Thursday, July 23, 2015

EmmDev 2015-07-23 [John's Portraits of Christ] 10. The good Shepherd

10. The good Shepherd

So Jesus said to them again, "I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."      (John10:7-11)
Jesus uses two agricultural metaphors in this chapter: The door for the sheep and the good shepherd. These are images that powerfully explain both His mission and His nature.

At night the shepherds in Israel would gather their sheep in a kraal - a circle surrounded by a low stone wall. The entrance was a break in the wall and after leading the sheep through the entrance, the shepherd would station himself in the gap and even sleep there during the night thus becoming the door through which any predator must pass while the sheep rest.

The Palestinian Shepherd image is one used throughout Scripture:

  • the beautiful comfort of Psalm 23
  • the heartache of God the Shepherd whose sheep have stubbornly gone astray in Isaiah and Jeremiah
  • the stern condemnation of the leaders who have been hirelings instead of shepherds in Ezekiel
  • and the beautiful parable of the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep in Luke 15.

The shepherd analogy here in John 10 is just as powerful. The Palestinian shepherd does not chase the sheep from behind, but leads them from the front. Jesus has gone in front of us. He faced the perils of the cross and death before us.

Having done that He now is the doorway by which we can enter into His rest and experience His loving protection.

Anyone who enters by any other way is not a sheep or a shepherd and we should not trust them. Their motive is our destruction. The Shepherd places Himself at risk for the sheep. He comes to give abundant (overflowing) life.

Christ is our door. He placed Himself in harm's way so that we might have abundant life.