Verse of the Day Devotion: John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11
Over the next few weekdays, we will be looking at seven verses where Jesus declares “I AM”, and then gives a metaphor regarding what He is. Today, we will look at the fourth of these, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
Immediately after declaring that He is “the door” in the previous verse of the day, Jesus declares “I am the good shepherd.” He describes Himself as not only “the shepherd” but the “good shepherd.” What does this mean? It should be understood that Jesus is the good shepherd, not simply a good shepherd, as others may be, but He is unique in character. The Greek word kalos, translated “good,” describes that which is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful, in contrast to that which is wicked, mean, foul, and unlovely. It signifies not only that which is good inwardly in character but also that which is attractive outwardly. It is an innate goodness. Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness, and His beauty as in the way He carries Himself. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.
Jesus here, again, is making a big distinction between Himself and the Jewish religious leaders. He uses the idea of one who is hired to take care of the flock, which is an interesting way to see the Jewish religious leaders. They are more concerned about doing their tasks rather than caring for the sheep. “He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and is not concerned about the sheep.” John 10:12-13. In verse eight, He refers to them as thieves and robbers. “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” John 10:8. He who is a “hireling” works for wages, which are his main consideration. His concern is not for the sheep but for himself. Interestingly enough, the shepherds of ancient times were not usually the owners of the flock. Nevertheless, they were expected to exercise the same care and concern the owners would. This was characteristic of a true shepherd. However, some of the hirelings thought only of themselves. As a result, when a wolf appeared—the most common threat to sheep in that day—the hireling abandoned the flock and fled, leaving the sheep to be scattered or killed.
In our verse of the day yesterday in verse nine, I spoke of the shepherd being the door to the sheepfold when in the wilderness. He would lay at the opening as he slept so as to protect them from wild predators. He put his life on the line to protect the flock. Likewise, Jesus gave His life on the cross as “the Good Shepherd” for his own. He who would save others, though He had the power, did not choose to save Himself. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. Through His willing sacrifice, the Lord made salvation possible for all who come to Him in faith. In proclaiming that He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus speaks of “laying down” His life for His sheep. Jesus’ death was divinely appointed. It is only through Him that we receive salvation. “Jesus’ death was divinely appointed. ”I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15.
Jesus loves us more than we can ever imagine. So much so, that as a shepherd lays down his life for his flock, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, His people, Christians. All who accept what He did will be saved. The Jewish religious leaders would not sacrifice their lives for God’s people. They were not good shepherds but merely hirelings. Jesus sacrificed everything to save His people thus becoming our Savior, otherwise known as the good shepherd.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.