John 10:1-18 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Jesus describe Himself in John 10:7 (printed below?) What does He mean?

Therefore Jesus again said to them, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (John 10:7)

Jesus declares that He is “the gate for the sheep.” In other words, Jesus is claiming that He is the One who provides entrance into “the sheepfold,’ and He is the only entrance into the fold. As He makes clear in John 14:6, Jesus is declaring that He, as the eternal Son of God and the Savior sent by God, is the only way by which we can be redeemed from the righteous judgment of God and restored to fellowship with God. Jesus alone can give us access to the kingdom of God.

2. What promise does Jesus make to those who believe in Him? See John 10:9 (printed below)

I am the gate; if anyone enters in through me he shall be saved, and shall come in and go out, and shall find pasture. (John 10:9)

Jesus assures us that whoever “enters in through him”—i.e.; whoever receives Him as their Savior and trusts in Him alone for entrance into the kingdom of God—shall surely be saved. For those who trust in Jesus, salvation is not a possibility, it is a certainty. It is a certainty guaranteed because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary whereby the justice of God was totally satisfied on behalf of all those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Jesus further promises that everyone who trusts in Him “shall come in and go out, and shall find pasture.” That is to say, all those who trust in Jesus will find continuing acceptance with God the Father and shall experience the spiritual life of nourishment and satisfaction that is only found in a saving relationship with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. How does Jesus contrast Himself with “the thief?” See John 10:10 (printed below)

The thief only comes in order to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

The sole purpose of the thief is to steal, to kill, and to destroy; and the ultimate thief is the devil himself (John 8:44b). In contrast to the thief, Jesus declares that as the Good Shepherd He came that we might have life. Jesus further declares that as the Good Shepherd He came to offer an abundance of life to those who trust in Him.

4. How does Jesus compare Himself to “the hired hand?” See John 10:11-13 (printed below)

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (12) The hired hand is not a shepherd—the sheep do not belong to him. When he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. (13) He runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. (John 10:11-13)

A hired hand works with the sheep, but he is not a shepherd; he works for money, he feels no love or devotion to the sheep. The hired hand does not have a personal interest in the sheep because they do not belong to him: the sheep are his living, but they are not his life; he tends the sheep, but he is not tenderly attached to them. The hired hand will not risk his life for the sheep: he sees the wolf coming, he forsakes the sheep and runs for his life; he flees because he does not care about the sheep. In contrast to the hired hand, Jesus declares that as the Good Shepherd, He cares for the sheep, so much so that He willingly lays down His life for His sheep.

5. What does Jesus emphasize that He will do for His sheep? See John 10:11,15,17-18 (printed below)

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…(15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep…(17) The Father loves me because I lay down my life—I lay it down in order that I may take it again. (18) No one takes it away from me, I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father. (John 10:11,15,17-18)

Six times in this passage Jesus declares that as the Good Shepherd He will lay down His life for His sheep. Because of His commitment to His Father, and because of His great love for His sheep, Jesus as the Good Shepherd protects His sheep with His own life (verse 15b). In an emergency a good shepherd would venture to risk his life for his sheep (note 1 Samuel 17:34-35, where David relates his experience as a shepherd); but Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, came into the world for the express purpose of voluntarily laying down His life for His sheep! Jesus laid down His life to protect His sheep from the righteous wrath of God (Isaiah 53:4b-5) by satisfying the righteous demands of God’s justice (note 1 John 4:10). In His resurrection life Jesus continues to plead on behalf of His people and guarantees our protection until we arrive safely at our heavenly Father’s home (note Hebrews 7:25).