Jesus the Good Shepherd
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Joh 10:11 I am the good shepherd,…. A shepherd of his Father’s appointing, calling, and sending, to whom the care of all his sheep, or chosen ones, was committed; who was set up as a shepherd over them by him, and was entrusted with them; and who being called, undertook to feed them; and being promised, was sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and under the character of a shepherd, died for them, and rose again, and is accountable to his Father for everyone of them; the shepherd, the great and chief shepherd, the famous one, so often spoken and prophesied of, Gen_49:24. And discharging his office aright, he is the good shepherd; as appears in his providing good pasture, and a good fold for his sheep; in protecting them from their enemies; in healing all their diseases; in restoring their souls when strayed from him; in watching over them in the night seasons, lest any hurt them; in searching for them, when they have been driven, or scattered in the dark and cloudy day; in caring for them, so that he lose none of them; and in nothing more than in what follows,
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep: not only exposes it to danger, as David did his, for the sake of his father’s flock, but gives it away freely and voluntarily, for the sake of the sheep; in their room and stead, as a ransom for them, that they may be delivered from death, and might have eternal life: the Ethiopic version renders it, “the good shepherd gives his life for the redemption of his sheep”; so Nonnus paraphrases it, the “ransom price of his own sheep”: this belongs to Christ’s priestly office, and with the Jews priests were sometimes shepherds hence we read (q) of רועים כהנים, “shepherds that were priests”. Philo the Jew speaks (r) of God as a shepherd and king; and of his setting his word, his firstborn Son, over the holy flock, to take care of it: and a good shepherd is thus described by the (s) Jews;
“as רועה טוב, “a good shepherd”, delivers the flock from the wolf, and from the lions, (see Joh_10:12) so he that leads Israel, if he is good, delivers them from the idolatrous nations, and from judgment below and above, and leads them to the life of the world to come, or eternal life; (see Joh_10:10).”
Which description agrees with Christ, the good shepherd; and so the Lord is said to be רועה טוב, “the good shepherd”, and merciful, and there is none like him (t).
(q) Misn. Becorot, c. 5. sect. 4. (r) De Agricultura, p. 195. & de nom. mutat. p. 1062. (s) Zohar in Exod. fol. 9. 3. (t) Aben Ezra in Psal. xxiii. 3. & Kimchi in Psal. xxiii. 2.
A hireling – A man employed to take care of the sheep, to whom wages is paid. As he does not own the sheep, and guards them merely for pay, rather than risk his life he would leave the flock to the ravages of wild beasts. The word translated “hireling” is often employed in a good sense; but here it denotes one who is unfaithful to his trust; and especially those ministers who preach only for support, and who are unwilling to encounter any danger or to practice any self-denial for the welfare of the church of God. They are those who have no boldness in the cause of their Master, but who, rather than lose their reputation or place, would see the church corrupted and wasted by its spiritual foes.
Know my sheep – Know my people, or my church. The word “know” here is used in the sense of affectionate regard or love. It implies such a knowledge of their wants, their dangers, and their characters, as to result in a deep interest in their welfare. Thus the word “knoweth,” in Joh_10:15, is in Joh_10:17 explained by the word “loveth.” Jesus knows the hearts, the dangers, and the wants of his people, and his kindness as their shepherd prompts him to defend and aid them.
Am known of mine – That is, he is known and loved as their Saviour and Friend. They have seen their sins, and dangers: and wants; they have felt their need of a Saviour; they have come to him, and they have found him and his doctrines to be such as they need, and they have loved him. And as a flock follows and obeys its kind shepherd, so they follow and obey him who leads them beside the still waters, and makes them to lie down in green pastures.
Not of this fold – Not Jews. This is a distinct intimation that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles a doctrine extremely offensive to the Jews. This prediction of the Saviour has been strikingly confirmed in the conversion of millions of the Gentiles to the gospel.
Them also I must bring – Bring into the church and kingdom of heaven. This was to be done, not by his personal ministry, but by the labor of his apostles and other ministers.
One fold – One church; there shall be no distinction, no special national privileges. The partition between the Jews and the Gentiles shall be broken down, and there shall be no pre-eminence of rank or honor, Eph_2:14; “Christ hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” Rom_10:12; “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.”
One shepherd – That is, the Lord Jesus – the common Saviour, deliverer, and friend of all true believers, in whatever land they were born and whatever tongue they may speak. This shows that Christians of all denominations and countries should feel that they are one redeemed by the same blood, and going to the same eternal home. Compare 1Co_12:13; Gal_3:28; Col_3:11; Act_17:26.
As we take time to think on these things about the Lord Jesus, the True Shepherd, the Door, The Good Shepherd. His love in caring for us, protecting us, dying for us leads me to two thoughts :
- Is He you Shepherd? If not, why not? I would love to tell you about my Jesus, my Saviour if you have not partaken of His Gift of eternal life, why not do that today?
- If He is your Shepherd, are you following like a good sheep? Sheep are defenseless away from the Shepherd and need to be close to Him to be safe. As Jesus said: why call me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I say? (Luke 6:46)