In God’s declaration we find echoes of the shepherd of Psalm 23 where the shepherd is the Lord Himself. He will not desert the sheep but instead lead them to grazing fields of green pastures and to refreshing drink from still waters. Under His watch the sheep need not fear evil. These words take on flesh when we hear Jesus say, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
This 7-part series explores John’s Gospel descriptors of Jesus as the Word, the Lamb of God, the Bread of life, the Light of the world, the good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, and the true Vine.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NKJV)
Just as we can appreciate light more fully by contrasting it with darkness, so we can understand what Jesus means by calling Himself the good shepherd by distinguishing Him from a bad shepherd.
In this metaphor, shepherds are those appointed by God to care for His flock. The flock in view is His people. The shepherds are those tasked with the spiritual direction, protection, and provision of the needs of the sheep entrusted to them.
God gives a scathing performance review of the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel 34:1-6. They had failed in every respect. Here is an excerpt of that review: “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them” (Ezek. 34:4).