#DailyDevotion What Is Jesus Claiming When He Says “I’m The Good Shepherd”?
11I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12When a hired man, who isn’t a shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf carries them off and scatters them — 13because he works for money and doesn’t care about the sheep. 14I am the Good Shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I give My life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep, too, that are not in this fold. I must lead those, too, and they will listen to My voice, and so they will become one flock with one Shepherd.
Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd. He tells us the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Giving one’s life for the sheep would seem to be the mark of a good shepherd. But is Jesus making some other claims here when he calls himself such?
Psalm 23“The LORD is my Shepherd.” We all have heard this. The LORD, YHWH, the God of Israel is often referred to as Israel’s Shepherd. We see this in Psa 28 9“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance! Be their Shepherd and carry them forever!” Again in Psalm 80 the psalmist says, 1“0 Shepherd of Israel, listen.” The LORD tells us in Ezekiel 34, 15“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. (ESV) What claim then is Jesus making when he calls himself the Good Shepherd? Elsewhere Jesus tells us “There is no one good but God.” If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he must be God, the LORD. Indeed, no one can say “Jesus is LORD” except by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus. in claiming to be the Good Shepherd as opposed to hirelings who run away when the wolf comes, is making an appeal to Ezekiel chapter thirty-four, where the LORD complains the shepherds of Israel abuse and mishandle the sheep. He is claiming the leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the Priests are doing the same thing. They did not care for the people the LORD had put them over.
In appealing to Ezekiel thirty-four Jesus is also appealing to this passage, 23“I will raise up one Shepherd over them, My Servant David, Who will feed them. He will feed them and be their Shepherd.” Jesus is also claiming to be the Good Shepherd is claiming he is the LORD’s Servant David. Not that God is going to reincarnate David but that he would fulfill his promise to David by having his seed, his descendent, upon his throne forever. Jesus is the servant David who feeds the LORD’s people. Jesus first sacrifices himself, gives his life for the sheep. Then he feeds us with his body and blood and with his Word. Jesus has given his life into the hands of the wolf, i.e. the devil who seeks to devour us. In giving his life, he takes it up again overcoming the wolf for us.
Jesus also gives us glimpse into the mystery of Christ, the salvation of the Gentiles. The Father has chosen these Gentiles, non-Jews to believe in Jesus and be saved. They become one with Israel, one flock, one holy people of God. We call this flock today the Church.
Almighty God and Father, you sent your only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be the Good Shepherd who gives his life for us and overcomes all our enemies. He calls people of every nation, tribe, tongue and people to be one flock, his chosen people Israel. Give us ears to hear his voice and follow him all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.