Jesus taught that He is the Good Shepherd and that He would lay down His life for His sheep. Some people accused Him of blasphemy because He proclaimed that He was the Son of God.
If you were blindfolded and were asked to identify the members of your family or some close friends by touching their faces, do you think you could do it? If your mother was blindfolded, do you think she could identify all her children by only touching their faces?
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” (quoted in 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 that shepherd did?
Read John 10:14, and think about why Jesus would call Himself the Good Shepherd. Write the following statement in your scripture study journal: Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. As you study John 10, look for truths that teach us how the Savior is our Good Shepherd. Write these truths under this statement in your journal.
Those who listened to Jesus’s teachings recorded in John 10 knew about sheep, shepherds, and sheepfolds. 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 an enclosure surrounded by rock walls that have sharp thorns placed along the top to prevent wild animals and thieves from entering.
Read John 10:1–5, looking for what a good shepherd does. Write what you find under the statement “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd” in your scripture study journal.
John 10:3 describes how each shepherd would enter through the door and call his sheep by name. Only the sheep of his flock would follow him out of the sheepfold, and the other sheep would remain.
Why would the sheep follow only their shepherd?
Notice in verses 1 and 5 what the Savior called those who tried to enter the sheepfold by ways other than the door.
It may be helpful to note that Pharisees were among the group of people to whom Jesus was speaking (see John 9:40). In what ways were many of the Pharisees like thieves, robbers, and strangers?
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheepfold.
What do you think the Savior meant when He said “I am the door” in verses 7 and 9?
“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 enclosure 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?
Read John 10:11–15, looking for what else the Savior said good shepherds do. (A hireling is someone whose primary motive for working is merely to get paid.) Write what you find out about good shepherds under the statement “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd” in your scripture study journal.
Notice in John 10:11, 13, 15 what the good shepherd is willing to do that the hireling is not.
John 10:11–15 teaches us that as the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ knows each of us and laid down His life for us. Write this principle under “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd” in your scripture study journal.
Recall what the shepherd in the Middle East said about how well he knew each of his sheep, and answer the following questions on a new page in your scripture study journal:
How well do you think the Savior knows you? Why do you think this is important to understand?
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?
After teaching that He would lay down His life for us, the Savior indicated something else He would do. Read John 10:16, looking for what else the Savior said He would do for His sheep (meaning His people).
In John 10:16 the Savior was teaching the Jews in Jerusalem that He would visit Heavenly Father’s children in other lands, teach them His gospel, and bring them into His fold (His Church). The Book of Mormon gives more information about this verse. Read 3 Nephi 15:14–24, and consider writing this reference in your scriptures next to John 10:16, or mark John 10:16, footnote a. Also consider writing the cross-reference John 10:16 next to 3 Nephi 15:14–24.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do these verses in the Book of Mormon help us better understand John 10:16?
Read John 10:17–18, looking for a doctrine about the Savior.
Finish the following phrase to identify this doctrine: As the literal Son of God, Jesus Christ had power to . Consider marking the words that teach this doctrine in these verses.
From His mother, Mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the ability to die. From Elohim, His divine Father, He inherited immortality and the power to live forever. Therefore, He had inherited the abilities to die and to rise again. This was necessary for Jesus to be able to perform the Atonement.
In John 10:19–24 we learn that after the Savior had taught these things, the people were divided in their opinions about who Jesus was. They approached Jesus in the temple and pressured Him to proclaim His true identity as the Christ, or Messiah.
Think of some of the people you come in contact with every day, and try to remember what their voices sound like. Why might some voices be easier for you to recognize than others?
Read John 10:25–27, looking for how the Savior responded to the people’s request to tell them whether He was the Christ. You may want to mark what determines whether someone is one of the Savior’s sheep.
President Joseph F. Smith gave the following explanation of how They are one: “Jesus and his Father … are one in knowledge, in truth, in wisdom, in understanding, and in purpose; just as the Lord Jesus himself admonished his disciples to be one with him, and to be in him, that he might be in them. It is in this sense that I understand this language, and not as it is construed by some people, that Christ and his Father are one person. I declare to you that they are not one person, but that they are two persons, two bodies, separate and apart, and as distinct as are any father and son” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 357).
Read John 10:28–30, looking for the blessing that will be given to those who hear the Savior’s voice and follow Him.
These verses teach us that if we come to know the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow Him, He will lead us to eternal life. Write this principle in your scripture study journal under “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.” You might also want to write or note it in your scriptures next to John 10:27–28.
Ponder each of the following questions:
What have you done to become more familiar with the Savior’s voice?
What can you do to come to know the Savior’s voice better?
What have you been prompted to do in your life to better follow the Savior?
On a separate piece of paper, write either (1) a goal to listen more carefully for the Savior’s voice and specific ways you will do so, or (2) a goal to better follow His voice and how you plan to do so. Place your goal somewhere you will see it and be reminded to work on it.
John 10:31–42 records that after the Savior testified of the relationship between Him and His Father, the Pharisees sought to stone Him for blasphemy. However, the Savior responded to their accusation by quoting from Psalm 82:6, which reads, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are the children of the most High” (see John 10:34). The Savior then asked the Jews why they would accuse Him of blasphemy because He said He was the Son of God when the scriptures say that we are children of God and can be gods ourselves. He admonished them to believe in Him and His works, which testify of Him and the Father who sent Him.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 10 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: