7 August 2014

John 10:11-21

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” (vv. 14-15a)


This passage needs to understood as part of Jesus' ongoing conversation with the Pharisees following the healing of the man born blind in chapter 9. Jesus describes his own ministry by reference to the example of the shepherd who stops at nothing, not even death, in caring for the flock (verse 11). A strong implication is that the Pharisees are akin to the hired hands, doing what is required of them, but no more (verses 12-13). Continuing one of the Gospel's themes of knowledge and lack of knowledge, Jesus uses the image to speak of his relationship with the Father. Just as Jesus knows the flock, so the Father knows Jesus. This passage anticipates the fuller reflections further on the Gospel about Jesus' relationship with the Father, a relationship which is described here in terms of both knowledge and love.

The passage also speaks of the death of Jesus, using the metaphor of the shepherd who lays down his life to protect the sheep. In the words of the Gospel, Jesus also speaks of his resurrection: "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again" (v. 18). The parallel way in which verses 17-18 treat the death and resurrection of Jesus perhaps cautions us about interpretations which do not similarly seek to balance the two as parts of the story of salvation. Jesus' ministry is described here by its relation to the Father, by its care for "the sheep" and by the way it will end in his death and resurrection: all of which contrast to the ministry of the Pharisees.

The remark in verse 21 brings to an end the dispute following the healing of the man born blind and reinforces the Gospel's statement of Jesus' relationship with God.

To Ponder

  • How does your discipleship affect your whole life?
  • How are you in relationship as a Christian? With God? With others?

Bible notes author

The Revd Mark Rowland

Mark Rowland is originally from Aberystwyth and was ordained in 2011. In September 2014 he will begin a new appointment in the Coventry and Nuneaton Circuit, serving Coventry Central Hall and Woodside Avenue Methodist Church.