The “I am” statements found in John have always painted a clear picture of Christ for me. In John 10 we find the teaching “I am the Good Shepherd”. The capitalization of Good Shepherd is my choice as Christ is the ultimate shepherd. Throughout the Old Testament, God was often seen as the Shepherd and Israel as the flock. (Ezek. 34:11-16)
In verse one, Jesus speaks of robbers and thieves who would gain entrance into the fold by some other way than through the shepherd’s door. They come to steal and destroy. Just before this in chapter nine, a man who is blind from birth has his sight restored. Instead of the leaders of the church praising God for miraculous healing; they seek to discredit the man and end up putting him out of the church. This man, the religious leaders spurned away, was one of Jesus’ flock. Jesus begins his lesson of the shepherd by pointing out those who would harm the flock do not belong to the flock. Jesus also taught His sheep knew His voice and follow Him. The blind man knew that Jesus was worthy of worship. The religious leaders of the day, like robbers and thieves, did not belong to the flock.
This was made so clear to me when my daughter was in grade school. Her teacher, a shepherdess, invited us to her farm to see her sheep. Standing by fence, we saw a peaceful flock of sheep that all looked alike to us. She saw Molly, and Maggie, Snowy and so many more names. She called them by name, and they came to her. Every time I read of the Shepherd knowing the flock by name and the flock knowing the shepherd’s voice; I see this scene in my mind. In the vast sea of humanity where people can get lost in a crowd or simply overlooked, the Good Shepherd sees Rob, Apryl, Scott, Paula, Tim, Brian, Roy, Jon, Steve, Raguel, Lee, Colin, Don, Deb, and countless more.
This beautiful passage gives us two more images. In verse sixteen, Jesus tells us other sheep are not yet in the fold and He must bring them in. The Old Testament spoke of the flock as Israel, Jesus is letting us know in the New Testament, with the new covenant. His flock is the entire world.
In verses eleven and twelve, Jesus shares the greatest insight. The Good Shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep. The hireling would run away. When this was written, a good shepherd would lay down in the opening of the fold and become the door. Any danger that came to the sheep he would stop with his own body. Jesus was letting the people of that time and us today know how valuable the flock is to Him. He did indeed give His life so those He brought through the door to His flock would be secure in heaven.
Deb, I really enjoyed your writing on the good shepherd. Your story about going to the farm reminded me of my trip to the Holy Land. Watching the sheep following along with the shepherds on the hills. We need to remember that God is always here to protect and lead us. Our problem starts when we decide to run from the fold and got it alone. Nicely done.