v1-18 - As this chapter begins, notice that it's a continuation of the argument Jesus and the establishment were engaged in. Jesus had just accused them of being blind, so this wasn't a friendly conversation.
Jesus use 'the sheep gate' as an illustration in two different ways:
The first time, He's talking about the common holding pen located in town.
Everybody would keep their sheep in this common area, and the gatekeeper would make sure that the right sheep went with the right shepherd.
Jesus is accusing the establishment of having snuck into the pen attempting to steal God's sheep. Jesus' accusation sails over their heads, though, so He changes the analogy.
The second time, in v7, Jesus says that "I AM the gate."
This time He's talking about temporary pens shepherds would construct out in the hills to safely gather the flock in at night.
The shepherd himself would form the gate to these makeshift folds. He would keep the sheep safely in and the predators out.
Jesus keeps building on the sheep/shepherd image, changing it up a bit now to portray Himself as the shepherd. As He did with the gate analogy, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd twice:
the protector of His sheep, who lays down His life for them;
the leader of His sheep, and His sheep listen to His voice.
He makes it clear that He's in control:
Jesus is not a victim who is killed by the uncontrollable mob - nobody takes His life;
Jesus lays down His life on His own.
v19-21 - Opinion is split amongst the people about Jesus.
v22-30 - The scene fast forwards to the winter Festival of Dedication (now known as Hanukkah), but the tension remains between Jesus and the establishment.
They want Jesus to "tell them plainly" if He's the Christ they've been looking for.
Jesus replied that He had told them, but they didn't believe.
Jesus pulls the gloves off now.
He tells them that they are not His sheep, so they'll never listen to Him.
As He does this, He makes you, one of His sheep, an awesome promise:
I give you eternal life, you will never perish, and no one will ever snatch you from His hand (v28).
In this heated argument, Jesus probably glares at the establishment as He stuns them with His final claim:
I and the Father are one (v30).
v31-39 - The establishment flips out when they hear Him claim to be one with the God who Himself is One.
They know exactly what Jesus just insinuated, but rather than recognize it as the truth of salvation, they see it as blasphemy.
They try to kill Him right then and there, but He escapes.
v40-42 - Once again, Jesus retreats from the busyness of the city to a remote place. Many people came to Him and believed into Jesus (John's unique way of expression).
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: Jesus used the sheep/shepherd analogy both because people in that culture were very familiar with the concept, but also because the establishment was supposed to be Israel's shepherd, but they failed. Ezekiel 34:1-31 tells of how they failed, and how God promised to do the job Himself.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: The last conversation Jesus has with the Jews in this chapter takes place in the temple area of Jerusalem. What time of year was it? (See verses 22–23.)
Look again at what Jesus says in verse 10 about the thief and what he does. In what ways do you see these things going on today?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Jesus and the Father are one, and you are the sheep of God's pasture.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will clearly hear and respond to the Good Shepherd's voice.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: