This text is what’s usually called the discourse of the Good Shepherd. I think Chapter 10 is the answer to the questions of chapter 9. People want to know how they can see. People want to know what causes blindness. Jesus, in chapter 9, speaks of belief and worship. In chapter 10, he continues to develop his theme: come to Jesus and establish a personal relationship.
Jesus starts with the bad news: The man who doesn’t come in the door is up to no good. Beware!
Then he follows it with the correction: The guy who comes in the door is the good guy. He’s the one who’s here to take care, not to take advantage. Watch for that guy, and give him respect when he shows up.
John is still talking to us about belief and unbelief. Jesus is talking here about himself. He is the good shepherd, not an intruder. Anybody paying attention can tell, and they’ll “open the gate” for him and pay attention to everything he says. He’s the one to believe. He’s the one to follow. We follow a person, not a rulebook. We follow a person, not a religion.
But we have to make sure we follow the right person. There are a lot of voices out there, and a lot of forces trying to pull us in their direction. Jesus said, “I’m the one to be looking for. I am the one who is the real door. I’m the only one who can truly save. Anybody else is just an intruder.” The thief comes to take and destroy; Jesus comes to give and to build.
Then Jesus drops a bomb: “I have come that you can have life, and have it to the full.” Wow! It sounds as if the possibility for this incredible life is always held out to us. God will produce this life in us if we will listen to his voice and follow him. Dallas Willard said, “The message of the gospel of John, and of Jesus, is that His life is indestructible. His life was the light of men; darkness could not overcome it; even death on the cross couldn’t extinguish it.”
Then he ADDED to it: I am the good shepherd, and I’ve come to lay down my very life for my sheep. It’s an act of supreme love and grace. And it’s available to any who will come, not just to the Jews. All people in all times of history. “God so loved the world.”
But don’t worry, he continued. I won’t stay dead. I’ll come back. My care of the sheep will never stop. I am life itself. The death is not a defeat, but a victory; not an overpowering, but an intentional plan.
Whoa, now the people are really divided—again. Some believe, and others think he’s a crackpot. But others said, “C’mon. Does a crackpot say and do such fantastic things?” John sticks to his point: I’ve given you the evidence. What is YOUR decision?