Lesson 70

John 10

“Lesson 70: John 10,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Jesus taught that He is the Good Shepherd and that He would lay down His life for His sheep. He also testified that Heavenly Father had given Him power over death. Some people accused Jesus of blasphemy for proclaiming that He was the Son of God.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 10:1–24

Jesus teaches that He is the Good Shepherd and will lay down His life for His people

Invite a student to come to the front of the class. Blindfold the student, and then gather several sets of scriptures, including the blindfolded student’s set. Ask the blindfolded student to feel each set of scriptures and try to determine which set belongs to him or her. After the student attempts this, ask:

  • Why were you able (or unable) to determine which is your set of scriptures?

  • If I asked you to feel each of your classmates’ faces, how many do you think you could correctly identify? (Do not ask the student to actually do this.)

Invite the student to remove the blindfold and return to his or her seat. Explain that a shepherd in the Middle East was once asked how well he knew his sheep. He responded, “If you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put my hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not” (G. M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs [n.d.], 35).

  • If you were a shepherd, what do you think it would take to know the sheep in your flock as well as this shepherd did?

Invite students to read John 10:14 silently, looking for what Jesus called Himself. Ask them to report what they find. Write the following statement on the board: Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.

  • Why do you think “the good shepherd” is an appropriate title for the Savior?

Encourage students to look for truths as they study John 10 that teach us how the Savior is our Good Shepherd.

To help students understand the cultural setting of John 10:1–5, explain that in the Savior’s day, shepherds led their flocks to food, water, and shelter during the day. At night, several shepherds gathered their individual flocks into a common sheepfold. A sheepfold is a cave or enclosure surrounded by rock walls that have sharp thorns placed along the top to prevent wild animals from entering.

Divide students into pairs. Invite each partnership to read John 10:1–5 aloud together, looking for what a good shepherd does. After sufficient time, invite a few students to report what they found. Write their answers on the board under Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. (Answers might include the following: He enters by the door, He calls His sheep by name, and He goes before His sheep.)

  • According to verse 3, how did the shepherd lead his sheep out of the sheepfold?

  • According to verses 4–5, why would the sheep follow only their shepherd?

  • What did the Savior call those who tried to enter the sheepfold by ways other than the door?

Explain that the Pharisees were among the group of people Jesus was speaking to (see John 9:41).

  • How were the Pharisees like thieves, robbers, and strangers in a sheepfold?

Invite students to read John 10:6 silently, looking for the Pharisees’ response to the Savior’s teaching. Ask them to report what they find.

Explain that as recorded in John 10:7–16, the Savior continued teaching about the differences between Himself and the Pharisees. Invite a student to read verses 7–10 aloud, including the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 8, footnote a. Ask students to follow along, looking for Jesus’s teachings in these verses.

  • What additional insight about the thieves does the Joseph Smith Translation of verse 8 give?

  • What do you think the Savior meant when He said, “I am the door” (verses 79)?

Explain that “shepherds in Israel stood at the entrance of the sheepfold and inspected each sheep as it entered, treating injuries as needed. After the sheep were gathered in the sheepfold for the night, the shepherd would lie down to sleep in the entrance, barring the way so predators or thieves could not hurt the sheep” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 231–32).

  • How are these shepherds’ actions similar to what the Savior does for us?

  • How do you think the Savior gives life “more abundantly” (John 10:10) to those who follow Him?

Invite a student to read John 10:11–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else the Savior said good shepherds do. Point out that a hireling is someone whose primary motive for working is merely to get paid.

Invite a few students to come to the board and to write anything else they found about the Good Shepherd under Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. (Answers might include the following: He gives His life for His sheep, He knows His sheep, and He is known by His sheep.)

  • What is a shepherd willing to do that a hireling is not?

  • What truth can we learn about the Savior from these verses? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: As the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ knows each of us and laid down His life for us. Write this truth on the board under Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.)

Remind students of the Middle Eastern shepherd who knew each of his sheep so well.

  • How well do you think the Savior knows you?

  • How might the way you live each day be affected by understanding that the Savior knows you and was willing to lay down His life for you?

Explain that after He taught that He would lay down His life for us, the Savior indicated something else He would do. Invite a student to read John 10:16 aloud. Ask the class to look for what else the Savior said He would do for His sheep (meaning His people).

  • What did the Savior say He would do for His sheep?

  • What does this verse indicate about the location of His sheep?

Explain that the Savior was teaching the Jews in Jerusalem that He would visit God’s children in other lands, teach them His gospel, and bring them into His fold (His Church). Explain that the Book of Mormon sheds light on this verse.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 15:15–17, 21; 16:1–3. You may want to suggest that students write this reference in the margin of their scriptures next to John 10:16 or that they mark verse 16, footnote a.

  • How do these verses help us better understand John 10:16? (The “other sheep” refer to the Nephites and lost tribes, not the Gentiles.)

Ask students to read John 10:17–18 silently, looking for a doctrine about the Savior. Invite them to report what they find. (Students may use different words but should identify the following doctrine: As the literal Son of God, Jesus Christ had power to lay down His life and take it up again. Encourage students to mark the words that teach this doctrine in these verses.)

  • Why did the Savior have both the ability to die and the ability to rise again after dying? (From His mother, Mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the capacity to die. From Elohim, His Father, He inherited immortality, the power to live forever. Thus, He had inherited the abilities to die and to rise again, which were necessary for Jesus to be able to perform the Atonement. [See the lesson on Matthew 1–2.])

Summarize John 10:19–24 by explaining that after the Savior had taught these things, the people were divided in their opinions about who Jesus was. They approached Jesus at the temple and pressured Him to proclaim His true identity as the Christ.

John 10:25–42

Jesus proclaims that He is the Son of God

Invite another student to come to the front of the class. Blindfold the student, and then instruct several other students to take turns saying a certain word (for example, “shepherd”). Ask the blindfolded student to listen to each person saying the word and determine whether he or she can recognize who is speaking by that person’s voice.

  • Why might some voices be easier to recognize than others?

Instruct the student to remove the blindfold and to return to his or her seat. Invite a student to read John 10:25–30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s response to the people’s request to tell them whether He was the Christ.

  • How did the Savior describe His sheep? (The Savior’s sheep hear His voice and follow Him.)

  • According to verse 28, what will those who hear the Savior’s voice and follow Him receive?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that if we come to know the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow Him, He will lead us to eternal life. Write this principle on the board under Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in the margin of their scriptures next to John 10:27–28.)

Remind the class of the second blindfolded student and his or her ability to recognize classmates’ voices.

  • What can we do to come to know the Savior’s voice? (See also D&C 18:34–36.)

  • What have you done to become more familiar with the Savior’s voice?

  • In what ways can we show that we follow the Savior?

Give students time to ponder how they can better hear the Savior’s voice and follow Him. In their scripture study journals, invite them to write either (1) a goal to listen more carefully for the Savior’s voice and specific ways they will do so or (2) a goal to better follow His voice and how they plan to do so.

Summarize John 10:31–42 by explaining that after the Savior testified that He and His Father are one, the Jewish leaders sought to stone Him for blasphemy. However, He responded to their accusation by quoting Psalm 82:6, which reads, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are the children of the most High.” The Savior then asked the Jews why they accused Him of blasphemy when He said He was the Son of God, given that the scriptures say we are children of God and can be gods ourselves.

Conclude by testifying of the truths and principles taught in John 10 and by encouraging students to apply them.

Commentary and Background Information

John 10:30. “I and my Father are one”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified the meaning of the declaration that the Savior is one with His Father:

“Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” [Articles of Faith 1:1]. We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true” (“The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 40).

Elder B. H. Roberts of the Presidency of the Seventy helped us understand the Savior’s logic in refuting the Pharisees who accused Him of blasphemy:

“Let it be observed that in the above conversation when Jesus was accused of making himself God, he did not deny the charge; but on the contrary, called their attention to the fact that God in the law he had given to Israel had said to some of them—‘ye are Gods.’ And further, Jesus argued, if those unto whom the word of God came were called Gods in the Jewish law, and the scripture wherein the fact was declared could not be broken, that is, the truth denied or gainsaid [declared untrue or invalid]—why should the Jews complain when he, too, that is Christ, who had been especially sanctified by God the Father, called himself the Son of God?” (New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [1909–11], 1:465–66).

John 10:27. “My sheep hear my voice … and they follow me”

President Harold B. Lee taught about various ways we can hear the Savior’s voice:

“If we will live worthy, then the Lord will guide us—by a personal appearance, or by His actual voice, or by His voice coming into our mind, or by impressions upon our heart and our soul. And oh, how grateful we ought to be if the Lord sends us a dream in which are revealed to us the beauties of the eternity or a warning and direction for our special comfort. Yes, if we so live, the Lord will guide us for our salvation and for our benefit” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 51–52).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about how we can follow the Savior:

“How do we follow the Savior? By exercising faith. By believing in Him. By believing in our Heavenly Father. By believing that God speaks to man on earth today.

“We follow the Savior by repenting of our sins—by experiencing sorrow because of them and forsaking them.

“We follow the Savior by entering the waters of baptism and receiving a remission of our sins, by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and allowing that influence to inspire, instruct, guide, and comfort us.

“How do we follow the Savior? By obeying Him. He and our Heavenly Father have given us commandments—not to punish or torment us, but to help us come to a fulness of joy, both in this life and for the eternities to come, worlds without end” (“Follow Me,” Ensign, May 2002, 16–17).