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§ 200. Parable of the Good Shepherd.—The Parable extended. —Christ the Door.—Intimation of Mercy to the Heathen. (John, x.)

Christ proceeded to characterize the Pharisees, with just severity, as false guides of the people; doubtless having in view at the time the conduct of the tyrannical hierarchs towards the poor blind man, and his bearing, in turn, towards them. He first describes himself, in contrast with the Pharisees, as the genuine and divinely—called leader of the people. The blind man whom he had healed was the representative of all such oppressed souls as were repelled by the selfish judges, and drawn to Christ. It may have been the case (although the supposition is not necessary) that the sight of a flock of sheep at hand suggested the parabolic546546   Cf., on the parables of John, p. 111. illustration that he employed.

The thief who leaps over the wall, instead of entering the fold by the door, represents those who become teachers and guides of the people of their own mere will. The Shepherd, entering in at the door, represents Christ, who offers himself, divinely called, to guide seeking souls to the kingdom of God. His voice harmonizes with the Divine drawing within them; they know it, and admit him; he knows them all, and all their wants. He goes before them, and leads the way to the pasture where their wants can be satisfied. But the voice of the selfish leaders is strange to them, and they flee with repugnance; knowing well that such guides have other aims than the salvation of the souls of those that hear them.

To present the thought still more strikingly, he extended the figure, adding several new traits.547547   Examples of the same mode of extending a parable are to be found in the Synoptica. Gospels. The first outline of the parable simply contrasted a lawful with an unlawful entering into the fold; in the ex tended form of it, the door assumes a new significance. He himself is not only the good shepherd, but also the door of the fold, inasmuch as through him alone can longing souls find entrance into the kingdom of God. This very fact, that he is at once both shepherd and door, distinguishes him from all other shepherds; it is the peculiar feature of Christ’s teaching, as distinct from all teachers, that he is himself the revealer, and all his revelations refer back to himself; he can point 302out no other door to the kingdom but himself. He represents himself as the door both for the sheep and the shepherds; the latter more prominently here. In the simple outline of the parable he had contrasted himself, as shepherd, with the thieves; he now further contrasts other shepherds with the thieves. All who sought to gather followers and form parties in the Theocratic community, and, instead of turning men’s hearts to Messiah, turned them rather to themselves, were thieves and robbers; but such could find no access to hearts really seeking salvation. But those shepherds that enter in by him as the door have nothing to fear; they can go in and out, and find pasture for the sheep. The true teacher who leads souls to Christ will not only be saved himself, but will be able to satisfy the wants of the souls intrusted to his care.

In this form of the parable Christ contrasts himself (as the shepherd who alone seeks the welfare of the sheep) not only with the thieves, but also with the hirelings. These two classes corresponded to two different classes of Pharisees, viz., those who sacrificed the welfare of the people to their wholly selfish aims; and those who, with better feelings, had not love enough, and therefore not courage enough, to risk every thing for the good of souls. The latter, afraid of the power of the former, gave the poor people up to the power of the Evil One (the wolf, v. 12), to scatter and divide. Standing between Christ and the Sanhedrim, this party, with all. their good intentions, had neither the steadiness of purpose nor the self-sacrificing love which were needed in such a position. In contrast with such, Christ declares, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (thus betokening the inward sympathy between himself and those that belonged to him by the Divine drawing within them), and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

With this view of his coming self-sacrifice for the salvation of men before him, his eye glances forward to the greater developement of his work that was to follow that sacrifice, and there he sees “other sheep not of this fold”—souls ready for the kingdom among other nations, who were also to have their place before its consummation: “Them, also, I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”

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