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Photo by Jaka Škrlep on Unsplash

Yesterday, we saw the Lord, our Shepherd, described in the 23rd Psalm. Today, we’re looking at Jesus’ words about being a shepherd, but we need to be careful when dealing with metaphors. Who does Jesus claim to be?  In this passage, He is making two claims. Sometimes we get careless when we deal with metaphors and it is to our peril.*

How can we tell which One is the Good Shepherd?

First, Jesus claims to be the door for the sheepfold. He talked about those who try to enter the sheepfold by other than the door. Those people climb in another way and are thieves and robbers. The one who comes in the door is the shepherd.

Second, Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd. Who is this Good Shepherd? He is the One who gives His life for His sheep. He is not simply a hired hand who only cares about getting paid by the hour. This Shepherd cares about the welfare of the sheep. Are they healthy? Are the mothers and babies safe and healthy? Are all the sheep present or have some strayed away and made themselves easy prey for those who want to have a good meal? This Good Shepherd is willing to put His life on the line in order to protect His sheep.

Of course, this is exactly what He did! He gave His life for His own sheep even though at this point, they haven’t all come into the fold yet. He knows who they are and where they are. He knows when they will repent and turn to Him.

The Good Shepherd is both the door to the sheepfold and the One who had to die to provide a way for His sheep to enter.

This harkens back to GOD’s grace and mercy that He has shown us. The Good Shepherd is both the door to the sheepfold AND the Shepherd who had to die to provide a way for His sheep to be able to enter. He knows the sheep that are His. There is nothing they have done to deserve this redemption, but rather it is done without regard to merit. It is a gift.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way,
that man is a thief and a robber.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.
This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:1-18 ESV

*Take a look back here to see more about the comparisons with the shepherd in real life.