Do you notice the contrast of the shepherds described in Ezekiel 34 with the Good Shepherd? Those shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves. The Lord was against those shepherds and will hold them accountable. Jesus is talking about the Pharisees. Those shepherds or leaders of Israel who were doing just as Ezekiel described. He is continuing the theme or comments from Chapter 9. Thus when Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd, implicit in that description is a statement of what sort of shepherds the Pharisees are. If Jesus is the Good Shepherd; then they are the bad shepherds and the meaning is very clear to them. They know with certainty what Jesus is meaning; no wonder they got upset. They are “graduates of the school of Beth Sepher, Beth Talmud and Beth Midrash. They have become masters at interpretation but are not too strong on application. It is clear to them that He has alluded to the passage in Ezekiel by His reference to the Good Shepherd while calling them thieves and hired hands. His meaning is very clear.
Not only that, but He is also alluding to God’s statement that He will shepherd His sheep himself. (Ezek 34:11). Who is the One Coming? The Shepherd who will shepherd Israel well? None other that the One who comes in the mould of David, the Chief Shepherd, The Coming Prince, the Coming King, the Coming Prophet, The One coming in the mould of Moses. The names and references are stacking up. John is gathering them all from the mouth of Jesus and arranging them in his gospel. Don’t be in any doubt as to who He is. He is the Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, the Christ, The GREAT I AM. John did tell you that he wrote these things that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that my believing you would have life in His name.
No wonder they picked up stones to stone him. No wonder they said “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” The evidence is stacking up by Jesus’ skillful allusion. Note that it is not illusion; this is not a figment of imagination. This is very real. Jesus alluded to the fact that He was the coming Anointed One and all those names I listed above. Most of all this was a huge slap in the face for the current shepherds of the time.
Note too the repetition of the word “sacrifice” that has popped up. Remember the references in earlier in the gospel of John (1:29 and 1:36) to the Lamb of God. Is it coincidence that John’s only usage of the word sacrifice is in the “sheep section”? I think not. John is building on the theme of why this One has come. Oh he hasn’t come to rule as they all expect but to give His life a ransom for many. This is not Messiah the Son of David, this is Messiah the Son of Joseph – the Suffering Servant.
I have one more little puzzle to give you before we move on. This is to help you understand Midrashic Interpretation. There is a puzzling statement of Jesus in Luke 23:31 – “For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” What does that mean? What does it connect to? How do we make sense of it? Apply what we have been doing in the last few days to see if you can solve the problem for yourself. If you can then you are well on the way to graduating from the school of Beth Midrash without having gone to Beth Sepher or Beth Talmud. Give it a go.
Never spend more time on a critic than you would a friend.Anon
What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth? Ruthless.Ian Vail