Christ the Good Shepherd


What is the nature of God's relationship with those who follow Him? Jesus provides a fitting illustration of this relationship when He depicts Himself as the Good Shepherd. "I am the Good Shepherd!" What a privilege to be under His care... 

The ancestors of the Jews were nomads whose history is rich with pastoral scenes from shepherd life. An oriental shepherd was often exposed to hardship and danger. We find many accounts of how various shepherds fared in the Bible. The shepherd was often exposed to the ele- ments (Genesis 31:40). His sustenance often consisted of what little nature offered, such as the fruit of the Sycamore tree (Amos 7:14). He faced attacks by wild animals (1 Samuel 17:34). He was also subject to ambushes by bandits.

Early in the morning, the shepherd let his sheep out of the fold, leading the way to the pasture (John 10:3). Out in the pasture, he kept watch over the herd. If any sheep had gone lost, he had to search for them until he found them. He watered them at the spring or out of a flowing fountain. In the evening, he brought them back to the fold, where he served as the doorkeeper (John 10:3). He also had to care for the young and weak sheep (Isaiah 40:11). On large properties there were different ranks of shepherds. The leading ones were called "chief shepherds". In the church of God, Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, or the head: "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Peter 5:4). Christ alone is the head of the church. He purchased this title with His bitter suffering and death.

The Good Shepherd

Jesus says of Himself: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them" (John 10:11-12).

Pastors are to be shepherds in the churches; the believers are the sheep, and the new converts are the lambs. What is the present state of the church as far as its shepherds are concerned? Many shepherds are just after the wool of their sheep and have no desire to properly feed them. And because these sheep have no access to good pasture, they are spiritually malnourished.

The Great Shepherd

We find the title, the Great Shepherd, in Hebrews 13:20–21, where we read: "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep

"I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own" (John 10:14). Statements like: "I hope I am a Christian" and others like it are not enough. The Shepherd knows His sheep and they know Him, and He calls His sheep: "To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out" (John 10:3). Blessed is that person whose name is known by the Lord Jesus! Jesus only recognizes those as members of His flock whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What infinite, wonderful goodness and kindness is given to us in the following words: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine ... For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3).

He Gathers His Sheep into One Flock

Jesus makes it clear that He alone wants to be our Shepherd: "And other sheep I have which are not of
this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16). And if we are one single flock then we will be nourished by the same food which our faithful Savior richly offers in His Word. Jesus leads His sheep. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake" (Psalm 23:2-3). Yes, Jesus – the Good Shepherd – He feeds His flock on green pastures!

He has the best gifts for His children. He has the best pastures if we live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. May we always allow ourselves to be led as it pleases Him! May we always live only in His will!

He Provides For His Sheep

He who enters through Him "...will be saved, and will go in
and out and find pasture" (John 10:9). What wonderful, refreshing nourishment is the Word of the Lord for our hungry souls. Our reserves will never be depleted, just like the widow’s jar of oil and barrel of flour never went empty. In His storehouse we can purchase at no cost. Whosoever will may sit at the table He has set and be strengthened and satisfied. His table gives our soul the strength and power we need to overcome all the tribulations of this life.

He Loves His Sheep

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Good Shepherd who carries
the lambs in His arms and leads those who are with young (Isaiah 40:11). We have a Shepherd who does not cast us out when we are discouraged; rather, His patience and love are inexhaustible. This Shepherd shows no prejudice. He does not lavish His attention on the rich; instead, He goes where His help is needed the most. He loves "to visit orphans and widows in their trouble" (James 1:27).

He Gave His Life for His Sheep

"Then Jesus said to them, 'All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered" ' " (Matthew 26:31). And in John 10:15 we read: "I lay down My life for the sheep."

He Gives Them Eternal Life

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). This gives us the assurance that we can and should rely fully on the Lord. And all who have recognized Him as Shepherd and have dedicated themselves to Him have life and have it more abundantly.

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one" (John 10:28-30).

Are you known to the Good Shepherd, and do you follow Him faithfully?

- adapted from Evangeliums Posaune, May 30, 1958 Edition

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