John  ◦   Chapter 10

1"I tell you the truth: Anyone who does not enter the sheep sanctuary through the gate but climbs in by some other way, is a rustler and burglar.2But the shepherd of the sheep enters through the gate.3The guard opens the gate for the shepherd, and the sheep that know him listen to his voice. He calls the sheep by name, and all who know the shepherd, he leads out of the pen.4When he has brought out all who know him, he goes ahead of them, leading the way–never driving them from behind–and his sheep follow, because they know his voice and love him and all his ways.

5"But they will not follow a stranger or an imposter posing as the shepherd. No! They will run away from him because they don't see the shepherd's methods being practiced, or hear the shepherd's voice."6Jesus used this analogy, but they did not understand the point he was making.

7Therefore Jesus explained further: "I tell you the truth: I am the way of escape from the prison for the sheep.8All others who came before me — claiming to know a way of escape — were rustlers and burglars, seeking only to destroy the sheep; but the sheep who know me and value my methods did not listen to them.9I am the exit door from death–the only entryway to life: whoever goes through me will be completely healed and transformed. He will no longer be captive in a fatal situation, but will come and go freely, and find health and peace.10The rustler comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I have come to give life–complete, full, and abundant — beginning here and now.

11"I am the Good Shepherd who practices only the methods of love. The Good Shepherd loves his sheep and lays down his life for them.12Those hired to watch the sheep do not love the sheep but love themselves and the money they can make. So when the hired hands see the wolf coming, they abandon the sheep and run away to save themselves. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it,13and the hired hands run away because their hearts are selfish and they do not love the sheep.

14"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep well, and they know me and value me and my methods and principles– 15just as the Father and I know each other perfectly and are in complete unity in heart, mind, methods, and principles. I voluntarily lay down my life to free and restore my sheep.16I have other sheep that are not part of the flock here in Palestine; I must bring them back into unity with the Father and me also. They will hear my voice, value my methods and practice my principles, and there will be unity–only one flock under one shepherd.17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay my life down voluntarily, and I will take my life up again–all in order to set my sheep free and heal all their defects.18No one can take my life from me, but I voluntarily surrender it. I have the ability to lay it down and to take it up again; and in so doing, I will bring unity and healing to my sheep. This is the mission and purpose I received from my Father."

19Upon hearing these words, the Jews were divided again.20Many said, "He is insane or possessed by a demon. Don't listen to him!"

21But others countered, "His teachings of self-sacrificing love are not the teachings of selfish and evil demons. And can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

22Then came the time for the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,23and Jesus was walking in the temple area in Solomon's Colonnade.24The Jewish leaders gathered around him and said, "How long are you going to avoid disclosing your true identity? Do you like keeping people in suspense? Why don't you just come out and tell us plainly: Are you the Messiah–the Christ–or not?"

25Jesus answered, "I have already told you! My character tells you, my deeds tell you, my ministry tells you, and the miracles I perform in my Father's name all tell you that I am the One sent to heal and restore the world back into unity with my Father.26But you do not believe my testimony or the abundance of evidence I have given, because you do not value my ways or follow where I lead. You are not my sheep.27My sheep value my ways, methods and principles; I know them intimately and they follow where I lead.28I heal them from their terminal condition and give them eternal life, and they will never perish — no thug can kidnap them away from me.29My Father, who has placed their healing and recovery in my hands, is greater than all; no thief can kidnap them away from my Father.30I and the Father are One. We are one in purpose, character, and substance."

31Again the Jews were enraged and picked up stones, intent on stoning him,32but Jesus, with incredible calmness, said to them, "I have revealed a number of great and miraculous signs from my Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?"

33The Jews replied, "We are not stoning you for the miracles you performed but for blasphemy, because you, a mere human, claim to be God."

34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your own Scriptures, 'I have made you like me. You are Godlike'?35If God called Godlike those whom he created, and through whom his word was given– and the Scripture is infallible–36then what about me, the One who was not created but sent directly from God into the world and ordained as God’s very own ambassador to reveal him? Why are you accusing me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God’s Son'?37If I don't do what my Father does — if I don't accurately represent his character, reveal his methods, and practice his principles — then don't believe me.38But if I do — even though you refuse to believe my testimony — believe the overwhelming evidence that I have provided, so that you may realize and truly understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. The Father and I are One!"39Again they were enraged and attempted to seize him, but he disappeared from their midst.

40Then Jesus went back across the Jordan and stayed at the place where John had previously been immersing people in water.41Crowds came to him there and said, "Though John never performed a miracle in an attempt to prove that what he said was true, we believe all that John said about you. You are the Messiah to come."42And many put their trust in him, experienced healing of mind, and began to practice his methods of selfless love.