“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:7-15.
The Bible text above represents the clear expression by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who in one of his descriptions of his personalities tells us that he is the good shepherd. He went further to point out the duties, responsibilities and the sacrificial lifestyle of a good shepherd. The lessons are there for us to learn. The distinguishing factors of a good shepherd which are reflections from the passage above are as discussed below.
The Good Shepherd tells the truth at all times: Jesus tells the truth. No less than forty times in John’s gospel alone, Jesus says “truly, truly” which is also translated, “I tell you the truth”. In a world full of spin, lies, and misinformation you can always trust the words of Jesus. So also we must say the truth at all times as followers of Jesus.
A good shepherd lives a Sacrificial Life: Jesus warns us about false shepherds. There are ungodly, unhelpful, and unsafe spiritual and religious leaders. Jesus uses words like “thief”, “robber”, and “wolf” to warn us about those who satisfy their selfish desires unlike Jesus who lived a sacrificial life.
A good shepherd is committed to the wellbeing of the sheep and will never quit even when the ships are down: Jesus warns us about the “hired hand”. A hired hand did not see their role as anything more than a job to quit once danger came.
A good shepherd risks his life for the safety and security of the sheep: Jesus “lays down His life for the sheep”. This little word “for” is significant. Everyone but Jesus dies for their own sin. Jesus did not sin but he willingly surrendered his life to die for the sins of humanity. Our good shepherd laid down His life on the cross in the place of and for the benefit of His sheep. Theologically, the concept here is one of substitution in that Jesus took our place and died our death.
A good shepherd safeguards the sheep even till eternity: Jesus is the door to the pasture of Heaven. A shepherd finds a safe place for the sheep to reside for a night, such as a cave. He builds a gate in front of the pen and once it is open the sheep are safe to venture out and enjoy the pasture. Jesus tells us that He is the gate and only by passing through Him by faith can we enter the pasture of Heaven.
A good shepherd knows every sheep by name and every one of His sheep knows His voice: A good shepherd knows every sheep and calls them by name. A true sheep knows the voice of their shepherd and runs when their shepherd calls. So it is with Jesus, He knows every Christian, and every Christian responds to His call to run to Him.
As you journey through the new week and the new month, let Jesus be your shepherd so that you may be rightly guided, provided for and be preserved even till eternity.
Your brother, friend, Pastor & Archdeacon