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. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. (John 10:3-6)
For my whole Christian life, I’ve always heard this passage taught as a comforting picture of Jesus leading His church through the challenges of this life. The Christian puts his/her faith in Jesus and Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, then leads us daily (as portrayed in Psalm 23). I agree with this, but recently a portion of this scripture caught my attention in a new way, and I began to dig into the whole thing a bit more deeply.
There are several words or phrases in this passage that take on a whole new meaning when we look at the original language.
CALLETH (as in “he calls his own sheep) means “to call aloud, utter in a loud voice.”
LEADETH (he “leads them out”) means “lead out, bring out, bring forth, fetch out.”
PUTTETH FORTH (he “putteth forth his own sheep”) means “to command or cause one to depart in haste, to draw out with force, to bring out of, to draw or bring forth, to lead one forth or away somewhere with a force which he cannot resist.”
GOETH (he “goeth before them”) means “to lead over, carry over, transfer” as in
transferring us from one place to another.
When we put these meanings back into the original scripture passage, it starts to look completely different!
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls aloud, utters in a loud voice to his own sheep by name, and leads them out, brings them out, brings them forth, fetches them out. And when he commands or causes one to depart in haste, draws out with force, brings out of, draws or brings forth, leads one forth or away somewhere with a force which he cannot resist his own sheep, he leads over, carries over, transfers as in transferring from one place to another, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. (John 10:3-6)
Now let’s look at a different passage:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thes. 4:16-17)
When these two passages are looked at together, they dovetail almost completely. Both have Jesus shouting or calling in a loud voice. Both have believers being taken, brought out or fetched with an irresistible force. Both have us then being led, carried, or transferred to a new place.
For me, the similarities are too much to ignore. (I know that you might see it differently. 🙂 ) The clincher (again, for me) is that John 10:6 says that they didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. Take a look at I Corinthians 15:51-52:
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Along with the passage in I Thessalonians, this is the classic passage detailing the coming Rapture of the church. Did you notice how it starts? “Behold I show you a mystery.”
A “mystery” in the Bible was a Godly truth that hadn’t been shared or explained yet. It would be no wonder, then, that no one understood what Jesus was talking about!