Summary: This sermon is part of the Names of Jesus sermon series looking at the more descriptive names of Jesus. This sermon looks at Jesus being the Good Shepherd.
The Names of Jesus
“The Good Shepherd”
Several weeks’ back we looked at Jesus as the Lamb of God, but He is not only the Lamb of God, He is also our Good Shepherd. This is another one of Jesus’ more descriptive names, one He uses of Himself, and with this name He attaches the Holy Name of God, “I AM.”
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NKJV)
Jesus often would connect those who heard His words to something they knew well, but also they may have literally been looking at shepherds tending their flocks.
This is probably the case here in our passage as He goes into great depth and detail as to what it means to be our good shepherd, and we also see this title used for God in the Old Testament. This is seen in one of the most recognizable and iconic Psalms that King David wrote, Psalm 23.
Therefore, by using this name, Jesus is making Himself equal with God, which is something He made sure they knew saying, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30 NKJV)
Jesus said in John 10:27-29 that His sheep hear His voice and that these sheep have been given to Him by no one less than the Father, the Great Shepherd of Psalm 23. But even more, all those who hear His voice enters through Him, that He is the door to God’s sheepfold, and anyone who enters through Him will be saved, John 10:7, 9.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
And so Jesus is the good and great Shepherd because He fulfilled God’s plan of redemption when He offered Himself as that sacrificial lamb upon the cross, and then taking His blood into the heavenly tabernacle to have our sins forever forgiven.
He made the ultimate sacrifice so that His sheep, that is, all those who believe in Him as their Savior and Lord, would find true peace and participate in the fullness of His grace and mercy.
Referring to Jesus as our shepherd, I used both titles of good and great, and this isn’t just semantics. Jesus called Himself good, as we saw in John 10:11, but the writer of Hebrews uses the title “great.”
“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.” (Hebrews 13:20 NKJV)
Jesus then makes a contrast between Himself as the good shepherd with those who are not. These are shepherds that really don’t care for the welfare of the sheep, only what they can get out of them. Jesus calls them hirelings, that is, they are in it for the wages, not because they love or care 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. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.” (John 10:12-13 NKJV)
These hirelings don’t own the sheep, so they don’t really care for the sheep and are harsh and rough towards them. Literally they make sheep’s life miserable, because they are more interested in themselves and their comforts than they are in sheep in which they’ve been given charge.
This hireling is also seen in the Old Testament through the prophet Zechariah.
“I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces. Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock!” (Zechariah 11:16-17a NKJV)
These shepherds are worthless, and you wonder why they even got hired in the first place. These false shepherds are also known as false prophets, who outwardly look like sheep, but inwardly are ravenous wolves, Matthew 7:15.
But there is another worthless shepherd, and this is the one who slips in when no one is looking. He is called a thief, because he not only steals, but also kills and destroys. You could say that He is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing. And I am talking about Satan.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)
Satan is a ravenous wolf, one who isn’t out for the good of anybody, but rather He wants to steal, kill, and destroy the human soul and spirit. But Jesus, the good shepherd, wants to give us life, but not just life, but abundant life, both now and for all eternity.