But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
As the Father knows Me, even so I know 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 will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
No one takes 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 command I have received from My Father.”
[John 10:12-18 NKJV]
Previously whenever I have talked of this passage, it has been in relation to William Holman-Hunt’s famous painting (shown above), which in itself is a sermon on John 10:12-18. We see that Jesus is not done with His shepherd/sheep metaphor yet.
A hireling is someone taken on to do menial work for (usually) poor wages. Consequently, the work is not done well, and as we see in the painting, the hireling's mind is rarely on the job he (or she) was hired to do. For the hireling, his own needs and desires are paramount; therefore - Jesus says - I need to look to and trust only Him. Who does the hireling represent spiritually? Anyone who would have me believe that he has my best interests at heart, but who is not Jesus.
'I lay down My life'
Only twice in The Bible, is Jesus quoted as saying 'I lay down My life'. Both times in John chapter 10. In John 13, the idea recurs, but then it is Peter saying it to Jesus. Because 'two' represents 'a witnessing' - God the Father is the one true God; Jesus is the Son, the second part of God, who witnesses to The Father, Who in turn witnesses to His Son ("This is My Beloved Son in whom I AM well pleased").
The Bible repeatedly witnesses to itself - the Old and New Testaments witness to each other - to be fulfilled in the Third Testament, which is the life of The Lord being fulfilled in His People. Here Jesus is stating His relationship with The Father; that His life is not His own, His life belongs to The Father.
Twice, Jesus says 'I lay it [His life] down' and twice 'take it again'; witnessing once more to the power invested in Him by The Father. This is an amazing statement - no wonder sceptics saw His words as blasphemy.
'there will be one flock and one shepherd'
This too is a statement of witness. Just as mentioned above about the testifying relationship between The Father and The Son, there will be the same relationship between Jesus and The Church of God. This is not a matter of doctrine or choice of denominational understanding, it is a simple relationship.
Thus, this exposition of Jesus 'witness statement' has taken longer to explain than Jesus' far better original.
Jesus says there are times when our Heavenly Father will appear as if He were a most unnatural father, callous and indifferent. But remember says Jesus, I have told you — ‘everyone who asks receives.’
When we get into spiritual confusion the usual way out is to say we have made a blunder, and we go back instead of forward. “I don’t know what to do;,I am up against a stone wall.” Will you ‘hang in’ to what Jesus said? If there is a shadow on the face of God the Father just now, remain confident that ultimately He will give you His clear issue as Jesus said.
It is not a question of black or white, or right or wrong, of being in communion or out of communion; but a question of God taking us by a way which in the meantime we do not understand.