“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NLT)
Jesus often used common illustrations when teaching. One of His favorite throughout the Gospels was the relationship of a shepherd to his flock. Not many of us today are shepherds, but we can still get the application. He identified Himself as the Good Shepherd and His followers as the sheep. This is the fourth of Jesus’ I AM statements in John. When Jesus said I AM the good Shepherd, He was contrasting Himself with the religious leaders of their day and today who were simply hired hands. In verses 12 and 13 He explains,
“A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.”
Unlike a hired hand who tends the sheep for money, Jesus cares for the sheep out of love. The best religion can offer is a hired hand. When you and I enter in the narrow gate through Christ, we have a Good Shepherd! Those listening to Jesus would have quickly made the connection. They would have remembered the Psalmist, David, writing, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This was nothing less than a claim of Deity. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus claims ownership of His sheep. He doesn’t run when trouble comes. He isn’t frightened away by a threatening enemy! He fights to the death for His sheep and will never abandon them! When sin and Satan threatened to separate us eternally from God, the Good Shepherd willingly sacrificed His life for us! Later in verses 14 and 15 Jesus adds,
“I am the good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice My life for the sheep.”
What an intimate personal relationship – just as God the Father knows God the Son, so we as His sheep may know Christ! This is a profound mystery! Jesus is saying that He knows His own sheep! If you’ve entered the narrow gate, Jesus knows you and you will know Him! It’s not about a religion or church membership. He is describing a dynamic relationship of love whereby He sacrifices His own life for us! To be sure that you and I are included, Jesus adds this in verse 16,
“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”
Have you heard His voice calling you? He is the Good Shepherd!