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Bible verses about Parable of the Good Shepherd
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 10:1-5

In the illustration many sheep are in an enclosure where several flocks come together for the night. The shepherd comes in the morning to lead them to their pasture, and he calls to his sheep by name. Though the individual flocks had become hopelessly intermixed during the night, the shepherd's sheep hear his voice and separate themselves from the larger flock.

Notice how often Christ emphasizes the voice of the shepherd in this short section: "The sheep hear his voice" (verse 3); "The sheep follow him, for they know his voice" (verse 4); "They do not know the voice of strangers" (verse 5). When the shepherd speaks, the sheep go to him immediately.

When "voice" is used in the New Testament, the writers all chose the Greek word phone, meaning "sound" or "spoken word." But phone can also mean "an address as to a group of people, a speech." Phone derives from phaino, meaning "to enlighten" or "to shine." From this root meaning springs the fact that phone can mean "disclosure" or "revelation" through an address or speech—a message!

This is its figurative meaning in John 10. The true and faithful shepherd will be preaching a message which his sheep will hear and immediately follow!

Mike Ford
The Shepherd's Voice


 

John 10:3

Unlike other animals, sheep rarely find their own way safely. Since sheep go astray, their guidance and safety lies in the Shepherd's leadership (Psalm 23:1-2). A thief, a robber, or a stranger may call the sheep by name and try to imitate their Shepherd's voice, but through long usage and intimacy, the sheep can discern a strange voice and become alarmed. We know the Shepherd's voice because the Holy Spirit gives us discernment; the result is that we turn and flee from any unfamiliar, misleading voice.

Often the unfamiliar voice is a religious-sounding one. Just as the Pharisees' voices confused and misled Jews, so do many religious leaders' voices today. Since the truth is not in them (I John 1:8; 2:4), they lead foolish sheep away from the truth. It is vital for us to seek to live according to the Good Shepherd's will, known from His voice. His positive guidance leads us "in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

John 10:4

A sheep pen often held several flocks, with each flock having its own shepherd. When the time came to take his flock to its pasture, each shepherd separated his sheep from the others by making a unique call. Instead of driving them, he led them, and they followed him as one unit. The shepherd always went before them to guide them to the most beneficial pasture and to protect them from danger.

Jesus' references to the sheep are personal: "His own sheep" (verse 4), "My sheep" (verse 14), and "other sheep I have" (verse 16). Everyone is owned by the Creator God. The Father is the "Author of Creation" (Isaiah 40:28; 43:15), and the One who later became known as the Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word, through whom Creation was brought into existence and the work done (Psalm 102:25; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:2, 10; Revelation 4:11). As such, His sheep are very familiar to Him and bear the mark of ownership—unconditional obedience and submission.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:10

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus died for earth's sinners, who like sheep have gone astray. Good, as used here, means more than having goodness in a physical sense but also having an excellent nature (Exodus 33:19-20). It signifies what is morally beautiful, noble, and true (Exodus 34:6-7). Christ's use of the word in this parable implies that He perfects all godly attributes in others; He is the Good Shepherd who manifests the characteristics of perfect goodness. He guides and supports His sheep, and sacrifices Himself for them. His benevolence exceeds all others (Psalm 31:19).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:14

Jesus says, "I know My sheep, and am known by My own." Both the Shepherd and the sheep are aware of this, and it enables the Shepherd to lead His sheep in the best possible way, helping them to learn what He teaches and to do what He commands. Being known by and knowing the Shepherd implies that, not only do they know His voice, but they have an intimate understanding of the way He thinks and are inclined to reflect His way of doing things. Their imitation of the Shepherd becomes automatic because the sheep anticipate his will. They become one with the Shepherd, as the Shepherd is one with the Father (John 10:15, 30). Just as full knowledge exists between the Father and the Son, the Shepherd has a complete knowledge of each of His sheep.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

John 10:15

When Jesus came in the flesh, He emphasized that He had been sent by the Father, and that His authority, offices, purposes, plans, and power were received from Him. All this was done with Jesus' complete acceptance and agreement (Philippians 2:5-8); He did not come reluctantly but with purpose and zeal. As the Great Shepherd, He sacrificed Himself, rose from the grave, and ascended to heaven, where He now intercedes for His sheep (Hebrews 7:25; 10:5-10; 13:20-21). Both the Father and His Son are one in Their love for the sheep, and so the Son came to seek and to save those who were lost.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:15

Jesus says several times, "I lay down My life for the sheep," or "I lay it down." It is significant that of His own will, He gave Himself up to die. The Romans did not take it from Him—He gave it voluntarily for His sheep (verse 11). He made it clear that Pilate was not condemning Him, but that He was accepting death (John 19:10-11). Jesus lived His life as an act of obedience to God, His Father. Moreover, when He died He became the propitiation (expiatory or atoning sacrifice) for the whole world, not just for our sins (I John 2:2). God's graciousness is justified by the sacrifice of the Shepherd.

In the Old Testament, the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies was symbolic of God's throne, where He sat in judgment (Hebrews 9:5). When the Good Shepherd gave His life in bloody sacrifice for sinners once for all (verses 12, 24-28), the Mercy Seat became a "throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). It was God's will that Jesus' sacrifice apply to all sinners for all time, but Jesus' phrase "My sheep" in this parable refers only to His followers—the saints, the members of His flock—highlighting His special, intimate relationship with them.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

John 10:27-28

As the Ruling Shepherd, Jesus will return to reward His under-shepherds who were faithful in their care of the flock (I Peter 2:25; 5:2, 4). The shepherd is the symbol of the king, and in this regard, it is interesting to note how many of Israel's kings, patriarchs, and prophets began as shepherds.

Jesus does not mix His metaphors when He exhorts His disciples, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Three figures of speech combine to form the ideal kingship familiar in ancient times: the perfect king was shepherd of his flock, the loving father of his family, and commanding ruler of his country. Thus, when Jesus says with authority, "I am the good Shepherd," the qualities of shepherd, parent, and ruler are seen combined in Him (John 10:11, 14).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:28-29

God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in each member of His church through His Holy Spirit, and by it He will also give eternal life to them (Romans 8:11). Therefore, the life given to the sheep is the same Spirit that dwells in the Father, in the Shepherd, and in the sheep. Because the Shepherd gave His life for the sheep, sacrificing all, He is able to give abundant, eternal life to them by removing the obstacle of death, the penalty for sin, by the resurrection from the dead.

No one can steal His sheep from Him because they are, in effect, in the palm of His hand (I Peter 5:6; Revelation 1:17). Nothing could be safer or more secure. The Shepherd and His Father are one, and Their grip is tightly on Their church so that even "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

Thus, with a large number of sheep, the true Shepherd may shelter them in many pens, but they are still all His sheep and all one flock. The flock does not create this unity, but because the nature of the sheep is in harmony with their Shepherd, and because their relationship to Him is intimate, they recognize and obey His voice: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

 




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