In another of His numerous clashes and conflicts with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus tells a very well-known parable. After having just said that His purpose for coming was for judgment. (John 9:39) Not only was this statement an offense to the Pharisees but His elaboration was more than they could take. Stating that He came so that the blind will see and those who can see will become blind (John 9:39), He levels a condemnation squarely at the heart and authority of the Pharisees and scribes. They were self righteousness “guardians” of the children of Israel and the faith of Abraham, and Moses who had led them at that point in Jewish history to become a law unto themselves. They felt privileged to pronounce the deepest mysteries of God while missing the very heart of God‘s revelation to mankind. (Mat. 11:25)
The parable that He tells, to back up His previous statement is a very well known and loved parable of the Good Shepherd. I have been part of and have lead numerous Bible studies on this parable and these verses. It’s amazing to me that so many times people interpret the parable in such a way as to personalize it where I’ve heard so many people explain the meeting by saying “we have to become good shepherd’s“. This of course, if we understand the Christological basis of all scripture, is not at all the intent. Christ is the one and only good shepherd. We are nothing but the sheep of his fold or not. There’s no halfway point. He says that those who pretend to lead and Sheppard the people of God but enter not through the gate that was appointed by God, The Gatekeeper, are thieves and robbers.
Jesus has been sent by his father for the express mission of saving mankind from Sin, death and the devil. This implies that Jesus is obedient to his Father. He is the New Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) and as the fully human and divine God both the completion and fulfillment of the law and the prophets. (Mat. 5:17-20)
He is the Good Shepherd and He is the One who enters the sheep pen through the gate which is appointed by His Father.
Of all the numerous adjectives and names applied to our Lord Christ, perhaps the Good Shepherd is one of the most fitting and meaningful. It expresses completely His love and His willingness to sacrifice for our safety and life. We are the sheep and are cared and protected by Him from all harm and danger. As His sheep following only his voice recognizing Him as the true and good shepherd we enter the sheepfold where we are saved. There is no other way known to mankind by which we can be saved. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Anyone who came before Him or after Him is a thief and a robber.
As the good shepherd He has guided us to pasture through which we are communed and nourished in the life-giving sacraments within only the One Holy Apostolic Church which is the sheep pen of God.
You may be familiar with or have noticed that there are all sorts of strange new philosophies and “religious“ ideologies and personalized doctrines that are being promulgated by many people today. We have not followed the deceitful and false shepherds, who only want to destroy us, and like the sheep in the parable, we hear only His Life Giving Voice and follow Him.
We are safe only within the confines of our church’s confessions, teachings and frequent participation through the Christ appointed sacraments which are the tokens of His Presence and His promise of eternal life. Our “sight” has been restored we see and recognize our Saviour while the wise and learned have been made blind, having rejected the gospel of grace and therefore having their sin remain unpardoned.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ only do we “have life, and have it abundantly .” (John 10:10)