A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get out:
A Subjective Person came along and said: “I feel for you down there.”
An Objective Person came along and said: “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.”
A Pharisee said: “Only a bad person would fall in a pit.”
A Fundamentalist said: “You deserve your pit.”
A Hindu said: “Your pit is for purging you and making you more perfect.”
Buddha said: “Your pit is only a state of mind.”
Confucius said: “If you would have listened to me, you would never have fallen into that pit.”
A New Ager said: “Maybe you should network with some other pit dwellers.”
An Evolutionist said: “You are a rejected mutant destined to be removed from the evolutionary cycle. You are going to die in the pit so you do not produce inferior pit-falling offspring.”
A Self-pitying Person said: “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.”
A News Reporter said: “Could I have the exclusive story on your pit?”
An I.R.S. Agent said: “Have you paid your taxes on that pit?”
A Country Inspector said: “Do you have a permit for that pit?”
A Realist said: “That’s a pit.”
An Idealist said: “The world shouldn’t have pits.”
An Optimist said: “Things could be worse.”
A Pessimist said: “Things will get worse.”
Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit. (The Pit by Kenneth Philkens)
Your initial response
How would you feel if you were the man?
John 10:1–21 (NIV)
1“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
6Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.
8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.
18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
19The Jews who heard these words were again divided.
20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”(John 10:1–21 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Lord Jesus talks about a thief and a robber. Who are they (John 10:1, 8)?
3 When did Lord Jesus deliver the above speech (cf. John 10:22)?
4 Where did Lord Jesus deliver the above speech (cf. John 10:22)?
5 What is the meaning of being ‘saved’ (John 10:9)?
6 Use a highlighter to underline all of the words about “Father” in this passage.
7 Put a circle next to the newly found insight.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Jesus Christ introduced Himself as ‘The Good Shepherd’ in this passage. He was not only willing to die for sinners but grant us abundant life as well. Are you willing to receive this supernatural life?
1 What is a sheep pen (John 10:1)?
2 One who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate is a thief and a robber (John 10:1, 8). Why?
3 Why did Lord Jesus refer Himself as the gate of the sheep pen (John 10:7)?
4 What are the prerequisites of ‘The Good Shepherd’ (John 10:11-18)?
5 Why did the Jews react in such a way after hearing the speech of Lord Jesus (John 10:19-21)?
A sheep pen is a rough stone or mud-brick structure and is only partially roofed. On many occasions, the shepherds make use of caves in the hills as sheep pens. There is only one opening in a sheep pen. Shepherds employ watchmen and hired hands to guard their sheep pens (John 10:3, 12). For sheep pens without gates, watchmen, hired hands or shepherds sleep at the entrance to ensure the safety of the sheep. According to the Jewish law, there is a difference between a thief and a robber. The former is a person who breaks in homes and the latter is a lawbreaker who wanders and hurts passerby in the wilderness; hence, anyone who enters a sheep pen lawlessly is seen as a thief or a robber.
The watchmen know the shepherds for they are the hired hands of the shepherd; therefore, they let the shepherds enter the sheep pen freely.
For the shepherds in Palestine, their main purpose of keeping the sheep is not slaughter but largely their wool. Many shepherds name their sheep and call them by their names. Sheep have a very unusual trait, that is to say, they can recognise the voice of their master and strangers. Consequently, the relationship between sheep and shepherds are intimate. Usually, there are a few flocks dwelling in a sheep pen. As a shepherd has to separate his sheep from the others, he calls his flock by his peculiar call, and leads them to graze at a pasture.
God is seen as the shepherd of the Israelites and His people is regarded as His sheep in the Old Testament (Psalm 23:1; 80:1; Isaiah 40:11). Moreover, a national leader is seen as a shepherd (1 Samuel 7:7), and an evil leader is said to be a false shepherd (Jeremiah 23:1-4). At an earlier time, Lord Jesus pointed out the Pharisees were spiritually blinded (John 9:35-41). By employing the parable of the Good Shepherd, Lord Jesus continued to speak and pointed out the Pharisees weren’t good shepherds. However, not one of those standing next to Lord Jesus could understand the real significance of the parable.
Lord Jesus introduced Himself to the crowd that He was the Good Shepherd soon afterwards. Without beating about the bush, the Lord pointed out that He was the gate and only could He lead the sheep to the sheep pen. In simple terms, Lord Jesus was the Messiah-Shepherd. “All who ever came before me,” that is, those who proclaimed as messiahs are all false messiahs.
Without evading the issue, Lord Jesus pointed out that He was the Good Shepherd by employing thieves, robbers and hired hands as comparisons. The robbers approached the sheep with evil intention. They pretended to be shepherds for the sake of stealing, killing and destroying. As for the hired hands, their keep the sheep with an employee’s attitude, they will forsake the sheep for their own wellbeing as they encounter dangers.
Lord Jesus is sent to the world by the real God as the Good Shepherd and He possesses the qualifications below: 1. He brings salvation to humankind (John 10:9). 2. He grants humankind a full (or abundant) life. 3. He loves His sheep for they belong to Him, and He was willing to die and sacrifice on the cross for human beings (John 10:11). 4. He knows His sheep (John 10:14). 5. He knows Father God and the Heavenly Father knows Him too (John 10:15). In short, He is the Shepherd that is sent by God. 6. He is mission minded for He goes out to search for those who do not belong to His sheep pen (John 10:16). “Other sheep” means the gentiles or non-Jews. 7. The Father loves Him and He has an intimate relationship with God. Owing to the compulsion of love, He is willing to die for humans (John 10:17). 8. He listens to the Father and is willing to offer as an offering of atonement, accomplishing the salvation that is predetermined of God (John 10:18).
The Jews had various responses when they heard this parable. Some even blasphemed by saying Lord Jesus was a demon-possessed and raving mad person, but others didn’t really buy in the above idea, for they knew that He had performed the miracle of restoring a blind person’s eyesight.
We not only know Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd in John 10, and only through Him, sinners can have an everlasting and unchanging relationship with Him.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 We must determine to listen to the voice of Lord Jesus in the midst of secular influences (John 10:4).
2 Resolve to enjoy the abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10).
3 If you were not a Christian, quickly grab the invitation of trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour (John 10:14).
4 The Lord promises us an abundant life. We must receive it with a thanksgiving heart.
5 Follow the example of Lord Jesus. Go and search for the lost sheep and lead more people to Him.
6 Serve God and fellow people with the attitude of a shepherd, instead of a hired hand.
7 Learn the unconditional sacrificial example of Lord Jesus–managing interpersonal relationships and matters not for personal gain.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.