(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
(4). The Sinfulness Of The Pharisees Exposed By Jesus
Jesus continues His teaching in the Temple, on the subject of verse 19 – “You do not know me or my Father” – by His words recorded in verse 21: “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”, they would not be able to find Him because they refused to believe His claim to be the Son of God, thus they would “die in their sins” and not be able to go where He would be. Because they did not understand that Jesus was speaking about His Father, Jesus told them “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me….” adding that His Father had not left Him alone to face His enemies because he was always obedient to His father .
Jesus then introduces another fact – “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – causing the Jews to respond that they were not slaves to anyone because as Abraham’s descendants they were free people: Jesus’ reply was “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” ; continuing to add that if they were Abraham’s children they would conduct themselves as such and not be agents of the devil. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” adding that those who are God’s children act upon what God says .
This then leads to their accusation that Jesus was a Samaritan and demon-possessed; Jesus’ response to this is that He respects His father while they dishonour Him, and brings the discussion back to His opening statement by saying “…if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” causing the Jews to further insist that Jesus was demon-possessed citing that if Abraham and the prophets were all dead, how could Jesus claim that He and His followers would not die, questioning if Jesus was superior to Abraham and the prophets. Jesus’ response to this caused the Jews to be more furious – “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad. “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” , Jesus did not say “I was”, or “I will be”, but “I Am” and they knew immediately that He made Himself equal with God .
(5). The Healing Of The Man Blind From Birth
Again the question of “who sinned” arises as a man blind from birth is seen along the way Jesus and His disciples walked through the city. The religious leaders and teachers of the Jews had developed the teaching that where there was death and or suffering it was the result of the sin of the person or the parents, so this is the question presented by the disciples. Jesus then responds that the man’s blindness “happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” .
Here, the man’s blindness would be used to illustrate the spiritual condition of the Scribes and Pharisees, and all those who refuse enlightenment by the “light of the world” . The Lord Jesus had declared previously that He was the light of the world, and that those who submit to Him would not walk in the darkness of sin that all mankind has inherited ; also expressed by the prophet Isaiah as the darkness that covered the land .
The Lord Jesus thus declares that “we must do the work” of God while it is “day” for the time would come when the “light”would depart this earthly scene : although the A.V. reads “I must do…” it is better reflected in the NIV as “we must”, since we are now the light of the world as we reflect the glory of God to those around us in our world . The Lord Jesus then performs the miracle of healing the man’s blindness, but the man first of all had to exercise faith in Jesus’ command to him – “Go..wash in the Pool of Siloam” ; whereupon, the man exercising his faith went and washed as Jesus had commanded him and “came home seeing”, and in the verses that follow we see the man testifying to his healing to the scribes and Pharisees and all others who would listen. This is precisely what occurs to each of us who have been spiritually enlightened by the “light of the gospel of salvation” – we cannot but tell of the marvellous grace of God in saving us of our sins.
The Pharisees, however, because of their blindness and refusal to be enlightened, attempt to disconcert the man’s faith by threats of excommunication from the synagogue and declared that Jesus was a sinner; this caused the man to respond that “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” . And so even today mankind refuses to acknowledge who the Lord Jesus Christ is, and as the man responded to the criticisms of the Pharisees – “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.” we too are faced with those critics who refuse the “light of the world” – God has opened our eyes, and He will open the eyes of all those who recognize their spiritual blindness, . The Pharisees then “threw him out” of the synagogue, just as we today who testify of God’s grace are shunned and excommunicated by our ungodly friends and associates.
Finally, the Lord Jesus confirms the man’s faith and pronounces a condemnation upon those who claim that they “can see” because their guilt remains in that they are spiritually blind. Jesus declares that – “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” <v. 39> – those who claim to “see “show by their actions the evidence of their spiritual blindness.
(6). The Good Shepherd
Here we find an allegory in which the Lord Jesus portrays Himself as The Good Shepherd in contrast to the hostile Pharisees. The work of the shepherd was fully understood by the people considering the fact that most were shepherds or were familiar with shepherding. The difference between the Good Shepherd and the false shepherd is that the Good Shepherd would give His life for the safety of the sheep.
This allegory is based on the principles of the O.T. teaching that God Himself was the Shepherd of Israel; and that great responsibility was given to the leaders of God’s people to act as shepherds of God’s flock, in which they had failed miserably . God had promised to send One Shepherd to care for His sheep <Ezek. 34:23.
The Lord Jesus begins by stating that there is only one valid entrance to the sheep pen , and that anyone who enters by another way was only a thief and a robber, likewise there is only one way to enter God’s holy dwelling place . The true Shepherd enters only through the gateway to the sheep pen and the “watchman”(the person in charge of the sheep pen) allows him to enter, and the sheep listens for the voice of the shepherd. The true Shepherd then calls His sheep by their names and leads them out and “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” . The shepherd of Palestine always leads his sheep, he never drives them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and would never follow the voice of a stranger. The shepherd would then lead his flock to the green pasture lands .
Receiving their attention, the Lord Jesus then describes to the people who the real Shepherd is and the difference between the real Shepherd and the false shepherds; another illustration to which the people and the Pharisees could identify.
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” , The Lord Jesus is here declaring that He is the only “way” for anyone to enter God’s “spiritual pasture” and find the true satisfaction to life . “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Here is laid out the difference – the false shepherd is only interested in himself and his gain from the sheep; the true Shepherd will ensure that the sheep will not be killed but that they will enjoy life “to the full”and this would be guaranteed by the true Shepherd Himself . “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – the Lord Jesus now declares Himself to be the true Shepherd that was promised and states that the only way for the sheep to enjoy life to the full will be in view of the fact that He would lay His life down for the sheep. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” and “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice…” The Good Shepherd will not only give His life for the sheep in God’s sheep pen, He will also give His life for “other sheep” that are not of God’s sheep pen. God will include all gentile people with his earthly people (the Jews) . It should be noted here, however, that the Good Shepherd will lay His own life down . “I lay down my life– only to take it up again.” – not only would the Good Shepherd lay His own life down, He would take it up again; this is the only way that our salvation could be completed, because the sacrifice must be accepted and be approved by God, and this “laying down” and “taking up” would be God’s acceptance and approval of the sacrifice of the Good Shepherd and this was also God’s plan for the redemption of mankind hinted in many O.T. passages .
Here we see both the love of the Father and the love of The Son for mankind. There was no other way for the lost sheep of Israel, and the lost sheep of all the gentile nations, to be redeemed back to God, and to enjoy life to its fullest, but through the sacrifice of the Good Shepherd. He laid down His life of His own free will, and took it up again when He was raised from the dead by His Father who approved and accepted His sacrifice so that all who believe and accept His offer of salvation will find spiritual pasture in God’s sheep pen.