Jesus, the Good Shepherd

John 10:11-13

I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.

But he that is an hireling, and not the Shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.


Yesterday’s passage introduced Jesus as the Door, the only way to salvation. Today, He is the Good Shepherd.

The metaphor of the shepherd was familiar to the Israelites, perhaps with the exception that it was an unusual shepherd who was actually willing to die for his sheep. He may battle an animal to protect the sheep, but to willingly die for the sheep was not common.

I like this quote from Spurgeon:  “He is giving His life still. The life that is in the Man Christ Jesus He is always giving for us. It is for us He lives, and because He lives we live also. He lives to plead for us. He lives to represent us in heaven. He lives to rule providence for us.” (Spurgeon)

The hireling has no investment in the sheep. He makes his living by keeping an eye on them, but he is not willing to risk his life to save them. They are not his. In his mind, they exist for his benefit, to give him a job and the money he needs to feed himself and his family. There is no emotional connection between him and the flock.

He sees the wolf (the thief, robber, murderer) coming, but he does not prepare to defend the flock. Instead, he runs to protect himself, and leaves the flock to the depredations of the wolf.

So who is the wolf in this metaphor? He is Satan, the father of lies; the thief, the robber, who sneaks in to destroy the sheep. The hireling is a faithless shepherd because he will not protect the sheep from the great evil that threatens them.

And the sheep are too stupid to recognize the danger until it is in their midst and blood has already been shed.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

John 10:1. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The Shepherd Uses the Gate" — John 10:1-2 (What Jesus Did!)

Today, we are starting a wonderful chapter, one that has become a great favorite of mine. John 10 is Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He goes in and out of the sheep fold only by the door. Anyone who enters any other way is a thief, and has no good intentions. I’ve heard many sermons from this chapter over the years, some tied in with Psalm 23.

When I was very young, probably five or six, I got a jigsaw puzzle as a gift. I don’t remember the gifter, but I wish I did. I loved it so much. It was a picture of the famous painting of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Let me see if I can find it. . . . .

The Good Shepherd LORD Jesus Christ and His Sheep – Ethiopian Orthodox  Tewahdo Church Sunday School Department – Mahibere Kidusan

There are literally dozens of interpretations of this story, but this one feels the most familiar. It was hard for me, at that age, because of the many sheep. So many of the pieces looked alike. I have no idea how often I put it together, put it all back in the box, did it again. I do remember thinking, as I worked, about everything I knew about the story in John 10 and Psalm 23. This puzzle gave me an early and lifelong vision of Who Jesus was, and how much He loved us.

Later, working as a Sunday school teacher and a children’s church story teller, I often enjoyed sharing the story of Snowflake, the little lamb who rebelled against the shepherd and got lost. The Shepherd gave His life, in the story, seeking the one lost sheep and bringing it safely back to the fold. It’s quite a dramatic story. I’ll always remember the little boy who, when the Shepherd called Snowflake’s name, “baahhhed” in response before I could do it myself. He was totally involved with the story 🙂

This is a wonderful chapter, full of great gospel truth that is so simple a child can understand it. It is so profound that educated adults can’t grasp the full meaning of it. That’s probably because our minds are all cluttered up with our knowledge, leaving very little room for the simple truth of the gospel.

I hope you will enjoy the chapter as much as I do as we journey through it.