JOHN:The Book Of Heartfelt Belief

The Good Shepherd

John 10:1-21

Jerry A. Collins



I donít know about you but I do not particularly like being described as a sheep. Have you ever seen a sheep run? Geeky, stumbling, entangled. Not like a horse sleek, muscles palpitating around the shoulders, clods of dirt being thrown into the air as it runs in the fields. I have never heard of a football team naming itself after sheep. Denver broncos. Detroit lions. Chicago bears. Not the Dallas sheep! It does not fit. Sheep also scare easy. I heard of a guy who scared his sheep, Herman, to death. He saw Herman coming around the corner so he hid and when he heard the huffing and puffing of Herman near the corner, he jumped out and went BOO! Herman fell over dead right on the spot. Sheep are easily frightened little things. I donít like being compared to a scare easy, die easy, run geeky sheep. I look in the OT and read all we like sheep have gone astray. Many of the great men of the OT were shepherds including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David. So I go to the psalms and read about me in psalm 23 the Lord is my shepherd and see sheep all over the place. Then I decided to check out the NT because it is newer and I read in Heb 13:20 about the great shepherd of the sheep. I am a sheep. There is no getting around that. And so are you. This sheep/shepherd analogy is developed by Jesus in several ways throughout John 10:1-21.


In this typical pastoral scene, a shepherd enters thru a gate into some type of enclosure guarding his sheep from predators at night with a gatekeeper preventing thieves and beasts of prey from entering. There is always the danger of someone or something climbing the wall to steal or kill the sheep. So these thieves and robbers do not dare present themselves to the doorkeeper. The shepherd in contrast to those threatening his sheep, enters thru the gate calls out for his sheep who recognize his voice and in the early morning follow him out to the fields during the day. These same sheep will run away from the unfamiliar voice of a stranger and refuse to follow him vs 5-6.

By their very nature helpless, vulnerable sheep need a shepherd to watch over them. There will always be false shepherds attempting to gain access to the sheep to use and abuse them for their own self-interests. Their intent is to have sheep follow them! A false shepherds number one commitment is to being a shepherd, not to his sheep. He wants sheep to make him look good, to fulfill a need he has but never in the best interests of the sheep. They get used and abused by them. These Pharisees Jesus is talking to and about 9:40-41 fit this description. They missed Jesus lesson because they were unable to recognize Jesus credentials as the Shepherd of the sheep. They will compete for sheep. However, because these sheep really belong to Jesus, they know His voice, recognize He is Messiah and follow Him. Jesus alone has the words of eternal life so hearing his voice and following him gives us a real shepherd interested in our well-being rather than the vested interests of false shepherds.


In sheep terms these sheep enjoy the safety of the shepherds care and protection and the abundance of the rich pastures and water to which he leads them. The imagery says they could not have it any better for sheep! In people terms, those trusting Christ for the gift of eternal life enter into the abundant life under the protection, guidance and caregiving of their Savior. In contrast, all who claimed to be shepherds did not care about the sheep nor do they care for the sheep. They come only for personal gain at the expense of the sheep. These thieves and robbers actually take life while Christ gives it to the full. They promise the good life, like Satan, but do not provide it. However, the Lords sheep are not taken in by these false shepherds because they know the voice of their shepherd and do not listen to the stranger. Inherently, they know their shepherd has come for their benefit.

Christlikeness always views shepherding as a focus on the sheep. Christlike leaders give themselves as shepherds to their sheep. All of us are shepherds to someone or should be. Like Christ, we shepherd our sheep by serving them rather than being served by them.


At night danger lurked for the sheep and even the shepherd (David 1 Sam 17:34-35, 37). Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd twice and is described as the Great Shepherd (Heb 13:20) and the Chief Shepherd (1 PT 5:4). He knows his sheep intimately and places the interests of the flock above His own in order to deliver them. He lays down His life for his sheep. The hired hand vs 12-13 does not have this same commitment. He is more ambitious for his wages than he is the welfare of the flock he is paid to take care of. He will even forsake the sheep in his care to save his own skin. He runs from danger rather than endanger himself. In contrast the good shepherd does much more than simply put himself in harms way vs 15, he jeopardizes his life to save them. Jesus refers to his impending death as our substitute for sin. His death will bring gentile sheep into the flock of God vs 16. Four times He mentions laying down his life and twice predicts his resurrection. Our Shepherds death was voluntary and deliberate. He was never more in control, sovereign, than when he was hanging on the cross. There is only one flock with one shepherd. When we think of the church in Muskegon, we must include all believers in this city as the flock of God no matter what denominational ties they have. All believers here are the flock of God here.

Imagine with me a sheep travelinjg past a lion waiting to pounce on this geeky, scare easy, die easy little guy. Just as the lion stretches out his paw to swipe the life from this sheep, the sheep has two options (1) He can fight. Sounds out of character. BAA BAA BAA come on! or (2) He can run to His shepherd. He certainly needs one. One who can supply what he needs at that moment and one willing to give whatever serves the best interests of His sheep. Run! Run often! Run hard! Run fast! Your shepherd is there for you!