Summary: Jesus tells why He is the good Shepherd and why He can be trusted.
Jesus, the God Man: The Gospel of John
“What Makes a Good Shepherd?”
Introduction: Do you know a good mechanic? All of us have probably asked a similar question at times to another person. We ask the same about doctors, dentists, restaurants, schools, etc. The question implies more than just one that is capable, but also do they do the little extras like working for a fair price.
In our text today Jesus tells more about why He is a good Shepherd. Like the comparison of the mechanic He will tell why He is not only a good Shepherd, but the only Shepherd that should be trusted. He has already demonstrated why the Pharisees are not to be trusted and now He helps us to know “what makes a good Shepherd?”
A good Shepherd…
1. Sacrifices His life for the sheep. (vv. 11-13)
“I am” – This is His fourth “I am” statement about Himself.
The phrase literally reads “I am the shepherd, the good.”
“good” – kalos. Doesn’t mean morally superior, but noble, preeminent, surpassing all others. Jesus is not just adequate, but He is the greatest, far surpassing all!
The term good was a term that was used only of God.
Listen to this question, Jesus poses to the rich young ruler in Luke 18:19:
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. Luke 18:19 (NIV)
By calling Himself good He was claiming to be God! But not only that the term Shepherd was reserved for God alone as well. We looked at Psalm 23:1 last week where David says the Lord is my shepherd, but note Psalm 80:1:
Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1 (NIV)
Once again Jesus makes His claim as deity very clear and also takes away one more person that the Jews would have held in high regard – David. He claims His superiority even over their beloved king.
“gives His life for the sheep.” Note the voluntary nature of the sacrifice. The sheep don’t beg the Shepherd for protection. He offers it freely.
Also the word for life is not bio or even zoe, but psyche (pronounced sue khay). It means soul. Jesus poured out His own soul for us when He went to the cross.
Then He makes the comparison to the Pharisees… “hireling” was one paid to look after the sheep. Jesus gives us their characteristics as well:
• Not the Shepherd
• Does not own the sheep
• Sees the wolf, leaves and flees leaving sheep alone to the wolf
The hireling was only in it for the money or what he could get from the sheep. He did it for the loot not love. He only wanted the paycheck but not the personal relationship with the sheep. He wanted the money not the work.
Example: Working as a security guard while in seminary.
It’s the difference between the way you treat your car and a rental. There is no ownership so there is no responsibility.
Jesus explains the reaction of the hireling reflects the character of the man. “He is a hireling.” He flees because that is who he is. Who you are is shown by your behavior.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Acts 20:28-29 (NIV)
He does not sacrifice because he does not care.
2. Knows and cares for His sheep. (vv. 14-15)
Reiterates that He is the good shepherd and tells another reason why.
“I know MY sheep.” The word “know” is ginosko. It means knowledge gained through intimate experience. If you read the genealogies in Genesis you see the word “know” repeatedly which means the physical act of procreation. The same word applies in our relationship with Jesus. We come to know Him by a close, intimate, personal love relationship.
The shepherd was familiar with his sheep because he spent time with them. He would say, “Oh that is the one with the crooked tail, that is the one with a black spot on his ear, there’s the one that tore part of his ear.”
Jesus knows everything about you and still loves you. Listen to your Shepherd as He speaks tenderly of you: “That one has a problem with his tongue, she suffers from depression, there’s the one that broke their foot, that one has anger issues, he struggles with his faith, that one’s timid, BUT I love them anyway and I will never leave them and I will always love and care for them because they are MY SHEEP!”