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Judges As Types: Why They Are Called gods

December 28, 2012 2 comments

Going through S. Lewis Johnson’s “Gospel of John” series, some great insights concerning Jesus’ statement in John 10:34-36:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came-and Scripture cannot be broken- 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Here Jesus cites Psalm 82:6, which refers to unjust human judges and calls them gods.  What exactly did Jesus mean here?  I’ve heard the general “lesser to greater” argument but hadn’t previously considered this text in depth.

one modern commentator has said that what our Lord is doing is simply using an a fortiori argument.  That is for a still stronger reason if mere men may be called gods then surely I may be called the Son of God.  And it’s not blasphemy for me to be called the Son of God if mere men, unjust judges should be called gods.

This isn’t a fully satisfying answer, though, since – as S. Lewis Johnson notes – after all they’re accusing him of claiming deity, not simply that he’s a God like other men are gods.

Another response given is that Jesus is repelling the technical charge, and that it’s not blasphemy to call someone God who really is God.   So if you can call human judges gods then surely you can call someone who is sanctified and sent into the world the Son of God. 

This may be the sense that was intended, but S. Lewis Johnson then goes a little deeper:  the typology of judges, as a type of God and representing God, and, in the type, showing the unity between the human ruler and God:

Why were judges called gods?  Now that’s not the only place.  In a couple of other places in the Old Testament they’re also called gods.  Why are they called gods?  Why is a judge called a god in the Bible?

Obviously it’s not God in the sense of one who possesses full deity, but yet there is some relationship.  There is some form of representative unity that exists between a human being called a god and the great Triune God in heaven.  Well, judges did have a relationship of limited union with God because they were their divinely delegated representatives.  In Israel, a judge was one who should judge under God, and should judge with the judgment of God.  In that sense they were in limited union with God, very limited union, similar to Paul’s statement in Romans 13 when he calls the magistrates of the cities, ministers of God.

Think of all of our political men.  Of all of the titles that you would think that are least applicable to them, what would stand out most?  Well, I won’t ask you to reply.  I’ll just reply for myself.  What is the least applicable title that I can think of for Senators, and Congressman, and Mayors, and Governors, ministers of God, and yet that’s what they are, ministers of God.  By the providence of God they serve in their office.  … You see they are magistrates of God.  There is a limited sense of union in that they serve ideally and responsibly before God as representatives of him.  They talk about representing the people, but they really are ideally the representatives of God.  That should be their first responsibility.  So there is a limited union then between a magistrate and the Lord God.

In this sense they are types and shadows of a deeper union to come.  All of these things were arranged by God so that they would lead up the great union that exists between the Son and the Father, the mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is absolutely on with the Father.  So the germ of the union between God and man existed in the law, even in unjust judges.  But the Lord Jesus is the one who has perfectly realized the union of God and man in his incarnation and atonement.  And that is indicated by the words, “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world.”  He perfectly realizes the union between man and God.

Now if you can call those little fellows gods, how much more is it proper and right for him to whom all of those limited unions pointed to call him Son of God?  They all pointed forward to him.  The prophets in the Old Testament had a limited union with God, but they pointed forward to the prophet.  The priests of the Old Testament had a limited union with God, but they looked forward to the priest, the eternal priest, the kings likewise to the King.  And the judges looked forward to the judge, and the judge who would do exactly what Psalm 82 said, “But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes,” when you do not respond to the truth of God.  It was a very affective thrust because it reminded them not only of the fact of his right to be called the Son of God, but also of his right to be the ultimate judge of all men including the judges, and especially the judges among the Pharisees and Sadducees who were before his face at this present moment.

It’s a magnificent reply.

Another Spurgeon Merry Christmas

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Times of Feasting: The Merry Bell, the Sermon Bell, and the Funeral Bell

From my recent reading through the Spurgeon volumes, comes this very interesting Christmas sermon: #352, December 23, 1860. This is the most unusual text I’ve ever seen for a “Merry Christmas” message, and yet one that surely does fit with how people actually spend Christmas:  Job 1:4-5, about the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, and Job’s praying for them.  The point of the message is that it is proper and fitting to celebrate good times, to enjoy feasts with one another.  Spurgeon noted other texts of scripture as well: the wedding feast of Cana in John 2 (and I also just listened to S. Lewis Johnson’s sermon on that text); Jesus’ overall reputation as one who came eating and drinking; and the Old Testament feast days appointed by God Himself.

S. Lewis Johnson (Exposition of John 2):

Our Lord approved festival times.  He came and participated in the joy of the wedding feast.  Some have pictured him as a pale Galilean and done great harm to Christianity because Christianity is not of that negative ascetic character.  So he approved festive times and, I think as Christians, we should approve festive times and participate.

And from Adolph Saphir, “The Divine Unity of Scripture”:

It was the idea of God to make His people happy before Him, so that under the law of Moses there were very few fast days, but a great number of feast days, in which the people were to rejoice before the Lord God in the beautiful harvest, and in all the bounties, with which He had surrounded them.

Spurgeon highlighted the merry bell, the sermon bell, and the funeral bell.

  • The Merry Bell of the festive text.  Good men of old have feasted, as well as Jesus Himself
  • The Sermon Bell: the context of the text, which is instructive.  Let your prayer be, “Hold me up, and I shall be safe.” Let your daily cry be, especially you young Christians, yes and you old Christians. too, “Lord, keep me! Keep my heart, I pray You, for out of it are the issues of my life.”
  • The Funeral Bell: That which follows the text, which is afflictive–  Between the table and the coffin there is but a step; between the feast and the funeral there may be but a day; and the very bell that rings the marriage peal tolls the funeral knell!

The Merry Bell includes the caution – “it may be” that my sons have sinned.  The feasting itself was not sin, though, and Job did not know of any sins, or he would have made the statement definite.  Still, “it may be,” and the remedy:  Job sent for his sons, as a father; he sanctified them as a preacher; he sacrificed for them as a priest.

The Funeral Bell relates to a selection from my readings today (in my 9 list Horner Style Genre Reading): Ecclesiastes 7:2 — ​​​​​​​It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 

Yet as Ecclesiastes also tells us, there is a time for everything, including the times for feasting and celebrating.  In closing, an excerpt from Spurgeon concerning the Christmas holiday:

In Cromwell’s days, the Puritans thought it an ungodly thing for men to keep Christmas. They, therefore, tried to put it down, and the common crier went through the street announcing that Christmas was henceforth no more to be kept, it being a Popish, if not a heathen ceremony! Now, you do not suppose that after the crier had made the proclamation, any living Englishman took any notice of it! At least I can scarcely imagine that any did, except to laugh at it; for it is idle thus to strain at gnats and stagger under a feather! Albeit that we do not keep the feast as Papists—nor even as a commemorative festival—yet there is a something in old associations that makes us like the day in which a man may shake off the cares of business, and disport himself with his little ones. God forbid I should be such a Puritan as to proclaim the annihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the laboring man! … Though I would not have as many saint’s days as there are in Roman Catholic countries—yet if we had but one or two more days in which the poor man’s household, and the rich man’s family might meet together—it might perhaps be better for us. However, I am quite certain that all the preaching in the world will not put Christmas down—you will meet next Tuesday, and you will feast, and you will rejoice, and each of you, as God has given you substance, will endeavor to make your household glad!

The Flat Earth Myth: The Greatest Urban Legend of History

December 21, 2012 4 comments

The following is an article I wrote a few years ago, before I started this blog.  The issue is still timely, a false idea so ingrained as to be thought true, that sometimes Christians unwittingly mention — as examples of Bible criticism-and-response — the idea that people used to believe the earth was flat.  So I’m re-posting it here for future reference.


A medieval history message board (early 2008) pondered the matter of the Flat Earth myth, wondering how much information the ancients and medieval men had, as well as where the myth started. Contrary to today’s popular opinion, medieval man, both educated and common, understood that the earth was round and had no cause to think otherwise. The ancient Greeks had determined the shape of the earth, and in 200 B.C. using their understanding of mathematics calculated the circumference of the earth at the equator to be about 24,500 miles. The Greek calculation also understood that one longitude degree was equal to about 70 nautical miles (very close to the actual number of 71 miles). Throughout the ancient world, and medieval times which continued the ancients’ classical understanding, the circle and sphere held symbolic spiritual significance in the idea of perfection. Aristotle’s cosmology included circles and spheres, and to medieval man it was quite natural that the earth, like those heavenly bodies, was also a sphere.

Scholarly history books also state the truth, as for instance Edward Grant’s ‘Physical Science in the Middle Ages’:

Contrary to popular contemporary misconception that prior to the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus the earth was thought to be flat, no flat-earthers of any consequence are known in the Latin West. Aristotle’s arguments for a spherical earth were so reasonable and sound that its truth was readily accepted.

Literature from the medieval period also reflects this thinking. Dante, one of the most popular authors of the time, described the accepted cosmology in his works, in which the Earth is a sphere. Yet today many public school textbooks, and thus the adults taught the myth, readily accept that common Europeans believed the earth was flat, and that the shape of the earth was some great controversial thing when Columbus “dared” to sail west. But consider the actual written records from Columbus’ day. The logs and other records indicate that the common sailors were greatly concerned about how far away they were from land and the uncertainty of it all, wondering if they would run out of provisions; sea-faring was hazardous enough in those days, and it was always best to stick to known routes close to familiar landmarks. No mention is made of the fear of falling off the earth, and sailors were among the lower, less-educated social class.

For Columbus’ voyage, the distance involved was the real issue. The ancient Greek calculation of 70 miles per longitude degree meant that India and Asia were extremely far west. Columbus had tried his own hand at the math, declaring that instead each longitude degree was only 50 miles, but he was laughed at and rejected by the expert sea-farers of the day, the Portugese, who knew their math and distances. Spain’s rulers, in an up and coming kingdom but with less experience, were more willing to accept Columbus’ calculations, and in good Providence — because there happened to be another continent in the middle — the gamble actually paid off in the long run.

Since both science and popular literature of the time affirmed the classical cosmology of the day, who were the “many Europeans” (we always hear about) who believed the Earth was flat? As another blogger points out in “No Wonder There Are Uproars About Textbooks,” the “many Europeans” must have been some unreached circumpolar people or pagans in the hills of Ireland or Lithuania. But medieval people lived in a community, interacting with each other and with their educated Lords and knights, and understood well enough their own culture if not their own science.  “In other words, a medieval person who thought the Earth was flat would be unfamiliar not only with the science of the day but with the popular literature based on it (in other words, completely culturally ignorant).”

So where did the flat earth myth originate? It started in the early-to-mid nineteenth century, with the Darwin evolutionists eager to find (or invent) reasons to discredit the Church and traditional Christian authority. After all, if you can get people to believe that, in those previous, oppressive days of the Catholic Church (the Middle Ages) the people were so ignorant and believed the world was flat, then you can also convince them that the Church and its followers are also wrong about other traditional views of the Bible: in this case, special recent creation by God instead of evolution. The idea was first introduced in a fictional context, with Washington Irving’s ‘History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus’ (1828). In this account, flat-earth churchmen oppose Columbus, saying he would fall off the edge of the earth if he tried to sail west. After Darwin published his ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859, two of his followers presented this flat-earth myth as actual history, in books that upheld Darwin against those “ignorant Christians”: John Draper’s ‘The History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science’ (1874), and Andrew Dickson White’s ‘A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom’ (1896). The trend has continued ever since, and this false history is perpetuated in text books to this day.

Further reference:  The Wikipedia entry, Myth of the Flat Earth

Christ Born, But Also Sent Into the World

December 18, 2012 2 comments

At this time of year we especially celebrate Christ’s birth, the incarnation. Great Christmas hymns often mention “glory to the newborn king,” “Christ is born”  and “the babe, the son of Mary.”  We remember too the infant narratives that indeed describe the human birth of the Christ child, as for instance:

  • Matthew 1:16:  of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
  • Matthew 2:1-4, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem”…”where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” and “where the Christ was to be born.”
  • Luke 1:35– therefore the child to be born
  • Luke 2:7–  she gave birth to her firstborn son
  • Luke 2:11–  For unto you is born this day

Yet beyond these references, it is interesting to note how elsewhere Christ is described, by Himself and others, in terms so very different from all other people.  For instance, we usually refer to a “mother and her child.” Matthew 2, in sharp contrast, several times mentions “the child and his mother.”

Another interesting thing, that I had never thought about before listening to S. Lewis Johnson (something he often mentioned):  only once did Christ refer to Himself as having been born.  It’s part of our everyday conversation for all of us to say “I was born in “ such and such a year, or “I was born in “ (fill-in-the-blank) city or state location.  Christ repeatedly referred to Himself as being sent, as having come into the world.  Only once did He say that He was born – in John 18:37, to a Gentile king, Pilate, who would not have understood Christ’s normal language.  Even then, immediately after saying He was born, Jesus quickly added “and for this purpose I have come into the world.”

Excerpts from S. Lewis Johnson on this interesting point:

This verse is very interesting …  This is the only instance in which the Lord Jesus says that he was born.  His characteristic expression is that he was sent into the world or simply that he came into the world.  And this is the only time that he said that he was born.  And strikingly, of course, he said it to a heathen man.  And then quickly modified it by saying, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.”  In other words, it was characteristic of him to say words that suggested his preexistence.  He was sent.  And he came.  This one time he was born.  And of course the reference is to his human nature.

and

Only once does the Lord Jesus ever say that he was born.  Did you know that?  Well it’s alright to say that, but only once does he ever say that he was born, and do you know, do you remember to whom he said, he was born?  He said it to a man who had no theological understanding at all.  He said it to Pontius Pilate.  He said, “For this cause was I born,” and then in order to not confuse people like me and like you who were such great theologians, he said, I have a word for you, for this cause was I born and for this purpose came I into the world.  That’s the only time he ever said he was born, and it was said to the Roman Curator, Pontius Pilate.

Responding Again To The Ten Lost Tribes Myth

December 14, 2012 6 comments

A recent VeritasDomain post, a devotional exhortation to Christians including teachers, emphasizes the importance of studying and being careful to “investigate everything carefully,”  with the example of the gospel of Luke and Luke’s introduction.

 the Christian ought to study things with care and sharpness if we want to emulate Luke. Can you say with a clear conscience, that your studies have reasonably “investigated everything carefully”? This glorifies God when we do this, knowing that He’s a God of truth. … the Christian ought to present the things he studied with equal care and sharpness (like the way he ought to study)”

The same morning I also had brief conversation with a pastor-teacher on a topic that includes one of the interesting details addressed in Luke’s infancy narrative:  Anna of the tribe of Asher.   When this individual (not for the first time) stated in a group (as though it were a fact),  that the people now living in Israel are only from the two tribes of Judah, and God has yet to gather the (lost) ten tribes, I mentioned a few things regarding this error, as something that has been addressed by many including David Baron, John MacArthur and others, and specifically linked John MacArthur’s sermon on that topic in Luke 2.

The teacher in question dismissed the whole topic as a “long-standing debate” he was familiar with but unconvinced of, even saying that John MacArthur was “quite speculative,” and that he doesn’t support Anglo-Israelism (so as to also discredit David Baron’s detailed work)–and then put forth a few scriptural “proofs” for his position, including his statement that the presence of people migrating from the Northern tribes to the south is something different from gathering all 12 tribes and that God has actually promised to regather the specific people scattered in the Assyrian captivity, thus only those people constitute the ten tribes.

(For additional reference see this previous post, a review of David Barron’s classic work.)

To begin with, the basic issues are the same regardless of whether someone supports the particular Anglo-Israelism addressed by David Baron.  As Baron even pointed out, the idea first began among Muslim Arabs by the 1oth century.  As anyone would know who has read it, Baron’s study covered the whole idea, regardless of the particular form.

Now to the specific scriptural “proofs”:

And it’s not true that the Bible mixes and matches the terms Jew and Israel. Jesus “came to His own” — the Jews who rejected Him. In John 11:54 we read that Jesus no longer walked among the Jews.  But when He sent His apostles out, He told them:  “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt. 10:5-6)

Regarding John 11:54:  Every reasonable individual who reads this passage understands the context, which is plain enough: “the Jews” referred to the leaders of the Jews.  Furthermore, during and after this time Jesus did walk among many non-leaders of that same group of people, who were following Him.  By this reasoning, the Jewish leaders were true Jews of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, and the non-leaders were from the other ten tribes. What does this have to do with asserting that the Jews are a different tribal group restricted to only Judah and Benjamin?

Then Matthew 10:5-6:  This claim goes way back within the Lost Tribes group, a verse that David Baron addressed (showing that these ideas are not unique to the Anglo-Israel view).

(a) In Matthew x. we have the record of the choice, and of the first commission given to the apostles. “These twelve,” we read, “Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Of course, the merest child knows that this journey of the twelve did not extend beyond the limits of Palestine, but the “Jews” dwelling in it are regarded as the house of Israel, although many members of that “house” were also scattered in other lands.

Citation of Ezekiel 36:22-28:  Therefore say to the house of Israel  [Northern Tribes, in distinction from the House of Judah]…”

Response:  This assumes a particular meaning of “house of Israel” as only meaning the specific Northern Tribes population that was scattered in the Assyrian captivity.  But what in this text specifically relates to such an identification in the first place?

Further, as brought out by many expositors, we are to understand from actual history that the deportation to Assyria involved the leaders, the wealthy, the nobility – but not every single individual that lived in the north, and indeed not even the majority of the population.  Such was indeed standard practice amongst conquering nations.  Judgment was upon the nation itself, such that the deportation removed the northern tribes’ political power and influence as a nation; it did not remove even the majority of the people, as evidenced by the later statements in 2 Chronicles of the large population still remaining in that geographical area after the Assyrian exile.

But as to the history and identification of Assyria and Babylon, David Baron further notes:

Jerusalem was finally taken in B.C. 588, by Nebuchadnezzar—just 133 years after the capture of Samaria by the Assyrians. Meanwhile the Babylonian Empire succeeded the Assyrian. But although dynasties had changed, and Babylon, which had sometimes, even under the Assyrian régime, been one of the capitals of the Empire, now took the place of Nineveh, the region over which Nebuchadnezzar now bore rule, was the very same over which Shalmaneser and Sargon reigned before him, only somewhat extended.

Now Babylon stands not only for the city, but also for the whole land, in which the territories of the Assyrian Empire, and the colonies of exiles from the northern kingdom of “Israel” were included. Thus, for instance, we find Ezekiel, who was one of the 10,000 exiles carried off by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin, by the river Chebar in the district of Gozan—one of the very parts where the exiles of the Ten Tribes were settled by the Assyrians more than a century previously. …

This proclamation, which was in reference to all the people “of the Lord God of heaven,” was issued in the year B.C. 536, two years after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, and was, we are told, promulgated “throughout all his kingdom,” which was the same as that over which Nebuchadnezzar and his successors reigned before him, only again somewhat extended, even as the kingdom of Babylon was identical with that of Assyria, as already pointed out. Indeed, Cyrus and Darius I are called indifferently by the sacred historians by the title of “King of Persia” (Ezra iv. 5), “King of Babylon” (Ezra v. 13), and “King of Assyria” (Ezra vi. 22).

Another important point brought out in the prophets, though, and missed by the Lost Tribes advocates, is that God’s purpose in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—ended with the Babylonian captivity.  As Baron points out, specifically addressing Ezekiel’s prophecies in the section including Ezekiel 36:

The point, however, to be noticed in this and other prophecies is the clear announcement which they contained that the purpose of God in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—was now at an end, and that henceforth there was but one common hope and one destiny for the whole Israel of the Twelve Tribes—whether they previously belonged to the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or to the southern kingdom of the Two Tribes—and that this common hope and destiny was centred in Him Who is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the rightful Heir and descendant of David. In like manner Jeremiah, in his great prophecy of the restoration and future blessing (chaps. 30-31), links the destinies of “Judah” and “Israel,” or Israel and Judah together; and speaks of one common experience from that time on for the whole people.

Daniel’s prophecy also shows this, that the purpose of God in the schism was now over, in that Daniel includes “not only the men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem in his intercessory prayer, but ‘all Israel that are near, or far off, from all the countries whither Thou hast driven them.’

Arminianism: Error, But Not Damnable Heresy

December 12, 2012 16 comments

On occasion we in Calvinist circles come across someone with a very narrow definition of true Christianity, to the point of saying that Arminians are heretics: as in, not actual Christians.  Aside from the fact that the person may be confusing pelagianism and/or semi-pelagianism with Arminianism, such a view fails to see the difference between a serious error and misunderstanding, versus those we could not fellowship with as Christians.  As S. Lewis Johnson well summed it upWe’re all born Pharisees. We’re born again as Arminians. And the work of sanctification is to bring us to Calvinism.

Phil Johnson also addressed the issue in this talk (Closet Calvinists: Why Arminians pre-suppose the doctrines of grace) at the 2007 Shepherds Conference (article version, Why I Am A Calvinist, Part 1), noting that “I’m Calvinistic enough to believe that God has ordained, at least for the time being, that some of my brethren should hold Arminian views.”  In God’s great providence, shortly after I observed an online incident (a person calling Arminians heretics) and the follow-up discussion on that issue, I came to this great sermon from Charles Spurgeon in my reading through Spurgeon volume 7, “EXPOSITION OF THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE.”  Here are some good points from Mr. Spurgeon:

 The controversy which has been carried on between the Calvinist and the Arminian is exceedingly important, but it does not so involve the vital point of personal godliness as to make eternal life depend upon our holding either system of theology. Between the Protestant and the Papist there is a controversy of such a character, that he who is saved on the one side by faith in Jesus, dares not agree that his opponent on the opposite side can be saved while depending on his own works. There the controversy is for life or death, because it hinges mainly upon the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, which Luther so properly called the test Doctrine, by which a Church either stands or falls. The controversy, again, between the Believer in Christ and the Socinian, is one which affects a vital point. If the Socinian is right, we are most frightfully in error; we are, in fact, idolaters, and how can eternal life dwell in us? And if we are right, our largest charity will not permit us to imagine that a man can enter Heaven who does not believe the real Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are other controversies which thus cut at the very core, and touch the very essence of the whole subject.

I think we are all free to admit, that while John Wesley, for instance, in modern times zealously defended Arminianism, and on the other hand, George Whitefield with equal fervor fought for Calvinism, we should not be prepared, either of us, on either side of the question, to deny the vital godliness of either the one or the other. We cannot shut our eyes to what we believe to be the gross mistakes of our opponents, and should think ourselves unworthy of the name of honest men if we could admit that they are right in all things, and ourselves right, too! … We are willing to admit—in fact we dare not do otherwise—that opinion upon this controversy does not determine the future or even the present state of any man!

Finally, in beginning to expound on what Calvinists do and do not believe, Spurgeon observed (something also applicable to other doctrinal differences among believers):

We have not come here to defend your man of straw—shoot at it or burn it as you will, and, if it suits your convenience, still oppose doctrines which were never taught, and rail at fictions which, except in your own brain, were never in existence. We come here to state what our views really are, and we trust that any who do not agree with us will do us the justice of not misrepresenting us. If they can disprove our Doctrines, let them state them fairly, and then overthrow them, but why should they first caricature our opinions, and then afterwards attempt to put them down?

The Good Shepherd: Symbolic Picture of the Man Born Blind in John 9

December 7, 2012 1 comment

In listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s Gospel of John series, I have now come to the great 10th chapter, the discourses about Jesus as the Shepherd over the Sheep.  Previous teaching that I’ve heard on this subject focused on a few ideas, such as the reference to shepherds in Ezekiel’s prophecy, or comments about the major features of sheep and how we are like sheep.

As always, S. Lewis Johnson went further, with many interesting observations.  Throughout this chapter we see a shepherd who knows us intimately, who knows everything about us, and yet is not ashamed to be our shepherd.  In fact, this great Shepherd delights in being our Shepherd.

Also, the following point, which I had never noticed before: John 10 is connected with the event in John chapter 9, the healing of the blind man.  The words at the beginning of chapter 10 (“Truly, truly” in the ESV) in John’s gospel never occur at the beginning of a new discourse, never introduce any new material.  Rather, the first verses in John 10 give a symbolic picture of John 9.  From this message in the John series:

 Now, in chapter 9 we have the blind man who is healed.  He was blind from his birth.  He’s remarkably healed.  Then we have controversy between the blind man and the Pharisees.  And finally the blind man is thrown out of the synagogue.  But Jesus finds him and unveils himself to him fully, and it is climaxed by his confession, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.  So when we read John 10 we are to think of that particular action.  For example, in John chapter 10 we read of false shepherd in verse 1.  “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.”  In verse 5 we read, “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him.”

Now these strangers and robbers that he refers to in this symbolic picture, these are references to the cruel actions of the Jews in chapter 9 towards the blind man.  In John 9: 22 we read, ” These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”  These are men who seek to come in some other way, so we are think then when we read of the thieves and robbers, of the Jewish men who sought to keep the blind man from coming to Jesus Christ.

In John chapter 9 we notice the remarkable response of the blind man, and that of course is designed to represent the response of the sheep, referred in chapter 10 and verse 3 and 4.  “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”  So the response of the sheep is like the response of the blind man in John chapter 9.  And the care of the shepherd for the sheep, referred to in chapter 10, is like the care of the Lord Jesus for the blind man for when he was thrown out of the synagogue, according to John 9:34 we immediately read, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of Man?” and brought him to faith in himself.  So what we have then in chapter 10 is an allegorical or symbolic picture of the event of chapter 9 with further suggestions as to the meaning of what had happened.