Summary: What is a Good Shepherd? What is the difference between David as a brave young shepherd and Jesus as the Good Shepherd? Did Jesus die for His sheep voluntarily?


What is a Good Shepherd? What is the difference between David as a brave young shepherd and Jesus as the Good Shepherd? Did Jesus die for His sheep voluntarily?

Purpose: Let’s understand how good a shepherd Jesus is.

Plan: Let’s look at what it means to be the Good Shepherd in John 10:11-18.

John 10:11 The Good Shepherd

In John 10:11 we read, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” The word “good” also means beautiful of heart, and the word “shepherd” is exactly the same word as pastor. A reason for his goodness is also given, that he will “expose himself to any danger for their safety”.[1] “When the wolf comes, he would still remain to protect them.”[2] We have a literal example of such a good shepherd in David, who protected his flock of sheep from “a lion or a bear” (1 Samuel 17:33-35). More than facing danger, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep.

[1] Benson Commentary [2] Barnes’ Notes


The word pastor is one of the least used words for a church leader in the New Testament, but a very meaningful one. Whereas other church leadership roles carry meanings like envoy, servant, older person, teacher and overseer, the word pastor means a shepherd. Every human pastor is an assistant to Jesus. In larger churches assistant pastors or small group leaders become the hands-on pastors of the flock. All pastoral care is vital because there is nothing more important to Jesus than his flock. Human pastors are inadequate and totally incapable of providing what Jesus would, yet it is a privilege to love and be loved by the flock of Christ.

John 10:12-13 The Hired Hand

In John 10:12-13 we read, “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.” A hired hand or wage worker does not own the sheep nor cares like Jesus does. He does not fight the wolf, but runs. False prophets or other predators come and take sheep by force, “not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29; Matthew 7:15). Human pastors come and go but Jesus will never leave.

John 10:14 I Know My Sheep

In John 10:14 we read, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” Psalm 23 is a picture of life under the Good Shepherd. I once knew a shepherdess who taught me the difference between a sheep farmer and a shepherd. She knew her sheep by name and they knew her. She didn’t drive them like a sheep farmer would, but called them and they knew her voice and came to her. A bond of trust exists between shepherd and sheep. To a stranger all sheep may look alike, but to a loving shepherd, each is an individual and cared for individually.

John 10:15 I Know the Father

In John 10:15 we read, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” We might ask how is the two-sided intimate knowledge between Jesus and His sheep? His answer is to compare it with the mutual knowledge between Him and His Father. Those of us far removed from ancient agricultural practices may not understand the love of a shepherd for his sheep, but perhaps we can relate in some ways if we’ve ever had pets that we loved and spent many hours with. The love of this Shepherd is so great that He willingly dies for his flock.

John 10:16 Other Sheep

John 10:16 says, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” Jesus describes one flock, but not one fold or courtyard, and he described one Shepherd Jesus, not any human leader. Mark found sheep in Egypt and the Coptic church became a separate sheepfold. Thomas, Thaddeus and Bartholomew also did the same in Assyria. Later Thomas did the same in Kerala, southwest India. Competing Roman and Eastern Orthodox claims of being the “one true church” are not borne out by history. All Christians are one in Christ.

John 10:17 Because

John 10:17 says, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” The Father loved the Son from eternity, and that love is culminated and fully justified, because He is the Good Shepherd, and because of His voluntary readiness to sacrifice Himself for the sheep. His desire was to bring the whole world back to the Father. Jesus lay down His life of His own free will and had the power to take His life back again. The Good Shepherd dies, not to leave the sheep defenseless, but to rise again and be the Shepherd of more sheep coming into the flock.

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