A word for the heart

by Alan Bailey

John 10:1-16 - The shepherd and His flock - Part 1

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. I hope that you will enjoy this lesson and that it will be a blessing to you spiritually. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Jesus is genuine

John 10:1-16

The scenes of John Chapter 10 take place in Jerusalem. Jesus finds himself at certain times surrounded by the Jews, many of them leaders. In the main they do not believe Jesus’ claims about himself and they ask questions from doubting minds. He makes very clear claims about who He is, claims that could not be greater.

Verse 1 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

His hearers knew that a sheepfold was an enclosure built of stones in which the sheep were safe. It had only one entrance. Any person not using the door but breaking in, was obviously an enemy of some sort.

Verse 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

Only the rightful owner can have access to the flock of sheep. He is there for their good.

Verse 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When the true shepherd is on the scene, the sheep know it. He even knows them all by name. A flock like this would not number thousands, but would be perhaps up to one hundred.

Verse 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

An Eastern shepherd will go before his sheep to lead them to places where they will obtain food and water. Because he knows them and they know him, they are willing to obey his call. They are confident he has their good in mind.

Verse 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.

The sheep will not obey the voice they do not recognise.

Verse 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

While His hearers understood the ways of shepherds and sheep, they didn’t know why Jesus was saying these things. Of course He had important truths in mind that would mean a great deal to those who believed. He then explains what his meaning was.

Verse 7 Then Jesus said to them again, Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

Jesus was referring to those who know and love him when he spoke of sheep. He was likening them to a flock kept by a shepherd. A shepherd was a guardian, especially at night, placing himself in the doorway so that no enemy could reach the sheep. So there is but one way in and He is that way. God has no other plan for his creatures. Jesus is the key to knowing God and belonging to Him.

Verse 8 All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

Now he refers to false Messiahs and any who made some claim to bring people to God. There have always been imposters who have tried to win people to their cause. But there can be only one Saviour and the sheep will not accept anyone else.

Verse 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

How plainly the Lord is speaking now! He is saying that he and he alone is the Saviour of the world. Those who hear His call and respond can join the flock and be counted as one of His. To be saved means to be rescued from the guilt and power of sin. To ‘go in and out’ means to have the freedom of those who belong to the group. The pasture is the good food of the Word of God.

Verse 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The non-genuine shepherds only bring death they cannot bring life. But Jesus says that His purpose in coming into the world was to bring life with a new dimension. A new quality of life. An overflowing life that never ends. As people are born and grow up in this world, they have an existence, a standard or quality of life which is spoiled by the sin nature. But Jesus came into the world to bring life as God meant it to be.

Verse 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

Shepherds were called upon to risk themselves for the sake of their flock. Every one was precious. Jesus gives absolute proof of His love by giving His life for them. As we know, this is what happened on the cross.

Verse 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.

Here is the contrast. The one who does not have the interests of the sheep at heart, will not face the dangers. He is more concerned about saving himself. There wolves about today who are ready to attack the flock. The devil and his agents are sworn enemies who will create havoc if they can.

Verse 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

He shows his true nature by his behaviour. The hireling is concerned about his hire and his own safety, not that of the sheep.

Verse 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep and am known by my own.

In summary, Jesus is the genuine shepherd who has the concerns of the sheep in His heart.

Verse 15 As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

We should notice here that Jesus begins to say again how He is related to the Father. There is mutual knowledge of each other in such a way that it points to Jesus having equality with God the Father. Also, that He is here on a mission – to die for His own upon the cross.

Verse 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

As Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience, He makes reference to many other sheep He has who are yet to join the flock. They are the non-Jewish people of the world, also known as Gentiles. So Jesus is the universal shepherd. He looks forward to a day when all who belong to Him will be together and the flock will be complete.


  1. In this chapter Jesus has made it clear that some people are His sheep and some people are not. We can know which group we belong to.
  2. We belong to Him if we have taken the step of entering through the door. That is, asking Christ to save us from our sin and keep us for Himself.
  3. We will also be people who listen to what He says in His Word and obey it.
  4. Though the enemy of our souls may try many ways to attack us, the Shepherd is well able to give us the protection we need.
  5. No matter who we are or where we are, we are known to God. He knows our name and all our circumstances. Let us trust and pray.

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