Jesus continues his metaphor about sheep and shepherds, but this time instead of identifying as the door, Jesus tells his listeners that he is the shepherd. He cares deeply for those who are his.

Read John 10:11-18

One of the most famous poems in the Bible is Psalm 23. It starts out like this, “The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want…” Everybody in Jesus’ day was familiar with these words. Jesus takes these words and says they are about him. “I am the Good Shepherd,” he says.

He explains further that being a shepherd means two important things. First, he has a relationship with his sheep. He knows them and they know him. His sheep follow his voice because they know he cares for them. Secondly, as the shepherd, he is willing to give his life for these sheep. He’s not forced to but does it voluntarily because he loves them.

Sometimes we imagine God as being distant, angry, and unapproachable, someone who is always frustrated at our shortcomings. But Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd. God is near his people, he is affectionate, he wants us to come to him. And most importantly, he loves his people so much that he willingly gives up his life for them. Jesus shows us God’s heart by dying on the cross for us. That’s hardly the action of a distant, angry deity. It’s personal. 

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for people who are good. He didn’t give his life for people who earned his favor. Rather, he died because HE is good. He loves the unlovely and cares for those who don’t deserve it. You don’t have to straighten yourself out before turning to him. He is good, even though we are not. 

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11).

Ask yourself these questions and write down your responses:

  • What words would you use to describe what God is like?
  • In what ways does Jesus’ warmth challenge your thoughts of who God is?
  • How are a shepherd’s actions toward his sheep similar to God’s work toward us?

If you’d like to learn more about Jesus’ teaching about being the Good Shepherd, listen to this sermon from Pastor Tim: