FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
April 13, 2008
Psalm 23 (1)
1 Peter 2:19-25
l. CONTEXT: John 10:1-10
In this gospel lesson Jesus is depicted as the Good Shepherd, a theme
which became associated with the Easter season early in the life of the
Church. The association is apt for several reasons. First, this lesson is
part of Jesus' last public address, and hence part of the final spoken
revelation of who Jesus is, preparing his followers to understand the
events of Easter. Further, in vs. 11 Jesus foretells his death, "I am the
good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Finally, this text is appropriate for the Easter season because its imagery
is Old Testament imagery. The people of Israel are often referred to as
sheep, and God as their Good Shepherd. In particular, it is interesting to
note Numbers 27, in which Joshua (whose name is a variant of the name
Jesus) is appointed as a shepherd over the congregation of the Lord; and
Ezekiel 34, where God condemns false and negligent shepherds.
So on this Sunday we have a lesson that reveals who Jesus is; sets the
stage for a prophecy concerning His sacrificial, voluntary death; and points
to Jesus as the One who fulfills the Old Testament expectation and
understanding of God's Messiah.
1b. Text: John 10:1-10
I Am the Good Shepherd
10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
1αμην αμην λεγω υμιν, ο μη εισερχομενος δια της θυρας εις την αυλην των προβατων αλλα αναβαινων αλλαχοθεν εκεινος κλεπτης εστιν και ληστης: 2ο δε εισερχομενος δια της θυρας ποιμην εστιν των προβατων. 3τουτω ο θυρωρος ανοιγει, και τα προβατα της φωνης αυτου ακουει, και τα ιδια προβατα φωνει κατ ονομα και εξαγει αυτα. 4οταν τα ιδια παντα εκβαλη, εμπροσθεν αυτων πορευεται, και τα προβατα αυτω ακολουθει, οτι οιδασιν την φωνην αυτου: 5αλλοτριω δε ου μη ακολουθησουσιν αλλα φευξονται απ αυτου, οτι ουκ οιδασιν των αλλοτριων την φωνην. 6ταυτην την παροιμιαν ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους: εκεινοι δε ουκ εγνωσαν τινα ην α ελαλει αυτοις. 7ειπεν ουν παλιν ο ιησους, αμην αμην λεγω υμιν οτι εγω ειμι η θυρα των προβατων. 8παντες οσοι ηλθον [προ εμου] κλεπται εισιν και λησται: αλλ ουκ ηκουσαν αυτων τα προβατα. 9εγω ειμι η θυρα: δι εμου εαν τις εισελθη σωθησεται και εισελευσεται και εξελευσεται και νομην ευρησει. 10ο κλεπτης ουκ ερχεται ει μη ινα κλεψη και θυση και απολεση: εγω ηλθον ινα ζωην εχωσιν και περισσον εχωσιν.
GreekBible.com Online Text Copyright Info
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: John 10:1-10
Looking closely at these verses, the lesson divides into two sections:
vs. 1-5 The Parables, and vs. 6-10 The Reaction and Interpretation.
John 10:1- There is no introduction at the beginning of this chapter to
alert the reader to the occasion or the audience. It would seem logical,
then, that these verses continue from chapter 9. There, Jesus has been
addressing the religious leaders of His day. "Truly,truly..." This form of
speech is never used by the writer of John to introduce a new episode, but
rather marks a further interpretation or development of what has already
happened. These words, therefore, attach the discourse which follows
with the action in chapter 9. There, we read of a blind man who is healed
and who then understands who Jesus is, in contrast to the Pharisees who
know of Jesus and yet are blind to his identity. Now in chapter 10 we will
read of those who know their master's voice, in contrast to those who do
10:1 - tein aulein- "sheepfold" - Probably refers to a courtyard for the
sheep adjacent to a house with a stone wall surrounding it and a single
gate in the wall for access to the sheepfold.
10:3 - exagei - "leads them out" - the verb also used in LXX Numbers 27
and Ez. 34.
10:4 - ekbalei - literally means "cast out" and may, according to Raymond
Brown, "Hint of the helplessness of the sheep. Sheep often have to be
pushed through a gate."
10:6 - A familiar lack of comprehension on the part of Jesus' hearers is
noted. "Figure" is a translation of the Greek "paroimian," which often
means proverb, and not the more commonly used "parabole." "Paroimia"
translates the Hebrew term which is used, "masal, which covers many
types of speech, from riddles to proverbs to parables.
10:7 - he thura ton probaton - Some commentators believe that the
imagery is of the shepherd's sleeping across the gate to guard his fold.
While he is the shepherd, he also acts as the gate, since it would be
necessary literally to cross him to enter or leave the fold. Some readers
may find it awkward to think of Jesus as both the Shepherd and the Door of
It is helpful to keep in mind, as Morris points out, that Jesus also speaks
of being the bread of life and giving it (6:35,6:51), that He speaks the turth
and is the truth (8:45 and 14:6), and that throughout the Gospel Jesus
shows the way and is the way (14:6).
10:8 - This verse has caused difficulty because of the sweeping statement
that "all who came before" Jesus were thieves and robbers. One early
manuscript omits the word "all," several manuscripts omit the words
"before me." The word "all" is difficult in that there were prophets and
forerunners to Jesus who pointed to His identity and ministry in holy
ways. The words "before me" focus on Old Testament figures. By omitting
these words, the lesson of the parable is thought to be reinforced
since the condemnation can then apply to those who currently speak
against Jesus. However, with the complete text (probably correct as it
stands because of its difficulty) the exclusivity and uniqueness of Jesus'
identity is underlined.
10:9-10 - Jesus is the gate to salvation: "whoever enters by me will be
saved, and will og in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to
steal and kill and destroy, I am that they may have life, and have it
abundantly." (AILL) Instead of understanding Jesus only as the gate for
the true shepherds to use, the focus now is that Jesus is the gate for the
sheep to usel. This verse recalls John 14:6, "I am the way...No one comes
to the Father, but by me."
3. STRATEGY: John 10:1-10
Preaching on this text allows for many possibilities. First, there is the
strong distinction between those who hear Jesus' voice and know Him and
those who do not, a theme which builds on the events in chapter 9. There
is a vital connection between the believer and the risen Christ. Jesus
calls us to know and follow Him in all the comings and goings of our lives.
We are called to hear Jesus' voice, be led out by Him (and sometimes to be
pushed out, into those areas that we ourselves would hardly choose!) to
Second, there is the possibility of preaching on the uniqueness of Jesus
Christ. He, and He alone, is the One who offers us life. He IS the way, the
truth, and the life. We cannot gain life by crawling over the wall (even the
wall that leads us into Church each Sunday), while avoiding the main
question of Christianity: Do we accept that this man is in truth the Son of
God; that he died and was risen, to rule with the Father and the Holy
Spirit? That question must be confronted and answered in our faith. We
must enter our faith through Jesus Christlll; there is no other door.
Third, the preacher may want to focus on those aspects of modern life
that come only "to steal and kill and destroy" although it may appear that
they have come to shepherd us with the same benevolence and hope of life
that Jesus brings. Our Easter faith is one that calls our eyes always to be
focussed on the Cross--now empty and victorious. Nothing else can give
us life, no matter how much we believe it may.
In preaching, liturgical celebrations, and selection of hymns, the pastor
is called to continue the great celebration of the Fifty Days of Easter, and
to fill this Sunday with joy and alleluias. The theme of the Good Shepherd
lends itself to this celebration, since Jesus is the One who leads us to
green pastures, who protectsand guides and gives his life for us. This good
news should lbe celebrated strongly.
A children's sermon using this lesson is appropriate. The vivid imageof
a wolf in sheep's clothing versus the true and kind Shepherd is one that
capture a child's imagination. A brief game of "Simon says" can very
effectively point out how we follow; and the lesson that Jesus calls us to
follow Him only in those things that are GOOD is easily drawn, bringing to
life the relational qualities of our faith with Jesus Christ.
4. REFERENCES: John 10:1-10
Brown, Raymond. THE GOSPEL ACC. TO JOHN (I-XII). Garden City,NY:
Craddock, Fred B. JOHN. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.
Lightfoot, R.H. ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL: A COMMENTARY. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1972.
Morris, Leon. THE GOSPEL ACC. TO JOHN. Grand Rapids,MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1971.
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 10:1-10
There are several paraphrases of Psalm 23 that have been set to music
for congregational singing which would be appropriate in conjunction with
this lesson. Perhaps the best known in The Hymnal 1982 is 645, St.
Columba. Also note, however, hymns HB 663 and 664 (cf. LBW 456,45l and
48l). An interesting variation is to use the tune AMAZING GRACE, but
singing the text to THE LORD'S MY SHEPHERD, I'LL NOT WANT (Scottish
Psalter, 1650), usually set to the tune CRIMOND. One version is found in
HB 663. Using LBW 45l (Tune: Brother James' Air), simply drop the third
line of each verse in order to use this text.
The theme of God's leading us is found in HB 703, LEAD US O FATHER IN THE
PATHS OF PEACE ; and a children's hymn on God's care is HB 708, SAVIOR
LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US, LBW 481. HB 636, HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION
(LBW 507 ) is appropriate for celebrating Jesus' acting as the Good
Shepherd, guiding and protecting his people.
Exegete: Rev. Ann Brewster Glenn
LEXEGETE © 2008