John 10:1-9

Henry Mahan

In Palestine there was in each village a sheepfold, which was the common property of all the farmers. This sheepfold was protected by very high walls. When night fell, to protect their sheep from beasts and robbers, a number of different shepherds would lead their flocks to the door of the sheepfold and leave them in the care of the porter while they found lodging. The porter remained at the door until morning when the shepherds returned. The porter would then allow each shepherd to enter in and call out his own sheep. The sheep would respond to the shepherd's voice and follow him.

(Vs. 1) Our Lord is speaking here to the Pharisees, who had just excommunicated the healed blind man from the Jewish community. Evidently the sheepfold is Judaism and not the church, for the Lord does not lead His people "out of the church" but into it. But the main thrust here is that our Lord was calling these Pharisees (who set themselves up as shepherds of the flock and guides of the people) thieves and robbers! They were not sent of God, the sheep were not theirs, and they did not come by the only door of redemption by obedience and blood, but another way, by works and ceremony and self-righteousness (Rom. 10:1-4).

(Vs. 2) He that comes with a Divine commission and by Divine authority (as prophet, priest, and king), he that comes in fulfillment of the Scriptures through the door of covenant mercies (elective grace, atonement and sacrifice, fulfilling all righteousness) is the true Shepherd of the sheep (Rom. 3:25-26).

(Vs. 3) "To him the porter openeth." This intends God, the Father, whose law Christ honored, whose righteousness Christ fulfilled, whose justice Christ satisfied! The sheep hear the voice of Christ, which is no other than the gospel of grace, love, and mercy (I Thess. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:13-14). The sheep of Christ are made to hear His voice by the effectual work of the Spirit in their hearts. They are HIS OWN SHEEP (John 6:37-45), and He calls them by name (II Tim. 2:19). He leads them out of Judaism, works, false religion, captivity, out from under the law as a schoolmaster, out from under the curse of the law, or out of any captivity. "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

(Vs. 4) When He leads His sheep out, He does not drive them nor follow after them; but He goes BEFORE THEM to lead them, to protect them, to show them the way, and to set an example for them. The sheep FOLLOW the shepherd in the way of life, in the will of God, exercising love, humility, self-denial, and obedience; for they love the shepherd. They know and love His voice (his word, commandments, and gospel).

(Vs. 5) The sheep of Christ will not hear, follow, nor support those preachers, teachers, and pastors who are strangers to His gospel. They do not approve of the doctrines of works, ceremony, and self-righteousness and will flee from it as disagreeable and dangerous. This is the reason the beggar who was healed heard Christ and rejected the counsel of the Pharisees. He was one of the Lord's sheep and knew His shepherd. He also detected that these false teachers were not of God (I Cor. 2:14-15).

(Vs. 6) Our Lord spoke this parable to these religious Pharisees; but having no knowledge of their sins, no knowledge of the righteousness of God, no knowledge of Moses' writings and the true meaning of the sacrifices and types, and not being of the sheep of Christ, they DID NOT UNDERSTAND ONE WORD! (John 10:24-27.)

(Vs. 7) Since they did not understand the parable, by way of explanation our Lord said, "I am the door of the sheep." He is not only our shepherd, our owner, and our King, but He Himself is the door to the kingdom of God! He is the door by which we come into the presence of God (Heb. 10:19-22). Christ is God to whom the atonement is offered, He is the atonement, and He is the great High Priest by whom it is offered. In the same manner, He is both the shepherd who leads and the door by which they are led out and in.

(Vs. 8) He does not speak here of true prophets such as Moses, the prophets, and John the Baptist, but of those false prophets and priests who were not sent of God, who denied the way of redemption, and who fed themselves and not the flock (Jer. 23:25-32). The true sheep of Christ did not and will not hear a false prophet nor a false gospel. The elect of God will not hear false prophets, for it is not possible for them to be totally and finally deceived.

(Vs. 9) Our Lord declares again, "I am not only the shepherd of the sheep, whose own the sheep are, but I am the door!" He not only provided a way of redemption and a way into fellowship with the Father, HE IS THAT WAY! It is by Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ that we are accepted (Eph. 1:3-7). If any man conscious of sin, emptied of self, desirous of life believes on Christ, receives Christ, and comes to Christ, he shall be eternally saved and shall find in Christ all that he needs.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.