The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 18
When the LORD tells Moses that it is time for him to climb Mount Abarim and die on account of his sin, Moses pleads with God—but not for himself. He asks the LORD to raise up a leader for Israel, that they “may not be like sheep which have no shepherd” (Num. 27:17). As Jesus assesses Israel during in His ministry, He sees the damage that both religion and lack of religion have done to God’s people; they are indeed “like sheep having no shepherd” (Mt. 9:36). He has come, however, to remedy this situation, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11).
Jesus has come as the Good Shepherd for Israel. He explains the roles of the Shepherd and of the sheep of God’s flock:
His role as Shepherd is to be the doorway ushering the sheep into God’s good pasture. He leads the sheep in and out, giving them rest. He gives them life abundantly, protecting them from the thief who comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (10:10). He proves His love for the sheep by laying down His life for them and taking it up again. He gives His sheep eternal life, and holds them together with His Father so that they shall “never perish” (10:28).
The sheep have a role as well: the sheep must enter through the Shepherd’s door, listen to the Shepherd’s voice, follow the Shepherd’s call, and trust in the Shepherd’s protection. All true sheep will recognize His voice and respond to that voice. Only those who recognize and respond to the Shepherd will enjoy the protection of the Shepherd and receive the gift of eternal life.
Jesus exposes the thieves and robbers as hirelings who exploit others: “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers . . . the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (10:8, 10). Jesus also contrasts the Good Shepherd with the hireling, “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (10:12-13). The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, while wolves lay down the lives of their sheep.
This passage introduces several truths about Jesus, hirelings, shepherds, and eternal life:
- Danger separates the real leader from the false. The hireling flees, while the good shepherd faces the challenge. Ultimately, Jesus alone is the one all believers should follow; others may help us on the way, but we are followers of the Shepherd.
- The relationship between the hireling and the sheep is one of selfishness, exploitation, and anxiety—the hireling uses people and abandons them when challenged by danger or after they’ve served their purpose.
The relationship between the shepherd and sheep is one of intimacy—the sheep who know Jesus respond to His voice.
- The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is one of protection—Jesus identifies the wolf and addresses the danger; therefore the ears of the sheep are alert to and heed His voice.
- The world in which the sheep live is dangerous—a wolf hunts for the vulnerable. The vulnerable who are wise trust the good shepherd, keep their ears attuned to His voice, and respond to Him when He calls.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Jn. 10:1-41; Lk. 13:22-14:24):
What is the significance of the narrow gate?
Why did Jerusalem not gather under God’s wings and trust in Him?
How does God view those who reject or take lightly His invitations?