by Peter G. Feenstra
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
John 10:11–16, Ezekiel 34:2–6
Throughout Scripture the Lord speaks harsh words against those who neglect to tend the sheep. Ezekiel spoke strong words against Israel’s leaders who were not providing the sheep with proper care. He said, “...you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them...My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.” (34:3-6)
Even though Israel’s leaders neglect their duties the Lord does not let the matter rest. Ezekiel has more to say on the Lord’s behalf, “For thus says the Lord God: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.’” (34:11) How will He do this? Verse 23, “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.” This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He, the son of David, states emphatically, “I am the good Shepherd.” He is the One spoken of by the prophets.
The literal phrasing of John 10 is “I am the shepherd, the good One.” The emphasis is on the adjective “good.” That word accentuates Christ’s legitimate claim. He is the One who has the right to lead the sheep because He will care for the sheep and gather them into God’s fold.
Christ’s statement condemns Israel’s leaders and unmasks their intentions. His love for His flock causes His wrath to blaze against those who do not protect or provide for the sheep. The leaders of God’s people are like hired workers who have no heart for the sheep. Such workers will do their job as long as there are no dangers on the horizon. But when they see wolves coming they leave the sheep and flee. The sheep are easy prey for the wolf. Whenever leaders take advantage of the underprivileged, they are like the wolf!
Our Lord is deeply moved with compassion for those who are like sheep without a shepherd. Opposing the actions of those who cast out one of the sheep—a man healed from his physical blindness—Jesus cries out, “I am the good shepherd.” He wants people to understand that He provides His sheep with pastoral care no sinful human being could ever give.For further information about this resource, click here.