The doorkeeper opens to this one, and the sheep listen to his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
10. Who did that “doorkeeper” prove to be, and according to what prophecy?
10 Who, though, was that “doorkeeper”? It proved to be John the Baptizer, a man of the priestly family of the tribe of Levi. God had promised to send a forerunner ahead of the promised “seed” of Abraham. In Malachi 3:1 it was foretold: “‘Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Mark 1:1-11) John was therefore looking for the coming of the promised ‘seed of Abraham’ and, accordingly, he was a sheeplike person the same as those who were in the sheepfold of the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement. However, John was put to death after a year or more of his special ministry. So he did not survive till Pentecost of 33 C.E. to become one of the “little flock” of anointed heirs of the heavenly kingdom.—Matt. 11:11-14; 14:1-12; Luke 12:32; Gal. 3:16.
11. (a) How did Jesus confirm John the Baptizer as being his forerunner? (b) Of what covenant was Jesus the “messenger” when accompanying the Lord Jehovah to the temple?
11 In discussing what part John the Baptizer played in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose, Jesus said to the Jews: “This is he concerning whom it is written, ‘Look! I myself am sending forth my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way ahead of you.’” (Matt. 11:10) Thus Jesus applied the prophecy of Malachi 3:1 to John the Baptizer as the one sent ahead of Jehovah and of his “messenger of the covenant.” Jesus Christ, who accompanies the Lord Jehovah to the temple for inspection, is the messenger, not of the Law covenant, but of the Abrahamic covenant. Those within the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement who had faith in Jehovah’s prophecies were looking forward to the coming of this Messianic “messenger.”
12. What did John the Baptizer say as to how he came to “know” the basic one of the ‘seed of Abraham’?
12 Concerning the principal and basic one of the ‘seed of Abraham,’ John the Baptizer said: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’ And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.”—John 1:31-34.
13. (a) When did John the Baptizer open the “door” to the true Shepherd? (b) To what kind of ‘seed of Abraham’ was John then pointing?
13 Jesus did not sidestep going through the “door” into the sheepfold. At 30 years of age he went to John the Baptizer to be immersed in water. After spending 40 days in the wilderness under temptation, he confidently returned to where John the Baptizer was with a number of his disciples. As he approached the figurative “doorkeeper” of the Abrahamic Covenant sheepfold, John saw him coming and cried out: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, 36) Not the Lamb that takes away the sin of the nation of Israel, but “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John the Baptizer thus opened the figurative “door” to the true Shepherd who had the necessary identification or credentials from the Universal Shepherd, Jehovah God. In directing the attention of his disciples to the approaching Jesus, John was not pointing to a mere circumcised Jew and fleshly descendant of earthly Abraham. No, he was pointing to the Anointed One, the spirit-begotten descendant of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God. He was the principal or primary one of that “seed” of the Heavenly Abraham by means of whom all the families of the ground will bless themselves.
14. (a) On approaching the “sheepfold,” was Jesus looking for just natural Jews and other humans in general? (b) How could a Middle Eastern shepherd call an individual sheep to him?
14 He therefore deserved to be admitted by the “doorkeeper” into the figurative “sheepfold,” the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement. He was the true shepherd, and he came looking, not for Jews or other humans in general, but for those who would respond to the opportunity to become with him part of the composite ‘seed of Abraham’ through whom blessing would come to all nations. The majority of the natural Jews rejected him, but a remnant of the fleshly Jews did accept him. These were the “sheep” that listened to his voice. So, when he called “his own sheep by name,” they responded, and he led them out to pasturage. In the Middle East the shepherd used to assign an individual name to each of his sheep.