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Read John 10

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

Go Deeper

Sheep, thieves, a shepherd, a door, a question, and an angry crowd – what on earth is God trying to teach us in John 10!? This chapter outlines stories about sheep and people that seem completely unrelated, yet there is a common thread of truth. In each of these stories, Jesus appeals to His followers to pay attention to the voices, discern the truth, and respond accordingly.  

We are bombarded by voices – on tv and social media, in the news and ads, from politicians and celebrities, and from family and friends. We also hear voices in our hearts and heads emanating from our own desires and insecurities. Which voice do we listen to and what does it say?

Is it the voice of a thief, stealing our attention from God’s purpose, killing our love of others, and destroying our focus on His guidance? Is it the voice of a hired hand’s lie that we are alone, broken beyond repair, and a failure? Is it the voice of an expectation that goes unmet, an idea of how things should be, and a lie that it will never get better?  

In verse 6, we are told, “they did not understand what the things which He was saying to them meant,” and, in verse 24, the Jews ask, “How long will You keep us in suspense? … tell us plainly.” Jesus’ listeners couldn’t understand His meaning because they weren’t listening to His voice. We often do the same, pleading with God for answers but listening for the response we expect, believing the lies of the world, and allowing others to determine our path. We, like the sheep and the people in John 10, must identify the voices calling us, discern the truth, and follow Jesus.


  1. What voices other than God’s are you listening to?
  2. Are the voices speaking the truth according to God’s Word? In what ways can you discern the truth?
  3. In what ways can you set aside the expectations, lies, and thieves, and follow Jesus today?

Did You Know?

In John 10:41 we see that everything had come full circle for the people in Jordan who had heard the preaching of John the Baptist. They realized that a) John definitely wasn’t the Messiah and b) everything John had said about Jesus was true.

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3 thoughts on “John 10”

  1. As I read John 10, I’m reminded of my childhood and how we raised Angora goats. Many times baby goats were abandoned by the mother that we bottle fed. We would bond with and name a few of them. Morning and evening we drove to the pasture to feed them and called their name. They recognized our voice and came running. The references spoken of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and him knowing his sheep are especially dear to my heart. Today I’m determined to be more aware of my circumstances, for surely the Father is working in them. I want to practice recognizing his presence. I’m also remembering that the first ones the angels announced the coming of the Savior was to a group of lowly shepherds. Maybe that’s really where to look 1st, to the least, forgotten and the broken.

  2. I love the image of Jesus caring for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep, both courageously and tenderly. Praise God for the abundant life that He offers to us as we learn to listen to His voice!

  3. As a child I spent some school holidays in the Black Forest region of Germany. There shepherds still accompany their flocks as they graze in the pastures over the summer season. A shepherd’s life is a hard one, and the shepherds that I encountered were ruddy and weather-beaten – like the Messiah of Isaiah 53::2, of whom the prophet wrote, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”

    I have long been looking for a photo or painting of the Good Shepherd in which the shepherd doesn’t have the permed locks, pristine robes and serene and somewhat vacuous expression of an actor stand-in who has never spent a night in the field. If anyone know of a more believable representation of a shepherd, I would be most grateful if you could leave a comment.

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