(Vs. 10) The Lord refers again to the false prophets who, without a call from God, thrust themselves into the sheepfold. They have not the glory of God nor the good of the sheep in mind, but they serve themselves to the ruin of men's souls (Zech. 11:16-17). "I am come not to destroy but to save My sheep. I am come that they might have spiritual life and eternal life; not that they might only barely live and escape hell, but through My sacrifice, obedience, and mercy they might have ALL spiritual blessings and an abundance of grace" (Col. 2:9-10).
(Vs. 11) Christ is the GOOD shepherd ("none good but God"). Christ is the Shepherd of the Father's appointing, calling, and sending, to Whom and upon whom the salvation and care of all the chosen sheep was committed (Isa. 40:9-11). The good shepherd gave His life for the redemption of His sheep. He gave Himself freely and voluntarily as a ransom for them that they might be delivered from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 1:3). His death was not in vain but was effectual to the salvation of all the elect. Not one for whom He died shall perish, but ail shall hear the gospel and believe (Acts 13:48; John 6:37-39; Rom. 8:34-39).
(Vs. 12) The hireling is one who works for wages or hire. He does not own the sheep nor love the sheep; but he does what he does for advantage, wages, or reward. He has no other motive than what will profit him. The wolf here is trouble, trial, danger of any sort, or any enemy of the sheep. Not having any concern for the sheep, the hireling will flee and the sheep will be scattered (not devoured, for the sheep can never perish, John 10:29).
(Vs. 13) "The hireling flees because he is a hireling." A man does what he does because of WHAT HE IS! When trial and testing time comes, a man reveals what he is by what he does. Character is revealed by conduct in the CRISES OF LIFE. When does the hireling flee? When trouble comes! You might never have known his true character without the trial (Acts 20:28-30). The hireling cares not for the sheep, only for himself and his wages.
(Vs. 14) Our shepherd (Psalm 23:1) is the good shepherd good in His holiness, good in His mercy, good in His Word, and good in His full provision. He is the great shepherd, the chief shepherd, who KNOWS His sheep! He knows them in that they are His and He calls them by name. He knows them in that they are one in union and body. He knows them in that He loves them with a perfect and eternal love. He lays down His life for the redemption of His sheep, and for no other has He laid down His life. "My sheep know Me." They know Him with a specia1, spiritual, and saving knowledge, having had Him revealed to them by the Spirit and the Word. They know Him in that they love Him and approve of Him as their shepherd, having committed all to Him (II Tim. 1:12).
(Vs. 15) This verse is in connection with Vs. 14, and the sense is that the mutual knowledge and union of Christ and His sheep are like that which His Father and He have with each other (John 17:21-23). As the Father knows the Son and as the Son knows the Father, so Christ knows the sheep and His sheep know Him. The word "know" here (as frequently in Scripture) signifies love and approval. "I lay down my life FOR," not only in behalf of, but IN THE STEAD OF My sheep. We live only because He died (Rom. 5:6-8: Isa. 53:4-6).
(Vs. 16) Our Lord refers here to the Gentiles, who belonged not to the Jewish state, laws, and government. This is what John is saying in I John 2:2, that Christ is not only a propitiation for the sheep among the Jews but also for the sheep among other nations who will hear His voice and believe. The Father gave Him a people from every tribe, nation, and kindred. He is their shepherd, having loved them and bore their sins. With the elect of Israel they shall hear His gospel, and Jew and Gentile shall be one fold and one shepherd (Eph. 2:11-16; Rom. 2:28-29).
(Vs. 17) Christ is speaking here as the mediator, as the servant, and "mine elect." As the eternal Son, He is loved from all eternity (Prov. 8:30). But the Father also loved Him as the obedient servant (Matt. 3:17). The laying down of His life was the supreme act of obedience to the Father's will (Phil. 2:5-11). He gave His life with the view that He might take it again. This He did by raising Himself from the dead, by which He was declared to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He made full satisfaction to the justice of God for His people and rose again for their justification. He entered heaven as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20) and ever lives to intercede for us.
(Vs. 18) No man takes Christ's life from Him by force without His willing it and consenting to it. Pilate, the Jews, and the Gentiles nailed Him to a cross but not without His voluntary surrender (Acts 2:23: Acts 4:26-28). "This is the covenant My Father gave Me to fulfill, the work He gave me to do. He sent Me into the world to redeem My sheep," and the accomplishment of it required His death. He died not as a martyr, or a reformer, or a victim, but as a Divine, ordained substitute. He died the appointed death at the appointed time for an appointed people (Isa. 53:10-12).