An Abundant Life with the Good Shepherd

Recommended Reading: John 10:1-21 and SOAP: John 10:9-11

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 

John 10:9-11
From lurking danger to safe pasture

Jesus uses two more “I AM” statements in this passage to teach the people who He is. We’ve become quite used to the conversational style lessons of Jesus that John presents in His Gospel, however, today’s passage appears to be more of a one-sided, lecture style lesson – and boy is it a doozy! It’s packed with sheep, a shepherd, and a gate, there are thieves, robbers, a wolf and danger lurking just outside the gate, but there is also safe pasture and the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep.

The Gate and the good shepherd

To understand verses 9-11 you will really need to read what comes before it as Jesus begins in verse 1 developing the scene and setting His listeners up to understand His message. The hope is that when He transitions to the analogy of Him being both the gate (or the door, as it says in some translations) and the good shepherd they will be able to acknowledge and even fully embrace the person that is standing before them as the One whom God sent to save them. You see, the people who were listening would have not only understood His references to the sheep pen, the shepherd, the sheep, and the dangers – but even better, when He began to say that He was the gate/door and He was the good Shepherd they would have started realizing the deeper meaning of what – or should I say who He was claiming to be. He knew that many of them would remember the prophecy from long ago about the Shepherd that God would send to tend His flock, Micah 5:4. He wanted them to know that just like the gate of the sheep pen was the only way in and out for the sheep – He was ‘the only way’ to God for the people. He also wanted them to know Him as ‘the Good Shepherd’ who will not only keep them safe but one day lay down His life for them.

The Warning and the hope

Within the analogy came a warning – one of danger from the predators whose goal was “to steal and kill and destroy” the sheep. He called these predators thieves and robbers, and He talked of strangers and wolves, warning them that unless they were under the care of the true Shepherd and knew the difference between the stranger and the Good Shepherd they would be attacked and scattered like sheep by a wolf. There wasn’t just a warning though, we also find a promise and hope . Jesus calls Himself the gate and promised His listeners that if they entered through Him they would be saved. So you see, while the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy. The Good Shepherd came to give them the hope of abundant life, the hope of knowing and being known by Him. The hope that as the Good Shepherd He would one day lay down His life for them.

What did Jesus mean by "abundant life'? answers the question like this: "Abundant life is eternal life, a life that begins the moment we come to Christ and receive Him as Savior, and goes on throughout all eternity. The biblical definition of life — specifically eternal life — is provided by Jesus Himself: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This definition makes no mention of length of days, health, prosperity, family, or occupation. As a matter of fact, the only thing it does mention is knowledge of God, which is the key to a truly abundant life. (For the full meaning of 'abundant life in Christ' visit
The Sheep

I’m sure you picked up on it by now – the sheep – they are us – the believers, those who have chosen to follow Christ. We must not miss what He says about us in this analogy. We know His voice … we don’t recognize or listen to the stranger’s voice … instead we run away from the stranger … the Good Shepherd calls us by name … He knows us and we know Him … we follow Him … we are safe … and He came to give us an abundant life. I believe when we seek to apply the Scriptures this sometimes calls for introspection, in this case asking ourselves does Christ’s description of the sheep sound like me? If not, why not and what can I do to align myself with His description?

The Prayer

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be our door to You and for giving us such a Good Shepherd who loves us and protects us from the thieves and robbers. Jesus, thank You for being such a Good Shepherd, for loving Your sheep, for calling us by name, for spending time with us so we know Your voice. Thank You for teaching us and going before us, and for keeping us safe. Thank You for laying down Your life for us and for giving us an abundant life of joy and peace and hope of our security for eternity. – In Your Name I pray – Amen!

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