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The Legitimate Shepherd

We continue to look at the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees and ruling elders after the Sabbath day healing of the man born blind (John 9). When John wrote his Gospel, there were no chapter divisions, so we should read Jesus’ teaching in the following verses in the context of the treatment by the Pharisees of the man healed of blindness. The Jewish leaders excommunicated the man and, at the same time, scorned him and accused him of being born in sin (John 9:34). Jesus had sharp but honest words about the false shepherds of Israel:

1“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them (John 10:1-6).

The Lord spoke about His legitimate authority as the Shepherd of God's flock coming to search for His sheep (v. 12) and to call them out of the sheepfold of slavery. He has come through legitimate means; His ministry was witnessed by the voice of God at His baptism when He went to the gatekeeper of the flock, John the Baptist. God also witnessed to Jesus’ being the legitimate Shepherd by an audible voice from heaven at His baptism: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Jesus had the witness of God and the prophet, but also His message came with miracles and a powerful sense of authority in His words: “because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:29). Even the Temple guards, sent to arrest Christ by the ruling leadership of Israel, came back empty-handed, excusing themselves by saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). When Jesus spoke, people listened. There was a sense of something different about Him. Another time, Luke wrote that the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders were trying to kill Him, “Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words” (Luke 19:48). The Lord put it this way to the Pharisees: “the sheep listen to his voice” (v. 3), and again in verse four, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

What was it about Christ that first attracted you to Him? Can you explain what convinced you as to the truth of His message? In my experience, it was an awareness about the words of Jesus, the things that He said that rang true. He spoke like how I expected God to speak. In our inner man, our spirit, there is a know-so when it comes to the words of Jesus. No one ever spoke the way this Man does. I will forever be glad that I listened carefully to Christ and obeyed what I learned. May that be your experience too. Keith Thomas

Shortened from the more extended study at the following link: Jesus, the Good Shepherd


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