Last week, we learned about the “I am the door of the sheep” statement. This week, Jesus builds on that imagery by declaring that “I AM the good shepherd.” This is not the first time in scripture that the reference of a shepherd is used. The image of the Lord as shepherd is penned in Psalm 23. In this Psalm, God’s guidance of His sheep shows His constant and consistent goodness. The same goodness is reflected in John when Jesus makes His declaration. Let’s look at John 10:11-16.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 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. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 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.
Jesus compares being a shepherd and a hireling. The hireling obviously does not care for the sheep, instead is only doing a job to receive pay. The motivation is one of self interest, not of care and love of the sheep. This would be the reason the hireling flees when he sees the predator coming to destroy the prey. In comparison, the good shepherd knows and loves the sheep. He is ready to give His life for the sheep. This shows the great depth of love and devotion the shepherd has for the sheep.
When referring to the hireling, Jesus might have been referring to the religious leaders of the time. These pious leaders were corrupt and self-serving. They never cared about others or leading others to God.
As sheep, we know the Good Shepherd. We know His voice. We look to Him for guidance and for provision every day. We also look to Him for protection. As the Shepherd, He knows us. He protects us from dangers that seek to kill and destroy us. He provides for us. As believers of Jesus Christ, we are all one flock.
What a wonderful and gracious God we have that He loves us in this way! Through this reference, we can visualize the relationship that the Father has and wants to have with His followers. I am happy to say that I am one of His sheep and that I love and look to the Shepherd for my very existence!