In these verses our Savior concludes his Good Shepherd discourse in which he as so clearly expressed his immense love for us, and it is most striking that this discourse of love should conclude with our Lord’s strongest affirmation of his divinity: “The Father and I are one.” Reflecting on this passage we see that the Good Shepherd must not be a mere man, but must truly be the omnipotent God.
The parable of the Good Shepherd is meant to prove the great love which Christ Jesus has for us, his faithful ones. He tells us that he will protect us from the wolf, Satan and all evils; that he will call us to the verdant pastures of eternal life; and, what is more, he assures us that under his protection no one can do us any true harm.
“No one can take them out of my hand” — In today’s Gospel he now proves what he had said above about the dignity of his sheep, namely, that no one can snatch them from his hand. His reason is this: “No one can snatch what is in the hand of my Father; but the Father's hand and mine are the same; therefore, no one can snatch what is in my hand.” Precisely because our Shepherd is one with God, because he is God himself and Lord of all, he is our Savior—he is able to save us because his love is all-powerful.
Where Christ only a man, he could be a moral leader and a good example, but he could never be our Shepherd and our Savior—for a mere man cannot protect us from evil, a mere man cannot lead us to eternal life. If Christ the Lord were not God, his love would be nothing more than a good-wish--something comforting, but not efficacious. But our Savior is not merely a man, he is truly God and, as God, his love does not merely wish good, but it indeed creates good, it makes us to be good, it establishes us and preserves us in goodness. Because our Shepherd is the Creator of heaven and earth, no wolf—not even the powers of hell—can scatter his sheep.
“The Father and I are one” – Jesus’ divinity is not just some pious thought, something which makes no real difference. For our Lord proves that no one will snatch the sheep from his hand precisely because no one can snatch from the hand of his Father. But this would not follow if his power were less than the power of the Father. Therefore, the Father and Son are one in nature, honor and power. And we, the sheep committed to Christ by his Father, are more highly valued by Christ than anything else; and no one can pluck us either out of the Father’s hand, or out of Jesus’ own hand.
But how did the Jews respond to this? Foolishly, they rejected our Savior’s words. They accused him of blasphemy, for he had made himself equal to God. In this the Jews understood Christ’s words more than many today. For they at least knew that when Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” he was testifying to the truth of his Godhead. While many today pretend that Christ the Lord was nothing more than a moral teach, a good man, or (perhaps) a political and social revolutionary, the Jews at least were honest enough to recognize what Jesus truly claimed to be: the Son of God and God incarnate.
But, unhappily, they rejected this. They thought it was too much for a man to claim equality with God, for they had not faith to believe in the Incarnation. If only they had realized that Christ had come as their Savior, that they could have been his sheep, that the Lord Jesus alone was to be their Shepherd and protector against the forces of evil—how the Lord had desired to gather them into his flock, but they would not.
We too must avoid this pitfall. Knowing that Christ is true God and true man, we recognize him as our Shepherd and Savior. Trusting in his mercy and following his call, no one shall ever take us out of his hand.
For more on the parable of the Good Shepherd see: St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of John 10.5.