Jesus: The Good Shepherd
Central Though: The LORD Jesus who is the good shepherd guaranteed guidance, provision, protection and prosperity for the believer who is obedient to Him.
Text: John 10; Psalm 23
In a general sense, a shepherd is one who looks after sheep which may or may not belong to him. Such a shepherd is expected to lead, protect and provide for the sheep. The shepherd may put his life on risk for the sheep if need be.
The Lord Jesus by His unique and voluntary death brought the Jews and the Gentiles into one sheepfold (the Church). In demonstration of His love and mercy, He gave his life for man who had gone astray form God. Anyone who through repentance yields his/her life to Him becomes His sheep and a member of His sheepfold. His main desire now is to continue to nourish and perfect the sheep for whom He has made so big a sacrifice, John 10:28-29. Thus He is the only Good Shepherd today who cares for, nourishes preserves, protects, leads, guides, guards, and provides for the totality of the sheep.
Moreover, it is written that “God anointed Jesus Christ of Nazareth who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him”. There is no evil in Him. In the midst of afflictions, such as sickness, diseases, scarcity of basic essentials of life and family upsets which are all the handiwork of the devil, the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd provides for the sheep, John 10:10. He is not a hireling who would flee when storms of life are blowing against the sheep.
The believer who is obedient to the word of God is the sheep that is planted in the hands of the Shepherd. Consequently, abundant provision, security and divine guidance for such a believer are the primary responsibilities of the Good Shepherd.
1. Who is a shepherd?
A shepherd is on who takes care of a flock of sheep. He takes keen interest in feeding the sheep, Jeremiah 23:4, and ensuring their safety even at the risk of his life. In a derived sense, a shepherd is also on who cares for a group of persons such as a priest, teacher, pastor.
Certain qualities are expected of a shepherd. He must have love for the sheep. Without love it will be difficult for the shepherd to risk his life in defense of the sheep. David demonstrated this live for his flock, when a lion came to take one sheep and he put his life in jeopardy to rescue the sheep and he slew the lion, 1 Samuel 17:34-35. A shepherd motivated by love will tenderly care for his sheep. He stays with them no matter the weather. Form the fore-going, it follows that a shepherd must also be fearless and must be ready at all times to defend the sheep. In addition, a shepherd should have the ability to provide food for the sheep. A shepherd goes in search of places where there is abundant supply of food an to which he may lead the sheep to feed.
2. What makes Jesus the good shepherd?
In John 10:11, the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep”. The first thing that makes the LORD Jesus the good shepherd is that He gave His life to reconcile mankind to God. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Romans 5:8. The sinner deserved death but the LORD Jesus in His infinite love for the sinner volunteered to die in his place. Only the Good Shepherd with agape love could do this. Any individual therefore who accepts His death and sacrifice becomes a child of God and automatically a member of His sheepfold.
In addition, the LORD Jesus is compassionate and merciful. These attributes also make Him the Good Shepherd. Mercy and compassion flow from His heart towards His sheep. The Scripture is full of instances showing that He will not allow His sheep suffer from physical and spiritual depravity (undernourishment). Matthew 9:36 declares, “But when He saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd.”
When He was on earth, He went about all the cities and villages teaching and preaching in their synagogues, healing every sickness and disease. The Good shepherd is the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8. What He did in the past, He is still able to do today and forever.
The LORD Jesus is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent. These attributes also make Him the Good Shepherd. He knows all things and He is all powerful. He is present always with the sheep wherever they may be found. He is therefore able to protect the sheep from every danger. Even while the danger is being proposed or planned by the enemy, the LORD as the Good Shepherd averts the danger. He is able to provide for the sheep all that the sheep requires.
3. Who are those that constitute His sheep?
Some people believe that all human beings are children of God no matter how they live and no matter what they do. This is biblically incorrect. Truly, all human beings are creatures of God but all human beings are not children of God. To become a child of God, one must be born into the family of God. This only happens when a man receives Christ into his life as his LORD and personal Savior. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”, John 1:12. A man must therefore repent of his sins, confess them to Christ, receive Him into his life and become born-again. This is what makes on a child of God.
Therefore it is emphatically revealed in the scripture that only those who are born again constitute the sheep of the LORD Jesus. These are the ones who hear only His voice and will not follow the voice of strangers, John 10:5. These are the ones who know and follow Him. Their desire is to please the Good Shepherd and no one else. Their ears and feet are trained to hear the voice of the Shepherd and to walk in His footsteps. The sheep is expected to hear and obey the shepherd. The sheep should always bear in mind that, “To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken the fat of rams”, 1 Samuel 15:22.
4. What are some of the blessings bestowed upon the sheep by the good shepherd?
Many blessings or ‘benefits’ are promised in the scripture for anyone who makes the Lord Jesus, his or her shepherd. Some of these blessings include:
- Salvation – As stated earlier, the LORD Jesus gives power to those who receive Him to become the children of God. Salvation therefore lies only in the Good Shepherd, Acts 4:12. The Bible declares that He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him, Hebrews 7:25. He will lead all those who follow Him into the kingdom of God.
- Abundant life – In John 10:10, the Good Shepherd stays, “The thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy, I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”. The beginning of the abundant life experience in Christ is salvation. In addition to the eternal salvation given to the sheep, the Good Shepherd provides for His sheep in this world all that pertains to life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3. He leads His sheep to the green pastures and feeds them abundantly. He is able to prepare a table for His sheep even in the presence of their enemies, Psalms 23:5. No good thing will He withhold from His sheep. The Good Shepherd has promised to supply all the needs of His sheep according to His riches in glory, Philippians 4:19.
- Divine Guidance – The Good Shepherd is Omniscient. All knowledge belongs to Him. He is therefore able to lead (guide) His sheep. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows ‘before hand’ the outcome of any journey or project embarked upon by the sheep. He is very much aware of the road that apparently seems rosy at the beginning but which may later pose serious danger to the sheep. He has the ability to prevent (avert) such danger and lead the sheep in the paths of righteousness and safety. He is therefore very eager to lead the sheep in the paths that will guarantee success, happiness, joy, peace and everlasting satisfaction.
- Divine Protection – The Good Shepherd offers divine protection to the sheep. The LORD Jesus laid down Hid life to protect the sheep from satan (the enemy) whose sole aim is to destroy the sheep. Today the Good Shepherd guarantees protection for His sheep form all the forces of evil such as native doctors, witches, wizards, occult powers, etc. There is no limitation as regards the extent to which the Good Shepherd protects His sheep. He is Omnipotent (all powerful) and therefore the protection of the sheep is guaranteed in full. The Bible declares, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper”, Isaiah 54:17, and that, “thou shalt not be afraid for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee, only with thine eyes halt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked”, Psalm 91:5-8. The sheep should not live in fear but must rather maintain an absolute trust in the Good Shepherd.
- Peace – The Good Shepherd offers peace to all His sheep. In John 14:27, the Good Shepherd declares, “peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. In all situations of life, we have the peace of the Good Shepherd.
- Victory – The Good Shepherd promises victory in all life’s situations. The temptations, trials and difficulties of life can only be overcome through the leading of the Good Shepherd. In him and in Him alone, we are more than conquerors in every situation of life, Romans 8:35-37.
It is necessary to add that these blessings promised the sheep under the shepherding of the Good Shepherd – the LORD Jesus. The scripture is full of all God’s promises for His sheep. The sheep must bear in mind that these blessings are not dependent on prevailing economic circumstances and that no power or force of the enemy can prevent any of these blessings coming upon the sheep. Every sheep must steady his/her heart on the Good Shepherd.
5. What are some of the consequences of not heeding the Good Shepherd’s voice?
The refusal of the sheep to heed the voice of the Master results in grave consequences. In the natural, when a sheep does not heed the voice of the shepherd, it strays and exposes itself to danger. This is also true in the spiritual. The Christian as the LORD’s sheep is expected to heed His voice. When the voice of the Good Shepherd is not heeded, the believer strays and exposes himself to danger and attack of the enemy. Such is the case when a Christian lives in sin and practices the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21. At such moments, the sheep strays from the fold and comes under the severe attack of the enemy. The enemy uses such occasions to afflict the believer with sickness, disease, failure, etc. However, it is encouraging to know that even in such situations, the Good Shepherd still goes in search of the straying sheep calling on him to repent and to return to Him.
In addition, when a believer does not heed the voice of the Good Shepherd, he or she may not receive the blessings promised by the Good Shepherd. Peace, protection, divine guidance, etc., may elude such a believer.
Thus as members of His sheepfold, we are expected to heed His voice always. It is never His expectation that we stray from Him. However, if for any reason we stray, we are expected to return to the Good Shepherd immediately in true, sincere and genuine repentance. He is ever ready to receive us in His fold.
Daily Living Application
The LORD Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is the only One today who cares for, nourishes, preserves, protects, leads, guides, and provides for the totality of the sheep. He expects His sheep to heed His voice and follow Him. There are numerous blessings He bestows upon the sheep. These blessings can only be appropriated by the obedient sheep.
The Good Shepherd says in His word, “I know my sheep”, John 10:27. He knows your strong points as well as your week points. He is aware of the difficulties you are facing at school, work, market, trade/business, or at home. He as the Good Shepherd has every situation under His control. He knows the need of your spirit, soul and body. He knows how to plead your case at the throne of God. Remember always that having the LORD Jesus as the Good Shepherd implies adequate care for your total man (spirit, soul, and body), and you will never be consumed by the adverse situations of life.
Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”