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Summary: The Good Shepherd enables His sheep to have peace with God because He: 1) Dies for them (John 10:11–13), 2) Loves them (John 10:14–15), and 3) Unites them (John 10:16–21).

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, to be secretary of defense. He has said that responding to “political Islam” is the major security issue facing the United States. Like Trump, Mattis favors a tougher stance against U.S. adversaries abroad, especially Iran. The general, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, said that while security discussions often focus on terrorist groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida, the Iranian regime is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/donald-trumps-secretary-of-defense-will-be-mad-dog-mattis-a-retired-general-known-for-his-aggressive-talk)

Iranian Ayatollah’s have been such a destabilizing geopolitical force for world peace, that world leaders for generations have struggled to contain their aggressions. Instead of putting the welfare of their people first, they fund and promote terrorism to the determent of their own people.

In John 10:11-21, Jesus reveals himself to be the Good Shepherd who enables true and lasting peace for His people. John reveals three blessings the Good Shepherd gives to His sheep because He is genuinely concerned for them (cf. v. 13). He enables peace with God because He 1) Dies for them (John 10:11–13), 2) Loves them (John 10:14–15), and 3) Unites them (John 10:16–21).

The Good Shepherd enables His sheep to have peace with God because:

1) The Good Shepherd Dies for His Sheep (John 10:11–13)

John 10:11–13 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.(ESV)

Jesus’ identification of Himself as the good shepherd points back to the true shepherd described in verses 2 to 5. Verses 11–13 are an extended metaphor, actually a self-contained story matching the figure of speech in verses 1–5 (Michaels, J. R. (2011). John (p. 180). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.).

The concept of a divine shepherd goes back to the OT. Psalm 23 opens with the statement “The LORD is my shepherd” (v. 1); Jeremiah speaks of gathering the nation as a flock of sheep that has been scattered (Jer 23:1–3); and Ezekiel prophesied: “As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them … I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down” (Eze 34:12, 15). To the disciples the figure would have been specially apt since sheep herding was one of the major occupations in Palestine (Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 109). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).

(CHART: “How Shepherds Cared for Sheep”)

This is the fourth “I AM” statement in John’s gospel where he continues to show His deity to enable something for His followers that only God can do. Here in verse 11, the Greek text literally reads, “the shepherd, the good one,” setting Christ the Good Shepherd apart from all other shepherds. Kalos (good) refers to His noble character (cf. 1 Tim. 3:7; 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:3; 1 Peter 4:10); He is the perfect, authentic Shepherd; in a class by Himself; preeminent above all others. “A” good shepherd does not characteristically give his life for the sheep; “the” Good Shepherd does. Moreover, the death of the Palestinian shepherd meant disaster for his sheep. The death of the Good Shepherd means life for his sheep (Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 453–454). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

Being a faithful shepherd entailed a willingness to lay one’s life on the line to protect the sheep. Robbers and wild animals such as wolves, lions, and bears were a constant danger (cf. 1 Sam. 17:34; Isa. 31:4; Amos 3:12). But Jesus, the good shepherd, went far beyond merely being willing to risk or actually risking His life for His sheep; He actually laid down His life for them (cf. v. 15; 6:51; 11:50–51; 18:14). Just in case some say that for God to die in that way was cheap—after all, he is the Creator—look at the word Jesus used in verse 11 to describe his life. He didn’t use the Greek word bios (which referred to the physical side of life), and he didn’t use the Greek word zoe (which referred to life’s history); instead he used the Greek word psuche, which meant ‘soul’, the totality of his being, the essence of his life. This means that Jesus loves his sheep so much that he gave himself completely, utterly, totally for them (Paterson, A. (2010). Opening Up John’s Gospel (pp. 81–82). Leominster: Day One Publications.).

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