In order to really understand this passage it is necessary to have the context of John 9. In chapter 9 the Pharisees reveal their true colors when, instead of being excited that a man who was born blind has been miraculously healed, they use the healing (on the Sabbath) as an excuse to frame Jesus as a lawbreaker.
Jesus calls them out – without calling them out. He spins a narrative in chapter 10 about sheep and shepherds that calls to mind, for everyone listening, Ezekiel’s prophetic warning from Ezekiel 34. This would not have been missed by the religious leaders of the day. Jesus is saying that the very men who have been entrusted with caring for and providing for God’s flock have instead burdened them with a weight that was impossible to carry. They had made the Law do what it was never intended to do.
Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd that Ezekiel prophesied about in 34:22-24. He likens the Pharisees to thieves who would steal, kill, and destroy, the flock of God (John 10:10) – which they were indeed doing. They had taken all the joy out of being a child of God and had destroyed any desire to serve Him wholeheartedly because of their weighty demands that sucked all the life out of God’s people. Jesus instead offered them hope: “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b)
It is no wonder why people were attracted to Jesus and His teaching – He was a lifeline of hope to a people who were drowning in despair and religious frustration.
And it is no wonder why people still flock to Jesus. We live in a culture that is also fraught with despair and frustration. Religion is just one more thing to add to an already busy schedule. But when people rightly understand that Jesus did not come to add something else to their life but instead to BE their life and to fill them with hope and to fuel them with strength and courage to face each day then following Jesus becomes a delight rather than a duty.
May this brick help you to find joy in the Good Shepherd who leads us beside still waters; who restores our soul; who leads us in paths of righteousness; and who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23)