7486 - I Am the Good Shepherd

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Audio transcript

We are in a series of studies looking at the seven "I am" sayings of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John. This is now the fourth of the series and we will be looking at Jesus' statement, "I am the good shepherd."

This figure of speech, comparing people to sheep under the care of a shepherd, was common in that culture. Kings and priest were often referred to as shepherds and their subjects as sheep. The Bible makes frequent use of this analogy, such as Psalm 23 and Isaiah 53.

Some shepherds were more compassionate than others. The owners who shepherded their flocks tended to be more caring and tender than a hired hand. Jesus makes use of this fact as he spoke to the crowd among whom were many Pharisees, people who were proving to be poor shepherds. Listen to John 10 (vv1-5,10-15):

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.... The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep."

Oh friend, can't you just detect the tender compassion of Jesus as he talked to the crowd. He sought to convey to these people His divine mission to earth--to serve as the loving protector, the provider and guide, for the people of the earth, to give His life as their Savior.

Jesus acknowledged that there were enemies of the sheep whose desire was to lead them astray, to take advantage of them, to ultimately cause their death. Of course, this is the agenda of the evil one, Satan, who seeks to defeat the Kingdom of God, but He is a defeated enemy. Those who have entered the safety of the sheepfold through faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ are secure in Him. However, the enemy still prowls around threatening, and bringing fear into straying sheep.

But the sheep belonging to Jesus recognize His voice and follow Him. They will not follow one who has a strange voice. This speaks to us of obedience. We must obediently follow the Savior Shepherd to enjoy safety and provision.

A sheep which wandered away from the flock suffered greatly. Fear, confusion, thorns and briars tearing at the skin and eyes, danger from wild animals and so on. Friend, those who stray from following Jesus likewise suffer these same pains--fear, confusion, danger to their spiritual welfare. We must submit to our Lord and Savior and follow Him. Peter paints such a picture in his first letter with these words: (I Pet. 2:25) For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

There are many other references to Jesus as our shepherd throughout Scripture. In Hebrews (13:20) He is called the Great Shepherd of the sheep, and this is referring to His present ministry in the life of each believer.

In I Peter (5:4) Jesus is referred to as the Chief Shepherd who will appear again and give crowns of glory to his followers.

But friend, we must call attention that you must trust and rely upon Jesus as your Savior and Lord in order to be in His flock. If you've never done that, don't waste another minute. Call out to Jesus now.