Notes from Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Spangler and Tverberg. This is the Lakeshore Lutheran Fellowship's men's group study, which is a little longer. There's a link to the youth study at the end.
Painting from Grace Memorial Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.
Read John 10:1-21 Jesus, the Good Shepherd (Link goes to biblegateway.com's God's Word translation.)
1) Why were the Jews divided? “He’s possessed by a demon” is a pretty strong response to sheep talk.
It was not the first time Jesus mentioned shepherds. Read Luke 15:1-7 (also in Matthew 18:12-13)
All the tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus. But the Pharisees and the scribes complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus spoke to them using this illustration: “Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it? When he finds it, he’s happy. He puts that sheep on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ I can guarantee that there will be more happiness in heaven over one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts than over 99 people who already have turned to God and have his approval.”
2) What do you notice about this parable?
Of course, if we’re talking shepherds…
Psalm 23 A psalm by David.
The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside peaceful waters.
He renews my soul.
He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm.
Your rod and your staff give me courage.
You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.
3) How do you respond to this poem? Why?
4) This was famous among the Jews of Jesus’ day, just as it is now. If what Jesus said reminded people of this psalm, what would it mean to them?
In a nation of shepherds, as they still were, which even began with Abraham, the shepherd image might have meant more.
Isaiah 44:28 [The Lord] says about Cyrus, “He is my shepherd. He will do everything I want him to do. He says about Jerusalem, “It will be rebuilt. He says about the temple, “Your foundation will be laid.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose his servant David. He took him from the sheep pens. He brought him from tending the ewes that had lambs so that David could be the shepherd of the people of Jacob, of Israel, the people who belonged to the LORD. With unselfish devotion David became their shepherd. With skill he guided them.
5) With what do these passages connect the idea of a shepherd? What would that have meant to Jesus’ audience?
One of the most sheep heavy sections of scripture is Ezekiel 34. Read that now.
6) What connections are there between this chapter and what Jesus says in John 10?
7) What does this mean for Jesus’ listeners if they connected his words to this chapter? What is Jesus telling them?
8) If they accept what Jesus is saying here, because they believe through other signs, as they mention, what will that mean for them?
Jesus mentions sheep elsewhere, too. Read Matthew 25:31-33.
[Jesus speaking] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.”
9) How does this connect with the passage from Ezekiel?
10) What is Jesus telling the people about himself here?
|Shepherd outside Kabul, Afghanistan, 2008|
- We’ll respond to Jesus’ voice.
- Jesus will call us by name.
- Jesus will lead us.
- We will not follow a stranger – we’ll even run away from them.
- We will have life and everything we need.
12) If we accept what Jesus is saying here, what will that mean for us?
Photo Credits: annspangler.com, KitAy and AfghanistanMatters @ Flickr,
The terrific book linked up at the top. Seriously worth your time.
The Hardest Question - site for bible teachers that follows the liturgical calendar. They concentrate on posing the hardest questions that scripture raises for them, with different pastors contributing each week.
The youth version of this study is at Scribd. A bit shorter, with all the scripture on the page.
This made for a great discussion with the men's group. One of the things it brought up for us was how important it is to share the good news, and that one of the ways is by being a good follower. That brings to mind this mini TED talk, on what it takes to start a movement.