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Seven Ways Christ Is the Good Shepherd

May 3, 2018

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). The relationship of believers with Jesus Christ is that of sheep to a shepherd. The Lord is our shepherd; we are his flock. But what does that mean?

In John 10, Christ spells out what it means for him to be our shepherd and for us to be his sheep in seven wonderful ways.

1. Christ has received you as a gift from the Father.

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)

Christ’s sheep are a gift that he receives from the Father.

Now how would you know if you are one of Christ’s sheep? How would you know if you have been given by the Father to the Son?

The identifying marks of Christ’s sheep are stated clearly in these verses: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (10:27). But what does it mean to hear his voice?

Jesus says earlier, “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep” (10:26). So it follows that believing is a distinguishing mark of the sheep given to the Son by the Father. Christ’s sheep hear his voice, they believe his Word, and they follow him.

So, if you believe and follow Jesus Christ, you are one of Christ’s sheep. You have been given by the Father to the Son.

2. Christ knows you completely.

“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…” (10:14-15)

Jesus Christ knows you completely! There may be times when you are a mystery to yourself, but you are never a mystery to Christ.

In the Psalms we read, “The Lord knows our frame…” (Psalm 103:14). Christ knows your temperament, your moods. He knows what lifts you up, and he knows what gets you down.

There is nothing you could ever tell Jesus about yourself that he does not already know completely.

Here is the joy of following Jesus Christ. Because he knows you completely, he is able to lead you effectively. The good shepherd knows what you need, and he is able to give you what you need at precisely the time that you need it.

3. Christ gave himself for you.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.…I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, 15)

Here is something very wonderful: The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Everything Jesus endured in his passion was for you. When he gave himself into the hands of the arresting party in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was for you. When he was scourged and beaten, it was for you. And when he was condemned to death, it was for you. When he hung on that cross in agony, it was for you.

[Tweet “Never forget that Jesus chose to suffer and die for you. This was not imposed on him.”]

Never forget that Jesus chose to suffer and die for you. This was not imposed on him. He gave himself willingly. “No one takes [my life] 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” (10:18).

Jesus accomplished everything he had come to do and then he gave himself into death. And this is what he has done for you. Christ’s sheep can say with Paul, “The Son of God…loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

4. Christ called you and brought you to himself.

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” (John 10:16)

How does he bring us to himself and make us his sheep? “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (10:3). The sheep who are called by name in John 10:3 are the same sheep who enter by the door in John 10:9. And Jesus says, “I am the door.” Christ is the door, and “if anyone enters by the door, he will be saved” (10:9).

You come through the door when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But when you believe, you will very quickly have an awareness that there was something going on beyond your believing. Somehow he called you. Somehow he brought you. He did not stand back and wait to see if you would come to him. Like the shepherd who went out to find the lost sheep, he laid you on his shoulders and brought you back home.

5. Christ owns you and will never abandon you.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…My sheep hear my voice…” (John 10:14, 27)

What a marvelous thing to be wholly owned by the Son of God! The contrast here is with the hired hand. The hired hand “does not own the sheep” (10:12). The hired hand has no real investment in the flock. He shepherds the flock because he is paid to do so. The hired hand has to calculate whether it is worth the effort and risk of doing this job for what he gets paid. There is a point when the hired hand may say, “It’s just not worth it.” There are limits to his commitment.

Christ does not care for you because of what he can get out of you. That would be the spirit of the hired hand. Christ cares for you because you are his. There will never be a time when he will say, “You’re not worth it.” He made you his own, at the cost of his life and, having made you his own, he will never leave you; he will never forsake you.

With such a shepherd committed to you for life, what do you have to fear?

6. Christ gives you eternal life.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish…” (John 10:28)

Jesus does not say, “I will give them eternal life at some time in the future.” He says, “I give them eternal life!” If Christ is your shepherd, this precious gift of eternal life is already yours.

And notice the word give. In other words, you did not earn this priceless gift. Eternal life is freely given by the shepherd and freely received by his sheep, simply because he is the shepherd and we are the sheep.

The life Jesus gives is eternal. Eternal life, by definition, is a life that never ends, and if you have this life, it’s yours forever!

7. Christ guards you and will keep you forever.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)

What reason do you have for confidence as a Christian when all the pressure stands against you? Can what is yours in Christ be taken away?

Christ’s sheep are in his hand. That’s the answer! And as if that wasn’t enough, our Lord adds, “No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (10:29-30). AW. Pink says,

The hand of Christ is beneath us, and the hand of the Father is above us. Thus we are secured between the clasped hands of Omnipotence. [1]

Are these things true of you; is the Lord your Shepherd?

[This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon “The Shepherd and His Sheep”(March 25, 2018).] [1] A. W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, p. 552, Zondervan, 1968.
[Photo Credit: Unsplash]

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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