John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
A sheepfold in a central location where shepherds from many places could bring their flock for the night sounds like a good idea. The shepherd could rest easier knowing his flock was not scattered all over the hillside but at the same time it made all those sheep a convenient target for a thief. It’s not too hard to to imagine how chaotic the noise of all those shepherds and sheep must have been. Jesus tries the subtle approach first; it’s not the sheepfold that keeps the sheep safe. They didn’t get it! Now comes the hard truth for those self-declared watchmen of Israel; “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” What keeps the sheep safe is they recognize and follow only the voice of their own shepherd. “I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers.”
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Could this be Jesus hinting at the mystery of his own multifaceted identity? “…He [the Spirit] “when he has brought out all his own…goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. “He [Jesus] is “the Door of the sheep.” “To him the Gatekeeper [God] opens.”
What does it say about people?
“…the sheep follow him, for they know his voice”…and…” If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Everything I wrote about the sheepfold began to sound familiar to me. My world is a not-so-safe place today. Life has become noisier, bigger and crowded with chaotic voices and activity. Everyone is part of some flock or other hoping to find a little security. This is the reality of a modern day sheepfold: safety depends on hearing the right Voice. Are you listening? Jesus is the only safe place; “the door of the sheep,” the Shepherd/Gatekeeper who speaks, trying to be heard over the noise; “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”