” Jesus did not commit suicide. Jesus gave up His life of His own accord. He died because of the physical wounds that He had, the horrible excruciating death on the Cross, but He dismissed His Spirit at the time that He knew the work was completed and it was time for Him to complete His earthly life.

No other human being has ever had that authority. When human beings end their own lives, they are violating God's standard. God is the One Who gives life and God is the One Who takes life. When we take our own life before God is ready to take it, we commit sin. We teach at Abilene Bible Church that suicide is not the unforgivable sin, that just like any other sin a Christian may die having not confessed, the person will still go to Heaven, but it is still sin; and it is perhaps among other sins that a person may have to stand in God's presence and answer for, but Christ died even for that sin. But for Jesus, He had the power to lay down His life and He also had the power to take it up again, which He did three days later when He came out of the grave.

The miracle of His death and the miracle of His Resurrection is another outstanding proof of His deity. In fact, Paul says, in I Corinthians, chapter 15, that if the Resurrection is not true, then nothing else is true either. Jesus had that power to lay down His life and to take it up again as He says in verse 18.

A Division Among the Hearers

That brings us to the fourth part of the chapter. We saw the instruction about the Good Shepherd, in verses 1-6, and now we have the identity of the Good Shepherd. Jesus has described Himself as thoroughly as possible as the Good Shepherd, but now, in verses 19-39, we find the insurrection against the Good Shepherd. This last emphasis on His deity produced a division among the hearers. Notice the differences of opinion that we find in verses 19-21. On the one hand, some people said that He suffered delusions and that He was crazy. Look at verse 19:

John 10

19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

Incidentally, here is another reminder of the fact that demon activity was so much more intense during the days that Jesus was on earth, probably because Jesus was on earth. Even before the time of Jesus and after the time of Jesus there was a lot more demon activity. In other parts of the world, there is a lot more demon activity than there is in our part of the world. I think that it probably is because in the sophisticated western world, we have other ways to explain demon activity away, and Satan doesn't get the kind of credit and the kind of power that he wants to have by indwelling people with demons and controlling their actions the way demons can do.

Western civilization has too many ways to explain that away, but in the third world, and certainly in the world of Jesus' day, people knew what demonic possession was and what demonic control was. They were so familiar with demon activity that even if a person were just insane and not demon possessed, they equated those two. That is what He is talking about here. Some of these people just said, “He is just demon possessed or He is crazy.” They just dismissed Him and wondered why anybody would listen. But, in verse 21, others believed everything that He said:

John 10

21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

So, there were some who believed and some who didn't. These people that believed in Him realized the proof of the Lord's claim to equality with God was evident from His miraculous power of doing good things and His wholesome teaching about our doing good things.

The sense of the passage is that these two different opinions continued to be bandied about for the next several weeks until they finally came to a head at the Feast of Dedication and that is the next point. There was this difference of opinion in verse 19-21 which summarized a dispute that went on for weeks. We say that because it tells us that the next part of the chapter came about at the Feast of Dedication, and that was several weeks after the things that took place in the first part of chapter 10.

Circumstances of the Discussion

In verses 22-30, we find the discussion with the opposition. Jesus is going to have a debate or discussion with these people who are opposed to Him. The circumstances of the discussion are given in verses 22-23. First, the season is mentioned, in verse 22:

John 10

22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

The Feast of Dedication was not one of the Old Testament feasts, but it is one that the Jews still celebrate today. It was not on a par in importance with the Old Testament feasts, but it was a very important feast. It took place in the latter part of December, right about the Christmas season that we have. The Jews call it Hanukkah, and it sometimes is kind of tied in with Christmas because it is right about the same time. It is the Feast of Lights and the Feast of Lights was a feast that commemorated a great military victory that took place during the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Those are what we call the 400 silent years, and these years are described to some extent in the Apocrypha , which is a series of eleven or thirteen books, depending on how you divide up some of them. Sometimes two of the books are listed as first and second, and sometimes they are joined together as one book. The Catholic church has accepted those books as a part of the canon of Scripture, but the Protestant church never has. Those books don't really meet the standards that were applied to the New Testament books. They have, for example, miracles that were not witnessed by anybody else, and there are several reasons Protestants believe that the Apocrypha should not be part of the text of Scripture. Another reason that the Catholic church accepts them as Scripture is that there are a lot of things in the Apocryphal books that verify practices of the Catholic church that are not verified in either the Old or the New Testament, so of course, it helps them to have those books to be part of the Bible.

A big part of the Apocrypha is devoted to describing a group of people known as the Maccabees. They were a group of Jewish zealots who revolted against the Greek rule of that part of the world. The Greeks, under Alexander the Great, had taken over the whole known world of that day. They had a very harsh hand of rule over Israel and all of those other nations. A man by the name of Joseph Maccabaeus came to power among the Jews and was able to put together a force of Jewish men. He trained them in warfare, and they were able to overthrow the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was in power at that time, and they were able to take back Israel, at least to the extent of having home rule. They didn't get completely free, but they did have home rule. In fact, when the Romans took over, they had to continue to give them some measure of home rule because the Maccabees still had so much influence and so much power in Israel that the Romans had to contend with that.

The reason that the Sanhedrin had so much power in Jesus' day and the reason they were able to force the Romans to bring Him to trial was that the Romans had allowed the Sanhedrin to have religious power in Israel that all traced back to the Maccabees who lived in those years before Jesus came. So, the Feast of Dedication, as it is called here, was a feast that celebrated the victory of the Maccabees and the taking back of the temple in Jerusalem and the taking back of some measure of rule in Israel.

It is interesting to notice that Jesus attended this feast. Jesus was totally Jewish. He was totally supportive of Israel. He was totally obedient to God's laws about Israel, and it is interesting that He attended this feast, which was not a part of the Old Testament law, but at the same time, it was not opposed to the Old Testament law. I believe that Jesus, in doing that, is a good example to us as Christians where there are many things that we ought to participate in and we ought to support to the greatest extent that we can that are not necessarily a direct part of our spiritual heritage; for example, patriotic things in our nation or any nation, because God tells us we are to be subject to the authorities that are over us. I think that Jesus, at least, sets the trend for nationalism by attending this feast which was a nationalistic kind of thing. It was not a biblical thing, but it was not anti-biblical at all. It celebrated and honored men who took back from the pagans that which was God's nation.

The Setting of the Feast

These were the circumstances of the feast. Notice the setting, in verse 23:

John 10

23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

On the outer entrance to the temple, there was a courtyard that anybody could come into—Gentiles or Jews. It was called the Court of the Gentiles because they allowed Gentiles, but that was as far as the Gentiles could go. Along either side of the Court of the Gentiles, there was a colonnade. The pillars of Herod's porch were forty feet high, and it was a place where teachers would go and people would gather around to hear the teachers and Rabbis, so it was a common meeting place. One side the colonnade was called the Royal Porch and the other side was called Solomon's Porch . It was just part of the construction of the temple, and it was a perfect place for a meeting between Jesus and the Pharisees. It was a perfect place for the Pharisees to try to make a public spectacle out of Jesus, and that is where they jumped Him.

The Jews Demand a Political Messiah

It is out of those circumstances that the course of the discussion takes place in the next verses. The attack on Jesus is in verse 24:

John 10

24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

Verse 23 tells us that Jesus was just walking through Solomon's porch, minding His own business and being a part of the celebration, and verse 24 tells us that the Jews surrounded Him and said:

John 10

24…How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

That is a foolish statement. How much more plainly could He have demonstrated that He was the Messiah, that He had the power of God? He had already done miracles. The most recent one was healing this man who had been born blind and who was well known as a blind man. He had made these clear statements about Himself being the Son of God, but they were never satisfied. Maybe the memories of this Jewish patriotic holiday and the memories of the Jewish triumph that was recognized with this feast stirred the passions of these Pharisees and caused them to demand the political Messiah that they were visualizing.

They had some grounds for that because all through the Old Testament, the coming of the Messiah was linked with political victories. Many Old Testament prophecies talk about the future glory of Israel. Let me give you two references to look at if you want to: Isaiah, chapter 2, verses 1-5, and Micah, chapter 5, verse 2. They make it very clear that when the Messiah comes, He will rule the other nations, but what the Scripture also shows us is that when Jesus came, He didn't come to be a political Messiah first, He came to be a Savior. He will come back later to be the political Messiah. But these men only read what they wanted to read like so many people do. We read the part that sounds good to us, and we ignore the part that we don't like. They were looking for this political Messiah, and that is why they rejected Jesus. He didn't have the kind of bearing and do the kind of things that they expected this political Messiah to do.

Whenever the Jews would ask Jesus who He was, Jesus would always give them answers by which He hoped to broaden their narrow view of the Messiah. He was always trying to show them that there was more to the Messiah than just the military angle, and if they had just listened to what He was saying and if they had taken the time to go back and search the Scriptures as He told them to do, they would have seen that the Messiah was not just a military Messiah, and God would have opened their eyes; but they simply refused to do that.

A Denunciation of Unbelievers

In verses 25-30, we find the answer that Jesus gave to that attack. First, there are two different descriptions that He gives. He talks about these people who still refuse to believe. It is a denunciation of them. Secondly, He talks about this minority of people who do believe in Him. Look at the negative denunciation, in verse 25:

John 10

25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name [healing the blind man, turning water into wine, all these things that John has previously described for us] , they bear witness of me.
26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

He had said that in the first part of chapter 10, which had been two or three weeks earlier, but Jesus is not going to just come right out and say, “I am the Messiah,” because He knew that it wouldn't do any good. Their conception of the Messiah was so shallow that it had almost nothing to do with the true, full-orbed picture of the Messiah that the Old Testament presents. More importantly, their rejection really stemmed from a basic refusal to recognize God's voice in the teachings of Jesus, and so there is a sense in which He wasn't going to waste His time just making a direct pronouncement that they weren't going to believe anyway.

A Positive Description of True Believers

In verses 27-29, we have the positive description of true believers. He had said, in verse 26, “You're not My sheep,” and in verse 27, he says:

John 10

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Here is a beautiful description of the doctrine of eternal security. These Pharisees were always in a power play with Jesus. They were always trying to snatch His disciples away from Him—to downplay them, to undermine their faith in Him. Jesus said, “You are not My sheep, but the people who do believe in Me, I know them; they follow Me; they know Who I am.” Look what He says, in the last part of verse 28: “They shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

A lot of time when we talk about the doctrine of eternal security, people who don't want to accept that doctrine say, “Well, that's true. Nobody could snatch me out of Jesus' hand, but I could jump out myself. I could take myself out of His hand,” but look what He says, in verse 29:

John 10

29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

The idea is, “Well, maybe you could jump out of My hand, but not My Father's hand.” The word picture that He is drawing here, I think, is of Jesus' hand with the Father's hand over it. No one can snatch them out of that cuppled hand—the Father's and the Son's.

This isn't the only place the Bible talks about eternal security, but it is certainly one of the strongest places. If eternal life is really eternal life, if salvation comes not because of what we do, if salvation is truly and simply a gift from God, then there is nothing we can do to lose our salvation. None of us deserve our salvation; all of us deserve to lose our salvation. Each of us has done things that ought to cause us to lose our salvation, but we can't lose it because we didn't earn it in the first place. If God gave it to us when we didn't deserve it, why do we think that He is going to take it away from us because we don't deserve it? He already gave it to us when we didn't deserve it. So that is what Jesus is talking about.

Jesus' Declaration

After these two descriptions, He makes a declaration, in verse 30:

John 10

30I and my Father are one.

That sounds like a shocking thing for Him to say, but really He has been leading up to it all this time. In verse 28, He had said that He had the power to give eternal life, and then in verse 27, He had said that He had the power to keep those to whom He had given that eternal life. Then in verse 29, He states that those who are in His hand are also in the Father's hand. So this statement is just a summary of the many things that He has been saying about Himself all along.

Jews Prepare to Stone Jesus

That resulted in the denunciation that we have, in verses 31-39:

John 10

31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

If He had not been God, this would have been the thing that they ought to have done. Leviticus, chapter 24, verse 16, said that someone who claimed falsely to be the Messiah was to be stoned to death, but Jesus keeps pointing out that He can back up His claims with proof. He had demonstrated that He was the Son of God. There was no other explanation for the things that He had been doing.

The sense of the Greek passage, in verse 32, is that they were just ready to throw the stones. In that moment, when they had their arms cocked and ready to throw the stones, Jesus answered them, in verse 32:

John 10

32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Here is the crux of the question even to this day. Was Jesus a man, as they said, who was just making Himself God or was He really the Son of God? That is still the question that has to be answered today: Who is Jesus? If He is just a great teacher, then why saddle ourselves with all these things that He tells us we ought to do that are so hard to do and that we can't do without His power. If He is just a man, Christianity is just another system, and there is probably another system that is easier to live under. But if He was God, and if the things that He said were true, then we dare not put our trust in anyone else. That is still the crux of the issue. Is He just a man who is making Himself God or is He, as He claimed to be, really God?

In fact, I John and II John give this as the basic standard test of a false teacher. A false teacher is one who says that Jesus was not the Christ come in the flesh. A false teacher is one who will not admit that Jesus Christ was God and is God. A lot of false teachers say a lot of good things about Jesus. A lot of the cults have Jesus in a prominent place, but they do not say that He was God, and that is the issue. Was Jesus just a great teacher? Was He a man Who showed us how to get to God? Was He One Who became God or was He God?

In verses 34-36, He goes back to the Old Testament in Psalm 82, verse 6, and quotes from the Scripture where God refers to human judges of Israel as gods. In the context of Psalm 82, God refers to them that way because they were His judges. They were in the place of God. They were His representatives. In fact, He was telling them that they had been unjust judges and that they were not fairly representing their position as God. It is a rather complex argument, but He says, “Why are you so upset about My saying that I am God when I have already demonstrated all these things that show that I am God, when God Himself has referred to human beings as gods in that other context?”

Jesus Miraculously Departs

After Jesus' explanation of that theological argument, we come to verse 39:

John 10

39Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,

Of course the clear implication is a miraculous departure. We saw this before, in chapter 9, that Jesus just passed through the midst of them and went on out. Jesus was not going to die at the hand of the Pharisees who were being stirred up by Satan. Jesus was not going to die until He could die on the Cross for your sins and mine, and God saw to that. John doesn't record how, but He just went away from them and miraculously escaped out of their hand.

There is a picture in this—the fact that Jesus goes on His way without those who ultimately refuse to believe the clear presentation of Scripture. This is a precarious doctrine to talk about because it is something that God is in charge of. This is one of the places where the Scripture hints that it is possible to sin away our day of grace. If the Gospel is presented clearly and forcefully and vividly and a person refuses to accept it, the day will come when he may not be able to accept it. God will withdraw that offer. Here these men had flatly rejected the testimony of Jesus Christ, and Jesus went away and left them. He came to die for them, but when they flatly rejected it, He went away and left them. Only God knows when that point comes, but the Scripture says that it does come for those who consistently, continually, absolutely refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

Identification With the Good Shepherd

Finally, in verses 40-42, we see some people who did make an identification with the Good Shepherd. Look at verse 40:

John 10

40And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
41And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
42And many believed on him there.

Finally, here were people who believed in Him and identified with Him as the Good Shepherd. Notice that unlike their unbelieving spiritual leaders, they base their belief on the testimony of the things that he has done and things that He has said, the things that John the Baptist said about Him. In effect, they based their testimony on the Word of God, the word about God. That is the ultimate basis for belief.

There is a whole segment of Christianity who say that miracles are a sign of strong faith, who know that God is really in our midst because “look at the miracles that He is doing.” But you know, God's richest blessings are reserved for those who believe without having to see a miracle. Miracles are really a sign of weak faith. Here was a group of people who was blessed because they believed what John said about Jesus. John didn't do any miracles; John just taught them the truth. They compared what John had said with what Jesus was doing and demonstrating in His life, and they believed simply on the basis of what they heard.


In a few weeks in John's narrative, Jesus is going to die on the Cross, and He is going to rise from the dead. He is going to meet with His disciples. The first few disciples who met with Jesus met on Sunday night. Jesus came where they were having a Sunday night service, and the ones who were there ran and told the others, and Thomas said, “I will not believe it unless I see the marks in His hands.” Jesus showed him and had him put his hand in the marks. Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are you because you have believed, but more blessed are those who have believed without seeing.”

See, miracles and signs and wonders are actually a sign of weak faith. God gives those things for those who don't have enough faith to believe without seeing, so don't let someone try to push you around spiritually because you haven't been seeing signs and wonders. They don't have as much faith as you do, and God has been gracious to let them see some miracles to help them in their faith. It is His gracious provision for them. We thank God for miracles, and we are amazed at miracles when they happen. They do happen some in this day and age, but God is pleased when we believe without having to see some tangible thing like that. It honors God when we, like these people, believe in Him just on the basis of what we've heard, just on the testimony of the Word of God.

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