“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (ESV)
Today, we aren’t as familiar with the occupation of shepherd as were people in Jesus’ time on earth. However, it’s not too hard, even from this passage, to imagine what a shepherd does and the hazards of his job.
One thing is to shepherd. This means to herd, care and account for the flock. Jesus, as the good shepherd, does this for us. Later in John 10, Jesus tells us, “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 ESV) From this we can see that Jesus truly shepherds His people.
We also read that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The good shepherd is literally willing to put himself between the flock and its enemies. For real sheep this meant the shepherd put his life between real beasts and the sheep. For us, as Jesus’ flock, this means that Jesus provided his life as atonement our sins. To do this, He “destroy[ed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver[ed] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV)
Today, it seems unbelievable that a shepherd would go to his death for his livestock. After all, animals are worth very little when compared to people. Compared to God, we are worth very little as well, yet our Creator and Sustainer gave His life for us.
Heavenly Father, how merciful You are to suffer and die for us while we were Your enemies. You truly are the good shepherd. Let us praise You for all You have done for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.