Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.To Him the Porter Openeth
We read in the parable of the Good Shepherd that 'to Him the porter openeth'. We have read before that the sheep in the true fold are protected by a living guardian, for Christ is the Door as well as the Shepherd—that is, Christ and Christ alone of all true shepherds is His own authority. The shepherds under Him, if they are true, all come in His name, and speak by His warrant, and teach what He has taught them. But He stands alone. The porter is the Holy Spirit, Who, as Westcott says, acts through His appointed ministers in each case. We have then to consider the work of the Holy Spirit as opening the door to Christ, and that work falls under two great divisions.
I. 'To Him the porter openeth.' It was God the Father through the Holy Spirit who opened always, and still opens the door to Christ.
(1) Long before the Redeemer appeared in this world, the Holy Spirit opened for Him the door of prophecy. Whatever criticism may do in elucidating the prophecies, we know that the Old Testament throbs and thrills throughout with the promise of the Redeemer. The Old Testament is full of the Christ to be. It is a book of yearnings, of expectation, of assurance, and when we read it as Christ read it, then and then only can we understand what it means. Beginning at Moses, and He could not begin earlier, the Risen Lord expounded in psalm and prophecy, in vision and in parable, the revelation of Himself, till they who heard Him found their hearts aflame.
(2) It was the porter who opened for Him the doors of breath. The immaculate body of the child Jesus was the creature of the Holy Ghost. The angel said to the Virgin, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God'. When the royal hour of time, 'the clear sapphire hour of manifestation,' at last arrived, the Holy Spirit was fulfilling His promises, and opening the door. It was the porter that opened to the young child when the angels, the star, the shepherds, the wise men gathered round Him. Our Lord was really and truly of the substance of His mother, and that which was born of a woman is brother to us. But it was by the Holy Ghost that He became Incarnate.
(3) It was the Holy Ghost Who opened for Him the gate of His public ministry. The heavenly voice cried, 'This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased'. The Holy Ghost descended upon Christ when He was baptised in Jordan.
(4) It was the Holy Ghost Who had opened the portals of life to the Lord Jesus, Who also opened for Him the portals of death. When the time came when the good Shepherd was fain to give His life for the sheep, the Holy Spirit opened for Him the gate of righteousness.
(5) Even as the Holy Spirit had opened for Jesus that gate of righteousness which was the door of death, so He opened for Him the gate of Resurrection.
(6) When our Lord rose from the dead He tarried with His disciples forty days in a strange inviolate tranquillity, in which no enemy moved to hurt Him. Then when He had strengthened, taught, and calmed them the porter opened for Him the doors of glory. 'Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.'
II. At Pentecost, when the disciples were gathered together with one accord in one place, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. They heard that God had made that same Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ, and when they heard they gladly received the Word. And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Thus the Holy Spirit again opened the door to Christ by sign and wonder and miraculous gift. To Christ the porter opened three thousand hearts.
And it is thus that the history of the supernatural Church redeemed by the blood of the Lamb has continued and will continue.
—W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, p. 217.
The Shepherd and the Sheep
These words touch on the profoundest truths concerning the relation of the loving soul to its Lord. They emphasise the essentially personal nature of the union between Christ and men.
I. Notice the individualising knowledge of the shepherd. He calls us each by name.
II. Notice the individual response of the sheep. Religion is essentially a personal thing. There must be (1) Personal faith. (2) Personal love. (3) Personal obedience.
III. Notice the resulting society. 'There shall be one fold.'
The faintest wish to be better, the feeblest troubling about our spiritual state, is the first distant echo of the Shepherd's voice, 'calling us by our name'. It is an earnest that He has begun to seek us, and will not rest till He has found us and borne us home on His shoulder rejoicing.
—Father Tyrrell, Nova et Vetera, p. 193.
'Both in a celestial and in a terrestrial sense,' says Carlyle in his essay on Boswell's Johnson, 'we are a. Flock, such as there is no other: nay, looking away from the base and ludicrous to the sublime and sacred side of the matter (since in every matter there are two sides), have we not also a Shepherd, "if we will but hear His voice"? Of those stupid multitudes there is not one but has an immortal soul within him; a reflex and living image of God's whole universe.'
References.—X. 3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No, 2359. John Kelman, Ephemera Eternitatis, pp. 14, 21. X. 4.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 242. G. Body, The Good Shepherd, p. 51. X. 5.—W. F. Shaw, Sermon Sketches for the Christian Year, p. 59. X. 6.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. i, p. 235.
Christ the Door
John 10:7; John 10:9
What a very homely comparison! What can you think of less picturesque and more commonplace than the door into a sheep-fold—a rough, uncouth, weather-beaten door, which anyone may batter upon and slam. And yet our Lord uses this humble figure to explain what He is to those who believe in Him.
I. The Test of the True Shepherd is that He makes use of the door, the right door. No man is a true shepherd who does not point men to Jesus Christ, who does not point men always, for everything, to Jesus Christ.
II. He is the Door of the Sheep as well as the Door of the Shepherd.—The test of being one of the Lord's sheep is that you know your way through the door into the fold. Sheep-folds are an absolute necessity in the East. The night-fold is needed to save the sheep from the ravages of the wild beasts and to shelter them from the bitter cold winds. The day-fold is equally necessary to give them shelter from the burning heat of the sun, to give them a place where they can lie down and take their rest. God has a flock—a beautiful flock, the sheep of His pasture. Every one is marked with His secret mark, every one belongs to Him; God makes Himself responsible, a surety and a guarantee for their preservation and well-being. He keeps the roll; He protects them; He supplies all their need. And what is the name of that flock? It is the Church of Christ, the invisible, the mystical Body of Christ, not the visible Church of Christ.
a. He is the door of escape.
b. He is the door of access, the door through which we enter in. Jesus Christ brings us into blessing.
III. Two very Simple Questions:—
c. Do you believe honestly that Jesus Christ is the door? Are you depending all your hopes of present grace and future glory on Jesus Christ? There is no other door besides.
d. Have you entered in through Christ the door? It is not enough to know the door, to rejoice in Gospel preaching, to look through the door and see how secure the promises make the children of God. Enter in with a cry of faith, enter in by the restfulness of faith, enter in by the preparation of faith, enter in by just taking Christ as the door.
References.—X. 7.—G. Body, The Good Shepherd, p. 70. H. Macmillan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 264. C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 174. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 129. X. 7-9.—T. F. Crosse, Sermons, p. 238. C. Bickersteth, The Gospel of Incarnate Love, p. 159.
Some fresh light has been recently thrown upon this extremely difficult word. The difficulty lies partly in the historical reference of the words (to Pharisaic teachers? or false messiahs?), and partly in the fact that even when any such reference can be established it seems to leave a tinge of harshness in the saying. Two suggestions may be made. One is that the words refer to premature and external efforts made by priests and others to realise the function of a mediator between God and man. The true shepherd comes at the dawn to lead the sheep out to their pasture; at the dawn, not before the dawn. It is a note of the Shepherd's calling that He comes at the proper moment—as Paul puts it, when the fullness of the time came. Nothing about Him partook of the arbitrary, hasty character which attached to those who worked on their own initiative, without waiting for any Divine monition. In this light, the words would mean: 'As many as have come to the flock, from the beginning, not waiting for the Good Shepherd's time, nor associating themselves with Him, but pressing forwards to rule mankind by the short methods of constraint.
But, while this explains the ἦλθον πρὸ ἐμοῦ the other phrase, κλέπται καὶ λῃσταῖ suggests that this prematureness was not due to a disinterested miscalculation. One function of Jesus as the true and good Shepherd was to lead believers out of the Jewish fold into the new and wider relations which assured them of His personal care and unselfish love. Thus, especially if, with Mr. H. T. Purchas (in Johannine Problems and Modern Needs, p. 78 f.), we connect chap. x. with chap. ix. (where the blind man is excommunicated by the Jewish authorities and then received by Jesus), we get a fresh and fit interpretation of the words. They mean: 'All that came before Me, with the object of drawing people out of the Jewish fold, are thieves and robbers. This would refer to attempts on the part of Grecian religion and philosophy.'
The Open Door
I. He is entrance, or the door open. It is beyond question that the first application of Jesus here is to the Church and the kingdom, and that he looks upon Himself as the door of the fold of God, wherein is to be gathered all those who have received His Spirit, whether they be the sheep of this or other folds; for other sheep He has, and them He must also bring, and they must all enter by one door, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd. But there are others which suggest themselves to our minds. A door is a means of communication. (1) Christ is the open door by which God has come into humanity, by whom God holds communication with the spirits of men. But it is just as true to say that He is the door by which we go to God, and by which we hold communication with God. (2) He is the door, the door open, by which we hold the best communication with one another. It is in Him that man best knows what brotherhood means.
II. He is the door of safety, or the door shut. We shut and bar the door against the night, the cold, the storm, and the robber. Between us and the storm, and the night, and the robber there is the barred door. That is what Christ is to men. Jesus is safety for those who are shut within; but what of those who are shut without? We know that there is a too late.
III. He is pasture, or the door free and yet guarded. Not only are we safe behind Him, the door in the night of peril, but we can go in and out The door is free to us, and yet guarded against danger. Where do all the saints feed? in Christ. Hugh Price Hughes, in his last will and testament, wrote: 'Put on my tombstone, 'Thou, O Christ, art all I want'. A simple Gospel truth this; but it is these simple truths that quicken and gladden.
—D. L. Ritchie, Peace the Umpire and other Sermons, p. 32.
Christ the Door
I. Observe what it is that any man finds on entering the fold of Christ in the due and rightful manner. To begin with He finds safety. What exactly was He thinking of when He said the words? It is impossible to tell. He does not explain Himself at all, perhaps intending by the very vagueness of His language to suggest how manifold is the spiritual danger to which we foolish men are exposed in this world. At any moment from many a quarter men may be assailed by all sorts of evil things; while with regard to all of them it is true that if any man have Christ between him and those things he is safe. But let us fix on one of these dangers only. It is 'the wrath of God abiding on 'the impenitent and unbelieving. The doom of the righteous God pronounced on sin is one of the great elements in existence we have to reckon with. The Shepherd has been smitten for the sheep. Our Saviour long ago drew the doom that lay upon the world into Himself, and exhausted it for all who will accept what He did as done for them.
II. The next blessing is indicated in the words that follow. Once His followers have fairly entered the fold and found shelter, they may 'go in and go out and find pasture'. Here, then, there is suggested very clearly, for one thing, the freedom of the Christian life. Believers, as some one writing on the passage has said, 'are not under lock and key'. The sacred sphere and the secular are alike open to them. But take this rather in another light. If we are to interpret the figure strictly, then the fold of this Shepherd must stand for the Church, and the space outside for the world. And while it is right enough to say that the believer has perfect freedom to pass from the one to the other at will, it may, perhaps, be more profitable to reflect upon the service he renders by doing so. What the world perennially requires and craves, whether consciously or not, from the Church is the infusing into all its varied life of the Spirit of Christ. The way in which the Church of Christ fulfils its great service of breathing its own life and spirit—or rather the Life and Spirit of the Lord—into the world at large is by sending forth men strong in that spirit to do the world's work On the other hand, there is in the world that which the Church lacks and requires always.
III. Such then is the role assigned here to the followers of Christ. They are to play the part of mediators between the Church and the world. But it is only right to note in closing the benefit they reap to themselves. His sheep go in and out, He says, 'and find pasture'. It is true that Christ undertakes to provide for all our inward necessities. But at the same time we must ourselves take the steps that are needful. It is in the free participation in life in all its interests that the souls of men are nourished and made strong.
—A. Martin, Winning the Soul, p. 281.
References.—X. 9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvii. No. 2752. C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 324. J. Keble, Sermons for Ascension Day to Trinity Sunday, p. 323. A Scotch Preacher, The Strait Gate, p. 51. Walter C. Smith, Sermons, p. 18. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 24. X. 9, 10.—J. D. Thompson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 404. X. 9-11.—D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 316.
The Abundant Life
I. Jesus came. All other messengers of God and all other men are sent. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. And that is the explanation of the lives of us all, and of our presence here in this world. We are here, and there is nothing we are more conscious of than that we had no choice in our coming. Jesus came. And it is this voluntariness that marked all His life, this conscious freedom of personal choice, that gives to His life such pathos and dignity, that makes His humility and love so amazing, that invests His vicarious death with such awe and grandeur. The only compulsion that was upon Him was the compulsion of love.
II. Jesus came bringing life. His own explanation of Himself was that He came from God, the fountain of life, and had life in Himself. It is also the explanation which those who tarried with Him as His close companions give. He had life in Himself, and has life to give to men. The great thief of man's life is sin. Sin is the great destroyer. Jesus is the great enricher.
III. But Jesus came bringing life to a city of death. We speak about the struggle for life, whether it be our own life or the life of others. Why a struggle? With whom or with what do we wrestle, from whom do we flee? Death. The effort of every man's life is to outrun death, to keep as long as he can out of reach of its clammy clasp and blighting breath. The world is a hungry graveyard, and time the city of death to which Jesus came bringing life.
IV. Jesus came bringing life to a city of death where men long for life. Man hates death; those who rush to it by suicide are pitied as insane; and the Bible—in all that it says of it, minors man's thought and feeling.
V. Here, therefore, there is a message for the two classes into which the world can always be divided, for those who know Christ and those who do not, for those who have tasted of His spirit and want more, for those who do not have it and evidently do not want it. (1) The message to those who are yet away from Him and under condemnation is: Christ came, bringing life. (2) Then there is a message for Christians. He wants us to have an opulent life. He comes to give abundant life. But this abundant life does not come by haphazard. The spiritual world is an ordered world, and we have the abundant life in measure as we strike the roots of our life deep into Christ's spirit; and as we receive abundantly the dews of His grace we shall be fat and flourishing, we shall bring forth much fruit, our leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever we do shall prosper.
—D. L. Ritchie, Peace the Umpire and other Sermons, p. 43.
God surely did not create us, and cause us to live, with the sole end of wishing always to die. I believe in my heart, we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it. Existence never was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow-trailing thing it often becomes to many, and is becoming to me, among the rest.
—Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, chap. xxii.
References.—X. 10.—J. L. Brooks, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. p. 409. W. F. Shaw, Sermon Sketches for the Christian Year, p. 77. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 360. Archbishop Magee, The Gospel and the Age, p. 155. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 347. Joseph Parker, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 166. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No. 1150. Bishop Welldon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. pp. 22 and 254. Lyman Abbott, ibid. vol. lx. p. 98. J. M. Wilson, Contributions to Religious Thoughts, p. 207. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 61. X. 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2919. H. S. Holland, Vital Values, p. 141. C. A. Berry, Vision and Duty, p. 23. S. Gregory, How to Steer a Ship, p. 44. F. St. John Corbett, The Preacher's Year, p. 81. C. Bosanquet, Tender Grass for the Lambs, p. 86. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 147. T. F. Crosse, Sermons, p. 198. C. Kingsley, The Good, News of God, p. 247. R. M. Benson, Redemption, p. 280. C. Bickersteth, The Gospel of Incarnate Love, p. 163. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 134; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p. 159.
The study of the great Greek and Roman moralists of the Empire leaves upon my own mind a strong conviction that the fundamental difference between heathenism of all shades and Christianity is to be discovered in the doctrine of Vicarious Sacrifice, that is to say, in the Passion of our Lord.... The old logicians used to say that everything should be defined per genus et differentiam. Christianity is a religion; this is its genus, this it has in common with all other religions. It is the religion of Vicarious Sacrifice, or of the cross, this is its differentia; in this addition lies the peculiar nature which makes it what it is, and distinguishes it from every other member of the same class.
—Dr. Bigg, preface to The Task of the Church under the Roman Empire.
Reference.—X. 11-15.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 423.
The Hireling Shepherd
The picture of the hireling shepherd is introduced just when the allegory has reached its highest point of thought and uttered its noblest message: 'The Good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep'. That is the last heroism of faithfulness, the final seal of sacrifice; the unutterable, convincing tragedy of love. Suddenly our gaze is turned to another scene.
Still we are among the sheep-folds. Still a shepherd is keeping watch. And, lo! a gaunt and hungry wolf leaps into the flock before their shepherd's eyes. And in a moment the shepherd drops his heavy staff, wraps his long outer garment about his waist, and flees for his life. And the wolf has its cruel will of the deserted sheep. Surely Jesus set this shameful picture of the coward shepherd fleeing like the wind with the snarl of the wolf in his ears just where He did set it—against a fair background of courage, love, and sacrifice—to warn us against unfaithfulness in life's high task, and to teach us what manner of men we must be if we are to do that task as it should be done.
I. 'The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling.' How those words get brought down through our work into our character! How they search the hidden springs of action in human life! And we do not submit willingly to the searching. We are prone to believe that there is a good deal of chance work in life, and that much that we say and do (chiefly, be it said, our least creditable words and deeds) has but a very slight and casual relation to what we really are. How often men salve their consciences for something not quite true in speech, or just in action, by assuring themselves that after all they are in the main truthful and just in character! How they silence the judgment of conscience on their evil ways by singing the praises of their good disposition! And this is a perilous and even disastrous way of making life's reckonings. Character, be it good or bad, is the determining force of action. That is the law of service. And to acknowledge this is vital to that profound moral and spiritual amendment that is the secret of all good works.
II. 'The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling.' But that is too often the last reason he gives to himself or to anyone else for his flight, and so he goes on being an hireling. His explanation of his action is that he was taken by surprise, or that he was tired (forgetting, by-the-by, that he was not too tired to run), or that he had not a reliable weapon in his hand, or that he went to seek help. The only thing he will not say is that he ran away because he is a poor, mean-spirited fellow, who tries to get as much as he can out of life, and to give as little as possible in exchange for it. The hireling is an hireling till the day he dares to take into his soul the bitter shame of calling himself one. And in that very confession he becomes something better than the thing he has confessed himself to be.
III. Perhaps a word or two may be permitted concerning the suddenness of this man's temptation. I think that Jesus meant us to find some emphatic significance in this feature of the story. The spontaneous things in life have the longest history. The thing that responds to the spur of the moment is the habit of the years. Half the value of character-building would be swept away if it were not a fact that a man is gloriously or shamefully himself in the moment when he must act without deliberation. What he does in that moment is the real resultant of his character, though it may give the lie to his ideal. A man suddenly called upon to act may do the wrong thing, and yet do his duty. The saints make mistakes. A brave shepherd may make a tactical error, but only a hireling runs away from a wolf. We talk about a man rising to an occasion, but in the last deep truth of things that is a shallow and misleading phrase. No man ever rose to an occasion. If he meets the great occasion and deals with it as it should be dealt with, it is because he is living all the while on the level of that occasion. The most that the largest occasion can do for us is to give us an opportunity of being what we are. It cannot by the magic of its swift demands make us in a moment what we ought or ought not to be.
IV. The hireling is contrasted with the Good Shepherd in that the bond between the hireling and his work was a bond of selfishness and not a bond of love. The hireling works simply for wages. He is the picture for all time of the utter incompetence of selfishness to perform the great task of life. No ideal lends one glint of glory to the hireling's work. No enthusiasm makes it throb with sweet strong life. No hidden springs of sacrifice make the doing of it of some lasting worth to the toiler himself, or to the world in which his toil lies. And, worst of all, in the thing hardest to do and most worth doing, amid the precious pains and perils when it would so often seem God bids us find life's most precious opportunities, the hireling—the man with the inadequate motive—fails his trust and his Master, and flees for his life, not knowing that in that flight every step is taking him farther away from the few things worth saving—the price of his conscience, the cleanness of his soul, the power to look in the face of the Great Shepherd of the sheep.
—P. C. Ainsworth, The Pilgrim Church, p. 235.
References.—X. 12.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 287; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p. 3. X. 12, 13.—Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 20. X. 14.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt iv. p. 327. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. i. p. 219. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 334.
The Personal Knowledge of Jesus
Let us consider the beautiful ideal which our blessed Lord would set before us as His normal manner of leading His sheep on into the knowledge of His Person. 'He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out.' Before the leading there is the calling.
I know no one who has opened out this chapter of St. John more beautifully than Dr. Liddon in one of his Easter sermons. He tells us that in these parables our Lord gives us three pictures of His ministry to His people, which are all borrowed from the life of the oriental shepherd; there is the morning ministry, the midday ministry, and the ministry of eventide.
I. It is with the first of these that we are now concerned. All through the night many flocks have been resting in one fold. The morning dawns, and the shepherd of one of the flocks comes to the entrance of the fold to collect his sheep; he comes to lead them forth to the cool waters and the green pastures, and with this purpose he calls each sheep by name, and first one and then another answers, and comes out of the crowd of sheep, until his whole flock is gathered round him. Ideally, it is in the early morning that the Lord comes. We may take the history of Samuel as an illustration, and think of him as a child growing up in the tabernacle, only, 'as yet, he knew not the Lord'; then suddenly there came the call of God, which was met by the response, 'Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth'. So, in the normal development of Christian life, it is early in life's morning that the Lord comes to call His sheep with a personal, individual call.
II. With conscious power of volition there comes self-will. The sheep breaks away and wanders from Christ's flock; but the Shepherd never forsakes it, He goes after it into dark valleys and up the steep mountains it may be for long years. The realisation of this truth is our strength as Christian workers; we know that when we plead with some wanderer the Good Shepherd is pleading more effectually within the rebellious heart. In dealing with the most hardened sinner, we know that we have a Friend on our side working within the citadel of the soul; for Jesus not only seeks His sheep by the ministries of His Church in every evangelistic agency of the present day, He seeks them also by His inner workings within their spirit. In every case, whether conversion is a remembered crisis or not, Christians are brought into the same position so far as this—all alike are called into a life of conscious union with Jesus.
III. 'I am known of Mine!' Here is a sure test. 'Am I His?' is the inquiry of some anxious soul. The answer must depend upon the response to another question, 'Do I know Him? Can I say, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee"?' The question is not do I know about Jesus, but do I know Him?
—George Body, The Good Shepherd, p. 36.
References.—X. 14, 15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1877. T. K. Cheyne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 202. John Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx. p. 227. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 34. X. 15.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. p. 119.
The Other Sheep
The Master here suggests that there are certain sheep who are safely folded. The cross widened the horizon of our Lord's thoughts, and when He thought of the cross, He thought not only of those sheep whom He had been shepherding for those three and a half years, but He thought also of those other sheep. 'Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.' They were still wandering away upon the mountains, they knew nothing about this Good Shepherd. His voice had not yet reached them. We do not hear so much of the horrors of heathenism in the present day as our fathers did, but in the early days it was this that called forth the earnestness of the Christian Church; it was the pity for the heathen world. Now Jesus Christ says: 'There are other sheep, and them I must bring'. You remember what that Divine compulsion implied to Jesus Christ. It implied Gethsemane, it implied Calvary, for 'I must bring them; even though it cost Me death upon the cross, I must bring them'. And now He says to His church, 'As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you'. 'Surely if you are Mine, you must bring them.' And how?
I. First of all, there must be the self-humiliation of Bethlehem. Jesus Christ became one with ourselves. He took our nature upon Him. He came as Man. We must go down to the very lowest, we must go down to the most degraded, because we know not but what these degraded ones are Christ's sheep.
II. There must be the patience of Nazareth. Oh, those thirty years! how He must have yearned to go forth to the world! But He waited on. And if there is one thing which missionary history teaches us more than another, it is this: Patience.
III. There must be the devotion and prayerful ness of His ministry. How unceasingly did He go about His work! And so if the Church would win these other sheep there must be this same union in service and devotion towards God. There must be the self-surrender of Gethsemane. Ready to go anywhere, ready to do anything. There must be the selfsacrifice of Calvary. And now here is the promise, 'They shall hear My voice'. There shall be success.
—E. A. Stuart, The True Citizen and other Sermons, vol. ix. p. 201.
'One fold and one Shepherd' was the note of early Christendom. The Shepherd is still one and knows His sheep; but the folds are many; and, without condemning any others, I am of opinion that it is best for us all that we should all of us be jealous for the honour of whatever we have and hold as positive truth, appertaining to the Divine Word and the foundation and history of the Christian community.
—W. E. Gladstone.
References.—X. 16.—G. Body, The Good Shepherd, p. 26. H. H. Henson, Godly Union and Concord, p. 126. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1713. Bishop Winnington-Ingram, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 317. S. Parkes Cadman, London Signal, No. 35, p. 1. A. P. Stanley, Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 169. J. Keble, Sermons for Easter to Ascension Day, p. 314. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons (2nd Series), p. 1. Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 404. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. John, p. 40.
The Law of Harvest
In these words Christ enunciated a principle which in His own life and by His death He expanded and illustrated. The one saying of His which is unrecorded in the Gospels but quoted elsewhere, is to the effect that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive,' and this states the law of His own life and that also of His followers. The worthiest ideal of life is not to get but to give, and in this Christ has for ever left us an example in the following of which we may recover God's original purpose for us, and find truest and deepest joy.
I. There is something in His simple statement, 'I lay down My life,' which for ever makes it impossible to doubt the voluntariness with which He undertook and carried out the task of the world's redemption. His death was not, as is often affirmed, a mere object-lesson of the love of God without propitiatory significance. Still less was it merely the inevitable end of a life lived out of touch with the current ideas of the day, and hence but an example of moral heroism. The cross is gruesome as a pulpit, but glorious as an altar. And it was as to an altar that He willingly went, sustained by the consciousness that He laid down His life 'for the sheep'. Calvary was not a costly mistake, but the glorious consummation of a plan embraced in its entirety from the beginning.
II. But, beyond His delight in the Father's will, there was a further compensation to Christ for all the pain of His redeeming sacrifice—'the joy that was set before Him'. This was the joy which He here expresses as taking His life again. There is delight inherent in the doing of all noble deeds, which is as a sustaining power to the one who stands alone. There is deep joy, too, in the very act of alleviating misery and pain. But such was not the joy which took the Saviour 'as a lamb to the slaughter'. His was the anticipated delight of calling forth by His very sacrifice such responsive love as should secure for Him undisputed sway over the lives of His loved ones. He laid His life down that He might take it again in other souls—souls gratefully yielded to Him in such completeness as that He should dwell in them and continue through them His work of blessing the world. Wherever a sinful heart recognises Him as Saviour and gladly receives Him as Sovereign, there He realises 'the joy that was set before Him'.
III. And all that may be said in this respect with regard to Him may be said with equal force with regard to His followers. He has left them an example that they should follow His steps, and in some sense every Christian is a re-incarnation of His Spirit. 'Till Christ be formed in you 'is the objective toward which all the ministries of His grace unite, and as this the possible increasingly becomes the actual in our experience, so the law of His life shall be the law of ours.
—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 13.
God's Love for Jesus
I. 'The Father loveth Me,' Jesus says. Why? 'Because I lay down My life.' So note, first, that in His dying Jesus Christ is free.
That is the thought filling His whole mind just now. He asserts it clearly enough, although without dwelling on it, in this verse; He returns to and amplifies it in the next. When His hour came, the hour of lonely pain and sorrow, He met its coming willingly. The flock was in danger; for its deliverance the Good Shepherd had appeared; so, duly, the ransom-life was paid. It was His own act and deed. It was the fruit of personal choice. When it was open to Him to choose otherwise, He chose thus, going to Calvary in sacrifice that kept back nothing.
It is in the choice of a redeeming death that the mighty passion of His love is seen. Remember, it was not obvious that He should love us. Nothing in the Christian religion is obvious in that poor sense. If when we stand before the dying Lord at Calvary, our instinct is to say, 'Of course!' we betray ourselves as blind and cold as to its central, holiest meaning. Redemption is not to be lightly assumed, as the blessings of health or commerce or civilisation may be; it is a wondrous miracle, which nothing but Jesus' love and power will make credible.
II. Note, secondly, how Jesus clung to God's love in the darkness. His calm assured sense of the Father's love, one feels, is almost startling; outward appearances were so utterly against it The shame and suffering yet to come, the agony and death, the dim foreboding of desolation which was crueller torment than them all—this was in Christ's mind as He spoke, and He shrank from it No doubt moments came when He all but longed for the cross to arrive more quickly, and a triumphant vision of its completed harvest gladdened Him; but alongside of that went a shrinking and a haunting fear. 'Like the pellucid waters of the Rhine and the turbid stream of the Moselle, that flow side by side over a long space, neither of them blending discernibly with the other, so the shrinking and the desire were contemporaneous in Christ's mind.' Sometimes the pain and reluctance grew nearly unendurable, and then, as in the sweat of blood, soul and body were wrung with anguish. And yet, as here and in other scenes, Jesus was able to look up, out of the very midnight of feeling, and grasp the faithful, unchanging love of God.
III. Again we see here how God values selfsacrifice. It was as if the Father perceived a new reason for loving Christ in His acceptance of the cross. Strange things have been said by theologians as to Christ in His Passion having drunk the cup of God's wrath, wrath directed against Him personally; but this text scatters all such fancies like mists of dawn before the sun. Never did God love Jesus more than just then. He had loved Him before, 'ere the worlds began to be'; but that ineffable love was magnified and enriched now, as Christ prepared to die, and the great full heart of God overflowed at the sight of His wondrous sacrifice for a world of sin.
IV. Note, lastly, that the surrendered life is restored. 'I lay down My life, that I may take it again.' For the sacrifice made by Jesus was not the casting away of a precious thing for ever; it was a stage, rather, in its perfect realisation. He died to rise to a completer life, and to raise the world along with Him. Free in parting with life, He was free also in resuming it. So in due time, He took it out of death's grasp, and as the great conqueror of the tomb flung back its seeming victory. And just as a diver sinks beneath the waves, to rise again to the upper air bearing the gems he went to seek, so Jesus Christ came back from death, not empty-handed, not alone, but bringing many sons unto glory.
—H. R. Mackintosh, Life on God's Plan, p. 171.
References.—X. 17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No. 2117. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 52.
The Shepherd's Power Over His Life
The Good Shepherd said, 'Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.'
This tremendous claim is more forcible in the original than it is even in the translation. I—the pronoun is emphatic—in the exercise of My personal will, I lay down My life with a clear end in view that I may—not 'might'—take it up again. No man taketh it away. No man could. I have authority, right, power to take it again. The Good Shepherd was raised from the dead by the God of Peace. That is one side of the truth. But it is also true that He rose by His own power, through the exercise of His own will in His own right. So He laid down His life. He was not murdered against His will. He did not pass away through the exhaustion of the powers of nature. It is not enough to say that He was willing to die. The full truth is that in His freedom He willed to die—and to die for the sheep.
This power rested on His sinlessness. The Victim was immaculate. Our lives are forfeited, but this life had passed stainless through every trial, and so He had a right to lay it down, and a right to take it again.
I. Consider what is involved in the claim of Jesus to take up His life. Doubtless the primary reference is to His Resurrection. He took up His life very early in the morning of the third day. But the words cover a wider field than that of the Resurrection. He was able at every moment of His earthly days to lift His life and hold it against the smiting shafts of light, and have no fear. 'Which of you convicteth Me of sin?' He was in the fullest sense
That awful independent of tomorrow,
Whose yesterdays look backward with a smile.
Perhaps the hardest thing in a preacher's experience is that he cannot take up his life. He can ask his hearers to follow him as far as he follows Christ, and that is but a little way. We fully believe that many are kept from the ministry because they think that they cannot translate into daily life that ideal of thought and care and purity revealed in the New Testament. They shrink under the thought of their far-reaching and radical shortcomings. They might be content to be ignorant of much that their hearers know, so long as they were sure of the one Gospel that is needful. But it is another thing when they reflect on their inconsistencies. Sometimes we might even say that all that is best in any unregenerate or regenerate nature bids them keep in the background and hold their peace. And yet it has pleased God that the treasure should be in earthen vessels. It has pleased God to lay necessity on frail and tempted natures to enter the ministry of reconciliation. Better to have this heartache than a conscience that has been drugged with anodynes, or burnt out with caustics. These fears, these yearnings, these agonies are laid to rest by the cross.
II. Again and again the preachers of redemption have desired to lay down their lives for the brethren. Moses sought this boon, David sought it, Paul sought it, and others of less degree in multitudes have thrilled with the same desire. They have longed if it might so be to be accursed from Christ for their brethren. But One alone among the sons of men could lay down His life. The Good Shepherd had power to lay it down, because He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. The sheep have died for the Shepherd many and many a time. From St. Stephen to the last martyr in China the sheep have given their lives for the Shepherd. But it was in quite another manner that the Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. His life availed. He died instead of them; they could not die instead of Him. Great even in human life is the power, the majesty, the wealth of sacrifice. But no sacrifice avails to take sin away save the sacrifice of the Undefiled.
III. It will be seen that Christ and His Apostles looked at sin from the point of view of the spiritual world, and the law obtaining therein. To them and to all Christians sin is the greatest of all evils, even irrespective of its injurious effect upon man. The primary mischief in it is the insult done to God. It is this view that explains the Atonement, and the heart of Christianity is taken out when the Atonement is obscured.
It is to the novelists rather than to the preachers that we have to go nowadays for that note of warning which rings through all the Bible. By what right does anyone assure the sinner of comparative immunity in time and in eternity? We can understand thoughtful men who have rejected Christianity saying: 'There may be heaven; there must be hell'. It is better to take heed, and blessed is he who is not ashamed of Christ's sternest words. Perhaps the most striking close of any novel is the last sentence in Dumas' amazing story, The Vicomte de Bragelonne. D'Artagnan, the brave musketeer, is called to die. He takes leave of his comrades, including the traitor Aramis, with whom he had not quarrelled, in words which represented many things. 'Athos, Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu for ever!'
—W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, p. 171.
References.—X. 17, 18.—H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 223. X. 18.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 423; ibid. vol. v. p. Ill; ibid. vol. vii. p. 222; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 471. X. 20.—Ibid. vol. iv. p. 285. X. 22.—S. Gregory, How to Steer a Ship, p. 12. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 200. X. 22, 23.—A. P. Stanley, Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 16. H. J. Bevis, Sermons, p. 98. X. 23.—H. Bonar, Short Sermons for Family Reading, pp. 48, 56.
The evangelist perhaps implies that it was an aggravation of these bitter controversies that they should have been forced on the great Teacher under such conditions, and that the keenness of the winter gave edge to the malignity which beset Jesus Christ on every side.
—T. G. Selby, Ministry of the Lord Jesus, pp. 304, 305.
Tell Us Plainly
I. All speech has its limitations, and the plainer the speech the narrower are those limitations. A plain truth is necessarily a small truth. If you are determined to say a plain thing you must be content to say a very little thing. If plainness is your one object you are committed to a fragmentary conception of truth. Of course, I am speaking of the world of abiding spiritual realities. You can summarise all the outward facts of life. You can put exact account of the weather into a sentence. And wherever it is possible to be terse and concise and sharply definite, it is our duty to try to be so. In our concrete life, amid all outward things, most of us would be better understood if we said less. The things of the hour demand a plainness of speech that befits the definition and brevity of the hour. It is our duty to put a thing into a nutshell—if it is no bigger than a nut But when we try to put illimitable truth into a nutshell, we leave a good deal of it out. And that which we may think we have stated we have probably misstated. Limitation is own brother to perversion. History tells us that it has never been more than a few steps from the shrine of the partly true to the shrine of the wholly false.
II. But if you leave the last word of the Jews' plea out of your reckoning, the plea itself is still a pitiably blind and vain one. 'If Thou art the Christ, tell us.' That appeal, as it stands, reveals an utter ignorance of the way the truth advances in the earth and makes its conquests in the souls of men. That advance and conquest are not made essentially by means of words. The truth depends strangely little upon verbal statement. The two great bonds of social life are justice and love. Look at these things. Consider the very terms of their existence. Honour, one of the loveliest blooms of justice, dwells in silence. It is an unutterable thing. To try to state it is to make it something less than it is. To explain it is to make it impossible. To fling it about in gusts of words, as men have flung it, is to reduce it, as men have reduced it, to a mere fiction, void of all that is vital and binding. Without honour life at its best is impossible. But honour is the last thing that is mentioned among honourable men. The knowledge of a thing comes not by the telling thereof. No man was ever told anything finally worth knowing. No hearsay ever broke the silence of life's inner room. It is not by means of the utterances, the assertions, the dictations and definitions and reasonings of them that teach that ever any man gained one truth for the everlasting succour of his soul. The hours that bring the truth into a man's soul are hours when the truth stands before him, in all its radiant beauty too fair to need adorning, in all its splendid strength too strong to need support, in all its final and irresistible simplicity too simple to be interpreted. And the question of how many and how luminous these hours shall be we each decide for ourselves. Jesus Christ came to kindle that light of truth for us in every hour and place of life. He has made all the hours luminous for the humble and obedient heart In Him the eternal truth is always with us.
III. Jesus stood in the world open-armed. He called to men amid their burdens, toils, and sorrows, amid the very things that confuse the mind, and crush hope and enterprise, and make for indifference and despair. And it follows that He must be life's simplest and most easily found fact for us all. There must be some perfectly simple point of contact between every human life and the Divine Saviour. And there is. We need but to accept the verdict of our conscience, the ultimatum of our human weakness, the sorrow that waits for every sinful soul in the dreadful quietness of life, and, lo! our trembling hands have touched the Christ, and if we will let Him He will hold us fast for evermore and lift us surely up to all the light and love of God.
—Percy Ainsworth, The Pilgrim Church, p. 40.
References.—X. 24.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 83; ibid. vol. v. p. 25; ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 269; ibid. vol. x. p. 300.
The Voice of the True Shepherd
'My sheep hear My voice.' This was true in the days of His flesh, and it is still and for ever true. It is the cardinal fact of mysticism. The Great Shepherd of the sheep does not say, 'My sheep hear My words,' or 'My sheep read My words'. True, we have His utterances in the Holy Scriptures, and not one jot or tittle of these can pass. But the words would be little if we had not beside the words the voice of the Living Teacher. Says Fénélon: 'Without the actual inspiration of the Spirit of grace, the inward teacher ana soul of our souls, we could neither do, will, nor believe good. We must silence every creature, we must silence ourselves also to hear in a profound stillness of the soul these inexpressible thoughts of Christ. The outward word of the Gospel itself without this living efficacious word within would be but an empty sound.'
The vital truth of Christianity is that Christ still speaks in the soul that will heed and hear Him.
I. To have heard that voice on earth—how great the wonder would have been! To have heard that dear 'Verily, verily,' in a world distracted and confused—how unspeakably blessed would have been the rest that followed! For when He said, 'Verily, verily,' doubts and reasonings and questions and sorrows fell down at His feet as dead. That 'Verily, verily,' opened the secrets of heaven and the mysteries of the Father. They who heard it built upon the rock, and their house could not be shaken. 'Verily, verily'—these words coming from Him Who is faithful and true stood like great pillars at the porch of love's holy temple.
II. The voice of the True Shepherd is heard in warning, and calling, and entreaty, and pleading, as He goes forth to seek the sheep. By great and terrible things the Shepherd often accomplishes the work of salvation. Wind and fire and earthquake have their place in the Shepherd's labour, but it is not the final place. In the end it is the still small voice that speaks, and woos, and wins. In the Reconciliation, says one, there are no blows, nor beats of drum, nor bolts of tempest; love is the captain of this bloodless war. The manner of Living Love is gentleness. Our eyes have seen our teachers, but they have sought in vain to bring us back. We have seen them, father, teacher, friend, minister. They have shown us the right way, but we would not take it. But the unseen Teacher speaks, and we hear the word behind us. As we try to flee away from it, it pursues. The word is Return, Return, Return.
III. The voice of the True Shepherd speaks for the comfort, the consolation, the assurance of the sheep still making their way through the earthly wilderness. The Shepherd calls us to disregard the clashing and clamant voices of the world. He says of the souls that are entangled in the here and now, 'My sheep hear My voice. I say unto you'—and if we hear that, our troubles are ended.
How shall we hear the voice of the True Shepherd? We must be fain to hear it. We must hush the soul into a deep stillness, the stillness of expectation and prayer. In John Woolman's Journal, one of the most beautiful books in the world, we read how he received the Divine communication. 'I went to meetings in an aweful frame of mind, and endeavoured to be inwardly acquainted with the language of the True Shepherd.' 'There was a care on my mind so to pass my time that nothing would hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the True Shepherd.' Speaking of a journey to Newport, he writes: 'We went through much labour in this town, and now, in taking leave of it, though I felt close inward exercise to the last, I found inward peace, and was in some degree comforted in the belief that a good number remained in that place who retain a sense of truth, and that there are some young people attentive to the voice of the heavenly Shepherd'. When he was on his journey to London, he wrote: 'My mind was turned towards Christ the heavenly Counsellor, and feeling at this time my own soul subjected, my heart was contrite before Him'. Thus John Woolman lived and died in a deep inward peace, of which he said, 'When our minds entirely yield to Christ, that silence is known which followeth the opening of the last of the seals'. In this silence nought is heard but the voice of the True Shepherd.
—W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, p. 225.
References.—X. 27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 995. X. 27, 28.—H. Alford, Easter-tide Sermons, p. 62. X. 27-30.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No. 2120.
The Perseverance of Believers
John 10:28; Romans 11:29
I believe in Perseverance because I believe in the Sovereignty of God, and I believe in the Sovereignty of God because I see it in history and experience. And thus I am persuaded that it is impossible for a true believer, since he is in the grip of God's purpose of grace, ever to fall away and at last be lost. It is Sovereign Grace that first moves us to repent and believe, and it will carry us invincibly through all weakness and disloyalty to the final consummation.
This faith is a splendid encouragement, yet it is open to serious criticism, and I wish now to consider the main objections which have been urged against it, and to show that, as it seems to me, they spring from misunderstanding of the doctrine.
I. The doctrine, it is alleged, is contradicted by experience. Have we not all known men who lost their early faith and relapsed into irreligion?
Yes, and it would be a poor evasion to suggest that there never was any reality in their faith, and that they did not fall from grace inasmuch as they had never been in it. My answer is that we must distinguish between falling from grace and backsliding. A believer, by reason of indwelling sin, is liable to the latter—witness David and Peter and all the saints in every generation; but, by reason of the faithfulness of God, he is ensured against the former.
When Cromwell was dying, he was troubled. 'Tell me,' he said to a minister who stood by his bed, 'is it possible to fall from grace?' 'No,' was the reply, 'it is not possible.' 'Then,' said the dying man, 'I am safe, for I know that I was once in grace.'
Yes, 'once in Him, in Him for ever—thus the eternal covenant stands'. This is theology, but it is poetry too, as all true theology is, since, as Boccaccio says, 'theology is nothing else than the poetry of God'.
I cannot, I will not believe that any soul that has been pursued with importunate prayers and earned in faith's loving arms to the feet of Jesus, will at the last be an outcast from the Father's House. 'Go thy way,' said the man of God to Monica as she wept for her erring Augustine; 'it cannot be that the son of those tears should perish.'
II. It is objected that it is a perilous doctrine, fostering a spirit of security. What need to watch and strive if our salvation be assured?
This is a perversion of the doctrine, and it is nothing new. When St. Paul preached Justification by Faith apart from Works, there were some who said: 'Let us continue in sin that grace may abound; let us do evil that good may come.' 'What does it matter,' says the monk in Pascal's Provincial Letters, 'by what way we enter Paradise? As our famous Father Binet remarks: "Be it by hook or by crook, what need we care if we reach at last the Celestial City?"' And there is a sort of logic in this argument, but it does not stand the test of experience.
In the home of my childhood I used to watch the ships passing up the beautiful Firth, laden with the merchandise of far-off lands; and it was a brave sight as they came proudly into port with their white wings spread and their flags flying in the breeze. But once I witnessed a spectacle which touched my imagination and is still vivid in my remembrance. It had blown a heavy gale, and a hapless barque had been caught by the tempest outside the Firth. She was loaded with timber, and when the hold was full, they had piled more on the deck, making her top-heavy. The gale smote her, and she capsized. She did not sink, for the timber kept her afloat; she simply 'turned turtle,' and swam keel uppermost. A flotilla of tugs went to the rescue and towed her in this poor plight up the Firth. When she got into shoal water, her masts touched the bottom, and the divers went down and cut them adrift Then she was righted, and lay a dismasted, water-logged hulk. She got into harbour, but it was a pitiable home-coming. Would the crew have been content had they foreseen it. Would they have said: 'Be it by hook or by crook, what need we care if we reach at last the harbour?'
And who would be content to reach heaven after this fashion—just saved and no more? For my part I would rather perish outright. I want 'an abundant entrance'. I want to sail into the harbour with my sails spread and my flag flying. And I am sure that it is thus that Christ would have it.
—David Smith, Man's Need of God, p. 69.
This text is frequently quoted in the letters of Melanchthon, and in his later years it was probably his favourite verse of Scripture. On 4th March, 1546, soon after Luther's death, he wrote to Frederick Myconius, pastor of the church at Gotha, who was very ill and nearing his end: 'Dearest Frederick, Those most sweet words of the Son of God have often comforted me in great sorrows: "None shall pluck My sheep out of My hand". Do not let us search for any other definition of the sheep, but let us be content with that interpretation which Christ gives us when He calls "sheep" those who hear and love the Gospel. Such we surely are. Let us therefore have a sure hope amidst all the dangers of this life and in death that our Shepherd the Son of God is present with us as our Guardian and Defender. Now that Luther has been called away from this mortal life, heavier cares and toils come upon me besides my sorrow. May the Son of God, the true Shepherd, not leave us orphans.'—C. R. vol. vi. No. 3406.
Luke Cranach the Younger drew a very striking portrait of Melanchthon on his death-bed (1560). The inscription includes these words: Postrema verba ejus fuerunt: Nemo rapiet oves meas ex manu mea (John 10).
If this verse was not actually the last utterance of Melanchthon, it was repeated by him often, and on the day of his death it was one of the passages recited at his bedside by his friends.
References.—X. 28.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 726, and vol. xviii. No. 1056. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 61. X. 29.—A. B. O. Wilberforce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. p. 88. X. 30.—C. S. Macfarland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 133. R. J. Campbell, Sermons Addressed to Individuals, p. 297. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 99. X. 34.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 272. X. 36. C. D. Bell, The Name Above Every Name, p. 30. J. Smith, The Integrity of Scripture, p. 34. X. 36.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 38. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 6. X. 37, 38.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. v. p. 129. X. 38.—J. Hammond, Harvest and Flower Sermons, p. 1. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 356. X. 39.—Ibid. vol. i. p. 195. X. 39-42.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1924, and vol. xlix. No. 2818. X. 41.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 33.
But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
I and my Father are one.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
And many believed on him there.