Just as he has loved them…

Christ the Good ShepherdA Theological Summary Verses 17-18 form the conclusion to the discourse. In these verses, the shepherd meta­phor is abandoned completely and Jesus speaks directly about his death and relationship with God. These verses focus on three theological themes that are essential to understanding the death of Jesus in John.

First, these verses place Jesus’ death fully in the context of his relationship with God. Verse 17 contains the first linkage of “love” (agapaō) with Jesus’ death in the Fourth Gospel. God’s love for the world (3:16) and for Jesus (3:35) are already known to the reader, and this verse adds a new dimension to that love. God loves Jesus because Jesus lives out God’s commandment fully (v.18). Continue reading

The Good Shepherd

I AM the Good ShepherdImagery of Shepherd Israel’s leaders were often regarded as shepherds, and even though God was always their principal shepherd, responsible human agents were necessary so that Israel would not be as “sheep without a shepherd” (Num 27:16, 17); and significantly, a charismatic element is said to have rested on such leaders (Num 27:16–21; cf. Isa 11:1–9; 44:28–45:1). God is said to have led the flock Israel through the wilderness by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Ps 77:21; Isa 63:11). Although no Israelite king is ever directly called by the title “shepherd,” it is implied, since David as prince feeds, or shepherds, Israel (2 Sam 5:2), and when Micah predicted the death of Ahab and Israel’s defeat, he said the scattered army would be “as sheep which have no shepherd” (1 Kgs 22:17; 2 Chr 18:16; cf. Num 27:16, 17). Continue reading

The gate and the shepherd

I AM the Good Shepherd3So Jesus said again… It is evident to Jesus that the disciples do not understand, so Jesus offers another explanation. Commentaries have long asked how we are to understand the relationship between vv.1-6 and vv.7-18. Are the latter verses making an allegorical explanation to the already presented parable? The problem with such a view is that characters and imagery has changed. In any case, few people seem to believe that if vv.7-18 are a clarifying or additional explanation, it likely was not any more effective.

But some see that a change of scene/place is implied (from “driven out…walks ahead…follow). Whereas the opening verses were within the village: the courtyards and narrow streets on to which they opened. Now the setting is the open country into which the shepherd led the sheep for grazing, and where in the summer months shepherd and sheep might spend the night. Overnight the sheep were placed in roughly constructed round stone-walled enclosures. The top of the dry-stone wall was covered with thorns to keep out wild animals. Inside the enclosure the sheep were safe so long as the entrance was secured by the shepherd. He slept across the entrance as there was no door and no doorkeeper. Continue reading