Enter subtitle here
1 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.
The place where the sheep are collected and defended -- principally required at night. Paul says: "The night is far spent: the day is at hand." We are at no loss to recognise the night. It is now, while darkness prevails over all the earth in consequence of the hiding of the face of God (the glorious sun of the universe). During such a time, a fold for the sheep is necessary. If none had been provided, the sheep must have remained squandered and exposed to depredation and death.
Literally speaking, if God had made no arrangement for the spiritual development and nurture of men and women, barbarism must have prevailed for ever, as in the dark places of the African earth at the present day. The provision of sons and daughters must have remained an impossibility. But He has not left the earth in so hapless a state, His purpose being to fill the earth with His glory, in the sense of ultimately populating it with a race which should ascribe to Him the glory of His own works. He arranged for their development in the due measure required by that purpose at various times.
This arrangement, taking different forms at different times, according as His wisdom saw fit, took, in the days of Christ, the form of creating a community -- founding an ecclesia -- establishing a fold. This community by another figure is considered as a house or temple -- "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets; Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." By another figure, it is spoken of as a body of which Christ is the head. "There is one body," says Paul, "composed of many members."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
If we are justified in giving a specific application to this, we might fix on Moses as the porter in the first degree, and John the Baptist in the second degree. Both acted in the porter capacity to Christ.
As regards Moses, this may not be apparent on the first suggestion, but it will be found to be true. First, Jesus says, "He (Moses) wrote of me." Paul says, "Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we" (Heb. iii. 5). And again, "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ" (Gal. iii. 24). Again, "To him gave all the prophets witness" (Acts x. 43), and again, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4).
Thus Moses, in whom the Jewish leaders made their boast, -- the great pioneer of the (shortly-to-be-finished) work of God with Israel, was the great opener of the way for Christ, whom they rejected. Moses expressly told Israel (Deut. xviii, 18) that God would raise them up such an one to whom they would listen (which they had not done to Moses); and in all the laws and institutions delivered by his hand there was a shadowing of the glorious realities connected with this greater "prophet like unto Moses."
In the case of John the Baptist, the analogy to the porter is still more obvious. He stood at the very threshold of the work of Christ, calling direct attention to him, and introducing him to all in Israel who feared God. He was sent to "prepare his way." "He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light" (Jno. i. 8), and, having done his work, he announced: "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease."
He declared to them: "There standeth one among you whom ye know not. He it is that coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose; -- that he might be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptising with water."
John's work attracted great attention and exercised a powerful influence with the whole nation, as we saw in the chapter devoted to the consideration of that matter. To him Jesus appealed in confirmation of his own claims as the good shepherd.
"Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness to truth.... He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have greater witness than that of John; the works that my Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me" (John v. 33-36).
To Jesus, the good shepherd, the porter-ministry of John the Baptist (which was known to the hearers of Christ's discourse), opened the door of the sheepfold, in which they might have recognised an incontestable evidence of his claims.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29..
Question; So who is the porter in Matt 13:35
I know my sheep...
'...He is calling US by name. It is not a formal, standard, chilling, impersonal, blanket, form-invitation, but the warm, living, personal, individual approach of intimacy and love.
He knows and addresses each one separately and affectionately, as a close and beloved friend. He knows each one of us if we are his. He knows all our problems and hopes, our sorrows and our joys, as no human being of our acquaintance, however intimate, can possibly know them.
The personal relationship between the Shepherd and each sheep is the key to all the living power of the Gospel of Salvation. Salvation is a matter of personal communion and unity with Christ. We MUST establish that personal unity: everything depends upon it.
Christ must be real and close to us -- more real and more close and more intimate than any human relationship.
We must live constantly in the atmosphere of this close companionship -- always pausing to renew it as we awake each morning; always closing the day with thankful meditation on its blessings.
Bro Growcott -The Shepherd of the sheep.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
So many claim to be his sheep who refuse or neglect to "hear his voice" -- who ignore his testimony and instructions when they run counter to their own fleshly thoughts and desires.
But the true sheep are eager and anxious to learn and to conform to the holy spirit of his teachings. They freely recognize their helpless inability to direct their own steps unaided. Though the way he leads is narrow and hard, and many turn from it to the pleasant way of the flesh, the true sheep say with Peter --
"Where shall we go? Thou only hast the words of eternal life."
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
There are many, many voices calling to the sheep -- pleasant, and desirable, and wonderfully appealing voices. But there is one voice of the true Shepherd of Life, one gentle voice which says --
"Regardless of all your natural, animal feelings, THIS is the best, and highest, and most joyful way."
"He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 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" (Jno. x. 1-5). "This parable," we are told, "Jesus spake unto them, but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them." Presently, however, he explained, and anyone may understand who is capable of the necessary attention and discrimination. The explanation shows that Christ himself is the import of more than one feature of the parable. The sheep occupy a secondary place.
The parable itself was a literal truth apart from any spiritual application. Sheep-culture was a prominent occupation in the country as it is to tiffs day. It differed from modern sheep-raising as regards the domestic relations subsisting between the shepherd and the sheep. The sheep were provided with substantially-made folds, into which they were driven at night for safety from the wolves and other dangers. The fold had a solid entrance at which a porter waited, ready to deny entrance to those who were not entitled to it. The sheep-stealer did not present himself at the door, but clambered over some unprotected part of the wall. The lawful owner had no object in using any but the proper entrance. This owner also knew his own sheep as no western sheep-farmer knows his; and so intimate were the relations between them that they knew his voice and went after him when he called them to go forth upon the hill sides for pasture -- not driving but leading them. To the voice of a stranger they could not be made obedient. They scampered off at the unaccustomed tones.
These are facts in which Jesus asks us to recognise a figure of himself and his people. It is profitable to trace the correspondence and its nature. The thing signified is, of course, much higher than the figure; but there is an analogy which helps the understanding of the matter. There is a variety of points, but all are beautiful and instructive. There is the shepherd, the fold, the door, the porter, the sheep, the wolf, the hireling shepherd, the shepherd's voice, the listening flock, the shepherd's death in defence of the sheep.
The Shepherd. -- "I," says Jesus, "am the good shepherd." Here is the key of the parable. How simple, yet how much there is in it. For who is the "I?" "Who art thou, Lord?" "I am Jesus of Nazareth." But who is he? The Son of Mary (and therefore of Joseph, David, Abraham, Adam), but, which is of much more consequence (for there were plenty of that sort of no benefit to themselves or their kind) -- Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God -- begotten of the Holy Spirit, and therefore one with the Eternal Father, who sent him forth to be "righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption" to all who should receive him.
The Good Shepherd is God thus manifest in the flesh. It was not the first time the character had been so associated. It had been written (Isaiah xl. 10), "Behold the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him ... He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, &c." The Creator in Shepherd-manifestation by the Spirit: this is the glorious idea before us in the parable put forth by the son of David, in the hearing of an undiscerning audience in the Temple. Here are power and kindness in combination. You may have power without kindness, and kindness without power: and either or both without wisdom. But when the Creator of the ends of the earth steps into the arena, we have all in combination.
The wonderful phenomenon presented to view of a kind, strong, wise, unerring, Shepherd-man, in whom the Father dwells. When, in the history of heads and leaders was ever leader like this? Misguided indeed are the men who seek a head or leader among men. There is no master but Christ -- no shepherd but the good Shepherd. All before him, or after him (claiming the same position) are but thieves and robbers -- seeking their own advantage on the pretext of serving the sheep. This shepherd truly loves the sheep, and is able to save them, and will at last show his power and his kindness in gathering them from the dark mountains into his safe and loving fold, where they will hear his voice and live and rejoice in his presence for evermore.
Nazareth Revisited - Ch 28
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
The Porter is the Guardian of the Door: the Rejector of the Unfit: the Examiner and Approver of all who enter in. Basically, it is the Spirit of God, the Word, the Truth: but it takes various forms and manifestations.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
By Christ only, can we enter the sheep-fold. He immediately adds a comment to this effect: "By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." This is enough.
Men who work apart from Christ work without hope; that is, any hope they indulge must prove illusory. Men are naturally without hope, as Paul testifies in Eph. ii. 12. They are straying on the inhospitable mountains of sin-caused evil and death. Remaining there, they must perish. There is a fold in the mountains, entering which, there is safety. The door of this fold is Christ: and how we enter in was expounded by the apostles. It was their work to do so. The mode is too simple for most men.
It was defined by Christ himself in the memorable words about the Gospel which he addressed to the apostles before he sent them forth: "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved" (Mar. xvi. 16). What this double process of faith and baptism does for the believer is stated by Paul, in terms which can only be read with one meaning;
"As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. iii. 27).
When a man believes the Gospel apostolically delivered, and submits to the baptism apostolically enjoined, he enters in by the door of the sheep-fold.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.
The good shepherd
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
We see this by the fact that Jesus says (v. 7). "I am the Door," and in verse 11, "I am the Shepherd."
He is both. He is also the Sheep. He is everything. This is the first great lesson: HE IS EVERYTHING.
This is the ideal and conception to which we must gradually, painfully, stumblingly, but steadily shape our lives, so that we may, more and more peacefully, and truthfully, and understandingly, say with Paul --
"To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Until we have reached this point, we have not found peace. We are not, in the fullest sense, in the fold and of the sheep. We have not in the fullest sense, brought ourselves into a true, intimate, and saving relationship to the Good Shepherd --
"To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Bro Growcott - The Shepherd of the sheep.
12 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 nature of this animal is well known. He will stop at nothing in the gratification of his hunger, provided he runs no risk. He attacks the weak and shies at the strong.
In contrast to the sheep, he represents the rapacious character which is common in the world -- headstrong, unscrupulous, merciless men who will sacrifice everything but their own skins in the accomplishment of personal ends. They prefer the weak for their prey. Therefore, the sheep are their especial victims, because the true sheep are not given to fighting. "The wolf catcheth the sheep and scattereth them."
The wolf may be taken to represent any danger that arises to the sheep, but more particularly the one danger with which the name of the wolf is particularly associated in the sayings of Christ and the apostles -- the spiritual wolf. This wolf is given to disguises. If he came in his open character, the sheep would flee. So he puts on the fleece. He professes to be a true and humble sheep, and above all, tending sheep, a bell wether, a kind of shepherd sheep.
With holy tone and pious grimace, he gets on the weak side of his victims, and has them in his maw before they are aware, and feeds and feasts on them without them knowing it, for he has the art of magnetising his subjects so that they feel no pain in the process of deglutition, and see not that their bones and flesh are slowly disappearing down his gullet.
These are false teachers, clever men of shallow intellect and no conviction, who live by their wits in the religious realm. They have always been a numerous tribe, as at this day. Jesus foresaw their activity, and forewarned his disciples. "Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."
Paul also foretold their advent and success when the restraint of his presence should be removed: --
"I know this, that after my departing shall grevious wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Even of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts xx. 29, 30).
Elsewhere, he speaks of them as "evil men and seducers," who should "wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. iii. 13). By their ravages, the sheepfold of the apostolic age became emptied and desolate soon after the apostles' death. The fleece-clothed wolves "caught the sheep and scattered them,".
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
The apostles were not hirelings, nor the men who came immediately after them. They were men in earnest love with the work for Christ's sake, at the peril not only of their living, but of their lives, serving in the spirit enjoined by Peter, who said to them, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Pet. v. 2).
A hireling is a man who is paid for his job, and who works because he is paid, and ceases to work when he is not paid. This class of worker has been numerously developed by the clerical system. Paid work in spiritual things is liable to become poor Work and mercenary. Paul, who had a right to be maintained, refused on this ground, "lest the gospel of Christ should be hindered" (1 Cor. ix. 12).
He did not refuse occasional help, prompted by love and the appreciation of his labours (Phil. iv. 10-17). But he declined a set maintenance, as all wise men have done since his day. The hirelings have no objection to a set maintenance.
On the contrary, it is what they most particularly appreciate and aim to secure. The consequence is seen in what Jesus says happens in times of peril: "The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling and careth not for the sheep." When he sees the wolf coming in the shape of any danger, "he leaveth the sheep and fleeth."
How little he cares for the interests he professes to have in charge becomes apparent when he cannot turn them to his personal advantage. To be out of pocket or put up with disgrace is quite out of the line of what he feels himself called upon to submit to. This is quite beyond his calculations of prudence. The least smell of danger in this shape makes him look round for a decent pretext to get away.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
The typical characteristics of sheep are: helplessness, defenselessness, non-resistance, submission, complete dependence on the care of the Shepherd, and the need of leadership and guidance.
These characteristics are not what the world considers desirable, but they are the characteristics of wisdom and life for man in his weak, mortal state.
Sheep seem to be the animal most closely associated with man from the beginning, both practically and symbolically the one particularly and providentially provided to supply his needs in food and clothing, and also symbolically to fill his spiritual needs.
Although we are not specifically told at the time, from every consideration, and from the reference in Revelation to the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," it would seem clear that it was a lamb whose skin God used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, in token of the Great Sacrifice later to be made in the fulness of the times.
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
One Shepherd - My Sheep.
Apostolic succession, then, especially through such a channel [the clergy], is a mere figment of the carnal mind. The only succession of which any Scriptural idea can be formed is, the following in the steps of the apostles' faith, which no one, who understands the word of the kingdom, would affirm of the ecclesiastical guides of the people.
The power and the authority of the apostles died with them. Those who succeed to their faith are their successors only in this sense. Their word, which is also the Lord's word, dwells in such richly in all wisdom; and where the word of the Lord is found, there, by the belief of it, He dwells in the hearts of men.
When they work according to this word they and their Lord work together. But this is not peculiar to a ministerial class, but is common to all the Lord's people; for He is no respecter of persons. A successor to the faith of the apostles delights to feel he is a layman, that he is one of the flock, and the best of the sheep it contains, because his sole anxiety is to know and obey the Great Shepherd's voice (Heb. 13:20; John 10:27).
He is not a wolf, nor a dog, rending, and devouring, the flock, and investing himself with its wool; but one who would be the servant of the least, that he may be exalted to an unfading crown of glory, when the Good Shepherd shall appear to give life to all His sheep for evermore.
Elpis Israel - Ch2.1
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 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?
'...they objected to the idea of Yahweh having a son; and that son being a man; and that man consequently EIoahh or God. Hence, when Jesus asked them: "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?" They did not answer: "He is the Son of God" -- to have done so would have been to admit that he would be equal to God, which they considered blasphemy.
They, therefore, adhered to the fleshly view of the matter, and replied: "He is the Son of David." This was equivalent to saying that he was equal with David only; and consequently, not equal with Deity. But this position was pregnable, and easily turned.
Jesus saw their weakness, and immediately exposed it by inquiring: "How then doth David in spirit call him Adon (lord, superior, ruler, &c.,) saying: Yahweh said unto my Adon, Sit thou at my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Adon, how is he his son?" They could not answer this; "no man," says Matthew, "was able to answer him a word" (Chapter 22:41-46).
The point in this argument is a question of equality; and therefore of Deity, or of mere humanity. If Messiah were to have been simply son of David, then he would be equal in natural descent, and inferior in rank. If equal in natural descent he would have been no more than a son of Jesse; and if simply David's son, he would have been socially inferior, inasmuch as in society, and especially in Hebrew society, fathers take precedence of sons. This being admitted as contained in their premiss, upon what known principle could David speak of such a Messiah as his Adon or Sovereign Lord?
Here is a notably weak point in the Jewish understanding of the doctrine concerning the Messiah. As in the days of their fathers, so to the present time, "They judge after the flesh." They can only see in Christ a son of David, having no higher origin than blood, or the impulse of the flesh, or the will of man. They have no conception of a Christ, who should be formed by the Eternal Spirit from the substance descended from David, as Adam was formed by the same Spirit from the dust; and therefore generated by the will and power of Ail, still less did they see that such a Son of Power should become a son of a spirit-generation from among the dead.
The Jewish mind cannot penetrate "the veil of the covering"; so that all his reasonings begin and end in flesh, "which profits nothing." It is not to be wondered at, then, that the Jews, as Dr. de Lara says, "reject with scorn and ridicule the idea of God having a son; of coming down from heaven and enacting with the Virgin Mary the scene related by Luke." Their minds are so sensual and earthly that they cannot ascend to the contemplation of "heavenly things." What they know naturally, as brute beasts, of these things they can speak; but higher than flesh they cannot rise until the Lord shall come and take away the veil.
Phanerosis - Yahweh Manifested in a Son.
38 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.
In addition to miracles, Christ appealed to superhuman traits in his character, e.g., "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."
How forcible is it when the Bible is made to argue in this manner. Imagine (and it requires no great effort) the Bible reasoning: "If you will not believe my claim to be divine, if I appear simply human, if my narratives and revelations seem to you improbable, my teaching questionable, my prognostications unlikely, believe that I am true for my work's sake. Could unaided man have wrought what you see in me? Think of my fulfilled prophecy, as directly given; also as sets forth in my types; the examples and warnings contained in my records; the blessedness of my doctrine; my simplicity and sublimity; my purity and unity; my peerlessness!
If in the face of all this you still doubt, I am constrained to say that you would not believe though one rose from the dead."
The Christadelphian, March 1887. p105
Christ was ... a specially-created manifestation of the one true ever-existing God, upon whom God placed His Name, and through whom He spoke in self-manifestation to a fuller degree than ever before in angels.
Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim.