I. Establish the text
A. Select the Pericope: John 10:1-10
C. Other texts for Year A for 4th Sunday in Easter
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
1 How might this phrase be modernized? “He who enters a home by a window … or enters a car with a coat hanger … bypasses security …
3 My dad had a corner office on the 50th floor, but he knew the security guards by name. Made entry easier, but also improved security.
4-5 Who are you on an “It’s me,” basis?
7-9 Some may read this exclusively, e.g. “Someone who does not enter by Jesus, does not get in,” (and that may be true), but it is more important that we read this as the easy way in is to get on a first name basis with Jesus.
E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?
- Follows Jesus giving sight to a man blind from birth. After significant debate, the Pharisees throw the man out of the temple. This passage concludes with Jesus saying: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
- Followed by “I am the good shepherd …” which raises allegations of blasphemy for asserting being one with God the Father.
II. Literary Study.
D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?
- This is a “figure”. By design it conceals and reveals, sharpening criticism like a modern political cartoon.
III. Question the text.
A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.
- In these figures, the sheep have no voice.
- The stranger/thief provides a contrast to the shepherd.
C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?
- Center of Gravity: Contrasting false teachers and prophets with Christ as the protector of the sheep.
F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?
- This passage has been used to align church leaders with the Good Shepherd: title of “Pastor,” role of pastoral care, congregations are called “flocks,” a shepherd’s crook might be used as a symbol of office, …
IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?
Gerard Sloyan (Interpretation: John, JKP, 1988) notes: “The game of picking one’s ‘thieves and robbers,’ one’s ‘other sheep not of this fold,’ is an old one. … No Christian confession or group should indulge lightly in declaring others ‘outside the fold.’ Their being of the same fold with all who bear the Christian name should be a matter of hope and prayer.”
Gail R. O’Day (The New Interpreter’s Bible, Abingdon, 1995, “The Gospel of John”) notes: “Scholars are divided on whether vv. 1-5 contain one unified figure of speech or whether it is the fusing of two distinct figures. … one about entering the sheepfold (1-3a), a second about the shepherd (3b-5).” A sharp division is not essential as the sentences form a consistent image of the shepherd as contrasted with the thief/stranger.
Fred B. Craddock (Knox Preaching Guides: John, 1982) discusses if this passage can be considered apart from chapter 9, due to the change in imagery. He argues for independence pointing to the time markers at 7:22 and 10:21.
V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?
Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond
A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?
B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.
C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?