The Good Shepherd
By Shawn Tomlin
Everyone has heard this passage in John chapter 10. Even a lot of non believers have heard Jesus referred to as the Good Shepherd. What do shepherd do anyway? They watch over and care for their flocks of sheep. Shepherd would risk their lives for their sheep. Let’s break down John 10:1-11 and see how Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Verses 1 and 2 read “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” God has One shepherd for His people and it is Jesus. In Matthew 26:31 Jesus applies the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 to Himself. Hebrews 13:20 refers to Jesus as “the great shepherd,” 1 Peter 5:4 calls Him “the chief shepherd,” and Revelation 7:17 says “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd.” The idea here is to establish Christ as the true Shepherd of God’s flock. To show that there is only One Shepherd and One way to the Father. That only way is Christ.
Verses 3 and 4 speak of the sheep hearing the voice of the shepherd and they come when they are called because they know His voice. The fact that the Shepherd (Christ) knows His sheep by name and the sheep hear and recognize His voice, responding when He calls them is a beautiful reminder of how God has marked some to be part of His people, all the while being within sinful humanity. So when Christ calls His sheep, does He have to tackle them, hog tie them, and drag them to Himself? Nope, they aren’t forced, but because they are regenerated upon coming to faith, they are willing to come when called.
You might be asking yourself right now, “Why doesn’t God choose everyone?” My question in response is “Why did God choose to save anyone at all?
In verses 7 and 9 Jesus hammers it home that He is the only way to God the Father. In Verse 7 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” Those who enter by the door of Christ, they “will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Just this morning at church, during the sermon, my pastor said that when Jesus starts a statement with “Truly, truly” you can be sure that whatever follows is a done deal, bottom line, no doubt it will happen that way. With that in mind, we can find comfort in the fact that if we enter by way of Christ, and we will enter, for if we are of His flock, we will recognize His voice and come when called. We can be assured that if we enter through Christ, we will certainly be saved.
Verse 10 shows that Christ came so that His sheep “may have life and have it abundantly.” The promise of eternal life in Christ is unlike anything else. It’s a purely gracious gift on behalf of God and it’s made possible by nothing we do or could ever imagine doing, but by what Christ has done for us. The next verse, verse 11 shows us how Christ makes this all possible, that is the gift of eternal life for all His sheep.
The last verse of this passage says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” It doesn’t take a PhD to interpret this. It’s quite straight forward. We obtain abundant life, eternal life, by Christ laying down His life for us. Christ bore our sins, died on the cross in our place and in that Great exchange we receive His righteousness. We owed God an infinite debt that we couldn’t repay and it is only through Christ that it is forgiven.
Finally, we also must realize that Christ’s sacrifice was “for the sheep” or in other words, God’s elect. In Christ’s death they are the ones justified and enjoy fellowship with the Father. Is every single person a sheep? No. That is a hard truth to swallow. You might be asking yourself right now, “Why doesn’t God choose everyone?” My question in response is “Why did God choose to save anyone at all?” We all deserve the same punishment but out of His Grace He has chosen to save those whom He wills to save. God upholds His promises to His chosen people. Scripture shows us not all are part of His flock, as in John 10:27. Let us always praise God that he has chosen to call us from darkness to Light, from death to Life, because we hear the voice of Christ calling us to Himself in the preaching of the gospel.
“The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”