Please help me welcome our sweet and salty sister Marni J. Hansel to our table. She is the mother of 5 children, many who love to sing and perform on stage as much as she does. She opens our 9 week study based on Mary Southernland’s book entitled, Escaping the Stress Trap and the Names of Jesus. Today’s Name is Good Shepherd for if we know Him as our Shepherd then this helps us rest in peace.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14
“And he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down.” That simple phrase probably brought the entire fairy tale of the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf to your mind. If you know something well, a small part sparks an association with the whole.
So what came to the minds of the Pharisees, expert teachers of Jewish law and history, when Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:11 and 14? Let’s dive into the Bible and find out!
Skim through the first few chapters of the Gospel of John and see that Jesus begins a ministry of miracles in Roman-occupied Galilee, Samaria, and Judea (now Israel). He quickly gathers a following of people who proclaim Him as the long-awaited Messiah, the savior of the Jewish people. In John 3, Jesus tells a Pharisee named Nicodemus that He came so that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. He convinces many people that He is the Chosen One of God by feeding 5000 men, walking on water, and in John 9, healing a man born blind.
This really angered the Pharisees, devout Jewish leaders, who considered His behavior blasphemous. They were jealous of His large following. Spiritually blind to the true identity of Jesus, they angrily pursued Him and tried to trip Him up in debate. Pause and read John 10 now, as Jesus speaks to them directly.
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14. Wow! That may seem innocuous to a modern reader, but those Pharisees knew the entire story of Jewish history, so to them, Jesus was making a bold claim.
What came to their minds?
They would have thought of the great hero of the Exodus, the shepherd Moses, chosen by God to deliver His people out of Egyptian bondage into the freedom of the Promised Land. (Read Exodus 3:1-10)
They would have recalled the greatest king of the Jews, the shepherd David, who rescued sheep from the mouth of the lion and defeated the giant Goliath, triumphing over death, proclaiming God to the world. (Read 1 Samuel 17:33-47)
They would have unconsciously been reciting Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd…” in their minds.
They would have remembered the Word of the Lord as prophesied through Ezekiel, “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says, ‘I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so I will look after my sheep.” (Ezekiel 34:11,12) and also “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 34:31) (Read all of Ezekiel 34 – it is amazing!)
Those poor Pharisees! They were supposed to be caring for the downtrodden, oppressed Jewish people, and Jesus arrives on the scene to tell them that like robbers, strangers, and hired hands, they aren’t the true leaders of God’s people.
Instead, Jesus is the One who will lead His sheep out of oppression into freedom, out of the bondage of sin into the liberty of righteousness. Jesus is the One who will rescue His sheep from death and guide them to the green pasture of abundant life. He fights our battles and is victorious. Jesus proclaims God to the world!
And to those of us who know Him, to those of us “sheep” who follow Him as Savior and Lord, He gives us this promise in John 10:27, 28: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Do you know the Good Shepherd? Do you belong to Jesus? Today, you can place your faith in Him and then “Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)