I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he
abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other
sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
In Jesus’ day, shepherds did not enjoy the best reputation. People looked down upon them, and some rabbinic traditions indicate they were not allowed to give testimony in court due to their untrustworthiness. So of course, the first people to whom the birth of Jesus was announced were . . . shepherds. God has a way of choosing the most unlikely people to be his witnesses.
So why does Jesus tell the people that he was the good shepherd? Why did he choose that metaphor? As you might expect, he was drawing upon Old Testament texts that pointed forward to him. The Jews who knew their Scriptures would have remembered that in Ezekiel 34, God railed against the shepherds who took care of themselves and took advantage of the sheep. God said he himself would search for and look after the sheep (vs. 11), and that he would set his servant David over them to be their shepherd (vs. 23). So, when Jesus says, “I am the shepherd, the good one” (most literal form), he was claiming to be the fulfillment of that prophecy, the Son of David who would shepherd his people.
Look also at Isaiah’s prophecy. God told those who would bring good tidings to his people to say, “Here is your God!” (40:9) He said that he would come in power and would tend his flock like a shepherd, tenderly gathering and caring for them. Notice that Jesus says he would even give up his life for his sheep. Only the good shepherd, the perfect shepherd, the shepherd of God’s own choosing would do that. Yes, that baby who lay in the feeding trough, whom shepherds came to see and to spread the word about, would grow up to give up his life for his sheep.
Are you one of his sheep? Listen to his voice. Find everything you need in him. Follow him all your life. “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house for ever.
(Henry W. Baker)