In our studies, we have passed over a verse that deals with the church, which is mentioned for the first time. This verse sets the stage for the teaching about the church in following chapters. This deals with the members of the church. It tells how people become members of the living organism. It teaches about the Shepherd who is the sole head. The imagery that is involved is the sheep, the flock and the shepherd.
John 10:16 (KJV)
(16)”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.”
What does “other sheep” mean? In the context of the parable, this means Gentiles. The opening verses speak of one pen, and one fold. That fold was Judaism. Jesus came to call His own first out of Judaism. One specific example is the man born blind. The others were the disciples. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were another example. Christ introduces the fact that there are other folds: Greeks, Romans and the barbarian fold along with many others. In each of these folds, Christ has those who are his own. The Father has given them to Him. He would soon die for these ones. They would form that one great flock, the church. Of this great flock, Jesus would be the one true Shepherd.
Jesus makes a wonderful statement. He says, “I have other sheep.” This is not a hope. It is a statement of fact. This statement was not in the mind of the disciples. The reason being they were hoping that Jesus would become the Messiah of Judaism. They also hoped that all the Jews would accept Jesus for who He is. Jesus would have believers in Samaria, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, Rome, Gaul, Spain, and other places in the world. Jesus mentions this in Acts 1:8.
Note what Spurgeon said about this: “Our Shepherd-King has greater thoughts than the most large-hearted of his servants. He delights to enlarge the area of our love.” [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Other Sheep and One Flock,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 29 (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), 187].
This statement reminds the student of what was said by Jesus’ words to the apostle Paul. It is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of Acts. Paul was in Corinth. He did not have a successful preaching mission in Athens. There had been too much opposition from the Jewish population in Corinth. Paul was somewhat discouraged at this point. The Lord spoke to Paul in a night vision. He told Paul to be not afraid. He told him to keep on speaking, and not be silent. “For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10. What a comfort that must have been to Paul! This gave Paul the boldness he needed to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. This encourages us today to be witnesses to a dying world. Notice the phrase in verse 16 where Jesus says “them also I must bring.” This should propel us forward in our effort to be a witness to the world.
This is not the only place where Jesus uses the word “must.” First, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man “must” be lifted up. John 3:14. This spoke of the necessity of Christ’s death. Second, “Know ye not that I “must” be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. Third, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today” Luke 19:5. Hear the divine necessity is applied to the calling of the individual. When it comes to the other flock, the principle is applied to the calling of God’s people throughout the world.