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The Message of John (Lesson 16)
The Good Shepherd | John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
In John chapter 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind.
Not everyone was excited about this. For example, the Pharisees were skeptical, which led to a heated debate between Jesus and these Jewish religious leaders.
In response to their questioning, Jesus declares that he is the gate for the sheep and that those who enter through him will be saved. He then goes on to describe himself as the Good Shepherd.
It may help to understand the cultural context of shepherding in Jesus' time.
Shepherds were responsible for leading and caring for their sheep, protecting them from danger, and ensuring they were well-fed and watered. The relationship between a shepherd and their sheep was one of deep trust and familiarity, as a shepherd often named his sheep. In turn, the sheep learned to recognize the shepherd's voice, much like pets do today.
Jesus claims to be no ordinary shepherd. He is "the good shepherd.”
He is not a hired hand who runs away at the first sign of danger, but rather a shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for His sheep. It’s hard to miss the foreshadowing, as Jesus clearly has his upcoming sacrifice on the cross in mind, where he, as the shepherd, will himself become the lamb of God.
As we might expect, Jesus describes His relationship with his sheep as one of intimacy and familiarity. He says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27), emphasizing the importance of recognizing Jesus' voice in our lives through the Scriptures as the Spirit gives us understanding. Like a sheep listens to its shepherd, we must learn to listen to the guidance of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, in the Scriptures as we’re led by the Holy Spirit.
In other words, just as sheep trust in the care, protection, and guidance of a shepherd so we trust the care, protection, and guidance of Jesus.
Because he is the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep.
How does understanding the cultural context of shepherding in Jesus' time help us better understand the significance of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in John chapter 10?
What does it mean that Jesus is willing to lay down his life for his sheep?
How can we learn to recognize Jesus' voice in our lives and trust in his care, as a sheep trusts in the care of its shepherd?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for being our Good Shepherd who cares for and protects your sheep. We pray that we may learn to recognize your voice and follow your guidance in our lives as we trust in your care, knowing that you will always lead us in the best way, even if it isn’t the easiest way.
The cross wasn’t the easiest way either. But it was the right way.
Considering the cross, we thank you for laying down your life for us so that we may live. Help us to never forget the sacrifice you made for us, and may we always live in a way that honors and glorifies you.
In your name, we pray. Amen.
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