The Good Shepherd

Bible Reading: John 10

Years ago, while driving down a county road near Roseburg, a strange sight caught my attention.  A sheep in the adjacent field had caught its head in a wire fence.  I pulled over to the side of the road.  The sheep, stuck and confused, was crying out, “Baa, Baa,” but there were no other sheep around and no shepherd nearby to hear.  I supposed that it might have eventually freed itself, but decided to go to the nearby home and tell the owner. 

We humans are like sheep.  The Bible frequently uses this apt description.  The English dictionary does too.  Amongst the various definitions given is “a person who is too easily influenced or led.”  — “vulnerable in their stupidity.”  Why would a sheep stick its head in the fence?  Didn’t it know any better?  Being stuck there, how would it then be delivered from its predicament? 

Isaiah 53:6 speaks to our need: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.”  We’ve all gone astray.  We’ve all, in sin, made stupid choices.  We’ve wandered down dubious pathways and gotten our heads stuck in places where they didn’t belong.  The Apostle Peter likewise spoke of this human tendency to waywardness: “For you were continually straying like sheep” (1 Peter 2:25).

Jesus declared Himself to be the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14).  In contrast to others who were “not concerned about the sheep,” He cares (John 10:13).  “And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  We are, in sin, “distressed and downcast,” the good news is that there is One who is sympathetic to our need.  The good shepherd came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  “The tax-gatherers and sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him” (Luke 15:1).  They were wayward sheep in need of a shepherd who would care for them.  “Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’.”  And He told them a parable saying, ‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ (Luke 15:2-6).”  He has sought us out and heaven itself rejoices once we are found (Luke 15:7).

He is the good shepherd.  He is good by nature and good in all that He does (Psalm 119:68).  He’s proven His loving concern through His loving sacrifice.  King David was a shepherd and a good one.  “When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock (he) went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth” (1 Samuel 17:35).  Jesus, the good shepherd, demonstrated His love in “laying down His life” that he might conquer our greatest enemies—sin and death.  Four times in eight verses, this expression, “laying down His life,” appears (John 10:11-18).  His essential goodness, as a loving and well-qualified shepherd, has been demonstrated in that He willingly gave His life for us.  No one took it from Him. He laid it down on His own initiative (John 10:17-18).  He cared that much for His wandering sheep.

In the laying down of His life, He bore our sins.  Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”  “He gave His life. What more could He give?”  The Good Shepherd “bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian for your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25).

How good it is to have a Good Shepherd who loves and cares and watches over us!  From time to time, we might find ourselves, like that stupid sheep, in some pretty strange and troublesome predicaments.  It’s good to know that we have in Jesus a Guardian for our souls, a Good Shepherd who always cares (1 Peter 5:7).  “Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care!”


Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow’r to free:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor,
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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