This is an excerpt from a book that I am writing. I would love feedback. If you think something is not clear,please feel free to let me know.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me.” John 10:11-14
Jesus doesn’t just say that he is a shepherd. He says that he is the good shepherd. The word good there is the Greek word kalos meaning innately good; the essence of goodness; the very character of goodness. 1 John 1:5 captures the thought when it says that, “God is light; and in Him is no darkness at all.” God is love and He is perfect goodness. Out of this heart, he is our shepherd. This understanding should spark something in us, His sheep; it should enable us to entrust ourselves to Him, we should be able to lay down our own self-defense mechanisms; it should create in us a deep rest.
I have heard many times well meaning preachers expound on the principle of why sheep need a shepherd and most often I hear them say that sheep are stupid. That has always grieved my spirit. Not that I had greater understanding, but there was just something internally that troubled me. If I need to be shepherded by human shepherds because I am stupid, what that says to me is that there is someone who believes they have special knowledge to rule and reign over me because I am beneath their intellectual or spiritual level. That same mindset then will typically belittle those they reign over so as to keep their position of authority. It’s called pride and we all are guilty of it.
I don’t believe that God would ever belittle his creation. Will He expose sin? Yes. Belittle, no. However, I do believe the character of sheep come into play. Sheep are vulnerable. They cannot protect themselves from wolves. They are subject to their pastures being flooded and they cannot swim. They are easily stolen from their pens. They are completely dependent on their shepherd to watch over them and keep them safe from unexpected calamity. A shepherd is always in danger himself because if he is a good one, he might have to lay down his life for them.
The fact that shepherding was considered the lowliest occupation tells us something about fallen human nature. A shepherd was usually hired by the owner of the sheep to guard those animals like they were his own. He most likely would work long hours into the night secluded from other people because he dared not leave the pasture. He took great care to keep count of each sheep in the fold. It was a lonely occupation. It was not a job that earned you the praise of men. Yet, when God came looking for a man after His own heart, He found one who had been trained to care for others through shepherding.
In John chapter 10, Jesus is making a bold statement to the Pharisees in proclaiming that He is the Good Shepherd. We have to understand the setting of which these words were spoken. Jesus has just healed a blind man on the Sabbath and the religious sect was in an uproar. They had brought this man who had been healed before the counsel to interrogate him and he had proclaimed the truth. Two affronts to their understanding had just taken place, they believed that this man had to have been born in sin since he was blind from birth (therefore a law breaker) and then Jesus seemingly had no regard for what they held as sacred – the Sabbath. All of their knowledge of how God operated was being challenged and they were the keepers of the knowledge. I don’t think that it was just that their authority was being questioned by the miracles that Jesus performed; I think their whole system of life was at stake. A system they believed was given them by God Himself.