Yeshua is the Lamb, the Sheep Gate, and the Shepherd...
The text that follows is a continuation of the dialogue begun in the previous chapter. The nearest subjects are the Pharisees and crowd gathered following the healing of the man born blind. Therefore, the dialogue of verses 1-21 of chapter 10 occurs in Jerusalem and given the subject matter is a conversation that was probably held near to the sheep gate on the north side of the Temple complex on Mt Moriah (The Temple Mount).
Verse 21 brings to conclusion the events surrounding the healing of the man born blind and there is a significant gap in time between verse 21 and verse 22 which records a unique set of events that take place several months later during winter, at the time of Chanukah (Dedication).
In the interest of continuity, we should begin this chapter by repeating the last few verses of the previous chapter:
“39 And Yeshua said, “For a decree, judgment (krima[G]) I came into this world (kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]), so that those who do not see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may see with their eyes (blepo[G]), and that those who see with their eyes (blepo[G]) may become blind (tuphlos[H]).” 40 Those of the P’rushiym (Pharisees: chased ones) who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind (tuphlos[H]) too, are we?” 41 Yeshua said to them, “If you were blind (tuphlos[H]), you would have no sin (hamartia[G]); but since you say, ‘We see with our eyes (blepo[G]),’ your sin (hamartia[G]) remains (meno[G]).” (John 9:39-41)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (all) (lechem[H]), the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]) of the sheep (probaton[G]), but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]), that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]). 2 But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H], tara[A]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).
It seems likely, given the details concerning the events of the previous chapter and the subject matter of the dialogue that continues on from that chapter, that the present teaching is taking place somewhere in the vicinity of the sheep gate at the north entrance to the first century Temple complex in Jerusalem.
Yeshua continues to make a clear distinction between Himself and the accuser Satan. He is further illuminating the ideas of lineage, legitimacy, occupation, service, and authority. Some of those listening had already heard Him accuse the religious leaders of being children of the Devil. Here, Yeshua adds to the distinction between the children of God and the children of the fallen nature by using the shepherd and sheep analogy. The sheep are the children of Israel and from verse 16 onward by extension the believing children of humanity as a whole. The Good Shepherd is God, manifest as God with us the King Messiah Yeshua, Who has entered humanity and the people of Israel legitimately. The thief and robber is the “original murderer… the father of lies”, Satan, the Devil, Accuser of the people of Israel and of all humanity. The Shepherd seeks to save His sheep, whereas the robber seeks only to steel and destroy. Therefore, Satan is not the Shepherd of the sheep, but he is a false shepherd, like the many false shepherds he has influenced throughout the history of humanity and of Israel.
Yeshua has entered both the sin affected world and the tribe of Judah from God and through Miriyam (Mary), a daughter of Eve and of Israel. He has also been obedient to the Torah and its requirements in every way and has entered the courts of the Temple according to the appropriate protocol, speaking, working wonders and teaching in public where all can access his message and make a reasoned assessment of His authenticity. Therefore, Yeshua, born of a woman, has entered humanity and the Jewish people legitimately, through the appropriate gate as Shepherd (and Lamb for slaughter).
Satan, on the other hand, “a murderer from the beginning… the father of lies” and “a thief and robber”, seeks to deceive the sheep, God’s people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). Satan works in darkness, spreads lies, works lesser signs to seek his own glory rather than God’s. Satan does not keep Torah, nor does he follow religious protocol. Ultimately, Satan cannot be born of a woman because he has no creative authority, nor can the angelic mate with humanity (Matt.23:30, which also puts to death the foolish notion that the Nephilim are the progeny of angels and humans). The best he can hope for is to manipulate one born of a woman. Therefore, Satan has not entered through the door/gate of the human womb and has no legitimate right to exert authority as one who has entered through that gate.
It is interesting to note that the Greek kleptes which is used here to describe Satan, is the root for the modern English word kleptomania. Kleptes-mainesthai meaning “mad thief”. This word denotes a nature of theft that is beyond the thief’s ability to perceive the error of it. In other words, Satan is incapable of doing anything other than to steel, murder, lie and destroy, because it has become his nature. In addition, the Devil is here called a “thief… robber”, rather than one who has committed a theft or robbery. The former denotes nature, the latter an act of sin. Therefore, those who refuse Yeshua are children of the Devil by nature, whereas those who receive Yeshua become righteous in His nature and whilst we occasionally commit sin acts, it is no longer our nature to do so. This is why the Scripture says, “Through one sacrifice Messiah has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb.10:14)
1 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain,” The doubling of this firm agreement is a Hebraism that denotes a matter firmly established.
“…the one [it] (ekeinos[G]) who does not enter (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) through (dia[G]) the (ho[G]) way (derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H])” The one who doesn’t enter legitimately is the enemy of God and the accuser of humanity, the Devil. The gate is both literal and metaphorical.
These words are likely spoken near to the sheep gate, the gate through which the sacrificial animals were brought into the Temple complex. Yeshua, Who the Gospel writer calls “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” has probably entered through this gate many times in observance of the sacrificial rite and is perhaps even entering as He speaks these words, or has just entered and has begun to speak these words. Thus, “the Lamb” of God literally enters the sheep gate as a figure for what is to come, that is, His being led as a lamb to slaughter, sacrificed (crucified) for the sins of Israel and all humanity.
In the Hebrew text we read “the way of the gate”, making the way an intrinsic part of both the entering and the gate itself. In short, how one enters is as significant as the gate through which one enters. This is to do not only with action but also with the nature that fuels that action.
“…into the uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G]), of the sheep (probaton[G])” The Greek text here is fascinating. Note that the word used to refer to the sheep fold relates specifically to a walled area surrounding a house. Yeshua has probably just entered through the literal sheep gate, that gate being one of the entrances to the outer walled area that surrounds the House of God (the Temple). In fact, one of the Hebrew names for the Temple mount is “Har Beit” literally “Mountain House”.
The Aramaic text is also interesting “Men tara latyara” is a word play combing the like sounds of the Aramaic tara (gate) and tyara (sheepfold), literally “in a gate to the sheepfold”.
The false shepherds and teachers of Israel, like their father (Satan) were not willing to sacrifice themselves for the people. They preferred to enter through the more prestigious gates where they might be afforded honour and acclamation. Yeshua on the other hand was entering as a humble Galilean lamb through the gate that would lead to His slaughter, knowing that He would be despised and rejected.
“…but ascends, climbs up (anabaino[G]) from another place (allachothen[G]),” Notice that the evil one “ascends from another place”. Meaning that he [it] has not descended from above but has ascended from below. The thief and plunderer invades the city by scaling the walls.
“…that one [it] (ekeinos[G]) is a thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and a robber, plunderer, brigand [by nature] (lestes[G]).” This describes not only the actions of theft and plunder but also the nature of these things which denotes that they are attributes of the individual. The Devil, a murderer and a liar from the beginning, the father of lies, the language of lying being his native tongue. The thief is also a figure for false teachers.
According to our rabbis the difference between a thief and a robber was that the former stole a person’s property in secret while the latter stole a person’s property publicly (Maimon. Hilchot Genuba, c. 1. sect. 3.)
Therefore, in a world where secret theft is no longer frowned upon, public theft slowly becomes acceptable. We are seeing this very thing unfold in our time.
“…But he who enters (eiserchomai[G], yavo[H]) by the way (b’derekh[H]) of the door, gate, passage (thrua[G], ha-sha’ar[H]) is a shepherd (poimen[G], roeih[H]) of the sheep (probaton[G], hatzon[H]).” What beautiful redemptive irony. The Lamb Who enters the gate legitimately as a willing sacrifice is also the Shepherd Who seeks to protect and save His flock.
For further study regarding Yeshua as the Good Shepherd: John 21:15-17; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Exodus 3:1; 2 Sam. 5:2; Ezekiel 34:23, 37:24, Also compare Psalm 23, where God the Father (YHVH) is seen as the Shepherd. In addition compare the false shepherds of Israel Ezekiel 34:1-22; Acts 5:36-37.
3 To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens, and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]), and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G]) and leads them out (exago[G]). 4 When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them, and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).
“To this one (touto[G]) the doorkeeper, gatekeeper (thuroros[G]) opens” The ultimate Gatekeeper HaShem opens the gate to allow the true Shepherd Yeshua entry. Also, the watchmen assigned by HaShem upon the walls and at the gates of the city of Jerusalem, give entry to the legitimate Shepherd.
In particular the watchman assigned to the spiritual sheep gate, that being Yochanan (John) the immerser (Baptist), who, being born of the priestly line through his father Zechariah, may well have also come from the lineage of priests who were gatekeepers of the sheep gate, opens the gate to Yeshua and proclaims “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!”
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) hear (tishmanah[H]) his voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H])” The sheep are Israel, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen and from verse 16 onward by extension, all who might receive Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd. Note that “hearing” in Hebrew tishmanah, denotes receipt of sound, voice. It is an act rather than a passive ability to hear. Therefore, to hear means to receive and perceive the voice of the Shepherd (Yeshua). The sheep in question are those who God knows will receive their Shepherd.
“and he calls His own sheep (probaton[G]) by name (onoma[G])” To “call His own sheep by name” has great significance in Hebrew thought. The Biblical narrative observes the Hebrew naming practice in relationship to the birthing process. A Hebrew child is often named based on the circumstances of his or her gestation, birth or early childhood, as this process reveals figuratively the prophetic implications for the child’s life. Thus, Moses is named for his being “drawn out” of the deadly waters of the Nile river, and Yaakov is named for the gripping of his brother’s heel as he came forth from the birth canal, and so on. Therefore, calling His own sheep by name denotes a birth and prophetic calling on the lives of every one of those sheep. God, Who sees the end from the beginning has chosen the names of each sheep in the flock for the purposes of His glory, thus each sheep is “born from above”(John 3:3, 7).
“and leads them out (exago[G]). When He sends out (ekballo[G]) all his own (individually), He goes ahead, leading (poreuomai[G]) them,” The Shepherd does not send the sheep out vulnerable to the conditions outside the safety of the sheepfold, rather He leads them out. He is first to go out through the gate. He does not ask the sheep to do what He has been unwilling to do.
“and the sheep (probaton[G]) follow, join themselves to (akoloutheo[G]) Him because they see, perceive (eido[G]) His voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]).” Note that the sheep join themselves to the Shepherd, they don’t simply follow, they follow closely. The sheep “see”, that is they “perceive” the Shepherds voice, sound. This is outside of the reach of mere human intellect, it is a transcendent perception born of God because eyes can’t see sound, ears hear it. In first century Judaism “sight” relates to what is seen with the eyes both practically and spiritually and hearing to what is heard with the ears and spiritually speaking, that which is heard in the spirit. Therefore, when the writer of John’s gospel chooses the Greek eido to convey the idea of seeing the Shepherd’s voice, He is intentionally showing the sight in question to be a transcendent ability gifted of God and not achievable through human effort or natural ability.
5 Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow, not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G]), because they do not see, perceive (eido[G]) the voice, sound (phone[G], kol[H]) of one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]).” 6 This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.
“Therefore, one belonging to another [A stranger] (allotrios[G]) they will not follow not in the lest, but will flee (pheugo[G]) separating (apo[G]) themselves from that one [it] (autos[G])” Here the false one who climbs over the wall illegitimately seeking entry is said to belong to another, meaning that the intruder is not a Shepherd of God but of Satan. This speaks of a secondary figure, one who might seek to fool the sheep, a man (anti-Messiah: 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The sheep perceive the voice of the true Shepherd and are therefore unable to receive the false voice of the intruder. Stranger means not only a non-Jew but also one who holds to strange teaching, a Hebrew idiom denoting idolatry. We note the “strange fire” brought by the sons of Aaron and the punishment they received (Lev.10:1-2).It is important to note that at the time of this teaching there were certain illegitimate priests who had come from the Hasmonean dynasty and were not descendants of Zadok. In other words, there were priests at the time that were not descendants of Levi and therefore quit literally “belonged to another”, strangers from another tribe, some even being of mixed bloodlines.
“This parable, figure of speech (paroimia[G], mashal[H]) Yeshua spoke to them, but they did not understand, comprehend, learn [intellectually] (ginosko[G]) who it was that He had been speaking of.” Yeshua was using a familiar rabbinical method of teaching by using an everyday vocation as a mashal (teaching story) to illuminate a spiritual principal. The fact that some of those listening did not comprehend it intellectually shows that they were not seeking to perceive His words spiritually. It seems that they had already decided to assign Yeshua’s words to the domain of rambling nonsense. Therefore, they were unable to learn and could not perceive that the parable concerned Yeshua as Shepherd.
7 So Yeshua said to them again, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, I am (ena[A]) the door, opening, passage (ho thura[G], petach[H]) of the sheep, flock (probaton[G], ana[A]).
Seeing that many listening were not comprehending, perceiving, Yeshua returns to the Hebraic modus operandi of repetition and affirmation.
“I am the door” in the Greek is “I am the opening” in Hebrew. Yeshua has now identified Himself as the Lamb entering through the sheep gate as a willing unblemished sacrifice, the Shepherd entering the sheepfold with Divine authority by legitimate means, and now as the door/gate/opening itself, the means of entry into that walled space that surrounds the house (Temple) and protects the sheep. That same door/opening is also the means by which the sheep go out. Therefore, through Yeshua the Lamb and Shepherd, the chosen sheep come in and go out. They come in through Him and under His protection and they go out through Him and under His protection. He is speaking of His vicarious sacrifice which makes it possible for the sheep of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) to enter God’s everlasting Kingdom.
In the Aramaic text there is a word play using ena (I) and ana (flock) to denote Yeshua’s intrinsic connection to the flock for whom He is the gate (means of entry to God’s Kingdom).
8 All (individually) who came before Me are thieves, embezzlers [fig. false teachers] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) and robbers, plunderers, brigands [by nature] (lestes[G]), but the sheep (probaton[G]) did not hear, receive, accept (lo shamu[H]) them.
“All” means all who have come before Him claiming to be the Messiah. They were clearly not the Messiah but were false messiah’s manipulated by the evil one for the purpose of leading Israel astray. There were numerous would be messiah’s in the first century who lead failed revolts against the Roman occupation.
The text of Zechariah 11 alludes in part to the treatment of Yeshua the Shepherd at the hands of false shepherds:
“So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter.” -Zechariah 11:7-13 ESV
9 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G]) the door, opening (ho thura[G], ha-patach[H]); if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved (sozo[G]), and will go in and out and find pasture.
“I AM” is yet another statement of divinity. Yeshua is God with us.
Entering the sheepfold of God’s everlasting kingdom is only possible through the opening made through Yeshua’s blood. Thus the sheep who enter through Yeshua will never again be threatened by the wolf of sin or the lion of death.
The coming in and going out expresses the freedom afforded to every believer in God’s kingdom and speaks prophetically of that time yet future when the heavens and the earth will be renewed and God and the Lamb will dwell with humanity. At that time there will be no need for the sheep to remain behind walls of protection because they will never be threatened again.
At this point Yeshua is speaking specifically to the sheep of the sheepfold of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel, the Jewish people. It is only later that He will widen His message to include the sheep that are not of the sheepfold of Israel (the Gentiles)[v.16].
10 The thief, embezzler [fig. false teacher] (kleptes[G], ganav[H]) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]), and have it abundantly (perissos[G]).
Here, Yeshua shows the stark contrast between Himself and the enemy of Israel Satan. The Devil, a murderer and liar from the beginning, comes only to steal, kill and destroy. To steal what is good by tempting us to defile it, to kill what is living through the fruit of sin, and to destroy and put an end to our hope through deception. On the other hand, Yeshua has come to give perpetual living in place of temporal death, a life devoid of the fruit of sin, overflowing with abundant and transcendent joy.
11 “I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]); the good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]) lays down His life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
Once again Yeshua premises His words with a statement of His all existing nature. In Hebrew ha-tov (the good) expresses a state of unmitigated purity, wholesomeness, surpassing excellence, unparalleled goodness, perfection. This is why Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none tov but Elohiym (God).” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). When Yeshua says that He is the good Shepherd, He is in fact once again claiming to be God with us, because only God qualifies as the Good Shepherd. Therefore, where Yeshua says elsewhere, “Why do you call me tov, there is none good but God” He means to say, “Ask yourself why you called me good and you will see that none is good but God”.
The Good Shepherd is no ordinary Shepherd, He is the ultimate Shepherd, unmatched in purity, faithfulness, dedication and love for His sheep. Although He is already the rightful owner of the sheep, He none the less gives His life (Hebrew nafsho – soul existence) as the price for their protection from death (fig. eternal death).
Genesis speaks of Joseph as a figure for the future King Messiah, Yeshua the Shepherd of Israel:
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),” -Genesis 49:22-24
12 The hired hand, who is not a shepherd (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]), and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]) and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The wolf, like the thief, seeks only to steel, kill and destroy. A hired person has nothing to loose by saving his own skin when the wolf comes, whereas the owner has a vested interest in saving the sheep. In the case of this mashal (parable), the Owner lays down His life for the sheep, allowing the wolf to take His life so that the sheep can go free.
“The hired hand” is a figurative allusion to the false shepherds and misguided religious and political leaders of Israel.
“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to [a]those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord [b]God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been [c]feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds [d]feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without [e]feeding the flock. 4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the [f]diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My [g]sheep [h]from them and make them cease from feeding [i]sheep. So the shepherds will not [j]feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’” -Ezekiel 34:1-10 NASB
Jewish commentary speaks of Satan, as, הוא הזאב, "he is the wolf" and by extension he is said to influence all false prophets, and teachers, who are ravenous wolves (sometimes in sheep's clothing). So too are tyrants, oppressors, and persecutors of Israel.
“a shepherd that feeds his flock, and leaves it, and goes to the city, and a wolf comes and ravines, and the lion comes and tears in pieces, he is free; but if he leaves by it his staff and his scrip, he is guilty.'' - Talmud. Bavliy. Bava Metzia, fol. 41. 1. & 93. 2. & 106. 1.
“a shepherd who can deliver that which is torn, and that which is carried captive, with other shepherds, and with staves, and does not call the other shepherds, nor bring the staves to deliver them, he is guilty: one that keeps freely, and one that keeps for hire; he that keeps freely, calls the shepherds, and brings the staves freely; and if he does not find them, he is not guilty; but he that keeps for hire, is obliged to hire shepherds and staves, in order to deliver them.'' -Maimonides, Hilchot Shechirut c. 3. sect. 6.
13 He (hired person) flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep (poimen[G], ha-tzon[H]). 14 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the good, commendable, surpassing, excellent (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], ha-roeh[H]), and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) My own and My own know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me, 15 even as the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) knows (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) Me and I know (ginosko[G], yodatiy[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]); and I lay down My life breath, soul (psuche[G], et-nafsho[H]) for the sheep (probaton[G], ha-tzon[H]).
“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before him. He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” -Isaiah 40:10-11 ESV
""He shall feed his flock like a shepherd"; not as he that feeds the flock of others, for the hire they give him, but as a shepherd that feeds his own flock; who has compassion more abundantly on it, because it is his own flock; and therefore he says, "behold his reward is with him", for he does not seek a reward from another; "and his work is before him"; for he feeds what is his own, and therefore his eyes and his heart are there.'' -Abarbinel, Mashmia Yeshua, fol. 20. 4.
Therefore, “His reward is with Him” in the form of that which He brings as a reward to the faithful sheep and in terms of the sheep themselves who are His reward, inheritance, joy. HaShem is the perfect Father, Yeshua, the perfect Son.
When Yeshua says He “knows” His sheep and that they “know” Him, He is not speaking of the intellectual knowledge of humanity but of the transcendent knowledge of God. This is made clear by the affirmation in the Father, “Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.” In Hebrew the word yada (know), infers an intimate soul tie. This is why it is used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse. In other words, the knowledge Yeshua speaks of denotes an inseparable relational connection.
16 I have other (allos[G]) sheep (probaton[G], tzon[H]), which are not of this uncovered space around the house, the fold (aule[G], latyara[A]); I must bring them also, and they will hear (tishmanah[H]) My voice, sound (phone[G], koliy[H]); and they will become one, a complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) flock (poimne[G]) with one, complex, unified (heis[G], echad[H]) shepherd (poimen[G], roeh[H]).
Up to this point the sheep Yeshua has been referring to are the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people), and the sheepfold of God’s Kingdom as it is outworked through Israel upon the throne of David in the greater Son of David the King Messiah Yeshua. Now He alludes to sheep who are not from the tribes (sheepfold) of Israel.
The Tanakh (OT) alludes to the salvation of Gentiles on numerous occasions (Gen.12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4; Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1-3, 60:1-3; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 72, 87.
The “Aleinu” prayed daily by observant Jews acknowledges God’s rule over all the earth and the future unity of His rule and Kingdom and Name according to the prophet Zechariah:
“And HaShem will be King over all the earth; on that day HaShem will be one and His Name one.” (Zechariah 14:9).
It is important to note that the one flock will be housed in the sheepfold of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). With reference to the Gentile sheep not of the sheepfold Yeshua says He will “bring them”, that is, they will be afforded a concession to come into the commonwealth of Israel. Note carefully that Ezekiel the prophet speaks God’s word identifying ethnic Israel as His chosen sheep and the greater Son of David (the King Messiah Yeshua) as the Shepherd:
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” -Ezekiel 34:22-24 ESV
“They will become one” Note that they are not yet one but will become one. The present manifestation of the body of believers is truly a complex unity in that it continues to await the fullness of these words of Yeshua. Those Jews who are presently Messiah followers remain Jews, while those of the nations who are presently Messiah followers are not Jews but are one with their Jewish brothers and sisters. The body of believers awaits the inclusion of all of the remaining Jewish people through Yeshua (Romans 11:25-36). There is a convergent aspect to the present state of the body of believers (Ecclesia) where Jewish believers meet the circle of the wider body, which includes Gentiles. This does not mean that the Church is a continuation of the Jewish people, rather, it means (according to Romans) that the body of believers is yet to see its fullness. That fullness being revealed at the end of the age when the entire remnant of the ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen people of Israel (the Jewish people) will be saved through Yeshua and we will truly be one, complex and unified people in God. Complex because we will not be robbed of our uniqueness, and unified because in Messiah we will delight in the diversity of the body.
The Ecclesia (Body of believers, Church) is made up of Jews (Sheepfold of God) and Gentiles (Not of the sheepfold of God but brought in through Yeshua), while the chosen people of God, ethnic, religious, empirical Israel (the Jewish people) continue in their unique role as a sign pointing toward the fullness of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, that being the salvation of all ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel (the Jewish people) at the end of the age after all who will come in from the nations (Gentiles) have come. Thus, those not of the sheepfold of Israel are afforded through Yeshua the opportunity to become part of the commonwealth of Israel in the similar way to that of people of other tribes and nations becoming part of the commonwealth of Great Britain, or some other such collective. Therefore, no tribe or nation loses their unique identity, rather in Messiah all are made a complex unity of diverse expression, just as the body has many parts but functions as one entity reliant on all its parts, guided by the head and powered by the heart and lungs.
Therefore, the Church is not a continuation of Israel, nor is it the continuation of the faith of Abraham. Rather, it is the living organism that having been born of the Jews in Yeshua seeks its fullness in the redemption of ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen Israel through Yeshua at the end of the age and into the Olam Haba, world to come.
The primary flaw in misunderstanding this truth is born of the pride of the Gentile Church, which has come to see itself as the rightful heir. To the contrary, the Gentiles are afforded an opportunity to come into the sheepfold of Israel as a concession and not as a right.
The redemptive plan of God comes through and from the Jews and draws others inward, it does not progress outward with the intention of making the Jews obsolete. This is made abundantly clear by Yeshua when He says “I must bring them (Gentiles) also…” Therefore, the Gentiles are brought in but the place of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious) does not change. After all, it is the sheepfold of Israel that the believing Gentiles are being welcomed into.
Rav Shaul writes using the wall that separates Gentiles from the courts of the woman and of Israel saying:
“For He (Yeshua) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” -Ephesians 2:14
We note that the breaking down of this wall is intended to bring the Gentiles in to the worship practices of Israel and is not taken down in order to have the Gentiles leave behind the Jewish roots of their faith. And yet, that is exactly what the Gentile Church has done. For centuries it has turned its back on the people and worship practice from which it was born and in doing so has directly opposed the words of both Rav Shaul and Yeshua.
17 For this reason the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]) loves (oheiv[H]) Me, because I lay down My life, breath, soul existence (et-nafshiy[H]) so that I may take it up again. 18 No one, nothing (oudeis[G]) has taken it away from Me or separated (apo[G]) Me from it, but I lay it down on My own initiative, in My Own power, by My Own choice (exousia[G]). I have authority, power, choice (exousia[G]) to lay it down, and to take it up again. This commandment (entole[G]) I received from My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]).”
The Messiah was prophesied to lay down His life for the people of Israel (Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:8-11).
Note that Yeshua lays down His life of His own fruition and power. Neither the thief, nor the wolf, nor any other power is able to take the life of the Messiah except that He allows it. The giving of His life is entirely His decision.
Notice the relational language and convergence of authority, freewill and command. Yeshua has been given full authority from the Father and in turn submits His will by His own choosing to the Father in obedience to the Father’s instruction. After all, God cannot refuse to act according to His Own character and nature.
19 A tear, division (schisma[G]) occurred again among the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) because of these words, essences, substances (logos[G], d’variym[H]). 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) and is meshuggah[H] out of his mind, insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?”
Again Yeshua is accused by some of being insane. The use of the word “demon” as it is understood by the modern reader is misleading in many respects. In modern terms they were accusing Yeshua of being schizophrenic, bipolar, severally mentally ill, and yes, at times these conditions may be exacerbated by demonic forces, but the point here is to discredit Yeshua as a mentally ill fool who talks nonsense.
Jewish tradition speaks of a spirit which called Tazazit, which is an evil spirit that takes away the understanding of human beings (R. David Kimchi, Sepher Shorash rad.).
Also note that once more the religious leaders are divided in their opinions of Yeshua. The word schisma suggests an even division, meaning that at least half the leaders were in favour of Yeshua after hearing His words. It is utter nonsense to make “Pharisee” or “Jew” synonymous with “disbeliever”. This kind of antisemitism has been far too prevalent in the common theological language of the Gentile Christian Church for too long.
“A demon, false divinity, evil spirit (daimonion[G], sheid[H]) can’t open the eyes of the blind, can it?” In fact, in the latter days those manipulated by demonic forces will produce miracles like the giving of sight to the blind in order to fool people into following a false god. The One Who is of God is proved by His pointing people to God. Therefore, as I’ve said previously, miraculous signs in and of themselves are not evidence of a true prophet.
“[a]If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has [b]counseled [c]rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of [d]slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” -Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NASB
“For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will [n]show great [o]signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the [p]elect.” -Matthew 24:24 NASB
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.