Keith Hunt - Last Great Feast Day #4   Restitution of All Things
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Last Great Feast Day #4

Jesus the only Shepherd


                From Alfred Edersheim's book
                   "The Life and times of 
                     Jesus the Messiah"



THE 'GOOD SHEPHERD' AND HIS 'ONE FLOCK' - LAST DISCOURSE AT THE
FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
(St.John 10:1-21)

THE closing words which Jesus had spoken to those Pharisees who
followed Him breathe the sadness of expected near judgment,
rather than the hopefulness of expostulation. And the Discourse
which followed, ere He once more left Jerusalem, is of the same
character. It seems, as if Jesus could not part from the City in
holy anger, but ever, and only, with tears. All the topics of the
former Discourses are now resumed and applied. They are not in
any way softened or modified, but uttered in accents of loving
sadness rather than of reproving monition. This connection with
the past proves, that the Discourse was spoken immediately after,
and in connection with, the events recorded in the previous
chapters. At the same time, the tone adopted by Christ prepares
us for His Peraean Ministry, which may be described as that of
the last and fullest outgoing of His most intense pity. This, in
contrast to what was exhibited by the rulers of Israel, and which
would so soon bring terrible judgment on them. For, if such
things were done in 'the green tree' of Israel's Messiah-King,
what would the end be in the dry wood of Israel's common wealth
and institutions?

It was in accordance with the character of the Discourse
presently under consideration, that Jesus spake it, not, indeed,
in Parables in the strict sense (for none such are recorded in
the Fourth Gospel), but in an allegory in the Parabolic form,
hiding the higher truths from those who, having eyes, had not
seen, but revealing them to such whose eyes had been opened. 

If the scenes of the last few days had made anything plain, it
was the utter unfitness of the teachers of Israel for their
professed work of feeding the flock of God. The Rabbinists also
called their spiritual leaders 'feeders,' 'Parnasin' - a term by
which the Targum renders some of the references to 'the
Shepherds' in Ezek. xxxiv. and Zech xi. The term comprised the
two ideas of 'leading' and 'feeding,' which are separately
insisted on in the Lord's allegory. As we think of it, no better
illustration, nor more apt, could be found for those to whom 'the
flock of God' was entrusted. It needed not therefore that a
sheepfold should have been in view, to explain the form of
Christ's address. It only required to recall the Old Testament
language about the shepherding of God, and that of evil
shepherds, to make the application to what had so lately
happened. They were, surely, not shepherds, who had cast out the
healed blind man, or who so judged of the Christ, and would cast
out all His disciples. They had entered into God's Sheepfold, but
not by the door by which the owner, God, had brought His flock
into the fold. To it the entrance had been His free love, His
gracious provision, His thoughts of pardoning, His purpose of
saving mercy. That was God's Old Testament-door into His
Sheepfold.     
Not by that door, as had so lately fully appeared, had Israel's
rulers come in. They had climbed up to their place in the fold
some other way - with the same right, or by the same wrong, as a
thief or a robber. They had wrongfully taken what did not belong
to them - cunningly and undetected, like a thief; they had
allotted it to themselves, and usurped it by violence, like a
robber. What more accurate description could be given of the
means by which the Pharisees and Sadducees had attained the rule
over God's flock, and claimed it for themselves? And what was
true of them holds equally so of all, who, like them, enter by 
'some other way.' How different He, Who comes in and leads us
through God's door of covenant - mercy and Gospel - promise - the
door by which God had brought, and ever brings, His flock into
His fold. This was the true Shepherd. 

The allegory must, of course, not be too closely pressed; but, as
we remember how in the East the flocks are at night driven into a
large fold, and charge of them is given to an under shepherd, we
can understand how, when the shepherd comes in the morning,
the doorkeeper's or 'guardian' opens to him. In interpreting the
allegory, stress must be laid not so much on any single phrase,
be it the 'porter,' the 'door,' or the 'opening,' as on their
combination. If the shepherd comes to the door, the porter
hastens to open it to him from within, that he may obtain access
to the flock; and when a true spiritual Shepherd comes to the
true spiritual door, it is opened to him by the guardian from
within, that is, he finds ready and immediate access. 

Equally pictorial is the progress of the allegory. Having thus
gained access to His flock, it has not been to steal or rob, but
the Shepherd knows and calls them, each by his name, and leads
them out. We mark that in the expression: 'when He has PUT FORTH
all His own,' - the word is a strong one. For they have to go
each singly, and perhaps they are not willing to go out each by
himself, or even to leave that fold, and so he 'puts' or thrusts
them forth, and He does so to 'all His own.' 
Then the Eastern shepherd places himself at the head of his
flock, and goes before them, guiding them, making sure of their
following simply by his voice, which they know. So would His
flock follow Christ, for they know His Voice, and in vain would
strangers seek to lead them away, as the Pharisees had tried.    
It was not the known Voice of their own Shepherd, and they would
only flee from it. 

We can scarcely wonder, that they who heard it did not understand
the allegory, for they were not of His flock and knew not His
Voice. But His own knew it then, and would know it for ever. 
'Therefore,' both for the sake of the one and the other, He
continued, now dividing for greater clearness the two leading
ideas of His allegory, and applying each separately for better
comfort. These two ideas were: entrance by the door, and the
characteristics of the good Shepherd - thus affording a twofold
test by which to recognize the true, and distinguish it from the
false.

I. The door-Christ was the Door. The entrance into God's fold and
to God's flock was only through that, of which Christ was the
reality. And it had ever been so. All the Old Testament insti-
tutions, prophecies, and promises, so far as they referred to
access into God's fold, meant Christ. And all those who went
before Him, pretending to be the door - whether Pharisees,
Sadducees, or Nationalists - were only thieves and robbers: that
was not the door into the Kingdom of God. And the sheep, God's
flock, did not hear them; for, although they might pretend to
lead the flock, the voice was that of strangers. 

The transition now to another application of the allegorical idea
of the 'door' was natural and almost necessary, though it appears
somewhat abrupt. Even in this it is peculiarly Jewish. We must
understand this transition as follows: I am the Door; those who
professed otherwise to gain access to the fold have climbed in
some other way. But if I am the only, I am also truly the Door.  
And, dropping the figure, if any man enters by Me, he shall be
saved, securely go out and in (where the language is not to be
closely pressed), in the sense of having liberty and finding
pasture. 

II. This forms also the transition to the second leading idea of
the allegory: the True and Good Shepherd. Here we mark a fourfold
progression of thought, which reminds us of the poetry of the
Book of Psalms. There the thought expressed in one line or one
couplet is carried forward and developed in the next, forming
what are called the Psalms of Ascent ('of Degrees'). And in the
Discourse of Christ also the final thought of each couplet of
verses is carried forward, or rather leads upward in the next.   
Thus we have here a Psalm of Degrees concerning the Good Shepherd
and His Flock, and, at the same time, a New Testament version of
Psalm xxiii. Accordingly its analysis might be formulated as
follows:

1. Christ, the Good Shepherd, in contrast to others who falsely
claimed to be the shepherds. Their object had been self, and they
had pursued it even at the cost of the sheep, of their life and
safety. He 'came' for them, to give, not to take, 'that they may
have life and have abundance.'
'Life,' - nay, that they may have it, I 'lay down'  Mine: so does
it appear that 'I am the Good Shepherd.' 

2. The Good Shepherd Who layeth down His life for His Sheep! What
a contrast to a mere hireling, whose are not the sheep, and who
fleeth at sight of the wolf (danger), 'and the wolf seizeth them,
and scattereth (viz.,the flock): (he fleeth) because he is a
hireling, and careth not for the sheep.' The simile of the wolf
must not be too closely pressed, but taken in a general sense, to
point the contrast to Him 'Who layeth down His Life for His
sheep.'

Truly He is - is seen to be - 'the fair Shepherder,' Whose are
the sheep, and as such, 'I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as
the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father. And I lay down My
Life for the sheep.'

3. For the sheep that are Mine, whom I know, and for whom I lay
down My Life! But those sheep, they are not only 'of this fold,'
not all of the Jewish fold, but also scattered sheep of the
Gentiles. They have all the characteristics of the flock: they
are His; and they hear His Voice; but as yet they are outside the
fold. Them also the Good Shepherd 'must lead,' and, in evidence
that they are His, as He calls them and goes before them, they
shall hear His Voice, and so, O most glorious consummation, 
'they shall become one flock and one Shepherd.'

And thus is the great goal of the Old Testament reached, and 
'the good tidings of great joy' which issue from Israel are unto
all people. The Kingdom of David, which is the Kingdom of God, is
set up upon earth, and opened to all believers. We cannot help
noticing - though it almost seems to detract from it - how
different from the Jewish ideas of it is this Kingdom with its
Shepherd-King, Who knows and who lays down His Life for the
sheep, and Who leads the Gentiles not to subjection nor to
inferiority, but to equality of faith and privileges, taking the
Jews out of their special fold and leading up the Gentiles, and
so making of both 'one flock.' 

Whence did Jesus of Nazareth obtain these thoughts and views,
towering so far aloft of all around?
But, on the other hand, they are utterly un-Gentile also- if by
the term 'Gentile' we mean the 'Gentile Churches,' in antagonism
to the Jewish Christians, as a certain school of critics would
represent them, which traces the origin of this Gospel to this
separation. A Gospel written in that spirit would never have
spoken on this wise of the mutual relation of Jews and Gentiles
towards Christ and in the Church. The sublime words of Jesus are
only compatible with one supposition: that He was indeed the
Christ of God. Nay, although men have studied or cavilled at
these words for eighteen and a half centuries, they have not yet
reached unto this: 'They shall become one flock, one Shepherd.'

4. In the final Step of "Ascent" the leading thoughts of the
whole Discourse are taken up and carried to the last and highest
thought. The Good Shepherd that brings together the One Flock!
Yes - by laying down His Life, but also by taking it up again.
Both are necessary for the work of the Good Shepherd - nay, the
life is laid down in the surrender of sacrifice, in order that it
may be taken up again, and much more fully, in the
Resurrection-Power. And, therefore, His Father loveth Him as the
Messiah-Shepherd, Who so fully does the work committed to Him,
and so entirely surrenders Himself to it.
His Death, His Resurrection - let no one imagine that it comes
from without! It is His own act. He has 'power' in regard to
both, and both are His own, voluntary, Sovereign, and Divine
acts.
And this, all this, in order to be the Shepherd-Saviour - to die,
and rise for His Sheep, and thus to gather them all, Jews and
Gentiles, into one flock, and to be their Shepherd. This, neither
more nor less, was the Mission which God had given Him; this, 
'the commandment' which He had received of His Father - that
which God had given Him to do.

It was a noble close of the series of those Discourses in the 
Temple, which had it for their object to show, that He was truly
sent of God.
And, in a measure, they attained that object. To some, indeed, it
all seemed unintelligible, incoherent, madness; and they fell
back on the favourite explanation of all this strange drama - He
hath a demon!  But others there were - let us hope, many, not yet
His disciples - to whose hearts these words went straight. And
how could they resist the impression? 'These utterances are not
of a demonised' - and, then, it came back to them: 'Can a demon
open the eyes of the blind?'

And so, once again, the Light of His Words and His Person fell
upon His Works, and, as ever, revealed their character, and made
them clear.


NOTE. - It seems right here, in a kind of 'Postscript-Note,' to
call attention to what could not have been inserted in the text
without breaking up its unity, and yet seems too important to be
relegated to an ordinary foot-note. In Yoma 66 b, lines 18 to 24
from top, we have a series of questions addressed to Rabbi
Eliezer ben Hyrcanos, designed - as it seems to me - to test his
views about Jesus and his relation to the new doctrine. Rabbi
Eliezer, one of the greatest Rabbis, was the brother-in-law of
Gamaliel II., the son of that Gamaliel at whose feet Paul sat. He
may, therefore, have been acquainted with the Apostle. And we
have indubitable evidence that he had intercourse with Jewish
Christians, and took pleasure in their teaching; and, further,
that he was accused of favouring Christianity. Under these
circumstances, the series of covered, enigmatic questions,
reported as addressed to him, gains a new interest. I can only
repeat, that I regard them as referring to the Person and the
Words of Christ. One of these questions is to this effect: 'Is it
[right, proper, duty] for the Shepherd to save a lamb from the
lion?' To this the Rabbi gives (as always in this series of
questions) an evasive answer, as follows: 'You have only asked me
about the lamb.' On this the following question is next put, I
presume by way of forcing an express reply: Is it [right, proper,
duty] to save the Shepherd from the lion?' 
And to this the Rabbi once more evasively replies: 'You have only
asked me about the Shepherd.' Thus, as the words of Christ to
which covert reference is made have only meaning when the two
ideas of the Sheep and the Shepherd are combined, the Rabbi, by
dividing them, cleverly evaded giving an answer to his
questioners. But these inferences come to us, all of deepest
importance: 
1. I regard the questions above quoted as containing
a distinct reference to the words of Christ in St.John 10:11.    
Indeed, the whole string of questions, of which the above form
part, refers to Christ and His Words. 

2. It casts a peculiar light, not only upon the personal history
of this great Rabbi, the brother-in-law of the Patriarch Gamaliel
II., but a side-light also,on the history of Nicodemus. Of
course, such evasive answers are utterly unworthy of a disciple
of Christ, and quite incompatible with the boldness of confession
which must characterize them. But the question arises - now often
seriously discussed by Jewish writers: how far many Rabbis and
laymen may have gone in their belief of Christ, and yet - at
least in too many instances - fallen short of discipleship; and,
lastly, as to the relation between the early Church and the Jews,
on which not a few things of deep interest have to be said,
though it may not be on the present occasion.

3. Critically also. the quotation is of the deepest importance.  
For, does it not furnish a reference - and that on the lips of
Jews - to the Fourth Gospel, and that from the close of the first
century? There is here something which the opponents of its
genuineness and authenticity will have to meet and answer.

Another series of similar allegorical questions in connection
with R.Joshua b.Chananyah is recorded in Bekhor. 8 'a' and 'b,'
but answered by the Rabbi in an anti-Christian sense. See
Mandelstamm, Talmud. Stud. i. But Mandelstamm goes too far in his
view of the purely allegorical meaning, especially of the
introductory part.
                            ...................

End of quotes from Edersheim's book "The Life and Times of Jesus
the Messiah."

Here on this LAST GREAT FEAST DAY, Jesus points the people to the
fact that HE is the SHEPHERD and the DOOR into the ONE sheep fold
- into the Kingdom of God and eternal life. There will be NO
OTHER WAY into that Kingdom sheep fold, ALL, from ANY nation of
the world, MUST come into the Kingdom THROUGH CHRIST (and this is
clearly proclaimed by Peter in Acts 4:12, and further more the
WHOLE Bible, especially the New Testament, teaches this GREAT
TRUTH - see my study "The Great White Throne Judgment" for a full
in-depth discourse on the CALLING of God). Only through Jesus can
anyone enter into salvation and eternal life. Hence MILLIONS, if
NOT BILLIONS, have never even had a FIRST chance to accept Jesus
as Savior, to be called and to know the truths of God, for as
Paul wrote, God has concluded ALL in unbelief that He may have
mercy upon all - but not all at the same time, or even in this
first physical life.

All will be given a full calling, where blindness will be
removed, and they then will have to choose either the way of God
or the way of Satan. It may be, according to this discord, Jesus
had here with the Jews and Jewish religious leaders, on this Last
Great Feast Day, that some hearts will be so hardened against the
true ways of the Lord, that some will not accept God's gift of
grace and salvation. But God will grant all in their time, as
purposed by the Father, to have the books of the Bible opened to
them, and also the book of LIFE (Rev.20:11-15). Those who refuse
God's love and mercy through Christ, will PERISH in the lake of
fire. Sin and hard-heartedness, such as what some in the Temple
on this Last Great Feast Day were manifesting, will be DESTROYED
from the universe. A new heaven and a new earth will come to this
present earth. God the Father Himself will come to this new
earth, with the Holy city Jerusalem, and He will dwell with His
children. He will be their God and they will be His sons and
daughters for EVERMORE! (Rev.21 and 22).

What love, what patience, what MERCY. Praise the Lord for His
wonderful works and for His salvation through Christ Jesus -
Keith Hunt

Entered on this Website October 2003 


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