“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16).
Once again, let me remind you that when repetition occurs within Scripture it is placed there for emphasis. As my previous sentence is intended to stress a subject’s importance through reminder, so also what Jesus says in John 10:14-16 is intended to remind us of the importance of He being the good shepherd.
Jesus says a second time that He eternally exists as the good shepherd. He involves what has become the familiar phrase “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμί; ego eimi) to indicate that He is not only the good shepherd but He is also the self-existent God of the universe. As both, He eternally watches over His sheep by protecting them and leading them like a shepherd.
Not only does Jesus protect and lead us but He says He also knows us. This knowledge or understanding is a present and active knowledge. It is not just knowing about someone (Romans 1:21) but rather having intimate knowledge with someone. Jesus compares this intimate knowledge of His sheep with the intimate knowledge God the Father has with God the Son and God the Son has with God the Father.
One commentator explains, “Today’s passage expands on that picture of intimacy. Jesus tells us that He is the true and good shepherd who knows His sheep (vv. 14–15). Jesus is not an aloof leader or distant figure who is barely aware of His people. Instead, our Good Shepherd knows us by name and with an intimacy that parallels His knowledge of the Father and the Father’s knowledge of Him. No one, not even we ourselves, knows us better than Christ does. And just think of what a marvelous thing that is. Jesus knows us far better than we know ourselves, including the worst parts of us—and He still loves us.”
There are parts of my life that very few people are aware of, and some portions only my wife knows about. Then there are those very intimate categories of which only I am aware and am reluctant to share. I am sure you can also identify with me that there are portions of your life that you want to keep a secret. The embarrassing parts or the weak areas where temptation occurs most frequently. Jesus intimately knows everything about each one of us. In spite of this, He eternally loves as His sheep.
It is also within this portion of John 10 that Jesus indicates that not only are Jewish people part of His sheepfold, but also Gentiles. How encouraging is that? Jewish and Gentile sheep will hear and respond to Jesus’ call to believe, as John 10:16 indicates. Jesus possesses sheep among Gentile nations and when the Gospel is proclaimed these elect join the visible flock—the church. As one pastor writes, “Divine election makes one a sheep, and the elect show that they have been chosen by hearing the gospel and following Christ.”
John Calvin writes, “How is it that the Father knows His Son? Christ simply declares that, so far as He is the bond of our union with God, He is placed between Him and us; as if He had said that it is not more possible for Him to forget us, than we should be rejected or disregarded by the Father. As the same time, He demands the duty which we mutually owe to Him, because as He employs all the power which He has received from the Father for our protection, so He wishes that we should be obedient and devoted to Him as He is wholly devoted to His Father, and refers everything to Him.”
As Jesus was devoted to save us as our good shepherd, may we resolve to serve Him as His redeemed sheep.
Soli deo Gloria!