What Do You Believe About
The Good Shepherd? - Part II
Jesus has again made a statement that pertains to His deity. Though He has used a parable to make the truth of His ministry more understandable, they continue to reject Him. The religious Jews are unwilling to put aside their religious traditions to have the everlasting life that the Shepherd offered. Any statement of truth on the part of Jesus was perceived as a lie. Their blindness was intense. They refused to believe the Shepherd. The same is true today; there seems to be a padlock on the heart of the religious unbelievers that only the Holy Spirit can unlock. Certainly, as with Lydia, the Lord alone can open the hearts. Sadly, not all will respond to the clear presentation of truth, nor the convicting of the Holy Spirit.
The statement pertaining to deity, made by Jesus, was a declaration that He could lay down His life and take it up again; He could die and be resurrected from the grave. This statement brought intense reaction. May we consider, (1) The reaction against the Shepherd, vv. 19-21; (2) The repetition by the Shepherd, vv. 22-30; and (3) The rejection of the Shepherd, vv. 31-42.
I. THE REACTION AGAINST THE SHEPHERD vv. 19-21
In this study we have been able to observe the ongoing activities of the Messiah. In each account we have seen the violent reaction on the part of the religious Jews. It seems now that this parable is polarizing at least two groups. The first group accused Him of having a devil and of being mad (v. 20). Others said, “These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” (v. 21).
Of these two groups, the first response is one of raging anger, possibly a form of rebelling against the truth. The second response is a questioning or searching, maybe an ignorance to the truth. These two groups further illustrate people of unbelief today. There are those who display immediate and also continuous anger when confronted with any form of Biblical truth. Then there are those who seem to have an honest desire to know truth but they never come to the knowledge of the truth.
The miracles and parables of Jesus not only identified and categorized the unbelievers that He confronted, but the true nature of the unbelievers of all time.
The reaction created a division (v. 19). Even in the area of unbelief there is an ongoing contest among the unbelievers. Unbelief can be very subtle by some, and more flagrant by others. It can be very static or very charged. Often I am asked, “Why are there so many belief systems?” or “Why are there so many different religions?” Satan, who is the author of confusion, certainly has many who are confused. The only way to overcome this state is through the Overcomer. Jesus, who is the Overcomer, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
As the Way, Jesus is the answer to many choices. There are many today who seem to think and say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe something.” Then, as the Truth, Jesus is the answer to much confusion. Any departure from truth will yield confusion. This confusion is evident not only religiously but also practically. Homes are in disarray because there is no clear means for piloting the home ship. The rudder of truth has been removed and the ship left to drift. As the Life, Jesus is the answer to miserable corruption. Sin brings forth corruption. The corruption is a by-product of death, and death is a by-product of sin.
The reaction caused a discussion (vv. 20-21). The unbelief of the part of the Jews not only brought a diversion, but it caused a discussion. “And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? (10:21-22) It is not at all uncommon to hear those who frequent the bars, sitting on their bar stools in their intoxicated state discussing theology. Some of the Jews were tending to be on the side of truth in their discussions. They seemed to have a certain degree of discernment as they surmised that a man capable of opening the eyes of the blind could not have a devil. Yet it is not enough to be on the side of truth, one must possess the Truth. Having a correct theology is not enough. He may know the theological terms, the Scriptural passages, and understand basic Bible doctrine but does he know the Shepherd?
As the discussions continued there is no evidence of belief here. Yet later in another place the Jews began to embrace Truth and their eyes were opened. The last verse tells us that “many believed on him there.” Jesus met the opposition with miracles, with parables, and with persecution and did see some come to Him in belief. No matter how antagonistic one might be to the presentation of truth, he needs to be encouraged by the example of the Good Shepherd to stay faithful.
After calling attention to “the reaction against the Shepherd” may we now consider:
II. THE REPETITION BY THE SHEPHERD vv. 22-30
The historical activities of Jesus are dated. The most used way of dating His activities are the different feast days. The feast of the dedication is the time instrument used to mark the present works of the Shepherd. Ryrie has a note pertaining to this particular feast. “This was instituted in 165 B.C. by Judas Maccabeus in commemoration of the cleansing and reopening of the Temple after its desecration by the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epephanes in 168 B.C. (Daniel 11:31; I Macc. 4:52-59). It is also called the Feast of Lights, or Hanukkah. The date falls near the winter solstice, December 22.”
When Jesus fed the multitude, it was during the feast of the Jews and there was “much grass.” Now, it is wintertime and the Lord is still doing His work. He is truly the God of all time and the God of all seasons. He never ceases to do the Father’s will.
They ask him again (vv. 22-24). The question that the Jews asked was more in the form of an accusation. “How long doest thou make us to doubt?” (v. 24a). They were so totally deranged in their thinking that they thought that their doubt was created by Jesus. Remember Jesus is not the author of confusion. Satan had captured their minds making them totally oblivious to the presence of Deity in their midst. They wanted plain answers, yet the simple, plain, whole truth that they had been given was unrecognized. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God … (I Corinthians. 2:14). The same are the worldly wise today. There genius has never been excelled, yet they still lack a clear understanding of truth.
When the Jews began to move round about Him to ask their questions, it was as though they were putting Jesus on the witness stand. They were questioning Him not as the plaintiff, but as the defendant. The world still puts the believer on the witness stand. It continuous to question how genuine one’s witness is. Much of this is attributed to the unbeliever’s despising of truth, and being despisers of those who are good.
He answers them again (vv. 25-30). The patience of Jesus is what really is being put on display. One can not but sense the longsuffering of Christ demonstrated in these kinds of encounters. We often are so protective of our rights but we immediately attempt to vindicate any wrong done against us. We forget the admonition of Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” We should also be reminded of Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Most of the tension that exists today, because of the differences of people, could be eased or done away with if we only followed the Scriptural principles. We often violate Biblical principles because we want to answer back with a vindictive spirit. Jesus simply reminded them that they had been told and they believed not (v. 25). He further reminded the Jews that the works that He did in His Father’s name, “they bear witness of me.” He calmly but firmly rebuked them for their unbelief. He did this by making again the analogy of the shepherd to his sheep. The reason for their unbelief was that they were not of His sheep. This reminder was followed by this great statement, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (vv. 27-28).
He further reminds them that He is the Chief Shepherd and that His sheep were given to Him by His Father. The next statement of truth ignited the Jews further when He calmly but truthfully declared His Deity (v. 30) by saying, “I and my Father are one.” This statement caused an intense rejection of the Shepherd.
III. THE REJECTION OF THE SHEPHERD vv. 31-42
Truth is a most powerful force, not to mention that truth never changes. The Shepherd-God was not confronting them as a weak, vacillating personality subject to change. He also was not changing His message to “fit in” or be accepted. One thing that plagues the religious world today is a lack of conviction, with an absence of character. We change the mood of the pulpit to accommodate the mood of the people.
The pulpit must be a station of truth without compromise, regardless of the consequences. Truth is the imperative. Diligently, the puppeteer must be more than just a puppeteer; he must be a preacher. He must be a preacher of the Word. If not, there will be no spiritual impact. Men abhor truth in their wicked state; but for those who abhor truth, there are those who crave for the truth. In the presentation of truth the Jews took up stones to stone Jesus.
They wanted to stone Him vv. 31-33. They wanted to stamp out the TRUTH. Men, in their maliciousness, are still attempting to stamp out the truth. The infidel Ingersoll thought with the writing of a book that he could destroy Christianity. His books can scarcely be found today, but Christianity thrives.
Their effort to stone Jesus was a result of Him showing their good works, but they accused Him of blasphemy. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (vv. 31-33).
The Jews wanted to put Jesus to death as though His doing good was a capital crime. The only “crime” on His part was in His recognizing the need of the world. If the need was great then, think how much greater it is today. Consider this, according to population estimates released by the United Nations, on October 12, 1999, six billion human beings are on the earth.
From the flood to 1804, the world reached the one billion mark in population. It then took 123 years to reach two billion people in 1927, 33 years to attain three billion in 1960, 14 years to reach four billion in 1974, 13 years to attain five billion in 1987, and 12 years to reach six billion in 1999.
Currently, every second five people are born, and two people die, a net gain of three people. At this rate, the world population is doubling every 40 years and would be: 12 billion in 40 years; 24 billion in 80 years and 48 billion in 120 years.
Currently two out of five people in the world live in either China (1,256 million) or India (982 million). There are eight other countries with a population over 100 million: the United States of America, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Japan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. By the year 2050 eight additional countries will have exceeded the 100 million mark: Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey. By then the ranking will be somewhat different; India will then be the most populated country (1,529 million) followed by China (1,478), the United States of America (349 million), and Pakistan (346 million). Source: United Nations population division. As the population increases, those who are antagonistic to truth increases. They wanted to stone Jesus; He only wanted to save them.
He wanted to save them (vv. 34-42). The way the God of the heavens, who also is the Son of God, patiently ministered Truth to the Jews is a strong indication that He wanted to save them. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. He came to His own and they received Him not (John 1:11).
In these verses Jesus reasoned with them on the basis of their law (v. 34) by reminding them, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” Tracing back to the Old Testament, this was a way of identifying those who were direct representatives of God. Perhaps the strong use of this title was to carry the weight of responsibility and honor to those whom the title was bestowed. His logic and argument said, if those Old Testament representatives could be given the title, then certainly the one whom the Lord had sanctified and sent into the world could more appropriately be allowed this title.
Jesus further strengthened His argument by saying, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not” (v. 37). He continued His argument in verse 38 saying, “But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”
Again with all the arguments of truth they would not accept Him but “sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand …” (v. 39). After His escape He “went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there” (vv. 39-42).
Sermon From Dr. Max Alderman