John 10:1-21- The Good Shepherd
Explanation- In this passage Christ draws from the familiar concept of shepherd that is used frequently in the Old Testament. The Lord is my Shepherd (Ps. 23:1), He will feed His flock like a shepherd (Isa. 40:11), He will keep his people like a shepherd (Jer. 31:10), He seeks His flock like a shepherd (Ezek. 34:12). The people of Israel would have been familiar with this type of shepherd language, so when Christ said that, ‘I am the good Shepherd’, you can bet that they understood the reference.
Christ uses the analogy of sheep entering a pasture to illustrate the reality of salvation and the true people of God. The true sheep will enter through the sheep gate. Those who are thieves and robbers will seek to enter by alternative means. This tells of the ways in which men seek to come to God by their own works and is a direct attack of the hypocritical leaders that inhabited Jerusalem. These men believe that by their own craftiness, good works, and appearances they will enter the kingdom of heaven, but Christ informs that the only way to the kingdom is through Himself. The true sheep (those who enter through the gate of Christ) will not heed the voice of these false shepherds. They will only hear the voice of the true shepherd and follow Him.
In this section Christ also foretells of His death. In a round-about way He tells the people that He is the good Shepherd who will lay down His life for His sheep. He is the sheep’s leader, protector, and comforter. He is faithful to them and is even willing to die for them. Contrast this with the halfhearted care that the hired hands provide. At the first sign of danger they desert the sheep and seek to save their own skin. Christ on the other hand not only stands to defend the sheep but will also die to protect them. What wonderous love and faithfulness this is!
Application- As we think of Christ as the Good Shepherd, let us meditate on the reality of this statement. Christ leads us to safe pastures and protects us from the forces of evil. He is faithful to us as His sheep and even went so far as to lay down His life for us. What greater shepherd could we follow? Why would we ever look to the world to provide us with the security that only our Shepherd can? May He continue to lead us in the way of His choosing unto our heavenly homeland!