Learning From the Good Shepherd (John 10)
Jesus’ words in John 10 reveal Him as our Shepherd, while also calling the sheep to learn to become like Him. Every sheep becomes a little shepherd who must learn from the Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2). Soon after, He declares, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (10:9). Are you saved? Have you entered God’s family through Christ? By entering through the Door, you became a shepherd to the sheep, no matter how big or small your influence is. By your example of entering through the Door and holding fast to God’s Word and the testimony of Jesus, you direct the sheep to their true Shepherd. When you speak, as led by the Spirit, the sheep can hear His voice.
Anyone speaking for God without having come to God through Jesus Christ alone is a thief. This applies to false prophets and religions, but it also suggests someone who enters the “flock” of the church without having passed through the Door! Such people will not lead the sheep to their Shepherd, because they never went to the Door to gain access from Him. It is important and serious business to stand alone before that Door, to come with the fullness of who you are and stand face to face with the fullness of who Jesus is. What is spiritually obtained there means everything. It determines whether my voice will prove to be a “stranger” who misleads, or a “shepherd” who helps the Good Shepherd (10:5).
Once we have entered, how do we learn from Him? Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (10:11). As we follow Jesus, He teaches us more and more to lay down our lives for the family of God. The defining motivation is caring for the sheep. So we choose not to be cowardly, not to silently ignore the enemy’s traps and plots that threaten the sheep. Shepherds warn about sin, help iron out divisions, and pray for the wellbeing of the fold, even if there is no “pat on the back” associated with it. Why? Because the wellbeing of the sheep is in mind; this believer shares the heart of Jesus, who owns the sheep.
If someone flees in these dire moments, it is “because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep,” but about himself (10:13). We should beware of looking to our own reward and interest, rather than seeking the benefit of others. Paul wrote of Timothy, “I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20). Not all believers care in this way, but until we die, it is never too late to enroll in the school of laying down our lives.
You may feel like you are losing out or missing out, beset by a difficult road. Perhaps it is even more difficult because you know that the Lord placed you there. But stop and ask yourself, “Is my life becoming a blessing to the family of God?” If you cannot see a blessing, perhaps you are merely unable to see it now. Or maybe God asks, “Will you lay down your life afresh?” But if you can say, “Yes, I see God making me a blessing by His grace,” then rejoice and be at ease. He is not pressing you through senseless pain; the Good Shepherd is making you like Him, teaching you to lay down your life for your friends.
The Rock Church