The ideal Shepherd.
“Truly, anyone who tries to get into the sheep pen by any way other than the gate is a thief and a robber. The shepherd enters by the gate. The gatekeeper opens it for him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out of the pen. He walks ahead of them after he has brought all of his flock out. The sheep follow behind him because they recognize him by his voice. Sheep will run away from a stranger rather than follow him because they don’t recognize his voice.”
Jesus gave this example but they didn’t understand what he meant.
The good Shepherd.
Jesus said, “Truly, I am the gate. All those who came before I did are thieves and robbers, but the sheep ignored them. I am the gate. Those who enter by way of me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find green pastures. Thieves are there only to steal, kill, and destroy. I am here so that my flock may have life in abundance.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will sacrifice even his own life for the sheep. A hired man will run away and leave the sheep defenseless when he sees a wolf coming. He doesn’t own the sheep and doesn’t care about them like the shepherd does. The wolf will enter and savagely attack the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. My sheep know me, and I know them, in the same way that the Father and I know each other. I sacrifice my life for the sheep. But there are other sheep that belong to me who are not here. I must gather them as well, and they will recognize my voice. Then the flock will be together with one shepherd. The Father loves me because of this, because I will sacrifice my life so I can take it back again. No one steals my life from me; rather, I sacrifice it voluntarily. I am empowered to lay it down, and I am empowered to take it back up again. The Father has given me this order.”
The Jewish leaders were divided in their opinion about him after hearing these words. Many said “He’s possessed or insane! Why listen to what he has to say?” Others said “He doesn’t sound like someone who is possessed. Can someone who is possessed heal someone from blindness?”
Jesus at the Feast of Lights.
It was winter, and Jesus went to the Feast of Lights (Hanukkah) celebration that was taking place in Jerusalem. Jesus was walking in a part of the Temple complex known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked him “How long are you going to make us wait? Tell us openly if you are the Messiah.”
“I’ve already told you and you didn’t believe me,” Jesus answered. “All the miracles that I do in the name of my Father speak to the truth about who I am. But you don’t believe because you are not part of my flock, like I’ve said. My sheep recognize my voice. They follow me and I know them. I give eternal life to them so that they will never ever perish. No one will steal them from me. My Father has given them to me and is more powerful than anyone. No one can steal them from the Father. I and the Father – we are One.”
Renewed efforts to stone Jesus.
The Jewish leaders again picked up rocks to throw at Jesus.
He said “You have seen me perform many good works that are from God. Which one of those are you trying to stone me for?”
The leaders replied “We aren’t stoning you because of good works. We are stoning you because you are committing blasphemy because you – a human being – are saying you are God.”
Jesus replied, “Isn’t this written in the Law ‘I said, you are gods’? The Scriptures are never false. Since God called prophets ‘gods’, are you really accusing me of blasphemy – me, the one sanctified and sent into the world by God – because I said I am the Son of God? Don’t believe in me if I’m not doing my Father’s works. If I am doing them and you still don’t believe in me, then believe the works. Through this you will understand and know that the Father and I are one.”
They again tried to arrest him but he slipped out of their hands.
Many beyond the Jordan believe
Jesus left and stayed at the site across the Jordan where John had earlier baptized people. Many people came to him there and said “John never performed a miracle, but everything he said about Jesus was true. There were many people in that area who believed in Jesus.