For this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday post, Karen shares what it means that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd
In John 10, we find the fourth of the seven “I am” statements. In verse 11, Jesus announces himself as the Good Shepherd. Not just any shepherd, but the Good Shepherd. Some translators translate the Good Shepherd to I am THE shepherd, the good One.
I don’t think our English version of good does this word good any favors. In English, we use the word good to describe many things:
how we feel,
how we are doing,
how’s the food,
how’s your family,
how’s the weather, etc.
The answer good doesn’t give us a lot of information. It is a generalized answer. However, this good we find in verse 11 isn’t just a general good. This good comes from the Greek word kalos, which means beautiful and has the thought of excellent, lovely, honorable. It’s innate goodness, upstanding in moral character, and beautiful on the outward appearance.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
Jesus may have been recalling the Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel when He refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Ezekiel 34:11-16 says,
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”
The Good Shepherd Will
Notice in this passage, there are many “I will” statements. I will search, I will seek, I will rescue, I will bring, I will feed, I will make them lie down, I will seek the lost, I will bring back the strayed, I will bind up the injured, I will strengthen the weak.
Fast forward to the book of John, and we find seven “I am” statements. I am the bread of life (John 6:35), I am the light of the world (John 8:12), I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7), I am the resurrections and the life (John 11:25), I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), and I am the true vine. (John 15:1).
Ezekiel is a prophetic book prophesying the coming Shepherd with promises of I will. In John, we find the One who is the Good Shepherd. Not just any Shepherd but the beautiful inside and out Shepherd.
What does a good Shepherd do?
To understand this more fully, we should take a look at sheep. Sheep are pretty dumb animals. They have to be led to food because they aren’t smart enough to find it themselves. Sheep have to be protected from predators; they have no protection mechanism.
Have you ever seen a sheep run? Let me assure you, from my years of raising sheep; they aren’t fast runners. Sheep have to be rescued from cliffs, mud, and other precarious situations over and over again. Sheep wander off from the flock. Often, they get lost and need rescuing. Sheep are timid and need a leader. On more than one occasion while raising sheep, I found myself mumbling, “You dumb sheep.” Sometimes, I wanted to say, “Fine. Be dumb. I don’t care anymore.” Thankfully, the Good Shepherd never has that attitude.
When I think of Shepherd, my mind immediately goes to Psalm 23. Psalm 23:1 reminds us, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
When I put this all together, I make the connection that Jesus is my Shepherd, and I am the dumb sheep. So, what does the Good Shepherd do for His sheep?
The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He knows them intimately. And they know Him.
What does the Good Shepherd do for His sheep?
The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. That’s precisely what Jesus did for you and me. He went to the cross, spread out His arms, and died for our sins.
The Good Shepherd rescues the sheep that aren’t His. Scholars say in John, these sheep are referring to Gentiles. God will rescue the Jews and the Gentiles. I like to think about all the people that don’t know Jesus. Jesus desires to rescue them and to be their Shepherd.
When I read Scripture, I love it when things click in my mind. Things like the prophetic section of Scripture in Ezekiel matches the Good Shepherd section in John. Also, how in Ezekiel, the Scripture reads I will and in John it reads I am. Biblical knowledge is wonderful. However, applying what we learn is equally important.
What does it mean to you the Jesus is our Good Shepherd?
As I began to think how I could apply this newfound Biblical knowledge, God directed my heart to some questions to consider. I wanted to close by sharing these questions with you so will be able to apply this same passage to your life.
How much time do you spend getting to know the Good Shepherd?
Are you a dumb sheep who digs in its heels and refuses to be led? Or does your heart soften at the sight of the Good Shepherd?
What does it mean to you that Jesus is your Good Shepherd? #goodshepherd #wordnerdwednesday #namesofgod Click To Tweet
Are you willing to share the good news of the gospel with others and bring others into the sheep pen so that they can experience the Good Shepherd?
Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children.
What started out as communicating medical facts, has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey. Follow her journey through her blog and become part of the community.
If you enjoy studying the Names of Jesus, you will love my new devotional, More Than A Name: Discover Who You Are By Studying Who Jesus Is.