“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” John 10.11-13
What does it mean for Jesus to be the good shepherd? In his analogy of sheep, sheep pens and shepherds, he plays a key role. He is not on the side lines watching the game being played. He’s not in the stands cheering from the bleachers. Jesus is in the game, as the quarterback, watching “the coach” (God the Father) directing the players through the game.
Jesus calls himself not only the shepherd but the “good” shepherd. Since no one is good but God alone, Jesus must be God. He is one with the Father who is preparing a way for sinners to get into heaven. The way this road is prepared is through a life sacrifice. The shepherd must lay his life down for the sheep.
In Jesus’ illustrative parable, he is that shepherd who lays his life down against predator attacks from wolves. The hired hand that Jesus is referring to could be false prophets, Pharisees or false teachers, but this person is not the owner of the sheep. The hired hand runs at the sight of danger but not the shepherd who fights back when the wolves attack.
Jesus is referring to both time on earth and time in heaven. He is our good shepherd as we face dangers upon this earth that will try to lure us away from the flock. He provides protection for today and passage for the life to come. The sheep must recognize the voice of the shepherd and follow him. That is our role and that is the way to follow Jesus.
Consider a God who is willing to sacrifice his life for his people. A God who loves us so much that he would put his own Son’s life on the line so we might be saved. We who are created in his image have been given this lifeline of grace. Regardless of our sin and our waywardness, Jesus is willing to save us. He will rescue you from your sin and save you by his grace.
Will you allow it? Will you follow the shepherd?
“O Lord God, you are good. In the midst of the storm, you rescue me. In the presence of my spiritual battles, you do not relent. Help me Lord find comfort in your fold. Help me discover release in your redemption. I praise you for your loving kindness and forgiveness. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me receive your power and run this race with endurance. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen