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As there was at this time a general expectation of trie Messiah among the Jews, several persons had assumed that character; such as Theudas and Judas Gaulonites, and perhaps others : but Jesus here declares that they had no claim to it, and that they came for their own private ends, and that good men did not listen to their pretensions, but only persons of the same selfish character with themselves.
g. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, not any man, but any sheep, he shall be saved,it will be safe,” and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
He that enters into the kingdom of heaven by me, may esteem himself as secure as the sheep which is under the care of the shepherd, and which goes to the fold and returns from it, and finds pasture.
10. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, rather, “ that they," i. e. the sheep, "might have abundance.”
Jesus still speaks of himself as a shepherd, and his followers as sheep. Others, says he, who have come in the character of shepherds, have rather deserved the names of robbers; for they have come to them for their own private ends, to plunder the sheep, or to take away their lives; but I am come to preserve their lives, and that they may have abundance of every thing which they want. In the preceding verse he had said that he was the door, and that whosoever entered by him should be saved, or safe, and should go in and out and find pasture; bere he repeats the same thing, with some variety of language; for he says
that he came that they might have life, and might have abundance.
Jl. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life, “ exposeth his life,” for the sheep,
That this is the meaning of Christ's language is evident, from what he says of the hireling in the next verse.
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.
13. The hireling fleeth, because he : is an hireling and careth not for the sheep.
As the owner of the sheep will expose his life in their defence, because they are his property, but the shepherd, who is paid for his service, only consults his own safety when they are in danger, and leaves them to be devoured by wild beasts; so is the case in respect to me and other persons, who have lately claimed, or may hereafter claim, the character of shepherds. When threatened with danger, they desert their followers and the cause in which they were engaged: on the contrary, I hazard my life for their benefit, and shall in reality lose it in their service. This seems to be the meaning of these verses. The pretensions of Christ to be a divine messenger had been denied by the Jews, who examined the miracle performed on the man restored to sight: this circumstance might appear to some, who were disaffected towards him, as an imputation upon his character, and to his disciples a source of griet; but he obviates the apprehensions of
the one and of the other, by observing, in the next verse, that there were some who acknowledged his pretensions, and that he knew what kind of persons they were: with their approbation he was satisfied.
14. I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep, and am known of mine,
To be esteemed by men, however, was not all the honour he possessed : he enjoyed also the approbation of God, and was acquainted with his counsels, particularly with the purposes which he proposed to answer by the death of his son.
15. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.
The sheep of another fold are persons who did not belong to the Jewish nation, or Gentiles: they would listen to Christ, when preached to them by his apostles.
And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
That is, they shall be no longer two separate bodies, under the direction of different masters, as at present, but shall be united together in one body, under me their spiritual leader and guide.
17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again, rather, “ that I may receive it again.”
The phrase used in our version, take it again, seems to imply. that Christ was active in recovering life; whereas the original implies no more than receiving life again, without determining whether it be accomplished by the person spoken of, or by another; although common sense leads us to understand it in the latter sense ; for nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that a person once dead can restore himself to life. Christ has justly said that the Father loved him, because he laid down his life for the sheep; because nothing could be a higher instance of obedience to his will, or a stronger proof of benevolence to mankind, even although he had the prospect of receiving it again.
18. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power, “ I have authority,” for so the word always signifies *, to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again : this commandment have I received of my Father, that is, the quthority before mentioned,
To the proof that Christ had before given of his being a good shepherd, from his laying down his life for the sheep, it might be objected, that it was taken from him by force, and that his death was unavoid. able, and had in it, therefore, no merit. This objection he obviates by saying that he laid down his life voluntarily, having authority from God to do so, as well as to resume it. Our Lord's meaning in this passage is illustrated by what he says to Peter, when he employed his sword for defending his master, Matt. xxvi. 53, “ Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” meaning that he had it in his power to avoid death by the assistance of his Father, if he had been disposed to avail himself of it, which is what he intimates, although more obscurely, in this verse. The language of Jesus upon this occasion was so unintelligible to many of the Jews, who had hitherto followed him, that they concluded he was mad, and that what he spoke was the effusion of phrenzy; others, however, could see in his language no evidence of insanity.
* Porter's Defence of Unitarianism, p. 123, &c. Letters to Dr. Randolph, p. 133, &c.
19. There was a division, therefore, again among the Jews for these sayings,
20. And many of them said, He hath à dæmon, and is mad; why hear ye him?
This verse affords a plain proof that persons who were deemed mad among the Jews were said to have a dæmon; other disorders, however, such as the epilepsy, were attributed to the same cause.
21. Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a dæmon, they contain no evidence of madness, Can a dæmon open the eyes of the blind ?
Besides the good sense which appears in his language, he has wrought a miracle, which could not be the work of a dæmon.
1. Let Christians rejoice in the well founded claim which their master has to the character of the good shepherd: he conducts them in a safe way ; provides pasture for their support; values their interests as much or inore than his own; and, where it is necessary