“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” – John 10:11, 14 (ESV)
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
How is Jesus the Good Shepherd? Verse 11 answers that He “lays down His life for the sheep” which happened when He was crucified on the cross in our place. If He had not willingly laid down His own life as payment for ours, sealing it in His own blood, we would have no standing to call Him our Shepherd. If He had not bought us back with His own blood, we would still be lost sheep without a shepherd. But because of and through His sacrifice we enter into the sheepfold. We are His, He is our Good Shepherd, and in that one act He reveals the value He places on His sheep.
“As the Good Shepherd, Christ gave His life for His sheep and became the door to God’s fold (v. 7); as the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), He rose from the dead to care for His sheep; as Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), He will come again for His sheep,” – Ryrie Study Bible.
Jesus, the Great Shepherd
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV; emphasis added)
Jesus’ nature as the Great Shepherd was revealed when He came back to life again, conquering sin and death. In serving our risen, living Savior who is with us every moment of every day in every trial, temptation, and joy we have hope, comfort, and strength. Because He lives, the Great Shepherd works in the hearts and lives of His sheep, equipping us to do His will and drawing us closer to Himself.
Jesus, the Chief Shepherd
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” – 1 Peter 5:4 (ESV; emphasis added)
Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, will return in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. No one and nothing else will even be a close comparison when He appears on the scene. All else will fade in the background. And yet… His sheep, those whom He valued enough to die for, those He revealed His power to in rising from the dead, those He cared for and equipped in life, these will stand with Him in glory.
But being our Shepherd goes even deeper still.
Jesus, the Relational Shepherd
Sitting in the language café she asked me, “how do you hear His voice?” Implied in that question was a deeper question, “how do you know it’s His voice?” She was from China, atheistic in its government religion but where ancestor worship is prevalent, including in her family. How could I answer this penetrating question into my intimate relationship with the Shepherd of my soul?
John 10:14 says “I know my own and my own know me.” The Good Shepherd who laid His life down for His own. The Great Shepherd who conquered death to give life to His own. The Chief Shepherd who will return for His own. In all this He revealed how much He wanted to know and be known by His own, to relate to us on our level. We cannot simply know that He is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, or even the Chief Shepherd. No, we must also live these truths, trusting Him, centering our lives and thinking around Him, and clinging to Him more than our next breath.
How can we relate back to our Shepherd? By spending time in His Word, sharing our hearts with Him in prayer and listening for that still small voice in response, and fasting to the point that it overflows into every area of our lives. So that if someone asks you “how do you know the voice of your Shepherd?” you can give a clear, confident answer. So that you know, in the depth of your soul, your Shepherd is the Good Shepherd who knows you and you know Him.
~ Rachel Williams, Guest Author