Jesus’ Other Sheep

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

John 10:16

Our Lord is giving us a profound lesson in real evangelism, true mission work, yet in very simple language. 

Other sheep I have—Sovereign election. 

Other sheep—This speaks of our total depravity. 

Them also I must bring. This obviously includes the particular atonement for sin. 

They shall hear My voice. Almighty calling and efficacious grace. 

And there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Preservation of the saints. 

All very profound truths of the Scriptures, a gospel in miniature; and yet it is so simple that a child can understand it. 

These words were spoken in the temple at Jerusalem shortly before our Savior laid down His life for His sheep on the cross. At the moment His chief concern is with His other sheep. Our eternal Prophet, Who thoroughly understands His mission as commissioned Him by the Father, is filled with holy zeal for those sheep which are given Him of the Father, which must still be gathered into the sheepfold. Let us realize in fear and wonder that all the saints of the New Testament are included here, also you and I! 

A shepherd with a staff in hand guarding his flock of sheep was a common sight on the Judean hillside. Jesus takes this figure from our everyday life and compares Himself to that shepherd. In fact, a shepherd and his flock is a common figure that is used throughout the Scriptures. In the Old Testament Scriptures we read of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as shepherd kings. They were by occupation shepherds, each ruling as lord, or king, in his own domain. Later David reigned over the theocracy of Israel with the authority of their Shepherd King in heaven (Psalm 80). These were types of the Shepherd King Who was to come, our Lord Jesus Christ. A shepherd owned his flock. This small flock of sheep was often his sole possession, which he cherished as his chief concern and livelihood. He loved his sheep, leading them out of the sheepfold to green pastures, and bringing them back from the pastures to the safety of the fold during the darkness of the night. He was a picture of Christ, Who gathers His young in His arms, carries them in His bosom, and gently leads those that are with young. A shepherd would even lay down his life for his sheep. Again it is a picture, yet with quite a difference. In natural life a shepherd nearly was forced to lay down his life when a wild animal attacked; it was absolutely necessary for Jesus to lay down His life to deliver His sheep from the claws of the enemy, and He had to do so willingly. When a shepherd died in trying to rescue his sheep, the sheep were without a shepherd; when Christ dies for His sheep He remains their eternal, living Shepherd. 

A shepherd knew how important it was that he constantly care for his sheep; for a sheep is a dependent animal. Some animals can forage for themselves, but not a sheep. A sheep is defenseless. The lion has its claw, the bull its horns, the dog its bite, the bee its sting, but a sheep has no defense. Besides, a sheep tends to wander; and having wandered away from the flock, it cannot find its way back, but goes off to be lost in the wilderness or to be the prey of some animal. Need I say that all this is a picture of us, who always go astray, each one in his own stubborn, willful way? We can even add to this that a sheep is a very stubborn creature. When two sheep get into a fight, they will bash their heads together until they are blind or killed. Are you, am I, any better? 

Our Lord is the Good Shepherd, the eternal reality of the earthly picture. He loves His sheep with an eternal love. He claims them as His very own and sole possession. He speaks to us of that love in the text before us. 

Jesus speaks of “other sheep, which are not of this fold.” Speaking of “this fold,” He obviously refers to the saints of the old dispensation. They also belong to Christ’s sheep and have already been gathered into the fold. Another flock must still be brought in. It is not as if the believers of the old dispensation form a separate people with a different future and a different way of salvation. The very fact that Jesus speaks of both the saints of the old dispensation and those of the new as belonging to Him and to His fold proves that they are one. This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus later speaks of “one fold (or flock) and one shepherd.” The Old Testament contains the promise given with types and shadows, the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. 

It is interesting to notice that the ingathering of the saints in the old dispensation was also solely the work of Christ. He is appointed from eternity as the great Servant in God’s house. Through Him were the heavens and the earth made. Through Him God spoke, whether by direct speech, by vision, by dream, by prophets, or by the Angel of Jehovah. Christ worked mightily by His Word and Spirit in the hearts of His sheep, gathering them in the line of generations of believers from paradise even until the moment when He speaks this Word. That part of Jesus’ ministry, or mission endeavor, is all but finished. Therefore He looks ahead and speaks of His other sheep, which must still be brought into the fold. 

Our Lord says, “Other sheep I have.” Not: I hope to have, if they will accept Me and come to Me. Not: I willhave when they are finally gathered in. But: I have. These are the sheep which the Father has given to Christ from eternity, which He therefore claims as His eternal possession. No man can take these sheep from Him. They are His, sworn unto Him by God’s sovereign and eternal election. 

Therefore our Lord can confidently say: “Them also I must bring.” 

Jesus is fully conscious of the divine “must” that weighed so heavily on His shoulders throughout His earthly ministry. He is the eternal Servant of God, Who came into this world of sin and death in all the weakness of sinful flesh to seek and to save His lost sheep. He came to do the Father’s will, to surrender Himself in perfect obedience to the Father’s will, to carry out the eternal counsel of redemption, to save those whom God has chosen unto Himself to be His peculiar possession forever. When Christ was twelve years old He spoke of being busy in the work of His Father. He bowed under an ever increasing burden of God’s wrath upon our sins, which He had to bear away through His atoning death on the cross. Without wavering, our Lord walked the way of suffering, descending ever deeper into the anguish of His approaching death. He was despised, reproached, hated, cast out, condemned to die the accursed death of the cross for our sakes. He surrendered Himself to the torment of separation from God in the consuming fire of divine wrath to deliver us from the clutches of the devil, sin, death, and hell. Out of the depths of hell arose the cry, “Behold, I have found My sheep that were lost!” He came forth out of death and the grave as the Shepherd of His sheep to lead His flock into the sheepfold of heavenly glory. He loved His own even to the point where He laid down His life to save them. 

In heaven Jesus is still deeply conscious of that “must” of which He speaks. He still says, “Them also I must bring.” Our Intercessor is in the heavens, pleading upon the basis of His accomplished work of the cross, that we may be where He is, in Father’s house with its many mansions. He is preparing a place there for each of the redeemed, who are purchased by His blood and have the right to a place in Father’s presence as His children. Jesus is still our Savior in the heavens; He is still our Shepherd. He receives from the Father the Holy Spirit of truth, Whom He sends to dwell in the church. That began at Pentecost. Christ also sends forth His servants, whom He calls to proclaim the gospel, the glad tidings of His accomplished salvation. These are under-shepherds, ambassadors of Jesus Christ, whose sole calling is to preach the Word, in season and out of season—the whole Word, the whole counsel of God, but also nothing but the Word. These messengers of Jesus are recognized by the fact that they not only believe in the infallibly inspired, inerrant Word of God, but they are thoroughly convinced that this Word, and this Word only, is the power unto salvation, because it is God’s power, spoken by His servants, applied to the hearts of God’s elect by the Holy Spirit. Faithful servants know that only Christ builds His church, not man. Only Christ can open hearts and make them receptive to the gospel. Only the Holy Spirit can open doors for missionaries to bring the Word of God to lost sinners. Therefore they need no gimmicks, no human attractions, no well-oiled machinery to win souls for Christ, no prayers that are addressed more to men than to God. They preach Christ, crucified and risen, foolishness to those perishing, but the power of God to all who are saved. 

Therefore the Savior can confidently add concerning His sheep, “And they shall hear My voice.” His sheep recognize His voice. One reason why they recognize His voice is that the Holy Spirit applies the Word to their hearts. We are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, so that we have the life of Christ in us, a new, heavenly life. To that new life the Holy Spirit addresses the Word. Therefore, in the second place, we agree wholeheartedly with what we hear. We hear the voice of Jesus calling: awake, thou that sleepest, arise from the dead. We bestir ourselves and become aware of the fact that we are wretched sinners, who are worthy only of condemnation, because of all our rebellion and our sins. No, no one need tell us that Jesus loves us as lost sinners. How can He love me, as I am in my sin? But the Word does expose my sins, it does drive me to the cross, and there I find mercy in forgiveness. I still need that Word to guide me, to feed me, to bring me step by step unto my complete salvation. I need the defending, preserving power of my Good Shepherd. No false shepherd can give me that. I recognize his voice also, but then as a voice of a stranger, whom I must avoid, for he never seeks my good. The Good Shepherd calls, “Come unto Me,” and by the drawing power of His grace we come, not once, but daily, in prayer and longing. 

“And there will be one flock and one Shepherd.” That is our Lord’s comforting assurance and our eternal security. If salvation depended in any way on a preacher or on us, our Lord could never say this, and we could never be assured of our preservation, not even in the last hours of our life. But Christ is gathering His own unto Himself, even until the last one is called out of death into life and prepared for heaven. Then He will come again to take us into the sheepfold of glory, which is the glorious kingdom in which we will live and reign with Christ forever. There will be no missing sheep in that heavenly flock, no empty seats at the wedding feast of the Lamb. Yes, perish the thought, which is so deeply unworthy of our God and of His Christ. The whole assembly of the elect will be united in one body, all its members serving each other and functioning in their own capacity, as each one is given the ability to function, to the glory of the Father. The bride will be eternally devoted in loving service to the Bridegroom, that God may be all in all. 

One flock and one Shepherd. Yes, even then we will need Christ as our Shepherd. He will be our Lord, our King, from Whom we receive every blessing. In Him we shall see the riches of our salvation, the wonder of God’s boundless mercy and eternal grace. In Christ we will have perfect fellow ship with one another, with Him, and with the Father. We shall see the Father in Christ, and adore the glorious brightness of His holiness and righteousness, His truth and His grace. Then, yes then, I shall be satisfied. 

Even now we can confess: 

The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.