Summary: We have heard many teachings/exhortations about our Lord Jesus as our shepherd and we have heard preaching on Psalms 23.But how many of us really understand and grasp or even internalize how good our Shepherd is?
We have heard many teachings/exhortations about our Lord Jesus as our shepherd. From last year’s monthly theme “Jesus our Shepherd” we have heard preaching on Psalms 23 and all of us know the characters of our Shepherd in one of the famous chapter in the Bible. But how many of us really understand and grasp or even internalize how good our Shepherd is? It can only be understood once the message of our Shepherd goes down to our own very heart when He speaks to us about His character to us. This exhortation tries to simplify the meaning or the message of our Shepherd to all of His sheep.
Before we go down into details, it is good to know some of the known Shepherds in the Bible. Their characters are so important in order to understand how God used these shepherds and how their lives were used by God so we can follow and be inspired by them. We knew about Moses, David, Jacob very well but there were 4 characters we need to study and how they touch the hearts of their sheep and their own Shepherd.
Rachel – the Caring Shepherdess – Gen. 29
- She was the youngest of the daughter of Laban, the uncle of Jacob
- She was her sister Leah’s rival in Jacob’s love
- She is the real love interest of Jacob and not Leah – v.17 “she has a lovely figure and beautiful”
- She bore Joseph and Benjamin, the 2 favourite sons of Jacob
- She is the shepherd of her father Laban
Abel – the Faithful Shepherd – Hebrews 11:4, Gen 4:3-4
- He offered a better sacrifice than his brother Cain
- He is faithful to offer his best sacrifice to God
Abraham – the Sacrificing shepherd
- He sacrificed his own right to choose first before Lot – Gen. 13:5-18
- He sacrificed his son – Gen. 22:1-18, Heb. 11:17
Hesus (Jesus) – the Good Shepherd – John 10:1-18
- He enters the gate to the sheepfolds properly – v.1-2
- He knows His sheep well as He called them by its name and the sheep listen and follow Him. – v.3-4
- He is their Saviour and the Satisfier of their own lives – v.9-10
- He is willing to sacrifice His own life for them – v.11 (Abraham)
- He is faithful to His calling as a Shepherd – v. 12 (Abel)
- He is caring to all His sheep. V.13 (Rachel)
But why is it that Jesus is called the Good Shepherd? We know that this is the 4th “I Am” in the book of John. I am the way the truth and life, I am the Resurrection and Life, I am the Gate or Door, then this. In Greek, the correct order when Jesus mentioned this declaration should be I am the Shepherd, the Good One. As if saying that there is also the bad shepherd which here in the metaphor is the hired hands.
Now the word “good” comes from a Greek word called “agathos” which means “morally good.”
But the other word is “kalos”, the opposite of “kakos”, which is “to be bad.” Kalos is to be good not only in the sense of moral quality, but it’s a more encompassing word. It means to be beautiful, to be magnificent, to be winsome, to be attractive, to be lovely, to be excellent on all levels, not just in that which is unseen in terms of character, but in all aspects. I am the shepherd, the excellent one. I am the shepherd, be it the lovely one, the beautiful one.
So the word “good” here is not just the same meaning we knew but its more than that. As if Jesus is saying that He is the excellent Shepherd of all, better than Abraham, greater than Moses and David themselves! This is why in vv. 19-20 many are divided in saying He’s insane or demon-possessed or He’s the true Messiah. But that is the truth! He is better than Rachel, Abel, Abraham and all of them mentioned in the Bible since He is God. He is telling His people, and even the Pharisees that He is God who knew Psalms 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd), Psalms 80 (The Shepherd of Israel) even Isaiah and Ezekiel.
He is really the Shepherd, the excellent one for 2 major reasons:
In verse 11. The shepherd, the good one, “lays down His life for the sheep.” Shepherds were absolutely responsible for sheep. It was serious business. It was a man’s job, and it was really kind of a lowly and humble job as well, because it was unskilled and it was risky, and it was messy and dirty. But a shepherd was absolutely responsible for the sheep. If anything happened to the shepherd, he had to produce proof that it was not his fault due to dereliction of duty or rustling the sheep away for his own keeping, or letting a friend take one, or whatever.