“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10: 11 – 16
The analogy of a shepherd is often used for leaders and the Lord’s people as sheep in the Bible. There have always been good leaders and bad leaders. Jesus makes a bold emphatic statement that he is the good shepherd. He doesn’t say that he is a good shepherd, but the good shepherd. He is the unique good shepherd. He is the true shepherd of the sheep. He contrasts himself with hired hands who abandon the sheep and run away when they see a wolf coming to attack the sheep. Hired hands are only in it as a job for the money. They have no true concern for the sheep. As long as things are going well and they’re getting paid they’ll look after the sheep. However, when trouble comes, they sacrifice the sheep to preserve their own lives.
In contrast to a hired hand the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He protects and saves us at all costs, to the extent of his own life. That’s because being a shepherd isn’t a job for him. Being a shepherd is who he is. He is motivated by love for his sheep. He loves us with his whole being. We see that he did lay down his life for us, because of love.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3: 16
He would never abandon us nor see us scattered as sheep without a shepherd. If he lay down his life for us to save and protect us from the evil one, then what wouldn’t he do for our overall wellbeing?
The ultimate sacrifice for us means that he cares about every aspect of our lives.
He is the good shepherd that doesn’t lay down his life for faceless multitudes. He is personal and knows his sheep. He knows each one of us intimately. He knows when we rise and we sit. He knows our going out and our coming in. He knows our thoughts and our attitudes. He knows our joys and sorrows. He knows our weaknesses and every sin that we commit, yet he still loves and cares for us. He loves us so much that he died for every one of those sins, and each one causes him ongoing pain each time they’re committed. He died so that we can be free from them, not merely that they would be forgiven. He died because sin would destroy us, and he longs for us to have life.
His sheep know him. The shepherd doesn’t have to run after the sheep to keep them from wandering off. They know him. They love him. They want to be with him. They know that being around him is the safest place to be when wolves attack. Do you know him and draw close to him, the good shepherd, when trouble invades your life? Do you know him and find comfort in his voice nearby, because as long as you can hear his voice you know that he is there with you? Do you know that whatever disasters may confront us that he is there to carry you through them? Do you know that you have eternal life because you know him, who is the giver of life?
Now, this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17: 3
Jesus is the good shepherd. Follow him. Listen to him. He truly cares for you.