Names of Jesus: The Good Shepherd

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

The verse above is simple and yet utterly life changing. Jesus declares himself to be the good shepherd. Most of us have heard this metaphor, but what does it mean?

The first mark of the good shepherd we see in the text is that he is willing to die for his sheep. Sin is like a wolf that preys on helpless sheep, and Jesus is the vigilant shepherd who fights off the wolf. When Jesus laid down his life on the cross, it was an act of protection that saved us from the punishment for sin. And when he rose from the dead on the third day, it was an act of protection that saved us from sin itself. Jesus loves his flock to the point of death.

It is strange and concerning that in America today, sheep is used as a political insult. The Bible tells us that we’re all sheep, and says so affectionately. The question is not whether we are sheep, but who our shepherd is. We are all following someone or something. But there is only one good shepherd. Political parties/agendas, ambitions of power/money, the influence of ungodly friends/leaders, the American Dream, and anything else that rules our life instead of Christ will be a cruel shepherd. They will only lead us to harm and death. Our good shepherd is the only one who can lead us to life. Psalm 23:1-4 says:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 23. With Christ as our shepherd, we have nothing to fear. When we follow after him, he will lead us to peace and life.