Read John 10:1-21
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11a)
Just hours after His birth, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary received visitors in their humble, barnyard accommodations. Shepherds stood there asking if they dare enter. Although they may have seemed out of place as commoners visiting the Creator, they were likely not strangers to mangers. They fit in the barnyard motif. Fast forward roughly 30 years and you discover that Jesus uses “shepherd” imagery in describing Himself.
Few of us in the Wayne County area have an experiential hook onto which we can hang this statement of Jesus. Although we live in an agricultural community with crops and livestock, the livestock consist, more often than not, of cows, pigs, or occasionally chickens. It is true that sheep are shown at the fair, but you typically don’t see large flocks of them along the countryside. And, at least in our area, the first-century shepherd has been replaced by some kind of fence.
Thankfully, Christ’s description of His own role as the Good Shepherd allows us to appreciate nuances of the shepherd’s care that may be foreign to us. According to Jesus, He, as the Good Shepherd,…
• Knows His sheep (v. 3, 14, 15). This is an intimate relationship with His followers. He knows them personally, calling them by name. And they know Him, recognizing His voice.
• Leads His sheep (vv. 3, 4). He goes out ahead of them. His leading sometimes takes the sheep past a quiet stream. At other times, it may be into the valley of the shadow of death. No worries, though. He is with them.
• Lays down His life for the sheep (11-13). Because He cares so deeply for the sheep, He is willing to give His all for their eternal welfare. He did not flee when the risk was greatest, but surrendered His life so that the sheep might live.
He is a good shepherd. David was right when He said in Psalm23, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.” (v. 1) With His intimate concern for, careful leading of, and sacrificial love for sheep like me, I can be completely content. He provides all that I need.