1 Samuel 24:1-22; John 10:11-21; Psalms 115:1-10; Proverbs 24:21-22
NT: ““I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”” (John 10:11-18 CSB)
The forth “I AM” statement that Jesus made is tied to the third. Not only is He the Gate for the sheep, He is the Good Shepherd. He is not a hireling who is only out for personal gain and cares nothing about the sheep. He is the Good Shepherd Who cares so deeply for the sheep that He lays His life down for their benefit. By claiming to be The Good Shepherd, Jesus was claiming to be the Lord, the Good Shepherd of Israel that David so beautifully described in Psalm 23. He cares for His sheep, His protects His sheep, He leads His sheep to places of peace and abundance. But Jesus said that He wasn’t just the Good Shepherd of Israel – He had other sheep that were not from this sheep pen. When He said this, He was referring to those out of the gentile nations of the earth who would hear His gospel and place their faith in Him as well. Then, in Christ, genders, generations, and races would all be reconciled together as one people. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.” Those who truly follow the Lord and are members of His “flock” have no hatred or animosity towards others, for they have been reconciled through Christ’s life to God and to one another. Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from Him… He willingly laid it down for our sakes… and then He willingly defeated death and came to life again to continue shepherding His people to abundant and everlasting life.
Psalms: “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them. Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield.” (Psalms 115:1-10 CSB)
The Lord God, the True and Living God, was the Good Shepherd of Israel. When God revealed Himself to the patriarchs and people of Israel, He didn’t do so through an image… He did so through His word that was given through a living relationship. I have walked the streets of a pagan nation and seen their idols of wood and stone, silver and gold. As I walked those streets, this Psalm came to mind… and my heart broke for the people of that nation. Those idols that they offered sacrifices to were lifeless… and behind them were demonic spirits intent on keeping the people of that nation enslaved to meaningless futility. The Lord God, the Good Shepherd, is not a lifeless chunk of carved stone… He is alive! He is not some evil spirit intent on our demise… He loves His people dearly and desires to lead them to abundant life! So I expand the call that the psalmist gave to Israel and the House of Aaron, and I say: Nations of the world… people of the world from every language, race, and ethnicity, Trust in the Lord! He is our help and our shield!