Week 4, Day 7 – HE IS RISEN! Happy Easter!
READ: John 10
BACKGROUND: This is an odd passage for us to fully grasp because we’re not entirely familiar with shepherding culture in the United States. But it is incredibly powerful nonetheless, and an awesome Easter passage.
3 – The watchman would watch a pen that housed multiple flocks. Each sheep knew the voice of its shepherd well enough to come when the shepherd called. (This is still true of sheep & shepherds today).
4 – Shepherds in this culture led their sheep; they didn’t drive them.
9 – There was only 1 entrance into a sheep pen, never more. And though it was known as “the gate” it wasn’t a gate in the way the we think. It was just an opening. And the shepherd slept in the opening so that anything or anyone who wanted to get to the sheep had to come through him.
11 – Jesus is claiming something significant here! Even though shepherds risked danger and fought off wild animals for their sheep, in this culture they were not expected to die for their sheep.
16 – The “other sheep” are Gentiles. Those outside Judaism who would be united under Christ.
18 – Christ is omnipotent. Nobody could kill him unless he allowed it (as evidenced later in this chapter.
22 – Commemoration of the dedication of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC.
25 – Though he hadn’t specifically said it, Jesus says it is very clear from his life and teaching that he is the Messiah.
28 – Eternal life! For sheep, their security is found in the shepherd, and Jesus is saying he will never allow his sheep to perish.
33 – The accusation of blasphemy means the Jewish leaders correctly understand that Jesus is claiming to be God. Their unbelief prevents them from seeing that it’s true.
34 – Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6 in its reference to judges, kings, & others whose tasks were appointed by God.
39 – Who knows why or how they tried to seize Jesus, but they failed. Proving his claim in verse 18 true: no one takes his life from him except if he laid it down.
THINK: Today is Easter. And the resurrection of Jesus is the most incredible event in human history. It changes everything! And it stands as an amazing example of the outrageous love that the Good Shepherd has for his sheep. But how? How is the resurrection a picture of Jesus’ love for us? John 10:18 is the key:
“No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
Anyone who has the audacity to say something like that is either totally deranged and crazy, a liar, or God. Those are the only three options for someone making a claim like that. “I have authority from inside death, as a dead man, to take life back again, when I please.” Wow. What is Jesus trying to communicate here? What is he really saying? Well, which is harder: to control when you die, or to give yourself life again once you are dead? Which is harder: to say, “I lay my life down on my own initiative”? Or to say, “I will take my life back again after I am dead”?
The answer is obvious. And that’s the point. If Jesus could take his life back again from the dead, then he was completely free. He had the power to do whatever he wanted and he wasn’t bound by anything. That means that whatever happened to him happened because he wanted it to. And if he could control when he came out of the grave then he certainly determined when he went into it.
So here’s the big idea: the resurrection of Jesus is given to us as evidence that he was completely free in laying down his life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of his love, the incredible greatness of his love for you and me.
So, of all the great things that Easter means, it also means this: it is an incredible statement of “I did it on purpose because I LOVE you!” behind his death. “I meant it! I was free. You see how free I am? You see how much power and authority I have? I was able to avoid it. I have power to take up my life out of the grave. And I had the power to avoid the cross but I didn’t because of my passion for you! My resurrection is a cry of love for my sheep: I did it freely! I chose to do it. Nobody forced my hand or coerced me into it! I went willingly. Nothing and no one can make me do anything I don’t choose to do. I had the power to take my life back from death and so I certainly had the power to save it in the first place. But I gave it up for you because I love you with an indescribable love. I am alive so that you might know my love. And I am inviting you into my flock. I died and rose again so that you could be free to spend eternity with me. So you could be forgiven and restored and experience the fulness of my love forever.”
ASK: What does it mean for me that Jesus is my Good Shepherd? How does it change my life to know that he went willingly to the cross for me?