Read John 10:1-21
“I am the good shepherd” (v. 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 into the barnyard motif.
Jesus used the shepherd imagery in describing Himself about thirty years later.
Few of us in the Wayne County, Ohio 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 of mainly cows, pigs, and chickens. Sure, sheep are shown at the fair, but we typically don’t see large flocks of them along countryside. And, at least in our area, the first-century shepherd has been replaced by some kind of fence.
Christ’s description of His own role as the Good Shepherd allows us to appreciate nuances of the shepherd’s care. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus said these things about Himself.
- He knows His sheep. (See vv. 3, 14, 15.) He has an intimate relationship with His followers. He knows them personally, calling them by name. And they know Him and recognize His voice.
- He leads His sheep. (See vv. 3, 4.) He goes out ahead of them. His leading sometimes takes the sheep past a quiet stream. At other times, it may lead into the valley of the shadow of death. No worries, though. He is with them.
- He lays down His life for the sheep. (See vv. 11-13.) Because He cares so deeply for the sheep, Jesus 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.
Jesus is a good shepherd. David was right when he said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want” (Ps. 23:1). With His intimate concern about, careful leading of, and sacrificial love for sheep like you and me, we can be completely content, full of true joy. He provides all that we need so you and I can know the real joy of Christmas.