In John’s Gospel, Jesus referred to Himself as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). We can presume that the people listening to Him had a firm grasp of what a shepherd does. He calls Himself both the “shepherd” and the “good shepherd.”
Jesus’ comments purposely reached into the Old Testament, despite the fact that the title “Good Shepherd” is only present in the New Testament. Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a title He has casually claimed. His claim of being the Good Shepherd, in reality, has profound and far-reaching implications.
- 1 What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “I Am The Good Shepherd?”
- 2 Why Was Jesus Called The Good Shepherd?
- 3 3 Qualities That Make Jesus The Good Shepherd
- 4 5 Ways Jesus Is The Good Shepherd
- 5 Why Do Sheep Need A Shepherd?
- 6 Conclusion
What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “I Am The Good Shepherd?”
Jesus is not only a shepherd; He is the Good Shepherd. By identifying as “good,” Jesus asserted His identity as the long-awaited Messiah. According to Him, God is the sole good person in the universe (Matthew 19:17; Luke 18:19).
In 1 Samuel 17:36, we learn that, as a shepherd boy, David defended his father’s sheep from a lion and a bear. Every day, the shepherd braves the harsh realities of the world, from blinding snow in the winter to the raging dust and blistering sands in the summer. In truth, shepherds often faced danger to keep their flocks safe.
Ezekiel 34 also has a prophecy about a bigger shepherd who would come to the aid of His flock. From all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness, the sovereign Lord promises to search for His sheep and look after them (Ezekiel 34:11–12). Jesus, the Messiah who would come to fulfill this prophecy, is described in detail in this chapter as the one who will bring hope and salvation to Israel.
Why Was Jesus Called The Good Shepherd?
The Greek word kalos, which is translated as “good,” refers to the contrast between what is evil, mean, vile, and unlovely. It depicts the wholesome, good, noble, and beautiful.
It denotes not just the qualities of physical attractiveness but also the virtues of character. It’s a fundamental morality built into each one of us. By calling Himself “the good shepherd,” Jesus is drawing attention to His intrinsic kindness, righteousness, and beauty. In His role as shepherd, He watches over, leads, and cares for God’s people.
3 Qualities That Make Jesus The Good Shepherd
What makes a good shepherd, and why is Jesus called one? There are three important qualities that make Jesus a good shepherd.
1. He Protects
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.— John 10:28
Shepherds would often use a rod to ward off wild animals and a staff to guide the flock. When we commit our lives to Jesus, we are in good hands.
2. He Nurtures
Jesus gives us all we need to develop our faith. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
3. He Lays Down His Life
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.— John 10:11
Jesus left heaven to take on human form, live a sinless life, and offer Himself up to the cross to pay the price for our sins. He died, was resurrected, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and now makes intercession for us there. Jesus saved us and sacrificed Himself for us because we are His sheep.
5 Ways Jesus Is The Good Shepherd
There are five significant ways in which Christ defines His role as shepherd and ours as sheep in the Gospel of John.
1. He Saves All Humanity
The Jews were not the only ones Jesus died for. In John 10:16, He says, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
The “other sheep” alludes to non-Christians or Gentiles. Therefore, Jesus is the good shepherd over everyone who believes in Him, including Jews and Gentiles (John 3:16).
2. He Owns You And Will Never Abandon You
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.— John 10:14
The difference between Jesus and a regular shepherd is that a regular shepherd “does not own the sheep” (John 10:12). The hired hand isn’t emotionally invested in the flock in any way. He cares for the sheep because he is paid to. His dedication has limits. Jesus, on the other hand, is devoted to us and keeps us safe.
3. He Called You And Brought You To Himself
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.— John 10:27
When you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will have access to His abounding grace. And if you give faith a chance, you’ll soon learn that there’s more at play than your own imagination could have conjured up. You were laid down on His shoulders like the lost sheep were by the shepherd who went out to find them.
4. He Knows You Completely
John 10:14–15 states, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
Jesus Christ has full knowledge of who you are. Even if you don’t fully understand yourself, Christ does.
5. He Gives You Eternal Life
In John 10:28, Jesus proclaimed, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” If Christ is your shepherd, you already possess this priceless gift.
Why Do Sheep Need A Shepherd?
We may be assured that the promises of the Bible regarding a savior and a shepherd who will take care of His own sheep have been fulfilled in Jesus’ life and death.
Knowing that the good shepherd is with us through His Holy Spirit equips us to survive in a world full of wolves and hired hands. His rule will eventually be established on Earth. Following our shepherd wherever He leads will be easy because of the guidance and power provided by the Holy Spirit.
Only Jesus Christ can carry the title “Good Shepherd,” since He alone is good in His divine nature. By dying on the cross, He paid the price of eternal life to save His flock. Only He could do what was necessary as the Savior of His people.
There was no one else that could save us except Jesus who is the Messiah and shepherd of God’s people, as predicted in the Old Testament. Those who are truly His are also able to hear, listen to, and eventually obey Jesus’ voice.