“I Am the Good Shepherd”
Home Church Devotional 4/12/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
“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, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:11-18 (ESV)
As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, it may seem an odd selection in choosing John 10: 11 – 18, but in this passage Jesus speaks of His coming death and resurrection, as well as the sheep who will be added to the sheepfold through His sacrificial death. The shepherd and sheep were a common everyday occurrence in the life of those living in and around Israel. Being a shepherd was difficult and dirty work. It involved more than just walking with the sheep as they grazed. Protection from enemies, providing food and shelter as well as guidance taxed the shepherd as well as the sheepfold daily. In this passage, Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd. This statement comes following the encounter with the religious leaders as Jesus healed the man born blind. Jesus plainly tells the leaders of Israel they remain in sin.
The contrast Jesus makes here is between Himself, the Good Shepherd, and the religious leaders of Israel, the irresponsible shepherd or hired hand. The hired hand thinks only of self and cares little for the welfare of the sheep. When a predator comes around the hired hand seeks for his own safety protecting his own security and position, while the sheep are left exposed to the danger, scattered, caught in danger or worse yet, destroyed by the predator. The Good Shepherd, however, lays down His one life for the sheep. He stands in the face of any enemy of the sheep. He confronts any predator that attempts to scatter or destroy the sheep. He seeks the safety and security of the sheep for the Owner of the flock. He has genuine care and concern for the sheep; He knows the sheep and they know His voice.
The Good Shepherd has other sheep not known to the flock. He will bring those sheep into the sheep fold to make the one flock under one Shepherd granting them all the safety and security afforded the sheep under His care. He will fight against all enemies to the point of giving up His life. He has been sent by the Owner of the flock to protect, care for and maintain their safety and security through all seasons of life.
On this Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the very fact that Christ went to the cross, laying down His life for those who believe in His name as the Son of God. He has brought other believers into His family through the willful giving of His life. He has been sent by God to protect those given to Him from the attacks of an enemy that, at times is unseen and unheard, but stops at nothing to destroy the sheep, scattering them and seeking to devour them. Not only this, but Jesus took up His life again through the authority given Him by the Father. In this He has defeated the work of the enemy and securing life eternal for those who believe in His name, trust in Him for daily provision and know Him as the Son of God.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knows His sheep intimately. He knows them by name, individually and personally; He knows their joy and their blessings; He knows their trials and sorrows; He knows their wandering and their stumbling; He knows their lack and their need. And His sheep know Him as well. They know His love and care; they know His mind and Word; they know His companionship and leadership; they know His experience and knowledge; they know His destiny and pasture, heaven. The fact that His sheep know Him so well is proof that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
A shepherd could do no greater good than to give his life for his sheep. A shepherd who died for his sheep was beyond question a Good Shepherd. But there is something else here as well. The Owner was pleased, deeply appreciative that the Shepherd gave His life for the flock. His sacrificial death was the very reason God loves His Son so much. God naturally loves His Son just as any man loves his child. But God loves Jesus even more, in a much more special way, because Jesus was willing to pay such a price to bring men to God.
Jesus died so that He might arise from the dead. He took the sin of people upon Himself to free people from sin, that is, to provide righteousness for all people, positionally. He arose from the dead to free man from death, that is, to provide eternal life for all people. His death was the supreme act of obedience. It was voluntary; He willingly died. No man took His life; He sacrificed it Himself. The power to take it was His and His alone. For in giving Himself as an “offering to God,” Christ was looking beyond our need to the majestic responsibility of glorifying God.
This means that His first purpose was the glory of God. He was concerned primarily with doing the will of God, with obeying God. God had been terribly dishonored by the first man, Adam, and by all those who followed after him. Jesus Christ wished to honor God by showing that at least one man thought more of God’s glory than of anything else. Jesus wished to show that God’s will meant more than any personal desire or ambition which He might have.
So as we celebrate the remainder of Resurrection Sunday, we give thanks for a Savior who gave His life freely and willingly and glory to the Father to whom He was obedient in all things, even to death on a cross.