John 10:11 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
“The words ‘for (hyper ὑπὲρ) the sheep’ suggest sacrifice. The preposition, itself ambiguous, in John always occurs in a sacrificial context, whether referring to the death of Jesus (6:51; 10:11, 15; 11:50ff.; 17:19; 18:14), of Peter (13:37–38), or of a man prepared to die for his friend (15:13). In no case does this suggest a death with merely exemplary significance; in each case the death envisaged is on behalf of someone else. The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display while bellowing, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defence the shepherd loses his life; that by his death they are saved. That, and that alone, is what makes him the good shepherd. He carries a cross, not plastic explosives or an Uzi sub-machine-gun. Moreover, Jesus’ death is here presented as a sacrifice peculiarly directed to the redemption of his sheep, whether of this (Jewish) sheep pen or of others (v. 16). This emphasis on the intentionality of Jesus’ sacrifice is itself grounded on Jesus’ peculiar intimacy with his sheep, an intimacy whose proper analogy is the mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son (vv. 14–15 and notes there).“
D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991).
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