Good Shepherd Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A

Acts 2:42-47;
Psalm 23;
John 10:1-10*
1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10

(Even though the following verses were not in the reading for this Sunday, I'm including them because they connect so closely with the John 10 passage reading.)
9:35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38He said, “Lord ,I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

“Very truly,[a] I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate[b] but climbs in by another way[c] is a thief and a bandit.[d] 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd[e] of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him [the stranger] because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
6Jesus used this figure of speech[f] with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am[g] the gate for the sheep.[h] 8All who came before me[i] are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.


The tenth chapter of John as a whole is distributed over the three years of the lectionary: 10:1-10 in year A, 11-18 in year B, and 22-30 in year C.
This section is often called “The Good Shepherd,” as though it is a different new section, but in actual fact, it is a continuation of the conversation with the “blind” Pharisees that he begins in 9:40-41. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1208, is credited with dividing the Bible into chapters. Most of the time his divisions made sense, but on a few occasions, this being one of them, it did not. Who knows what actually happened historically, but theologically John, the Gospel writer, intended these two thoughts to be held together. They are part of a larger and more common pattern in John of miracle-dialogue-discourse.[j]
In the concluding verses of chapter nine, Jesus had just told the man whom he healed from (physical) blindness that he had come into the world so that those who were blind would see and those who were sighted would become blind. It was an obvious reference to the Pharisees who thought they could “see” but were in fact blind (spiritually). Some Pharisees over heard this and said (impudently, probably), “Surely we are not blind, are we?” To which he replied, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” That is, those who are humble enough to admit that they have problems and shortcomings have a leg up on those who claim that they’ve got it all down and don’t need any help. Then he begins the passage for today which describes leadership in the sheep pen (read: “church”) as being under attack by “thieves and bandits.” Some sneak over the wall instead of coming in the legitimate way, through Jesus, and some came already and preceded Jesus.

The passage looks back at a number of Hebrew Scripture (“Old Testament”) images of the shepherd.[k]
·         God as the shepherd of Israel (Gen 48:15; 49:24; Ps 23:1; 28:9; 77:20; 98:71; Is 40:11; Ezek 34:11–31).
·         Israel as his flock (Ps 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 100:3).
·     Abusive or unfaithful religious leaders as destroyers of his flock (Jer 23:1–2; Ezek 34). This is the clearest link with the “thieves and bandits” who “came before” Jesus in this passage. The religious leaders who claimed to lead, but were actually self-serving and enriched themselves at the expense of the Sheep they were supposed to be leading.
·         Faithful human shepherds (Jer 3:15) including Moses (2 Sam 5:2) and David (Ps 78:71–72).

It’s also “the last full discourse of Jesus’ public ministry; Jesus’ next major discourse is the Farewell Discourse of John 14:1-16:33, which is directed to his disciples.”[l] The first five verses of this passage may actually include two separate paroimas (figures) that got smushed together. Scholars are a bit divided on that, but vv. 1-3a are clearly about a shepherd that facilitates the entering into and exiting from the sheepfold, and 3b-5 are about a shepherd who is the “gate” into the sheepfold. So, one can say at least that they are slightly different in theme, even if we can’t be certain if they are different in author. Similarly, some “thieves and bandits” sneak over the wall to the pen to get in and do harm to the sheep. Others “came before” Jesus and apparently claimed to be the sheep’s leaders. Those are different crimes attributed to people with the same title. Is that due to imprecise use of language, or the result of two hands writing at different times with different intentions?
To try to tie John’s language down to just one meaning (gate, gatekeeper, shepherd, etc.) misses his point. He writes in very fluid, wandering, loose, poetic, frustrating language. The precision of this metaphor or that one is roundly unimportant to John. Ultimately the meaning of how the sheep are protected or how they enter the sheepfold is based on their relationship to Jesus, not the next clever paroimia that John comes up with. They are protected because their relationship is with Jesus is so deep and so profound that they can recognize his voice above all others.
“[T]he claim that these are discrete parables misses something that John consistently conveys about Jesus. Simply put, the manner in which Jesus approaches the flock (through the gate) is not established by some external source (i.e., ‘This is what the Messiah will be like’), but by Jesus himself. He is both the shepherd who approaches the sheep in a proper manner and the gate that defines a proper approach. He is both the Messiah and the criteria that establish who the Messiah is and what the Messiah does.” [m]
We sometimes refer to ordained clergy as pastors or shepherds. The Latin for Shepherd is ‘pastor,’ and because of that we tend to associate the shepherd image with pastoral ministry and pastoral care, etc. However, as Loader puts it, “Originally it was most common as a metaphor for rulers, as far back as the Pharaohs. It was a way of describing royal responsibilities which included caring for subjects, the flock. It was apt symbolism when David became the shepherd king and the model for messianic hope.”[n]
So, this passage is not about us. There are passages that do support the idea of clergy as “pastor” (John 21:15-19; Acts 20:28-29 and 1 Peter 5:2-3) but John 10 does not. In fact, in this passage it appears that the ordained religious leaders are the ones he refers to as “thieves and bandits.” I’ll try to get over it.

A few specific line-by-line comments

1“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice.
You can’t tell this in the English, but in the Greek vv. 1-3a are one long sentence. They are a “carefully balanced antithetical parallelism”[o] between the thieves and bandits who do not enter the sheepfold by the gate (but “another way”) and the shepherd who enters by the gate because the gate keeper lets him in (and the sheep hear his voice).
“A thief and a Bandit” (also v. 8)
The word thief may focus on entering by covert means and robber on the use of violence (cf. Luke 10:30, 36).[p]
“Very truly”
This is sometimes called a “double amen,” because in Greek it is literally, “amēn amēn.” Usually translated, “truly, truly” or “verily, verily” in the old King James. Raymond Brown says that it is used to reinforce the point made just before it. It is “what this clause represents, [it] is never used abruptly to introduce a fresh topic. In 3:11 and 5:9 it represents only a new stage in Jesus’ comments on what has preceded.”[q] This supports the notion of many commentators that Chapter 10 is just commentary on chapter 9. There is a pattern in John of moving from a sign, to a dialogue and then followed by a monologue. In this case, the healing of the blind man (9:1-12) was the sign, the argument about the healing with the Pharisees (9:13-41) was the dialogue, and now this discussion about sheep, gates, and shepherds is the monologue. Another piece of that is that elsewhere in this gospel, the words amēn amēn signal one of those turning points to a monologue. See 3:11 and 5:19.  
“The gatekeeper”
There is some discussion among commentators about the change from Jesus being the “shepherd of the sheep” in v. 3, being let in by the Gatekeeper,” and his being the gate itself in v. 7. Is it a later addition by a second hand? Or a later rewrite by the same hand? My sense is that it’s all at least by the same hand, if slightly confusing if one tries to draw logical lines between thoughts. John’s writings have a certain dream-like quality, moving in and out of metaphor and reality, so it’s best to go for the larger sense of the section and not try to tie down any particular thought to an allegorical or literal meaning.
“As is the wont of John’s gospel, Jesus’ speech tends to move forward not in a linear fashion but in something of a spiral as it both circles around itself while simultaneously introducing new material. Thus there is no reason to suspect that these first two parts do not belong together.”[r]
“There is no need to attach any particular interpretation to the gatekeeper (or “watchman”). He is merely a detail of the illustration to ensure entry for the shepherd. What is important is the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd.”[s]
“Over time some have treated this chapter as a series of shifting allegories that can be decoded in a this-equals-that manner (e.g., “bandit” = “Pharisee”). Although tempting, this tactic misses the profundity of the Fourth Gospel’s rhetoric. As with other prominent images in John (bread, water, light, etc.), the linguistic pictures found in chapter 10 have a depth that transcends the narrow interpretive dimensions of allegory. As these images overlap and transform, they explore a central theme in John’s Gospel—the theological relationship between Jesus and those under his care.”[t]
Jesus’ phrases the sheep hear his voice (v. 3) and they know his voice (v. 4) repeat a common theme in John: people who truly belong to God listen to and believe in the words of Jesus (cf. 5:46–47; 8:37, 45, 47).[u] Those who know the voice of Jesus and trust it will not be fooled by the thieves and bandits.
“The sheepfold”
“Eastern sheepfolds had only one door, which was either guarded by the shepherd himself when only one flock was there, or by a gatekeeper when several flocks were enclosed. In the latter case the gatekeeper would know the shepherds. Thieves would be forced to enter by other means. It is probable that no difference is intended between a thief and a robber.”[v]
“During the cool winter months, sheep were kept inside a pen at night; the pen usually had a stone wall, which might have briers on top of it. (Winter was approaching at the time of this feast.) Jewish law distinguished thieves from robbers: the former broke in, whereas the latter often lived in the wilderness and assaulted passersby. Shepherds continually had to guard against losing sheep to either kind of enemy.”[w]
“The Sheep hear his voice”
In the Old Testament, to “hear God’s voice” is to do God’s will. To do God’s will is to hear God’s voice.
3b He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
“The relationship between sheep and shepherd is quite different in Palestine. In Britain the sheep are largely kept for killing; but in Palestine largely for their wool. It thus happens that in Palestine the sheep are often with the shepherd for years and often they have names by which the shepherd calls them. Usually these names are descriptive, for instance, "Brown-leg," "Black-ear." In Palestine the shepherd went in front and the sheep followed. The shepherd went first to see that the path was safe, and sometimes the sheep had to be encouraged to follow….” [x]
4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
“It is strictly true that the sheep know and understand the eastern shepherd's voice; and that they will never answer to the voice of a stranger.”[y]
“The shepherd calls his own sheep by name (10:3). As a result, the sheep hear (akouō) the shepherd’s voice, and they follow that voice and not the voice of a stranger. The notion that Jesus’ followers (as opposed to the nonattentive “world”) instinctively recognize the summons of God can be found throughout John’s Gospel—perhaps most poignantly in 14:17. Are we to interpret this intuitive “knowing” as an internal confidence that steadfastly directs a believer’s attention toward Jesus? Perhaps. Yet even the disciples, who are repeatedly told that they “know” Jesus, appear befuddled from time to time (e.g., 10:6 and 14:7–9) and seem not to know or hear, and hence lose the ability to follow God’s voice. So, at a deep level, the sheep know the particular cadence of the voice of truth, and yet they occasionally manage to forget what that voice sounds like. Preachers might find this an engaging tributary for a sermon. What distinguishes the shepherd’s call from the voice of strangers—the voice that causes the sheep to run? At root this is an ethical question for contemporary Christians whose attention and devotion is being clamored for by so many competing voices.[z]
6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

On Jesus and the various meanings of “gates,” v. 7:
“We are tempted to seek salvation from such phenomena as psychiatry, the free enterprise system, education, or science and technology. ‘Most of these institutions...have been around long enough to be evaluated as salvational systems. They flunk.’ Each produces fruits both good and evil—i.e., technology makes it easier both to save lives and to kill—education makes us smarter but not less evil.”[aa]

Sermon thoughts

As is often the case with John’s writings, there are many directions to go in preaching. Here are a few things that I would suggest. Feel free to send comments and suggestions for other models.

I would start by noting for your listeners that this week we are officially back on a retelling of the life of Jesus trajectory, after taking a slight hiatus to have Jesus enter Jerusalem, get killed, get buried, get resurrected, make an appearance in the locked room with Thomas and the rest, and finally Clopas and a friend on the road to Singapore (or wherever that town was). Now we’re back to slogging through the “normal” story (whatever that means) of the life of Jesus, and this particular piece picks up where the story of the healing of the blind man in Chapter 10 left off.

That’s not insignificant, because as I noted above, this passage is a direct response to the healing story. There’s a good chance that the people he is talking about in this passage are the people that he was talking to in the previous one.

I think, also, that I would spend a little time at the beginning sharing the comments I made above about there being no chapter and verse breaks in those days, etc. Most people appreciate that kind of historical background and it helps them understand the amazing complexity of the holy compilation we call the Bible.

One of the things that happened in Chapter 9 was that Jesus healed a blind man and the authorities went ballistic.
I’ll probably stop here and make the point (as I have many times in the past) that when John says that the “Jews” did thus and such he actually means the “religious authorities.” He couldn’t mean “the Jews” because Jesus himself was a Jew and it would be nonsense. The best recent example of that, if you haven’t spent time on it already, was a couple of weeks ago when we read the scene in John 20, when, after Jesus is dead, buried and resurrected, the disciples are “hiding” in a locked room “for fear of the Jews.” It’s absurd on its face because everyone in the room (including Jesus when he shows up) is a Jew. It would be like me saying I’ve committed a crime and I’m hiding in my house for fear of the “Americans” who are coming to arrest me. That’s nonsense, but John makes that kind of statement all the time. He blames the Jews for everything evil, when in reality he means those religious people who were in authority (that doesn’t make me personally feel much better, being—as I am—one of those religious leader types he’s talking about, but it’s more authentic to what John means for us to be careful with our language.

So, Jesus heals the blind man and among other things, the authorities are outraged. They dislike the idea that Jesus would just walk out there and do that without their authority or approval. Notice that they weren’t excited about the fact that this guy was walking around with both of his eyes working. They didn’t seem to care or even notice that. It was the fact that Jesus did it on the Sabbath that teed them off. He broke the rules. 

You could say that they were more concerned with the rules about living a good life than they were with actually living a good life. They were more concerned with the rules about what makes for health and wholeness (i.e. salvation) than they were with actually getting there.

At this point, it might be helpful to share a bit about the history of Sabbath: It was created as a response to slavery in Egypt. The Sabbath was a one-day-a-week remembrance that we were once slaves and are now liberated (if only briefly) from the slavery of work. Once a week we are regenerated, refreshed, renewed and freed from bondage to labor. But the rule book guys (whom Jesus called “lovers of the law”) twisted it to say that even though it was created to set you free, because it was instituted by God, therefore if you violated it, then you were violating God. It ceased being a gift of God to make us better and became a law that we had to obey.

Jesus said all of this was baloney (I’m sure there is a better Greek word for that, but it would still mean “baloney”). He consistently violated the Sabbath laws. The healing of the blind man is a good example. But there are others, like the story of the time he and his disciples were walking through a wheat field and they were hungry but it was the Sabbath. So he stops and they pick a few grains of wheat and rub it in their hands and separate the wheat from the chaff and eat the wheat kernels. (Now I should say here at the start that this was legal in Jesus’ day; today if you did that you’d be shot on sight as an illegal immigrant—or worse.) So, the authorities came and arrested him, not because he ate a bit from the wheat of a farmer, but because he did it on the Sabbath.

This reminds me of the Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor who participated in the worship service following 9/11 and was jerked from his parish by his authorities because he broke the rules.  His very conservative denomination believed that any contact with lost, unsaved people on the platform that day was an implicit statement that the pastor accepted them as equals and that they were not going to hell for their false beliefs. So, for his crime (attempting to offer spiritual solace to the survivors who had lost loved ones) he was defrocked. There is a moving re-telling of that story in the Frontline, PBS, program that came out a few months after the attack called “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” which I would commend to you, whether or not you use his story here.

All of this so far has been ground work for Chapter Ten of John, when Jesus tells a story about “thieves and Bandits” who try to steal the sheep away. The two are connected, again, because Jesus is clearly referring to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of chapter nine. It should be noted that from the perspective of John, writing some seventy years later, these thieves and bandits may well have been the legalistic, judgmental (selfish, greedy) religious officials of his own day. He and his church had been thrown out of the synagogue (like the blind man when he got his sight), so they may well have been thinking of a more contemporary target for these worlds.

Shepherds who work together put together at the end of the day, a circle of rocks in piles to make a pen—it’s called a “sheep fold”—and then protect the sheep inside from the dangers of wolves by having one of them sleep at the opening of the pen, creating a human “gate.” The next morning the shepherds call out to the sheep to pull them out of their stone fortress and they all come to that one shepherd who calls to them because they recognize his voice. Note that the shepherd does not give them a lot of doctrine, he doesn’t give them rules, he just speaks and they hear his voice. The point is that it is the trust and confidence, and relationship and love that makes the sheep want to trust him, not the fact that he may be right on the doctrine of the trinity.

Jesus is saying that the thieves and bandits are trying to steal sheep from the pen by giving them a rule book religion, salvation by truth. But Jesus is trying to bring them from the fortress to the light, to the freedom of day, by the strength of his relationship. This has enormous implications for the real meaning of the faithing community that we call the “church.” We are not held together (or at least should not be) by rules and regulations and doctrine or fear of punishment. We hold together because all of us are able to hear the voice of God through Jesus Christ that still speaks to us and calls us by name. We recognize that voice, because it is the voice that birthed us and held us and healed us.

Two last illustrations. These are stories that are meaningful to me, but I suspect that you could come up with some that make this same point in a similar way, and which happened to you.

The first one took place when I was in Lucca, Italy some years ago. I was there officiating at my oldest son’s wedding, which is a whole different and delightful story for another time. But after the wedding we traveled around for a while, and one place we visited was the ancient walled city of Lucca. We spent the day there wandering around and playing tourist and at one point I realized that somehow my youngest daughter had wandered off too far from the rest of the wedding party and was nowhere to be found.  

She told me later that she wasn’t really worried because it was still day and there were hundreds of other people in the streets, so she did what any self-respecting young twenty-something would do, she stopped at an outdoor bar and had a drink. She said she sat there for about an hour and then way off, way, way off in the distance, she heard my voice. I wasn’t panicky just yet, but I was calling out for her. It seemed to me that I was a good block or two away and it would seem impossible that she could have heard me, but somehow in spite of the distance, in spite of the crowds, way off in the distance, she recognized my voice and heard me call her name. Suddenly twenty years of love and support and care kicked in and she knew my voice. So, she stood up on the table (which she probably should not have done) and waved her red and white checkered napkin and yelled out “I’m here!” And I saw her.

The second story is of when my step-father was dying. He had had a series of slow and painful strokes and in the end he had trickled down to just a shell. He was in the hospital and thrashing around. The nurses were about to tie him down, which would have been the worst way to see someone you love, just before he died, but they didn’t know what else to do. He had gotten uncontrollable. But just then my mother came in. She held his hand and spoke to him and called his name, and told him that she loved him…and he heard her voice and calmed. She didn’t say anything profound, she just spoke with a voice that he knew loved him, and that last remaining ten percent of his brain recognized decades of love and trust, and confidence and loyalty and relationship and it calmed him like nothing else could have.

The sheep know the shepherd because he speaks with a voice of love and protection and knows their names.

[a] “Very truly” (amēn amēn). This translation makes smooth sense in English, but it diminishes a specific history in Greek. Sometimes called a “double amen.” It is meant to reinforce and strengthen the message of what had gone on just before it. Usually translated, “truly, truly” or “verily, verily” in the King James. “What I just said is truly true.”
[b] “Gate” (thyra) Usually translated as “door” (cf. Matt. 6:6) but as we are talking about a circular pile of stones in the open air to hold in sheep for the night, “gate” is an appropriate translation.
[c] “By another way” (allachothen). Only here in N.T. The kjv translates this from another way” and Vincent stresses this in his commentary: “The thief does not, like the shepherd, come from some well-known direction, as from his dwelling or from the pasture, but from an unknown quarter and by a road of his own. This from is significant, because, in the previous discourses, Jesus has laid great stress on the source from which He proceeded, and has made the difference in character between Himself and His opposers turn upon difference of origin. See 8:23, 42, 44. In the latter part of this chapter He brings out the same thought (vv. 30, 32, 33, 36).”
[d] “Thief and a bandit” (kleptēs estin kai lēistēs). “Both old and common words (from kleptō, to steal, lēizomai, to plunder). The distinction is preserved in the N.T. as here. Judas was ak leptēs (John 12:6), Barabbas a robber (John 18:40) like the two robbers (Matt 27:38, Matt 27:44) crucified with Jesus erroneously termed thieves like “the thief on the cross” by most people. See Mark 11:17. Here the man jumping over the wall comes to steal and to do it by violence like a bandit. He is both thief and robber” (Robertson). Brown notes that Lestes is occasionally used to refer to “guerrilla warriors and revolutionary banditti like Barabbas, who was involved in insurrection (Luke 23:19). Because some think that vs. 8 refers to messianic revolutionaries, the translation ‘bandit’ seems the most comprehensive” (Gospel of John, Anchor Bible, vol. 29B, p. 385).
[e] “The shepherd” (poimēn estin tōn probatōn). No article with poimēn, “a shepherd to the sheep.” The root word is poimēn meaning “to protect.” It is used of Christ in 1 Pet 2:25; Heb 13:20. Paul applies it to ministers in Ephesians 4:11. Jesus uses the verb poimainō, to shepherd, to Peter (John 21:16) and Peter uses it to other preachers (1 Pet 5:2) and Paul uses it for bishops (elders) in Acts 20:28. Our word “pastor” derives from Latin for shepherd.
[f] “Figure of speech” (paroimia,παροιμίαν).  A symbolic or figurative saying. Roughly similar to a proverb. The closest thing that John has to a parable (parabolē), so common in the other gospels. Rarely used elsewhere in the NT. Cf. John 16:29, 2 Pet 2:22, John 16:25. Homiletics, however, notes that “throughout the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT), both Greek terms are used to translate the Hebrew words, mashal, meaning a proverb, parable, story, or saying. Thus, while Jesus’ speech here may be a ‘figure of speech’ rather than a parable proper, it is not so far afield as to be something entirely different” (p. 21).
[g] “I am” (ego eimi). Here and in v. 9, this expression, almost solely found in John’s gospel, may be a figure of speech, or it could be John’s reading of the divinity of Jesus back into the historical Jesus. It is identical to the way that God introduced God’s self to Moses in Exodus 3:14. In John’s understanding of the story, it is expressions like this one (in their larger theological meaning), that turned “the Jews” on him and precipitated the crucifixion.
[h]The gate for the sheep” (egō eimi hē thura tōn probatōn).   Some ancient authorities have ὁ ποιμήν instead of ή θύρα. Metzger ( believes this to be “an early alleviation of the text, introduced by copyists who found the expression “the door of the sheep” too difficult.”
[i] “All who came before me.” Not all ancient manuscripts follow the word “came,” with “before me.” Metzger and the United Bible Society were unable to conclude whether some added the term to make a very compressed expression more clear or  others omitted it to mitigate against the impression that Jesus is condemning all prophets and people of God who came before him. Eventually they decided to add πρὸ ἐμοῦ to the text, but to put it in brackets, meaning, we just don’t know. Since Jesus frequently spoke of the prophets who preceded him without criticism, the first option is probably more likely. Another frequently raised option is that he is referring to the Pharisees and other religious leaders like those with whom he had just been arguing (9:40). Another problem in translation is that some manuscripts delete the word “all” (πάντες pantes) at the beginning of the sentence. Perhaps, again, this was to lessen the radical sound of Jesus’ words. See Bruce Manning Metzger and United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), p. 195.
[j] New Interpreter’s Bible:  Vol. IX, Luke John (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995), p. 666.
[k] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1993).
[l] New Interpreters, p. 666.
[m] Scott Black Johnston, “Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A,” in The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts, Volume Three, ed. Roger E. Van Harn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), pp. 525–526.
[n] Loader, First Thoughts on Year A Gospel Passages from the Lectionary, “Easter 4.”
[o] Ibid.
[p] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2043.
[q] Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, Anchor Bible Series, Vol. 29B (New York: Doubleday, 1966), p. 385.
[r] Homiletics, May-June, 2014, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 20-21.
[s]D.A. Carson and Donald Guthrie, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1994).
[t] Scott Black Johnston, “Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A,” in The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts, Volume Three, ed. Roger E. Van Harn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), p. 524.
[u] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), p. 2043.
[v] Carson and Guthrie, New Bible Commentary.
[w] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1993).
[x] Barclay, Daily Study Bible: John
[y] Barclay, Daily Study Bible: John
[z] Johnston, “Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A,” p. 526.
[aa] (Snow, and Furnish, Proclamation: Easter Series A [Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1974], pp. 30-31, cited in Richard Donovan, SermonWriter: Resources for Lectionary Preaching, “Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A,” April 21, 2002 []).