John 10:14 – “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me…”
One of the important “I am” statements of Jesus in the gospel of John is “I am the good shepherd.” Shepherding is not a well known vocation in our modern world and so the importance of this statement can easily be lost on modern readers. Often when we use the term “shepherding” images of care and comfort come to mind. And while those are not incorrect, they are incomplete.
Shepherds, to this day, play a central role in life in the middle east, where Jesus was teaching. This is because of the central role of sheep in the middle east. The humble sheep is one of the most versatile and useful for humans of all animals and has been relied upon for millennia for human survival. They are cherished for their contribution to human flourishing, especially by those that care for them, shepherds.
But they do need care, a lot of care. Sheep are not aggressive and have little by way of defense of themselves. They are susceptible to many natural forces and predators. For their flourishing, shepherds must constantly tend to them, leading them to new and green pastures and protecting them from attack.
It is vital to understand this unique relationship if we are to understand and benefit from the role Jesus claims in John 10:11-18, that of the good shepherd. The hearers of this teaching would have known right away about this relationship, but Jesus leaves no questions when he articulates this point. Jesus points out to them and for us that a “good shepherd” will lay down his life for the sheep. Unlike a simple hired hand, the shepherd has a special relationship with the sheep, and cares for them, even to the point of giving up their own life. We see this example in the life of a young King David in the Old Testament. There we see a devoted shepherd, defending the flock from attack from bear and lion. David placed his own life on the line for the good of the flock.
And so it is with Jesus and us. Jesus has come to us and made us a surprising and spectacular offer, to be our shepherd. This offer has come to us in a dramatic way, through the giving of his life, so that our relationship with our heavenly Father might be restored. Jesus has offered us what we need for our souls in greener pastures and more quiet waters then this world can offer. He offers rest and renewal for our lives. Jesus promises to lead us down the right paths. Jesus offers us protection from our true enemy, Satan, who would have our soul destroyed. Jesus offers to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death and to comfort our soul from any and every affliction.
Have you given over your life to the good shepherd? Have you trusted him for your every need and concern? Have you run to him to satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul? You can this very day. You can trust the good shepherd for your every need this day! What great news!
We at Treasure Lake Church pray you have found this brief meditation encouraging. We invite all Treasure Lake residents, and those in the surrounding community, to gather with us as we worship Jesus, the good shepherd. We are located at 1427 Bay Rd. and gather weekly for worship services on Saturday at 6:00pm (children’s ministry provided), and on Sunday at 8:30am (no children’s ministry) and 11:00am (children’s ministry provided) as well as Sunday School at 10:00am for all ages.