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and when a true spiritual Shepherd comes to the true spiritual door, it is opened to him by the guardian from within, that is, he finds ready and immediate access. Equally pictorial is the progress of the allegory. Having thus gained access to His flock, it has not been to steal or rob, but the Shepherd knows and calls each by his name and leads them out. And when He has put forth all His own,''
- put them forth'—the word is a strong one, for they have to go each singly, and perhaps they are not willing to go out each by himself, or even to leave that fold, and so He puts' or thrusts them forth, and He does so to “all His own.' Then the Eastern shepherd places himself at the head of his flock, and goes before them, guiding them, making sure of their following simply by his voice, which they know. So would His flock follow Christ, for they know His Voice, and in vain would strangers seek to lead them away, as the Pharisees had tried. It was not the known Voice of their own Shepherd, and they would only flee from it.
We can scarcely wonder, that they who heard it did not understand the allegory, for they were not of His flock and knew not His Voice. But His own knew it then, and would know it for ever.
Therefore, both for the sake of the one and the other, He continued, now dividing for greater clearness the two leading ideas of His allegory, and applying each separately for better comfort. These two ideas were: entrance by the door, and the characteristics of the good Shepherd—thus affording a twofold test by which to recognise the true, and distinguish it from the false.
I. The door.-Christ was the Door. The entrance into God's fold and to God's flock was only through that, of which Christ was the reality. And it had ever been so. All the Old Testament institutions, prophecies, and promises, so far as they referred to access into God's fold, meant Christ. And all those who went before Him, pretending to be the door—whether Pharisees, Sadducees, or Nationalists—were only thieves and robbers: that was not the door into the Kingdom of God. And the sheep, God's flock, did not hear them; for, although they might pretend to lead the flock, the voice was that of strangers.
The transition now to another application of the allegorical idea of the door' was natural and almost necessary, though it appears somewhat abrupt. Even in this it is peculiarly Jewish. We must understand this transition as follows: I am the Door ; those who professed otherwise to gain access to the fold have
1 This is the literal rendering.
The words · who went before Me’are questioned by many.
A NEW TESTAMENT VERSION OF PSALM XXIII.
climbed in some other way. But if I am the only, I am also truly the Door. And, dropping the figure, if any man enters by Me, he shall be saved, securely go out and in (where the language is not to be closely pressed), in the sense of having liberty and finding pasture.
II. This forms also the transition to the second leading idea of the allegory: the True and Good Shepherd. Here we mark a fourfold progression of thought, which reminds us of the poetry of the Book of Psalms. There the thought expressed in one line or one couplet is carried forward and developed in the next, forming what are called the Psalms of Ascent (s of Degrees '). And in the Discourse of Christ also the final thought of each couplet of verses is carried forward, or rather leads upward in the next. Thus we have here a Psalm of Degrees concerning the Good Shepherd and His Flock, and, at the same time, a New Testament version of Psalm xxiii.
Its analysis might be formulated as follows :
1. Christ the Good Shepherd, in contrast to others who falsely claimed to be the shepherds. Their object had been self, and they had pursued it even at the cost of the sheep, of their life and safety. He came 'l for them, to give, not to take, that they may have life and have abundance.'?
• Life,'—nay, that they may have it, I lay down '3 Mine: so does it appear that 'I am the Good Shepherd.'
2. The Good Shepherd Who layeth down His life for His sheep! What a contrast to a mere hireling, whose are not the sheep, and who fleeth at sight of the wolf (danger), and the wolf seizeth them, and scattereth (viz., the flock): (he fleeth) because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep.' The simile of the wolf must not be too closely pressed, but taken in a general sense, to point the contrast to Him. Who layeth down His Life for His sheep.'
Truly He is—is seen to be the fair Shepherder,"? Whose are the sheep, and as such, I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father. And I lay down My Life for the sheep.'
"Not as in the A. V., 'am come.' view depends on a misunderstanding of
? As Canon Westcott remarks, this a sentence quoted from Bab. Mez. 93 b. points to something more than life.' As the context shows, if a shepherd leaves . This is the proper rendering,
his flock, and in his absence the wolf Literally "fair. As Canon Westcott, comes, the shepherd is responsible, but with his usual happiness, expresses it : only because he ought not to bave left 'not only good inwardly (ayalós), but good the flock, and his presence might have as perceived (kalós).'
prevented the accident. In case of attack This wonld be all the more striking by force supérieure he is not responsible that, according to Rabbinic law, a shep- for his flock. berd was not called upon to expose his 6 See an important note at the end of own life for the safety of his flock, nor
this chapter. responsible in such a case. The opposite
? See Note 4.
3. For the sheep that are Mine, whom I know, and for whom I lay down My Life! But those sheep, they are not only of this fold, not all of the Jewish 'fold,' but also scattered sheep of the Gentiles. They have all the characteristics of the flock: they are His ; and they hear His Voice; but as yet they are outside the fold. Them also the Good Shepherd 'must lead,' and, in evidence that they are His, as He calls them and goes before them, they shall hear His Voice, and so, O most glorious consummation, they shall become one flock and one Shepherd.'
And thus is the great goal of the Old Testament reached, and the good tidings of great joy' which issue from Israel “are unto all people.' The Kingdom of David, which is the Kingdom of God, is set up upon earth, and opened to all believers. We cannot help noticing—though it almost seems to detract from it-how different from the Jewish ideas of it is this Kingdom with its Shepherd-King, Who knows and Who lays down His Life for the sheep, and Who leads the Gentiles not to subjection nor to inferiority, but to equality of faith and privileges, taking the Jews out of their fold and leading up the Gentiles, and making of both the flock.' Whence did Jesus of Nazareth obtain these thoughts and views, towering so far aloft of all around ?
But, on the other hand, they are utterly un-Gentile also—if by the term Gentile' we mean the Gentile Churches,' in antagonism to the Jewish Christians, as a certain school of critics would represent them, which traces the origin of this Gospel to this separation. A Gospel written in that spirit would never have spoken on this wise of the mutual relation of Jews and Gentiles towards Christ and in the Church. The sublime words of Jesus are only compatible with one supposition: that He was indeed the Christ of God. Nay, although men have studied or cavilled at these words for eighteen and a half centuries, they have not yet reached unto this : “They shall become one flock, one Shepherd.'
4. In the final Step of 'Ascent’a the leading thoughts of the whole Discourse are taken up and carried to the last and highest thought. The Good Shepherd that brings together the One Flock ! Yes, by laying down His Life, but also by taking it up again. Both are necessary for the work of the Good Shepherd—nay, the life is laid down in the surrender of sacrifice, in order that it may be taken up again, and much more fully, in the Resurrection-Power. And, therefore, His Father loveth Him as the Messiah-Shepherd,
St. John ..
i Not.fold,' as in the A. V.
EARLY RABBINIC REFERENCE TO THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
Who so fully does the work committed to Him, and so entirely surrenders Himself to it.
His Death, His Resurrection-let no one imagine that it comes from without! It is His own act. He has 'power' in regard to both, and both are His own, voluntary, Sovereign, and Divine acts.
And this, all this, in order to be the Shepherd-Saviour—to die, and rise for His Sheep, and thus to gather them all, Jews and Gentiles, into one flock, and to be their Shepherd. This, neither more nor less, was the Mission which God had given Him; this, the commandment' which He had received of His Father-that which God had given Him to do.
It was a noble close of the series of those Discourses in the Temple, which had it for their object to show, that He was truly sent of God.
And, in a measure, they attained that object. To some, indeed, it all seemed unintelligible, incoherent, madness; and they fell back on the favourite explanation of all this strange drama-He hath a demon! But others there were—let us hope, many, not yet His disciples-to whose hearts these words went straight. And how could they resist the impression? These utterances are not of a demonised'-and, then, it came back to them : 'Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'
And so, once again, the Light of His Words and of His Person fell upon His Works, and, as ever, revealed their character, and made them clear.
NOTE.—It seems right here, in a kind of ‘Postscript-Note,' to call attention to what could not have been inserted in the text without breaking up its unity, and yet seems too important to be relegated to an ordinary footnote. In Yoma 66 b, lines 18 to 24 from top, we have a series of questions addressed to Rabbi Elieser ben Hyrcanos, designed—as it seems to me—to test his views about Jesus and his relation to the new doctrine. Rabbi Elieser, one of the greatest Rabbis, was the brother-in-law of Gamaliel II., the son of that Gamaliel at whose feet Paul sat. He may, therefore, have been acquainted with the Apostle. And we have indubitable evidence that he had intercourse with Jewish Christians, and took pleasure in their teaching; and, further, that he was accused of favouring Christianity. Under these circumstances, the series of covered, enigmatic questions, reported as addressed to him, gains a new interest. I can only repeat, that I regard them as referring to the Person and the Words of Christ. One of these questions is to this effect : 'Is it (right, proper, duty) for the Shepherd to save a lamb from the lion ?' To this the Rabbi gives (as always in this series of questions) an evasive answer, as follows: “You have only asked
me about the lamb.' On this the following question is next put, I presume