John 10:1-6
John 10:1 (KJB)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Here Jesus begins the discourse on the Good Shepherd. On the heels of the conversation with the Pharisees and the way they treated the man who was healed, shows that these were nothing more than hirelings and not true shepherds of the flock. Instead of rejoicing with the man, they excommunicated him from the Synagogue. Jesus now wants to show the glaring difference between false and true shepherds. When sheep were in an enclosed place, the shepherd would stand at the door and watch the sheepfold to make sure that all was well. When the sheep were in the pen, if anyone tried to steal any of the sheep, they would not go through the entrance because it was guarded by the shepherd. So instead they would try to find a way they could go in stealthily and then make off with a sheep or two. Of course, Jesus called them thieves and robbers because they would steal them to either kill them or sell them.
John 10:2 (KJB)
But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
The true shepherd does not shy away from using the entrance to the sheepfold because the owner of the sheep knows him and the sheep begin to know him and his voice after a while. The difference in characteristics of the two is that the false shepherd, called a thief and robber, uses guile and deceit to gain what they want. The true shepherd is honest and uses no evil means to any end.
John 10:3 (KJB)
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
Porter - Doorkeeper
In this case, the porter was one who watched the entrance to the sheepfold to make sure that the sheep were safe and that there were no threats to their safety. Normally the shepherds of sheep would speak when approaching the sheep because they would be able to recognize his voice and know it was the true shepherd. Secondly, he would also have names for some of the more prominent sheep in the fold which means the shepherd, in calling them by names personalizes them and eventually they will recognize their names along with the voice of the shepherd. Thirdly, when the sheep are comfortable and at peace knowing the voice of their shepherd, he can lead them out of the pen into better grazing areas. Sheep will not eat when they are in fear but when they feel secure, they will eat knowing their shepherd is close by. At this point Jesus is still building the teaching concerning the good shepherd and has not made the application yet to Himself.
John 10:4 (KJB)
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Before - In front of or ahead
Notice Jesus is saying his own sheep because to other sheep he would be a stranger and they would not listen. Now that the sheep are at peace and know the voice of their shepherd, they have no problem leaving the safety of the sheepfold and going out to graze in the fields. The shepherd remains with the sheep as they graze all day and normally if they are grazing a distance from the enclosure, the shepherd stays with them wherever they are grazing. The shepherd does not leave them alone or else they would become prey for wild animals. This could also be a dangerous job for the shepherd. When David was still a shepherd, he encountered a bear and a lion who tried to steal his sheep for food. (1 Sam 17:34-35 KJV) And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: {35} And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. David was adept at using a sling and it became his deadly weapon against wild animals. The shepherd himself, while out in the fields, were also in a danger if an animal like a bear or lion attempted to steal a sheep and that could easily occur because both animals roamed freely in that part of the world.
John 10:5 (KJB)
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
If there is one thing which will scatter the sheep it will be the voice of a stranger. They may listen for a while and if they cannot recognize the voice, then they will scatter all over the place because this will frighten them and will cause them to be at greater danger from wild animals and poachers out on the prairie. Let us make one spiritual application here. There are many voices out there which are calling for the Christian to follow. We live in a time of false religions by the hundreds and all are seeking members and promising them anything. The true Christian will not recognize their voices and will flee from them for their own spiritual well-being.
John 10:6 (KJB)
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
Parable - Maxim, obscure or symbolic saying (different than a normal parable)
As usual Jesus spoke this parable to them and they could not understand what He was saying. The people may have understood it because many would have been familiar with shepherds and many made a living dealing with sheep. However, because of the luxurious living of the Pharisees who would never get their hands dirty doing a day’s work, they could not understand what Jesus was trying to tell them.