I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Jump to: Alford • Barnes • Bengel • Benson • BI • Calvin • Cambridge • Chrysostom • Clarke • Darby • Ellicott • Expositor's • Exp Dct • Exp Grk • Gaebelein • GSB • Gill • Gray • Haydock • Hastings • Homiletics • ICC • JFB • Kelly • KJT • Lange • MacLaren • MHC • MHCW • Meyer • Parker • PNT • Poole • Pulpit • Sermon • SCO • Teed • TTB • VWS • WES • TSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And know my sheep, and am known of mine.—Better, and know those who are Mine, and those who are Mine know Me. The thought of the Good Shepherd is repeated to show that it expresses the closest communion between the shepherd and the sheep. It is not simply that the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice, but they partake of His nature, and the solemn form in which He expresses this union is in likening it to that between His Father and Himself.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:14 - John 10:15.
‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ Perhaps even Christ never spoke more fruitful words than these. Just think how many solitary, wearied hearts they have cheered, and what a wealth of encouragement and comfort there has been in them for all generations. The little child as it lays itself down to sleep, cries-
‘Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me,
Bless Thy little lamb to-night,’
and the old man lays himself down to die murmuring to himself, ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’ ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ No preaching can do anything but weaken and dilute the force of such words, and yet, though in all their sweet, homely simplicity they appeal to every heart, there are great depths in them that are worth pondering, and profound thoughts that need some elucidation.
There are three points to be noticed-First, the general force of the metaphor, and then the two specific applications of it which our Lord Himself makes.
I. First of all, then, let me say a few words as to the general application of the metaphor.
The usual notion of these words confines itself to the natural meaning, and runs out into very true, but perhaps a little sentimental, considerations, laying hold of what is so plain on the very surface that I need not spend any time in speaking about it. Christ’s pattern is my law; Christ’s providence is my guidance and defence-which in the present case means Christ’s companionship-is my safety, my sustenance-which in the present case means that Christ Himself is the bread of my soul. The Good Shepherd exercises care, which absolves the sheep from care, and in the present case means that my only duty is meek following and quiet trust. ‘I am the Good Shepherd’-here is guidance, guardianship, companionship, sustenance-all responsibility laid upon His broad shoulders, and all tenderness in His deep heart, and so for us simple obedience and quiet trust.
Another way by which we get the whole significance of this symbol is by noticing how the idea is strengthened by the word that accompanies it. Christ does not say ‘I am a Shepherd,’ but He says, ‘I am the good Shepherd.’ At first sight that word ‘good’ is interpreted, as I have said, in a kind of sentimental, poetic way, as expressing our Lord’s tenderness and love and care; but I do not think that is the full meaning here. You find up and down this Gospel of St. John phrases such as, ‘I am the true bread,’ ‘I am the true vine,’ and the meaning of the word that is here translated ‘good’ is very nearly parallel with that idea. The true bread, the true vine, the true Shepherd-which comes to this, to use modern phraseology, that Jesus Christ, in His relation to you and me, fulfils all that in figure and shadow is represented to the meditative eye by that lower relationship between the material shepherd and his sheep. That is the picture, this the reality. There is another point to be made clear, and that is, that whilst the word ‘good’ is perhaps a fair enough representation of that which is employed by our Lord, there is a special force and significance attached to the original, which is lost in our Bible. I do not know that it could have been preserved; but still it is necessary to state it. The expression here is the one that is generally rendered ‘fair,’ or ‘lovely,’ or ‘beautiful,’ and it belongs to the genius of that wonderful tongue in which the New Testament is written that it has a name for moral purity, considered as being lovely, the highest goodness, and the serenest beauty, which was what the old Greeks taught, howsoever little they may have practised it in their lives. And so here the thought is that the Shepherd stands before us, the realisation of all which that name means, set forth in such a fashion as to be infinitely lovely and perfectly fair, and to draw the admiration of any man who can appreciate that which is beautiful, and can admire that which is of good report.
There is another point still in reference to this first view of the text. Our Lord not only declares that He is the reality of which the earthly shepherd is the shadow, and that He as such is the flawless, perfect One, but that He alone is the reality. ‘I am the Good Shepherd; in Me and in Me alone is that which men need.’ And that leads me to another point which must just be mentioned, that we shall not reach the full meaning of these great words without taking into account the history of the metaphor in the Old Testament. Christ gives a second edition of the figure, and we are to remember all that went before. ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want’; ‘Thou leddest Thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.’ These are but specimens of a continuous series of utterances in the old Revelation in which Jehovah Himself is the Shepherd of mankind; and there is also another class of passages of which I will quote one or two. ‘He shall feed His flock like a shepherd, and carry them in His arms.’ ‘Awake, O sword, against the Man who is my fellow; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ There were, we should remember, two streams of representation, according to the one of which God Himself was the Shepherd of Israel, and according to the other of which the Messiah was the Shepherd; and here, as I believe, Jesus lays His hand on both the one and the other, and says: ‘They are Mine, and they testify of Me.’ So sweet, so gracious are the words, that we lose the sense of the grandeur of them, and need to think before we are able to understand how great and immense the claim that is made here upon our faith, and that this Man stands before us and arrogates to Himself the divine prerogative witnessed from of old by psalmist and prophet, and says that for Him were meant the prophecies of ancient times that spake of a human shepherd, and asserts that all the sustenance, care, authority, command, which the emblem suggests meet in Him in perfect measure.
II. Now let us turn to the two special points which our Lord emphasises here, as being those in which His relation as the Good Shepherd is most conspicuously given.
The language of my text runs: ‘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.’ Our Western ways fail to bring out the full meaning of the emblem; but all Eastern travellers tell us what a strange bond of sympathy and loving regard, and docile recognition, springs up between the shepherd and his sheep away there in the Eastern pastures and deserts; and how he knows every one, though to a stranger’s eye they are so like each other; and how even the dumb instincts and the narrow intelligence of the silly sheep recognise the shepherd, and will not be deceived by shepherd’s garments worn to deceive, and will not follow the voice of a stranger.
But we must further note that Christ lays hold of the dumb instincts of the animal, as illustrating, at the one end of the scale, the relation between Him and His followers, and lays hold of the communion between the Father and the Son at the other end of the scale, as illustrating the same thing. ‘I know My sheep.’ That is a knowledge like the knowledge of the shepherd, a bond of close intimacy. But He does not know them by reason of looking at them and thinking about them. It is something far more blessed than that. He knows me because He loves me; He knows me because He has sympathy with me, and I know Him, if I know Him at all, by my love, and I know Him by my sympathy, and I know Him by my communion. A loveless heart does not know the Shepherd, and unless the Shepherd’s heart was all love He would not know His sheep. The Shepherd’s love is an individualised love. He knows His flock as a flock because He knows the units of it, and we can rest ourselves upon the personal knowledge, which is personal love and sympathy, of Jesus Christ. ‘And My sheep know Me’-not by force of intellect, not by understanding certain truths, all-important as that may be, but by having our hearts harmonised in Him, and our spirits put into sympathy and communion with Him. ‘They know Me,’ and rest comes with the knowledge; ‘they know Me,’ and in that knowing is the best answer to all doubt and fear. They are exposed to danger, but in the fold they can go quietly to rest, for they know that He is at the door watching through all dangers.
III. Turn for a moment to the last point, ‘I lay down My life for the sheep.’
I have said that our Western ways fail to bring out fully the element of the metaphor which refers to the kind of sympathy between the shepherd and the sheep; and our Western life also fails to bring out this other element also. Shepherds in England never have need to lay down their life for the sheep. Shepherds in Palestine often did, and sometimes do. You remember David with the lion and the bear, which is but an illustration of the reality which underlies this metaphor. So, then, in some profound way, the shepherd’s death is the sheep’s safety. First of all, look at that most unmistakable, emphatic-I was going to say vehement, at any rate, intense-expression of the absolute voluntariness of Christ’s death, ‘I lay down My life,’ as a man might strip off a vesture. And this application of the metaphor is made all the stronger by the words which follow: ‘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.’ We read, ‘Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,’ but here, somehow or other, the smiting of the Shepherd is not the scattering but the gathering of the flock. Here, somehow or other, the dead Shepherd has power to guard, to guide, to defend them. Here, somehow or other, the death of the Shepherd is the security of the sheep; and I say to you, the flock, that for every soul the entrance into the flock of God is through the door of the dying Christ, who laid down His life for the sheep, and makes them His sheep who trust in Him.John 10:15, is in John 10:17 explained by the word "loveth." Jesus knows the hearts, the dangers, and the wants of his people, and his kindness as their shepherd prompts him to defend and aid them.
Am known of mine - That is, he is known and loved as their Saviour and Friend. They have seen their sins, and dangers: and wants; they have felt their need of a Saviour; they have come to him, and they have found him and his doctrines to be such as they need, and they have loved him. And as a flock follows and obeys its kind shepherd, so they follow and obey him who leads them beside the still waters, and makes them to lie down in green pastures.
am known of mine—the soul's response to the voice that has inwardly and efficaciously called it; for of this mutual loving acquaintance ours is the effect of His. "The Redeemer's knowledge of us is the active element, penetrating us with His power and life; that of believers is the passive principle, the reception of His life and light. In this reception, however, an assimilation of the soul to the sublime object of its knowledge and love takes place; and thus an activity, though a derived one, is unfolded, which shows itself in obedience to His commands" [Olshausen]. From this mutual knowledge Jesus rises to another and loftier reciprocity of knowledge.John 10:11.
And know my sheep; so as to call them all by their names: Christ has an universal, special, distinct, and exact knowledge of all his sheep, as they are the choice of his Father, as his Father's gift to him; and as his own purchase; he bears an affectionate love to them, and takes special care of them; indulges them with intimate communion with himself; and owns and acknowledges them as his, both here and hereafter:
and I am known of mine; not in a general way, as devils and external professors may know him, but with a special, spiritual, and saving knowledge: Christ's own approve of him, as their shepherd and their Saviour, and desire no other; they love him above all, in the sincerity of their souls, and with a love as strong as death; they trust in him as their shepherd, believing they shall not want; and appropriate him to themselves, as their own; and care for him, his cause and interest, his Gospel, ordinances, and ministers; and are not ashamed to own him as theirs, in the most public manner.I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 10:14 f. After the description of the hireling, there now follows again that of the opposite,—the characterization of Himself as the good shepherd, first specifying His intimate acquaintance with His sheep, and then repeating His readiness to sacrifice Himself on their behalf. The latter point constitutes the refrain of the characterization (John 10:17-18), being here concretely expressed (it is different in John 10:11, where it was predicated of the good shepherd in abstracto).
καθὼς γινώσκει με, etc.] The nature and mode, the holy nature of that reciprocal acquaintanceship. Compare John 14:20, John 15:10, John 17:8; John 17:21. As between God and Christ, so also between Christ and His people, the reciprocal knowledge is a knowledge growing out of the most intimate fellowship of love and life,—that fellowship which directly involves γινώσκειν; comp. on Matthew 7:23.
τίθημι] near and certain future. The clause κ. τ. ψ. is not dependent on καθώς.John 10:14. The second mark of the good shepherd is introduced by a repetition of the announcement: ἐγώ … καλός. And this second mark is not stated in general terms applicable to all good shepherds, but directly of Himself: ἐγώ εἰμι … καὶ γινώσκω τὰ ἐμά, καὶ γινώσκομαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν. There is a mutually reciprocal knowledge between Jesus and His sheep. And the existence of this knowledge is the proof that He is the Shepherd. The shepherd’s claim is authenticated by his knowledge of the marks and ways of the sheep, and by its knowledge of him as shown in its coming to his voice and submission to his hand. Augustine says: “They sometimes do not know themselves, but the shepherd knows them”.14. and know my sheep, and am known of mine] Better, and I know Mine, and Mine know Me.
14–18. Further description of the True Shepherd. (1) His intimate knowledge of His sheep; (2) His readiness to die for them. This latter point recurs repeatedly as a sort of refrain, like ‘I will raise him up at the last day,’ in chap. 6.Verses 14, 15. - The Lord resumes: I am the good Shepherd. He now makes his discourse more explicit. He almost drops the allegory, and merely adopts the sacred metaphor. His self-revelation becomes more full of promise and suggestion for all time. He takes up one of the characteristics of the shepherd which discriminated him from "hireling," "thief," or "robber." And I know mine own, and my own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father. This more accurate text, translation, and punctuation of the Revised Version brings into living comparison the mutual knowledge of Christ and his own sheep, with the mutual knowledge of Christ and the Father. Christ's personal knowledge of his people is that which comes into their religious consciousness. They know his knowledge of them. They know him to be what he is - to be their Lord God, as they realize his personal recognition and care. The one involves the other (see Galatians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 8:3). The particle of transition is more than a mere illustration (καθώς is more than ὥσπερ; κἀθώς introduces not infrequently an explanation, sometimes a causal consideration, or an illustration which accounts for the previous statement; see John 15:12; John 17:21, 23). The knowledge which the sheep have of the Shepherd corresponds with the Son's knowledge of the Father, and the Shepherd's knowledge of the sheep answers to the Father's knowledge of the Son; but more than this, the relation of the Son to the Father, thus expressed, is the real ground of the Divine intimacies between the sheep and the Shepherd (cf. John 15:10; John 17:8). Then the Lord repeats and renews the solemn statement made at the commencement of the sentence, And I lay down my life for the sheep. Such knowledge of the peril of "his own" involves him in sacrifice. Whereas in ver. 11 this is attributed to the "good Shepherd," now he drops the first part of the figure, and says, "I am laying down my life."
The best texts read, γινώσκουσί με τὰ ἐμά, mine own know me. So Rev.
LinksJohn 10:14 Interlinear
John 10:14 Parallel Texts
John 10:14 NIV
John 10:14 NLT
John 10:14 ESV
John 10:14 NASB
John 10:14 KJV
John 10:14 Bible Apps
John 10:14 Parallel
John 10:14 Biblia Paralela
John 10:14 Chinese Bible
John 10:14 French Bible
John 10:14 German Bible