John 10:4

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep,
he goeth before them,
and the sheep follow him:
for they know his voice.”

~ John 10:4

Neither space nor time will permit us to exhaust this rich treasure of God’s Word. Numerous draws could be made and the well would still be springing up in abundant supply. We shall have to pass over many things and yet, let us commune with our Lord in this text.

Immediately, we approach this passage knowing Christ says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). He is “that great shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). We know also that the sheep are His people, whom He “must bring” (John 10:16) to glory. This rich knowledge prompts the faithful declaration, “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:7).

The overwhelming characteristic mark of His sheep is that they “follow him.” Not only this, but “a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him” (John 10:5). In all cases, in all conditions, the sheep follow the Shepherd.

We cannot escape the fact that “he putteth forth his own sheep.” This language brings to mind a forcible action. He puts them forth. Unfortunately, this may imply laxity or reluctance of the sheep, but let us rather consider it as revealing the mind of the Shepherd for not only does He put them forth, He “goeth before them.” This speaks then of His guidance of His sheep. He sends them forth to accomplish His purpose and goes before them to lead, prepare, and keep them in His way.

That “he putteth forth his own sheep” speaks of the purpose of the Shepherd. He does not put them out; He puts them forth. The harried mother, whose head is dazed by a dozen things that have gone wrong at once, will put the children out to play that she may collect her thoughts and set things back in order. However, that same mother will rise up in the morning with clear thought and put the children forth to do their morning chores. So, they are put forth with purpose and the Shepherd does this when He puts forth His sheep.

When the Shepherd puts forth His sheep, He also “goeth before them.” He puts them forth with purpose that He might lead them. He leads them to “green pastures,” “beside the still waters,” and “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2-3). Not only does He lead them to the pleasant places, but He also conducts them through the dangerous miles. He leads them through “the valley of the shadow of death” and to a “table . . . in the presence of mine enemies” (Psalm 23:4-5). Because of His abiding presence, the sheep can say in the dark valley, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). The sheep need not be overly concerned about which path they are on at the moment, so long as the Shepherd is with them.

The dependence of the sheep upon their Shepherd cannot be overstated. They need to be put forth. They need to be led. They need to follow their Shepherd. Without Him, they cannot find the pleasant places of rest and restoration. Without Him, they cannot safely traverse the dangerous paths where they are refined and sharpened. Ah, but with Him, they are safe and rest securely for “they shall never perish.” They are “the sheep of his hand” and “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Praise God, what a Shepherd! Let us sing with Sis. Kathryn Parrish:

Praise God, what a shepherd! He died not in vain;
Oh, He knows His sheep, and He calls them by name;
He goeth before them, And they know His voice;
Him only they follow, And in Him they rejoice.

John 7:43

“So there was a division among the people because of him.”
~ John 7:43

What are we to do with Jesus? This was the question that troubled many in Christ’s day. In the time of our text, many said of Him, “Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” (John 7:40-41). They first sought to understand or define who Jesus was and, though they were not agreed about who He was, they next had to figure out what to do with Him. “And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him” (John 7:44). On both accounts, “there was a division among the people because of him.” Regardless of the diverse opinions of the people, one thing was clear—they could not ignore Him.

The division over Jesus was not limited to a few crusty old Jewish theologians. The questions about Jesus touched the whole community—the poor, the rich, the sick, the healthy, the powerful, and the oppressed. None were spared from facing this question. Everywhere He went the common people would flock to Him and this drew criticisms from the upper class, “Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). So, wherever He went, “there was a division among the people because of him.”

The division over Jesus was not limited to His own public life. After His ascension, His church began to spread throughout the known world, taking the message of Jesus with them. Not surprisingly, they found “there was a division among the people because of him.” Paul told the Corinthians, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Paul explained the division of the people: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Even then, there were also those who were called who found Jesus “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

It is amazing to think that the Jews could not find signs sufficient enough in Christ. Had there ever lived a man who did the quantity and quality of miracles that Christ did. With only a portion of His career available to us today, we certainly could not find any to compare to Him. John wrote in his Gospel, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The world could not contain the books that would be required to record the things He did and yet “the Jews require a sign.”

It is also amazing to think that the Greeks could not find sufficient wisdom in Jesus Christ—“the Ancient of day” (Daniel 9:7). On many occasions, the people were put to amazement when they heard Him speak. “The people were astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 28:8). “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). “Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?” (John 7:25-26). “The officers answered, Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). Christ testified of the queen of the south who “came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). The world had never known greater wisdom than Jesus had. Jesus Christ possessed the deep riches of the wisdom of God and yet the Greeks rejected Him and sought “after wisdom.”

Evidently, the world at large fared no better in settling the question of Jesus in the first century than did those of Palestine during His life. Some would perhaps like to think that Jesus would receive a better hearing in the world today because we are more civil and progressive. However, even today, there is “division among the people because of him.” Jesus is no more receivable today than He has been throughout history.

Just as the Jews and Greeks of the first century, many modern people have not found what they would like in Jesus Christ. They just cannot make the Christ of God to fit in their mold and so, significant revision is needed before their minds will rest from the question. And, there is no end of liberal theologians and scholars who work tirelessly to revise and upgrade Jesus to suit the tastes of modern man.

No matter how hard you might try, you just cannot ignore Him. However, we do not define Jesus and we do not put Him into any sort of a mold. He defines us and puts us into His mold. “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44).

The question of who Jesus is, is not decided, it is revealed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God . . . flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17). “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22). “But when it pleased God . . . To reveal his Son in me” (Galatians 1:15-16).

The question of what to do with Jesus is not decided, it is commanded: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

John 1:16

“And of his fulness have all we received,
and grace for grace.”

~ John 1:16

Before us is a short verse that is long on precious truth. In the previous verse, The Baptist exalts Christ declaring, “For he was before me.” John was six months older than Jesus was by birth. However, John is exalting Christ’s deity and eternality by saying, “He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.”

He continues in the sixteenth verse by declaring Jesus to be the possessor of Divine fullness and the source of “grace and truth.” He points to the Lamb of God as the benevolent Savior conferring His grace unto “as many as received him.” Let us now consider this verse and rejoice in the grace of Christ.

Firstly, we behold the fullness of Christ. The fourteenth verse reveals that He is “full of grace and truth.” In the epistle to the Colossians we are told, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). We also read that “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). These are truly “unsearchable riches.” In Him are all things that we could ever need or want. In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Nowhere could we go and find the treasure we have in our Savior. Paul consoled the Philippians saying, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Secondly, there is mention of the benefactors of the Divine fullness in Christ. “And of his fulness have all we received.” There is no doubt this refers to the saints, to “as many as received him,” and whose “life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Jesus delights to do the will of the Father and thereby confers grace upon all the chosen people of God. He reveals this part of His divine mission when praying to the Father in John chapter 17 verses 2 and 3.

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

This truth is a source of comfort and warms our hearts.

Thirdly, it is intimated what we have received. “Grace for grace.” Some of the old commentators saw it as grace on top of grace. We could see it as a wonderful wall of grace. Upon the foundation of truth is laid stone upon stone of grace. It is daubed with the mortar of mercy and love and is completely covered by the blood. We receive grace and “more grace.” We read of God’s mercies, “They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). Whatever our condition, God extends grace, new and sufficient. We fly to Him in prayer. We cast all of our care upon Him. We spread our petitions before His throne and find a “throne of grace.” Praise God! For out “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

We also find here a progression or growth of “grace for grace.” We have received grace and exercised grace. We are not receivers only; we are to be givers as well. Jesus said, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). In other words, we receive grace in order to practice grace. As we grow in grace, we become measured reservoirs of grace that should flow out to others. We do not find Christ in the Gospels doing works for self-aggrandizement or for His own personal benefit. In the wilderness, He would not go beyond God’s command nor use His creative power to relieve His hunger with stones turned to bread. Likewise, we do not receive of Christ to exalt ourselves or benefit ourselves. The words of Him who came to minister are, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). If we are self-absorbed and self-important, the mind of Christ is not in us. We have received “grace for grace.”

I conclude that there is much here to comfort us and humble us as well. Later, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). An increase of grace means a decrease of self. Oh for increasing Christians today–increasing in grace, increasing in love, increasing in service! Oh for decreasing Christians today–decreasing in self, decreasing in worldliness, decreasing in pride, decreasing in sin. I pray that Christ will dwell in us richly and that He alone will be magnified in our life.

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