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10. Jesus the Shepherd

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one. 31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. 39Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 40And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. 41And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42And many believed on him there.

8. All who came before me. The words πάντες ὅσοι may be literally rendered, all as many as came before me They who restrict this expression to Judas the Galilean, and such persons, depart widely, in my opinion, from Christ’s meaning; for he contrasts all false doctrine, in general, with the Gospel, and all false prophets with faithful teachers. Nor would it even be unreasonable to extend this statement to the Gentiles, that all who, from the beginning of the world, have professed to be teachers, and have not labored to gather sheep to Christ, have abused this title for destroying souls. But this does not at all apply to Moses and the Prophets, who had no other object in view than to establish the kingdom of Christ. For it ought to be observed, that a contrast is here made between the words of Christ and those things which are opposed to them. But so far are we from discovering any contradiction between the Law and the doctrine of the Gospel, that the Law is nothing else than a preparation for the Gospel. In short, Christ testifies that all the doctrines, by which the world has been led away from him, are so many deadly plagues; because, apart from him, there is nothing but destruction and horrible confusion. Meanwhile, we see of what importance antiquity is with God, and in what estimation it ought to be held by us, when it enters, as it were, into a contest with Christ. That no man may be moved by the consideration, that there have been teachers, in all ages, who gave themselves no concern whatever about directing men to Christ, Christ expressly states that it is of no consequence how many there have been of this description, or how early they began to appear; for it ought to be considered that there is but one door, and that they who leave it, and make openings or breaches in the walls, are thieves

But the sheep did not hear them. He now confirms more clearly what he had already spoken more obscurely and in the figure of an allegory, that they who were led out of the way by impostors did not belong to the Church of God. This is said, first, that when we see a great multitude of persons going astray, we may not resolve to perish through their example; and, next, that we may not waver, when God permits impostors to deceive many. For it is no light consolation, and no small ground of confidence, when we know that Christ, by his faithful protection, has always guarded his sheep, amidst the various attacks and crafty devices of wolves and robbers, so that there never was one of them that deserted him. 284284     “En sorte qu’il n’y en a pas eu une seule qui l’ait laisse.”

But here a question arises, When does a person begin to belong to the flock of the Son of God? 285285     “Du troupeau du Fils de Dieu.” For we see many who stray and wander through deserts during the greater part of their life, and are at length brought into the fold of Christ. I reply, the word sheep is here used in two ways. When Christ says afterwards, that he has other sheep besides, he includes all the elect of God, who had at that time no resemblance to sheep At present, he means sheep which bore the shepherd’s mark. By nature, we are at the greatest possible distance from being sheep; but, on the contrary, are born lions, tigers, wolves, and bears, 286286     “Lions, tygres, loups, et ours.” until the Spirit of Christ tames us, and from wild and savage beasts forms us to be mild sheep Thus, according to the secret election of God, we are already sheep in his heart, before we are born; but we begin to be sheep in ourselves by the calling, by which he gathers us into his fold. Christ declares that they who are called into the order of believers are so firmly bound together, that they cannot stray or wander, or be carried about by any wind of new doctrine.

It will perhaps be objected, that even those who had been devoted to Christ frequently go astray, and that this is proved by frequent experience, and that it is not without good reason that Ezekiel ascribes it to the good Shepherd, that he gathers the scattered sheep, (Ezekiel 34:12.) I readily acknowledge that it frequently happens, that they who had belonged to the household of faith are, for a time, estranged; but this is not at variance with Christ’s statement, for, so far as they go astray, they cease, in some respects, to be sheep What Christ means is simply this, that all the elect of God, though they were tempted to go astray in innumerable ways, were kept in obedience to the pure faith, so that they were not exposed as a prey to Satan, or to his ministers. But this work of God is not less astonishing, when he again gathers the sheep which had wandered for a little, than if they had all along continued to be shut up in the fold. It is always true, and without a single exception, that

they who go out from us were not of us,
but that they who were of us remain with us to the end,
(1 John 2:19.)

This passage ought to strike us with the deepest shame; first, because we are so ill accustomed to the voice of our Shepherd, that there are hardly any who do not listen to it with indifference; and, next, because we are so slow and indolent to follow him. I speak of the good, or of those who are at least passable; for the greater part of those who boast that they are Christ’s disciples kick fiercely against him. Lastly, as soon as the voice of any stranger has sounded in our ears, we are hurried to and fro; and this lightness and unsteadiness sufficiently shows how little progress we have hitherto made in the faith. But if the number of believers is smaller than might be desired, and if out of this small number a large proportion be continually dropping off, faithful teachers have this consolation to support them, that the elect of God, who are Christ’s sheep, listen to them. It is our duty, indeed, to labor diligently, and to strive by every possible method, that the whole world may be brought, if possible, into the unity of the faith; but let us, in the meantime, be well satisfied with belonging to the number.


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