In my last blog on John 10 we saw that Jesus is the gate through whom we enter into the new life of his gracious gift of salvation and peace. In him our goings out and comings in are safe and filled with true joy. Now John 10 moves on to declare that Jesus is not only the gate in the sheepfold, but also the Good Shepherd.
In the original Greek Jesus does not use the basic word for ‘good’, but another word ‘kalos’ which may also be translated as ‘beautiful’. The Roman Catholic Raymond Brown in his Anchor Bible commentary translates it as ‘the model shepherd’. In John’s time ‘kalos’ was used of some of the Greek gods (e.g. Hermes) and carried the sense of what was the ultimate ideal. Jesus is indeed greater than any god and he is the ultimate ideal. It often related too to the concept of truth, which is one of John’s great emphases in his Gospel – Jesus is the Truth and is utterly to be trusted in faith because he is always consistently true and trustworthy. We can therefore trust the good shepherd implicitly as he leads us into his chosen pasture.
So Jesus is not only morally good and perfect (another implication of ‘kalos’) with wonderful works which are also described with the same adjective ‘kalos’. He is perfectly beautiful both in his personal character and also in what he does. And the climax of his glorious working on our behalf is that he lays down his life for the sheep (John 10.14/15) – and his sheep are not just coming from the Jewish fold, but Jesus also has sheep among other nations (John 10.16). And he brings all his sheep together into a glorious unity in the one flock, the one church – sheep from every nation, people and continent.
Elizabeth and I have just returned from an excellent week in Sweden. We taught on a get-together for Swedish YWAM workers from Turkey, Jordan, Thailand and Cambodia. This was led by Chris and Asa Duff, former students from All Nations. We then had a lovely weekend with a group of old friends from when we used to teach in Orebro every year until about 1995. We so enjoyed meeting them all again, seeing the beauty of their homes in forest clearings by a beautiful lake. On the Saturday we also had a gathering together where we shared a little of what we have seen of the Lord’s work in the Muslim world and in China. Then on the Sunday I preached in their church.
It is in this context that I have been reading John 10 where Jesus declares that he is the gate through whom we find salvation. Then he wonderfully teaches that the consequence of that gift of salvation is that we shall “come in and go out, and find pasture” (10.9). In this happy situation we “have life, and have it to the full” (10.10). How wonderfully true! We enjoy the fullness of life and “pasture” both when we go out to Sweden etc. and when we come home to the peaceful comfort of life here. Coffees and meals on the patio are such a delight. We feel that we have all and abound. But we also richly appreciate our times of ministry both here in Britain and in other countries. The Lord is so good to us.