Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Sheep Follow the Shepherd,
Read John 9-10:21, 27
Questions to Consider
Throughout this study we will be looking at various passages of Scripture rather than working our way through a book of the Bible verse by verse. Because of that, we will need to be extra vigilant to rightly handle these passages in context. I will always attempt to provide the context you need for understanding these passages correctly, but if you need more clarity please feel free to read as much of the surrounding text as you need to – even the whole book, if necessary – in order to properly understand the passage presented.
1. Read John 9. Note the motifs of darkness and light, blindness and sight, night and day. What do darkness, blindness, and night represent? What do light, sight, and day represent? What is Jesus saying about Himself in v. 5? What is the spiritual truth Jesus is trying to convey in chapter 9 – to His immediate audience, and to us? In what ways does this story mirror a person being saved?
What is the spiritual parallel and significance of 8-9? In what ways do we look different to others after salvation?
Describe all of “the works of God” (3) that were displayed in the blind beggar – was it simply God’s power to heal, or was there more to this situation than that?
2. Review legalism and antinomianism in lesson 3 (link above). Which kind of false doctrine were the Pharisees displaying in chapter 9? Give some specific examples of their legalistic remarks, accusations, beliefs, etc.
Compare the works of God displayed in the blind beggar to the works of “their father, the Devil” displayed in the Pharisees. What fruit do we see from the works of God? From the works of the Devil? What is the culmination of the works of God (30-32, 35-39)? The culmination of the works of the Devil? (39-41)
3. Compare the healed man’s parents’ fearful response to the Pharisees (18-23) with the healed man’s “wild abandon” response to the Pharisees (17, 24-34). What made the difference between those two responses (35-38)? Can a false teacher have power over someone who has truly been set free in Christ? Why or why not?
4. Describe Jesus’ disposition toward the false teachers in chapter 9. Toward the repentant, victim of the false teachers? What example does this set for us regarding our own disposition toward false teachers versus our disposition toward those who are trapped in false religious systems and need the gospel?
5. Read John 9:35-10:21 without chapter and verse markings. (If you’re using Bible Gateway, just click on the “page options” icon and uncheck “verse numbers”.)
Do you notice the flow from chapter 9 into chapter 10? What does that tell you about the timing and the relationship between the events and remarks in chapter 9 and Jesus’ teaching in chapter 10? (Hint: See 10:21b). How do the events of chapter 9 lay the foundation for the teaching of chapter 10?
6. Carefully study 10:1-21. What type of literary device is Jesus using to illustrate His point in chapter 10? Is Jesus using literal or figurative language in this passage?
Identify who or what each of the following represent (hint: there’s some overlap):
- The thief/robber (1,8,10)
- The shepherd (2)
- The gatekeeper (3)
- The sheep (3ff.)
- The stranger (5)
- The door of the sheep (7,9)
- The good shepherd (11,14)
- The hired hand (12,13)
- The wolf (12)
- The flock (16)
7. False teachers today often use the phrases “The sheep hear his voice” (3), “they know his voice” (4), “they will listen to my voice” (16), and “My sheep hear my voice” (27), from this passage to teach that Christians should hear God talking to them audibly (extra-biblical revelation). Examine all of the references to listening, hearing, and voice in this passage. Is this passage teaching that you should hear God talking to you audibly? Why not? What role does context play in your answer? If this passage is a metaphor, which uses figurative language, why would the “sheep” part of these phrases be figurative but the “voice/hear/listen” parts be literal?
Explain what Jesus means in 3b-5, 8, 16b, 27 when He says that His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him, and that they will not follow the voice of strangers. What does “knowing” Jesus and His voice (4-5, 14b) have to do with this? Think back over the message of chapter 9. How does having one’s “eyes opened” connect to this?
If genuinely regenerated Christians (Jesus’ sheep), generally speaking, do not follow false teachers (thieves, robbers, strangers), what can we reasonably conclude about people who claim to be Christians, yet whose lives are marked by a consistent trajectory of following false teachers and listening to the voice of false doctrine over a long period of time? Are these people likely to listen to and understand your voice and the voice of Scripture as you point out what is unbiblical about their favorite false teachers? (6) Why not? Thinking back over the message of chapters 9 and 10, what do they need first in order to “see the light”?
Is it possible for a genuine sheep (Christian) to wander a few steps away from the Shepherd toward a false teacher (i.e. temporarily show an interest in a false teacher or false doctrine)? What does a Good Shepherd do when a sheep wanders?
8. Explain why it is crucial for the local church to have a gatekeeper (3) who only opens the door to sound doctrine and the true Jesus of Scripture, and who chases off the thieves, robbers, and strangers (1,5) who sneak in (1)? Compare your answer to Titus 1:9-16.
9. In lesson 5 (link above) we touched on the idea of whether or not a false teacher (someone who consistently and unrepentantly teaches demonstrably false doctrine, not a doctrinally sound teacher who occasionally makes a mistake) could actually be a genuinely regenerated Christian. Notice the way this passage describes false teachers, their goals, and their effects. What inferences can you reasonably draw about a false teacher’s salvation?
- Read my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient.
- I have heard this scenario from Christian women numerous times and experienced it myself, personally: “I went to a women’s Bible study where they were using a book by __. I sat there and listened, and I just knew something was wrong. I didn’t know my Bible well enough at that time to be able to put my finger on it, but I got out of there, started studying my Bible and researching this teacher, and now I know she’s a false teacher.” Have you ever had an experience like that? How does the concept of sheep listening only to the Shepherd and not to strangers apply to this scenario?