Jesus our Good Shepherd
This passed month we have been looking at the names of Jesus has many names and many powerful functions and responsibilities. Many time we look at His names and just glance by them but His names always deserve our attention because there are reasons why Jesus is called what is He called. There are reason behind the names. This mornings name has deep many too. It is one I am sure everyone has heard, Good Shepherd.
Jesus our Good Shepherd.
Unless you have studied the meaning of this term or have visited a sheep farm, you might not understand exactly why Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. Well this morning we will take a look at why Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we will see three reasons why Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Three reasons Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Three reasons Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
If you have your Bibles turn with me to John 10:11-18
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Jesus is teaching the people about Himself and using a very powerful metaphor that the Israelite would have understood. In the same way that David the King personified God as a shepherd in Psalm 23, Jesus here uses the same metaphor to explain Himself and His relationship to the nation of Israel and the world. In verse 11 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” In order to understand this metaphor we need to have an understanding of a shepherd. The shepherd as Jesus uses the term here is one who owns a flock of sheep. The sheep are very important to a shepherd. They are his livelihood. He makes money from the sheep, weather it is having them for food or sheering them and selling the wool for clothing their lives are wrapped up in the sheep. They also spend a lot of time with the sheep. Pretty much day and night they are with the sheep. Since they are his property and they are his livelihood, the shepherd will do what he can to protect his sheep.
The Good Shepherd Protects
The Good Shepherd Protects
Jesus being the good shepherd is more then Him just being the shepherd. He is the good shepherd this is a designation that is only reserved for God. This is actually a contrast to what Jesus says in the next verse. Verse 12, “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” So the shepherd is the owner of the sheep and the hired hand is well the hired hand. The hired hand is not going to care for the sheep the same way the shepherd will. A hired hand is there for his paycheck and that is all. He doesn’t care about the sheep the same way the owner does because if the sheep are lost, then he will just get another job somewhere else. He also won’t put his life on the line for the sheep. The shepherd will guide the sheep away from danger and protect the sheep. The hired hand will instead protect himself and run away from the sheep.
The danger in this is the wolf will ravage the sheep. He will tear some to shreds and the rest will scatter. Now the scattering will be worse for the shepherd because now he has to go and round up his sheep and this could take him a long time. This also means the shepherd won’t be able to protect them from danger because they are scattered. So what the wolf doesn’t ravage the shepherd will lose. That is why the shepherd is a Good shepherd and the hired hand is not, because the shepherd owns them and the shepherd also cares for them.
The hired hand doesn’t care for the shepherds sheep. They only care about themselves. They are there to make money and if there is danger involved they flee because they don’t care. The good shepherd on the other hand cares about his sheep. Because of this care we find that the shepherd will do what it takes to protect His flock. Just like the young David told Saul. (Look up David and Goliath)
31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”
David’s responsibility was to protect his sheep. Notice how he went after a lion and a bear and he trusted in God’s care for him as he did. Jesus’ responsibility is to protect His sheep. He will also lay down His own life for them. David was not a hired hand, but the sheep were his father’s, so they are also his. A hired hand would not have done what David did. A hired hand also wouldn’t have had the trust in God the way David did.
This is why David also wrote Psalm 23.
A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
He knew what it meant to be a shepherd and when David thought of God, he thought of how God provides for His people, protects them and prepares a place for them. All of that is in Psalm 23 and when we look at Jesus and He calls Himself the Good Shepherd, there is an allusion to God as the shepherd in Psalm 23. In the same way God cares for His people, Jesus cares for His people. In the same way God placed people over the nation of Israel to care for them, they would fail because they were only hired hands and not the shepherd to the flock. The problem with the hired hands that God would put in place was, they didn’t own the flock and they didn’t care about the flock. They only cared about themselves. Everything they did was to benefit themselves. They never pointed the people back to God. Even when they did it was always half hearted never all in. Man is always out to glorify self but Jesus is out to glorify God. Not only did the hired hands not fend off the wolves they actually allowed the wolves to come into the fold become friendly with the flock so when they did ravage the flock the flock didn’t budge, they didn’t even notice.
The Good Shepherd is Loyal
The Good Shepherd is Loyal
The Good Shepherd on the other hand cares for His sheep. He is not a hired hand and He knows who the wolves are and His job, His task is to expose those wolves and to protect His sheep. Notice I said His sheep. He doesn’t protect all sheep, only His own. See He says this in verse 14, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father know Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” See Jesus knows His own and His own know Him. He compares this to Jesus Himself knowing the Father and the Father knowing Him. There is a close relationship between Jesus and the Father, and in this same way there is a close relationship between Jesus and His flock. A very close relationship.
The relationship between the Father and the Son deals with the idea of submission, or obedience. Jesus knows the Father and what the Father’s will is for Him. It is to lay down His own life for His own people. This He does because He followed God perfectly and was aligned perfectly with God’s will. This is submission, this is obedience and when it comes to sheep they are submissive to the shepherd. They know their shepherd and their shepherd knows them. The sheep spend so much time with the shepherd that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice. The shepherd knows his sheep so well he even names them and the sheep know the voice of the shepherd.
Jesus knows our names and knows them well. When Jesus resuscitated Lazarus He went to the tomb had them open it up and He called Lazarus by name. He said “Lazarus come forth.” There are two reasons why I believe He had to call Lazarus by name first because if He only said come forth all the dead would have risen. Second, and this is more what I believe, and keeping with the context of the chapter and what Jesus says here. Jesus knows His sheep, He calls them by name and when He calls them by name, they come forth. Do you know when the event of Jesus calling Lazarus forth happens, chapter 11. It is the very next event after Jesus teaches these lessons with the metaphor of a sheep and shepherd. Jesus knows His own and His own know Him. So when He calls His own will listen. They will come to Him.
Jesus wants us to know Him in the same way He knows the Father. Jesus and God are One, but Jesus had to know the Father’s will. That is why Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer so that He would continually align Himself to the Father’s will. Jesus always had opposition, there was always someone out to stop Him. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus couldn’t sin so He was never going to fall for the ways of the world but He still need to be aligned with the will of the Father, He still need to be sure He was following the Father’s plan. So He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. They are in sync and that is what Jesus wants for His own, He wants His own to be in sync with Him. This is the thing with the sheep. Sheep are in sync with their owners. They are in sync with their owners because they know the owner. When the owner says go they go, when the owner says stay they stay, when the owner leads them to their pen they go. Sheep are loyal to their owner, they listen and they obey and they follow. Jesus asks the same of us, He wants man to listen, to obey and to follow, not another man, not a movement, but Him.
Now the sheep Jesus is talking about in verse 15 are the Israelites, the Gentile sheep are mentioned in verse 16. Look at what Jesus says here, 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” Jesus has another flock out there. There are other sheep, sheep that are in a different pen. These sheep Jesus won’t leave behind but will call them too and when He calls them they will hear His voice and they will come to Him and He will be the shepherd over this one flock. This flock is the church. The church is made up of both the original flock, Israel, and the other flock, Gentiles, me, you. We are now joined to the original flock and we are one flock. It is no longer Isreal and Gentiles but the church age. When Jesus calls us we listen, we obey and we follow. This is what we are to do if we are a part of His flock. A wayward sheep only falls to danger, a wayward sheep leaves the comfort and the protection of the shepherd. A wayward sheep puts the rest of the sheep in danger also because the shepherd has to go and find the wayward sheep. Most people don’t think about how their sin will affect the rest of the flock but it is dangerous to everyone around you. So you need to stay in sync with the shepherd. That is why you need to be loyal to Christ our shepherd, in the same way He is loyal to the Father. How do you do this? Simple, know His voice and what is the best way to know His voice, through His word. Not just the read letters but all of it. Jesus is the Word in the flesh, who was from the beginning. The Scripture is not just a book but His voice speaking to us about how to live and how trust our Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd is Glorified
The Good Shepherd is Glorified
In verses 17-18 we find out why this is so important and we find out why Jesus is the Good Shepherd and why we should trust Him wholeheartedly. 17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it way from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd because He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself.” He took on the form of a baby, a human with flesh and He followed God’s plan to the letter. He laid down His life for the sheep. Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross, His selfless love for the human race in protecting them from not only the savage wolves that are out to devour the sheep. He also protected man from taking the wrath of God which we so richly deserve. He protected us when no one else could, in a way no one else can. He protected us from our sin with His Own life. This is why He is the Good Shepherd and this is why we must trust Him.
Jesus says “for this reason the Father love Me,” this means that God loves Jesus and because of the love God the Father has for Jesus, Jesus fully submits to the will of God, and goes to the cross as the substitute for man. This is selflessness. This is what real love is. Real love, true love deep godly love is selfless, it is not regarding yourself as better then anyone else. It is putting others before you and putting other peoples best interest in mind. God’s Love for Jesus is deep and Jesus knows God and Jesus knows how deep His love is. This drives Jesus to submit to God and it drives Jesus to love us by laying down His life for us. It was not what He could get out of it, it was always about what God would get out of it. This is our example, Jesus was always focused on glorifying the Father and the Father would glorify Him. Since Jesus was so focused on serving the Father out of love, Jesus being our shepherd and sacrificing His own life for us means we should serve Him out of love.
Jesus going to the cross was not an afterthought. Jesus was not born into this world without knowing what would have happened to Him. Jesus knew the agony He would go through. Jesus knew what it would mean for Him to have to take on the sins of the world. Jesus knew, and I want you to understand this, what death would mean for Him, all God’s wrath poured out on Him and a separation from God. He knew it all. Yes, He had the authority to take His own life, no one took from Him but Jesus gave up His own ghost and He had the the authority to take it back up again. This doesn’t make the pain He had to go through any less difficult but having the end in view, the glory of the Father and the exaltation of the Son, made the pain worth it.