Summary: Having revealed Himself as the Door of the sheep, Jesus also declared that He was the Defender of the sheep - the Good Shepherd. He was totally committed to the sheep, laying down His life for them. What a blessing to know the Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd
In our previous study, Jesus declared Himself as the Door of the sheepfold. Continuing the conversation, Jesus then declared Himself the Defender of the sheep – the Good Shepherd. Such a continuation is fitting when one considers that the shepherd served as both the door of the sheepfold and the defender of the sheep. Being a shepherd had many roles, and these two were very important.
Through this Jesus revealed that He alone was the door into the fold, the sole means of salvation. Those who desire to be part of the sheepfold must enter through the door. He goes on to describe His role as defender and provider for the sheep. Many had come claiming to be the Christ; but these were mere hirelings, seeking their own profit and gain, while caring nothing for the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, caring for the sheep and providing for their existence.
As we examine the lessons within the text, I want to consider: The Good Shepherd. There is but one shepherd for the flock, and He is Jesus. If you know Him, rejoice in His provision. If you have yet to come to salvation in Him, I pray you will see your need for the Shepherd today.
I. The Significance of the Shepherd (11) – I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. With this single statement, Jesus revealed the great significance of the Shepherd. Consider:
A. His Declaration (11a) – I am the good shepherd. Jesus was emphatic with this statement. He declared that he was the good shepherd. In doing so He declared that He alone stood as the Shepherd of the sheep. He had no equal or rival. He had come to provide for the sheep.
I am thankful to know the Shepherd of my soul. As I pondered this statement, I realized many are seeking guidance and security in life. They long for that source of peace that can satisfy, and yet many of them never look to the Shepherd. Jesus alone can provide salvation, reconciling us to the holy God, and offer peace that passes all understanding.
B. His Dedication (11b) – the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Jesus revealed what separated Him from all who came before Him. While these may have been loved by others, offering good advice at times, no one loved them as Jesus did. He had not come to earth to merely walk among men and fellowship with them; He came with purpose, to give His life for the sheep. Jesus came to die so others could live. He was willing to sacrifice His life for the sheep!
As I consider His marvelous love and grace, I continue to be amazed. He was the holy, sinless Son of God. He inhabited the glories of heaven in eternity past. He is the second person of the Godhead. He came to earth as God robed in flesh, and yet He was willing to give His life for us. He willingly submitted to the death of the cross, bearing our sin, and dying in our place. Christ became the substitutionary atonement for sin. He died so we could live!
II. The Shamefulness of the Hireling (12-13) – Here Jesus described a sharp contrast between His commitment to the sheep and the neglect of a hireling. Jesus spoke of:
A. The Desertion (12a) – But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth. Jesus revealed that the hireling was not the shepherd; he was just a hired servant. His commitment and devotion unto the sheep was much different than that of the shepherd. When faced with danger, as a wolf approached the sheep, the hireling would flee, deserting the sheep, and leaving them defenseless. He was only concerned with his well-being and lacked real commitment to the sheep. The hireling did not love the sheep like the shepherd.
Others had come before Jesus, claiming to be the Christ, but when trouble and adversity came, they fled, leaving the sheep alone. These were identified by their lack of commitment for the sheep. They were not the Shepherd and could not love them as He does.
Sadly, this truth is seen on the congregational level. We all know Jesus is the Shepherd of the sheep; but He has called pastors to serve as under-shepherds, guiding and guarding His flock. Unfortunately, some are not what they appear. They have not been called of God to tend the flock, and when danger of difficulty comes, they abandon the fold to fend for themselves. These were never there due to a love and devotion for the church, but hirelings there to receive payment.