Faithlife Sermons

I AM the Good Shepherd

It's All About Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:18
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It’s generally thought that Sheep are stupid, defenceless and harmless creatures that simply graze about on hillsides and are only good for two things - wool and food
This opinion has not changed much since the 1700s, when George Washington declared: "If our freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
On the contrary sheep have been found to be intelligent, complex creatures, and sociable - Sheep display an intensely gregarious social instinct that allows them to bond closely to other sheep. They respond readily to food calls, may problem solve, learn their names. Left on their own they will blindly following the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing.
The Bible describes us as “sheep that have gone astray” (Isa 53:6). “People wandering like sheep - afflicted for lack of a shepherd (Zech 10:2).
Jesus looks out at the crowds of people following him and has compassion on them because “they were harassed and helpless - like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36)
Jesus has described himself as the gate and now he says, “I am the good shepherd.”
Three ways Jesus shows that he is the good shepherd:
he knows his sheep,
he protects his sheep,
he provides for his sheep.
Read John 10:11-21
Prayer of Illumination


Several years ago Dawn and I accompanied a choral group from Judson College in Marion , AL to England, Scotland and Wales - there were many memorable events that took place over the course of two weeks - places we visited and things we saw, but one of the pictures that has been indelibly etched in my mind is the countryside of Wales - rolling green mountainsides and moorlands covered with thousands of sheep. With over 10 million sheep - sheep farming is important to the economy of that country.
Sheep were everywhere in Wales....
Sheep are everywhere in our Bibles as well...
As early as Genesis 4:2 we hear about Abel, “a keeper of flocks (of sheep).
Sheep and shepherding are common themes in the lives of the Old Testament characters. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, and David and his brothers (the sons of Jesse) were all shepherds.
Sheep are everywhere.
They were important as a source of food.
We’re told that Solomon’s provision for one day was (1 Kings 4:22-23) “thirty kors of fine flour and sixty kors of meal, ten fat oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, a hundred sheep besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl.”
Sheep were not just a source of food, but were also used for sacrifices under the Levitical law.
God commanded that the firstborn of every flock was to be offered to him as a tithe and sacrifice, and sheep were the primary animal used for burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. On the high feast day of the Passover, a family would gather together in their home, sit down, and consume a sheep together.
Sheep weren’t just eaten and sacrificed, but were also used for other things as well.
Sheepskin was turned into containers for wine and water, clothing, coverings, and parchments to write upon.
Sheep bones and horns were made into writing utensils.
Sheep were everywhere.
The Jews who were listening to Jesus would have immediately known what he meant when he spoke of sheep and a shepherd. Just like if I were to say: “kindergarten teacher”, “banker”, or “lawyer”, different images pop into your mind, with the different characteristics that mark each profession. You know them. So it was for those Jews about sheep and shepherds.
So it’s not so strange when God uses the metaphor (word picture) of sheep and a shepherd in reference to his people and himself throughout the Old Testament.
Jesus didn’t do this out of the blue. He purposely and intentionally chooses this word picture because of it’s meaning drawn from the Old Testament...
Yahweh, the ones who name is “I AM WHO I AM”, did this time and time again, and any Jewish man or woman listening to Jesus here would have had these WORDS going through their minds.
They would have thought of Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:1-2a

Or perhaps would have thought of Micah 2:

“I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in the fold; Like a flock in the midst of its pasture ...” (Micah 2:12, NASB95)

Or Ezekiel might have come to mind:

And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 34:13-15

The LORD God is saying “I will be the shepherd of my sheep, my people” . .
And now Jesus says the same thing twice. “I am the good shepherd”(John 10:11 & John 10:14) as he uses the name of God (I AM)
Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός
Jesus’ bold assertions can’t be missed in these “I am” statements. Time and time again, he identifies himself with יְהוָ֥ה - the God of the Old Testament Scriptures, the one and only true God...
If you think that’s just pastor ramblings, look down at verse 20.
Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?”” (John 10:20, NASB95) That’s what you do when someone claims to be God—unless he is God.
Jesus is the fulfillment of these shepherd texts. He is God in the flesh, coming to gather his people and shepherd them for all eternity.
Jesus doesn’t simply say he is “The Shepherd” - he says he is “The Good Shepherd”
Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.

He tells us three things about “the good shepherd”

he knows his sheep,
he protects his sheep,
and he provides for his sheep.

The Good Shepherd Personally Knows His Sheep (v. 14)

I am the good shepherd. I know (γινώσκω) my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father… John 10:14-15a
One of the most interesting things about shepherds in the ancient world (I don’t know if this is true today) is that when they would gather their sheep together in sheepfolds, especially when they were in a communal area, multiple shepherds would gather their sheep within a common sheepfold. Multiple flocks might spend the night together in one sheepfold.
In the morning those sheep would need to be separated into separate flocks. Each sheep belonged to a different flock and had a separate shepherds. Each shepherd was responsible for taking care of the flock assigned to him. Each shepherd would stand at the opening of the corral and call his sheep. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know him and his voice.
That’s what Jesus says in verse 3: the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. They know him, and he equally knows them.
In Ezekiel 34, which we read earlier, the Lord is the great shepherd:
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” He knows his sheep. He knows their condition: whether they’re lost, straying, injured, or weak. This knowledge allows him to apply the right care. He knows which sheep are prone to wander, so he sets two eyes on them. He knows which sheep are sluggish, so he prods them. He knows which sheep weak, and treats them more gently. There is great comfort in this.
This GOOD SHEPHERD know each of his sheep intimately - personally - he know you by name!
As a parent, you know that your children are all the same in some ways: they all have your love, and they’re all wretched little sinners, like sheep going astray. But they are also all uniquely different. You can correct one child with just a look, but another child isn’t fazed anything but a firm hand. Some are tender. Some are stubborn. Some are hurting. Some never seem to get hurt. All of the knowledge that you have about them allows you to parent them better.
Christ, as the good shepherd, knows his sheep thoroughly.
Dear Christian, there is nothing about you that he does not know, from the greatest to the slightest; from the most obvious what you think is the most hidden. He knows it all! In fact, he knows you better than you know yourself.
He knows our weakness and vulnerability.
The great issue is not believing that Jesus is the good shepherd, but that we are weak sheep who need the good shepherd.
But this is what he knows. Often, we want to hide what we truly are from others, because we know that we are weak and frail. We know what we look like on the inside. We like to keep that from others and put a cover over it.
I think about Psalm 139, where David says,

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.” (Psalm 139:1–4, NASB95)

That would be a scary thought, if it were not for what follows.

You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:5–6, NASB95)

Who else would we want to know us this well but the one who promises to be with us, to hem us in before and behind, to safeguard us, and to minister to us in our weakness? Wherever I go, Christ is with me. He surrounds me. He never abandons me, because he knows me. He knows that I am weak, and that I need the good shepherd. He gently cares for his sheep and deals with us according to our need - tenderly and carefully.

Just to underscore this knowledge, Jesus says that he knows us and we know him just as the Father knows him and he knows the Father.

That should rupture every circuit in your head. Think about the knowledge that the Son has of the Father and the Father has of him. How deep and how wide and how high it is! They have belonged to one another for all of eternity, enjoying one another, delighting in one another, and dwelling with one another as one!
Yet Jesus says that his knowledge of us and our knowledge of him is at least comparable to the knowledge of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14–15, NASB95)

We belong to him, and he to us. As linked as Jesus is to the Father, so we are to Christ.
How can we be so sure that Jesus is this kind of shepherd?” The answer is found multiple times in this passage.

Verse 11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Verse 14:I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Verse 17:For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

As the good shepherd, he shows what lengths he will go to for the eternal protection of his sheep. This is the good shepherd who protects the sheep with his very life. This is your iron-clad guarantee. He proved himself in the costliest of ways. He knew our greatest need.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6–7, NASB95)

One who is hired to shepherd who has no personal interest in the sheep, flees when the wolf comes, when the sheep need their protection.
Jesus says he’s just not a shepherd he is THE GOOD SHEPHERD, who lays down his life for his own sheep (John 10:3). He dies for them because they are his.
Think of how many sheep, through all those Old Testament sacrifices, were sacrificed for shepherds. Now Jesus says that he, as THE SHEPHERD, will be sacrificed for his sheep.
The shepherd serves the interest of the sheep. Here is the . . .
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NASB95)
The Good Shepherd KNOWS his sheep....

The Good Shepherd Protects His Sheep

Why? Why would he give his life for measly sheep?
As D.A. Carson wonderfully said,
“The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display, while bellowing, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defense, the shepherd loses his life; and that by his death (and only by his death) could they be saved. This is what makes him the good shepherd above all else: he willingly dies for his sheep, to protect them.”
Think through this. In an average case, if a shepherd dies, the flock is abandoned to the darkness. There is nothing left to protect them.
Under normal circumstances it is not good if the shepherd dies. But Jesus, as the good shepherd, knows that if he does not die, his flock will be abandoned to the darkness. He gives himself “Lays down his life” to be sacrificed so that his sheep might live.
That’s a good shepherd.
Make no mistake. It was his knowledge of what we needed and his willingness to meet that need that led to his death. This was no accidental death.
Jesus says in both verses 11 and 14, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” A shepherd may be willing to sacrifice his life, but Jesus doesn’t just say that he’s willing...

He’s saying he was born to die

It wasn’t the power of the wolf, but the authority of the Son, that leads him to lay down his life, so that he might take it up again for us.

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. “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.”” (John 10:17–18, NASB95)

For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross. He knew that our life required his death and our death required his life. That’s a good shepherd.

Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.” (Genesis 22:8, NASB95)

It’s monumental love, because love is what moves him to give his life for us. Look at John 13. John picks this up. It’s a wonderful display of this king of glory, who humbles himself by washing the disciples’ feet. In the whole intro to that, John says this:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1, NASB95)

Here is a “love that will not let me go” (hymn)
Here is The shepherd who loves his sheep more than his own life. It’s why the writer of Hebrews, speaking about his shed blood, says that he is the great shepherd of the sheep (Heb 13:1).

The Good Shepherd Provides for His Sheep

Think of the last verse of Psalm 23. The context is that the Lord is our shepherd. That final statement begins with,

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6, NASB95)

That word “Surely”it’s guaranteed - beyond a shadow of a doubt - rest assured.... He provides goodness, the Lord’s blessing and forgiveness, and mercy, lovingkindness - God’s Covenant Faithfulness to us.
His Sheep possess those two things now and forever - goodness and mercy (lovingkindness - covenant faithfulness)
“and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28, NASB95)

Goodness and mercy

follow his sheep everywhere they go. You can’t shake them. You can’t lose them. Do you think that he just doesn’t know what you need, or he can’t provide that, or he doesn’t know this?
Even though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death - I will fear no evil because You are with me....Whatever it is, we begin to worry and fret. This is why the Scripture speaks so many times about not being anxious. Jesus gives us so many object lessons along these lines. When he’s giving the Sermon on the Mount to all the gathered sheep laying in the grass, he reminds them. “Be anxious for nothing. Don’t worry about what you’ll eat or wear tomorrow. The Lord, the Father, clothes the grass of the fields. He feeds the sparrows. He provides.” (Matt 6:31-34)
Think about Jesus feeding the 5,000. 5,000 people are gathered before him. The picture is very Psalm 23-ish: they are laying on the green grass, receiving the word. He is preaching to them and watching over them. The disciples come up anxiously, wondering, “What are we going to feed all of these people? We need to send them away!” Jesus provides the food that they need—and it’s not as if they’re going to starve from missing one meal! God provides.
Then there is the feeding of the 4,000. He’s teaching, providing the people with his word, and they’re all spread out over the grass again. Then the disciples become anxious again! “What are we going to do to feed all of these people?” How quick and easy it is to forget about his provision earlier in the midst of the moment! So what does Jesus do? He provides for the 4,000 men + the women and children (Matthew 15:38).
He provides time and time again - calm in the midst of a storm, ...
There isn’t a Christian here today who can’t testify to the Good Shepherd’s provision. Our minds should be fields of Ebenezer stones that continually reminding us: “Ah, yes. He provided then, then, then, and then.” It’s a continual reminder that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.

As a good shepherd, he knows what we need, and he provides all we need

When we lived in Colorado Springs I was asked to be in a theatrical production of Shadowlands - the unlikely story of CS Lewis and Joy Davidman. I played the anglican priest who officiated the marriage ceremony of Lewis and Joy as she lay in a hospital bed diagnosed with terminal cancer.
As I stood on the stage, there were be two spotlights -one on the right, the other on the left. Those two spotlights cast two shadows - behind me. It didn’t matter where I moved. The spotlights remained fixed, but the shadows. You couldn’t get rid of them. They would be there, no matter what. They would follow everywhere you went.
When the light of God’s countenance shines upon you as a Christian - the one two the right is God’s goodness and the other is God’s mercy follow you all the days of you life.
You can’t shake them! You can doubt them. You can wonder at them. But they’re following you. The Lord knows what you need more than you know what you need.
Because The Good Shepherd KNOWS You
The Good Shepherd PROTECTs you
The Good Shepherd PROVIDES FOR YOU.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6, NASB95)
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