The Good Shepherd
by Elder Randy Slak
Let us take a look today at John 10:11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Jesus is the spokesperson of these words, speaking directly of Himself. How can He proclaim this, why does He say this, and what does the Shepherd do? We will see some answers from the Bible and also see insights from a shepherd and author Phillip Keller in his book, A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23.
The apostle John pens the first two words of this verse with "I Am." Jesus has now referred to Himself as that for the 4th time in John's gospel to this point. In Exodus 3:14, God said, "I am who I am," referring to God, Yahweh, (YHWH), Elohim, meaning eternal, self-existent one. Yes, He had no beginning, He has no end, and now the speaker of these words is the incarnate God, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, and people knew that He was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:18). Jesus says "the good shepherd," showing that He is "the" good shepherd as in one, not a good shepherd as in many. He is also the Chief Shepherd in 1Peter 5:4, and the "Great Shepherd" in Heb.13:20. He is not your average shepherd. Jesus says He is the good shepherd. Good refers only to God as in Math.19:7, and Paul says there are none of us that do, practice good. In the Greek, it is a word that means morally good, beautiful, winsome, lovely, attractive, and other qualities of exceptional worth adding up to "good."
Why or what makes Him good? The rest of the verse says He lays down His life for the sheep. Jesus refers often to His followers as sheep. It is a beautiful picture of what I have seen in the fields of Greece. Jesus repeats this action of indescribable love of laying down His life for the sheep in verses 11, 15, 17, and 18 in this same chapter.
1) And this is voluntarily. No accident here. Acts 2:23 says that it was by the pre-determined plan of God.
2) It is vicarious, in other words, substitutionary." 1 Peter 3:18, says, He died once for all, the just for the unjust.
3)It was for a specific group of people. John 10:27-29 says that to those who hear His voice He has given eternal life and no one can snatch them out of His hand or the Father's hand.
All sheep are different, there are no two alike. Only the shepherd knows whose sheep are his. So it is with Jesus. They know His voice and will not go to the other shepherds, the sheep know only His voice, a stranger they simply will not follow. When Jesus says in John 20:16, after Mary thought she was talking to the gardener, Jesus says "Mary" she immediately recognizes that it is her Shepherd, and she responds,"Rabboni."
The Good Shepherd is hard working and diligent. Sheep do not lack rest (Psalm 23:2a). Sheep do not lack guidance (Psalm 23:2b). Sheep do not lack safety (Psalm 23:4). Sheep do not lack provision (Psalm 23:5a). And sheep have a heavenly home (Psalm 23:6b). This is a picture of contentment.
The Good Shepherd is patient (2Peter 3:9). The Good Shepherd is a good example (John 13:15). The Good Shepherd is self-sacrificing (John 10:15). The Good Shepherd is moved by love (John 13:34,35).
From Phillip Keller, "Who better could care for me? I belong to Him simply because He deliberately chose to create me as the object of His own affection. I truly belong to Him simply because He has bought me again at the incredible price of His own laid-down life and shed blood. He is ever interceding for us, He is ever guiding us by His gracious Spirit, He is ever-working on our behalf to ensure that we will benefit from His care."