The Good Shepherd Dies For The Sheep

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Jesus’ disciples had not understood the parable Jesus gave in John 10:1-5, so Jesus began to explain it. In John 10:7-10, Jesus explained He was the door (John 10:1). Here, He explained He is the Shepherd.


He Dies For The Sheep

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep in His care. The hired hand is not like the shepherd caring for His own sheep. When a wolf attacks, snatching and scattering the sheep, he runs for his life, leaving them defenseless. The hired hand runs because he works only for wages and does not care for the sheep.

John 10:11-13 (VOICE)


Good ShepherdHere the central revelation in this whole pattern of thought is given. Under the old dispensation, the sheep died for the shepherd; but now the Good Shepherd dies for the sheep! Five times in this sermon, Jesus clearly affirmed the sacrificial nature of His death (John 10:11, 15, 17-18). He did not die as a martyr, killed by men; He died as a substitute, willingly laying down His life for us.


Jesus contrasted Himself to the hired hand that watches over the sheep only because he is paid to do so. But when there is danger, the hired hand runs away, while the true shepherd stays and cares for the flock. The Good Shepherd purchases the sheep and they are His because He died for them. They belong to Him, and He cares for them.


Throughout the Bible, God’s people are compared to sheep; and the comparison is a good one. Sheep are clean animals, unlike pigs and dogs (2 Peter 2:20-22). They are defenseless and need the care of the shepherd (Ps. 23). Sheep are peaceful animals, useful to the shepherd. In these, and other ways, they picture those who have trusted Jesus Christ and are a part of God’s flock.


He Knows His Sheep

I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them.

John 10:14-15 (GNT)


shepherdIn the Gospel of John, the words know means much more than intellectual awareness. It speaks of an intimate relationship between God and His people (see John 17:3). The Eastern shepherd knows his sheep personally and therefore knows best how to minister to them.


To begin with, our Lord knows our names (see John 10:3). He also knows our natures. While all sheep are alike in their essential nature, each sheep has its own distinctive characteristics; and the loving shepherd recognizes these traits. One sheep may be afraid of high places, another of dark shadows. A faithful shepherd will consider these special needs as he tends the flock.


Have you ever noticed how different the 12 Apostles were from one another?


Peter was impulsive and outspoken, while Thomas was hesitant and doubting. Andrew was a “people person” who was always bringing somebody to Jesus, while Judas wanted to “use” people in order to get their money for him. Jesus knew each of the men personally, and He knew exactly how to deal with them.


Because He knows our natures, He also knows our needs. Often, we do not even know our own needs! Psalm 23 is a beautiful poetic description of how the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. In the pastures, by the waters, and even through the valleys, the sheep need not fear, because the shepherd is caring for them and meeting their needs. If you connect Psalm 23:1 and 6, you get the main theme of the poem: “I shall not want… all the days of my life.”


As the shepherd cares for the sheep, the sheep get to know their shepherd better. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. They get to know Him better by listening to His voice (the Word) and experiencing His daily care. As the sheep follow the Shepherd, they learn to love and to trust Him. He loves “His own” (John 13:1) and He shows that love in the way He cares for them.


The Good Shepherd Brings Other Sheep Into The Flock

There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

John 10:16 (GNT)


This was speaking of the Gentiles. Up until the ministry of Jesus, Gentiles had to convert to Judaism. The Jews were the chosen people of God. Jesus would start a new order–the church–that would be made up of men and women from every race and culture.


Notice also that there would not be Messianic Christians and Gentile Christians. All those distinctions are lost in Christ. Now we are all simply Christians (Galatians 3:28).


The Good Shepherd Takes Up His Life Again

“The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father has commanded me to do.”
Again there was a division among the people because of these words. Many of them were saying, “He has a demon! He is crazy! Why do you listen to him?”
But others were saying, “A man with a demon could not talk like this! How could a demon give sight to blind people?”

John 10:17-21 (GNT)


Jesus’ sacrificial death was not forced upon Him. This is a powerful truth that makes the sacrifice of Jesus even more amazing. No one forced Jesus to do this. He chose to do this because of His great love for His Father and us. God the Father loved Him for this. He was in absolute control. This was completely voluntary.


Jesus had very clearly and boldly proclaimed Himself as the “door” and “shepherd of the sheep [God’s people]” (brackets mine). This is the same point He made in John 14:6. He left no room for anything less than acceptance of Him as God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).


Since Jesus Christ is “the Door,” we would expect a division, because a door shuts some people in and others out! He is the Good Shepherd, and the shepherd must separate the sheep from the goats. It is impossible to be neutral about Jesus Christ; for, what we believe about Him is a matter of life or death (John 8:24).


The old accusation that Jesus was a demoniac was hurled at Him again (John 7:20; 8:48, 52). People will do almost anything to avoid facing the truth! Even the religious Pharisees knew that the devil could not open the eyes of the blind. Today, many religious people claim the devil can do these miracles and thereby discredit true miracles by ascribing them to the devil.



Jesus is such a Good Shepherd to me. He so loves me that He willingly laid down His life to provide for me all that He has and all that He is.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and I am part of His flock. He knows me by name and recognizes me as His own.
I know and recognize my Shepherd as well. He laid down His life for me so that I could have a relationship with the Father exactly like His.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!



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