“And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). The flock is the totality of the sheep. God’s people are His flock. The Lord Jesus was saying that besides the sheep in the Jewish fold, He had other sheep. All of them He would gather together into one flock.
The fold is an enclosure where the sheep are kept to protect them from danger and bad weather. At night, or during storms, or in wintertime when the shepherd was not with them, the sheep would remain in the fold. Until Christ came as the Shepherd, the Jews were kept in the fold of religion, preserved during the cold, dark time of His absence. Now the Lord had come to gather the flock together and lead them out. Besides those kept under the guardianship of the law, this unique Shepherd had other sheep, the Gentiles who believed. They must be brought together with the Jews to form the one flock. This one flock is the church.
John 10, besides telling us of the one flock, also says that Christ came that we may have life “and may have it abundantly” (v. 10). The life that the Lord came to make available goes hand in hand with the church. The life and the flock are brought together in this one chapter. The more we enjoy the life of Christ, the more we desire to be with the flock. If we have no interest in the life and no growth in life, we do not care about the church life. But when we receive life from Christ and that life grows in us so that we enjoy life more abundant, there wells up within us the desire for the church life. We feel like scattered sheep, and our longing is to be gathered together into one flock. Thus, John 10, a chapter on life, alludes to the church, the one flock.
GATHERING THE CHILDREN OF GOD INTO ONE
The high priest Caiaphas prophesied that “one man should die for the people, and not the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). This meant that the Lord Jesus was “about to die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather into one the children of God who have been scattered abroad” (vv. 51-52). These verses are also referring to the church. By this one Man’s death there would be a way for God to gather His scattered children. They could be brought together in the church.
Even today God’s children are scattered and divided, but through the death and resurrection of Christ we can be gathered together. The more we experience the death and resurrection of Christ, the more we are gathered with others into one. It is sad that many of God’s children care more for doctrines and practices than they do for the experience of the death of Christ and the enjoyment of His resurrection.
The church is implied, then, in John 11 by the gathering together of God’s scattered children through the death and resurrection of Christ.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The Lord thus likened Himself to a single grain, falling into the ground and dying. The fruit that resulted was the church. From typology we know that the many grains are for the making of a loaf of bread. First Christ was alone, but after His death and resurrection many grains sprang up. By the blending together of these grains into one loaf, the church as the Body of Christ was produced.
Again in John 12, then, we find the church implied. It is the Body of Christ, issuing from His resurrected life.
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)