Sunday, June 9, 2013

What Did Jesus Mean by "I am The Good Shepherd?"

Many of us have seen pictures of Jesus as a shepherd, often with the lost lamb. It is beautiful but what Jesus said about his role of a shepherd is either blasphemy or awesome.

"I am the Good Shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11, NIV.

The people then who heard Christ say these words heard them in a different way than we do today. When a person in the 21st century comes across these words of Jesus they think it is a parable and that Jesus is saying that he cares sacrificially for those who follow. Of course that is true- Jesus is the good shepherd who cares for the sheep, but there is much more.

To the person in Judea the words would be a claim to being divine. They would associate with the famous shepherd in the book of psalms. Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my Shepherd." The people of the first century would think of the good shepherd as that same shepherd. Jesus knew this when he said he was the good shepherd; we miss it today but in the terms and vernacular of the times he was claiming to be God.*

His listeners would have been shocked but the following words were more shocking. The "good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep"; this is the opposite of conventional thought. If Jesus identified himself as the God Shepherd (God) then to say he would die for the sheep is hard to understand because it is incredible to think the holy all powerful Lord would die at all but less understandable that God would die for something like ignoble humble sheep.

Besides sheep were used as a sacrifice to God to pay for sins and to make fellowship offerings, Jesus turned that all around.

This is where Christ differs from religion. In all religions man performs rites and makes sacrifice to come to God but Jesus teaches God sacrifices himself to become the sin offering lamb to bring man to him.

He said something similar in Matthew 20:28, "The son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many."

The Apostle Paul puts it in a few words, "For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who dies on the cross to be the sacrifice to pay for the sins of the sheep- us.

To learn more about what Jesus did on the cross for you go to the gospel tab at the top of this page.

For more study on God as Israel's Shepherd see also Ezekiel 34; Isaiah 53; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23.

Thank you for visiting this blog. I hope these thoughts are helpful for you.

You can find more like this in the most helpful post list on the left sidebar.

You can contact me through comments or the email link. If you live near Columbia MD I would be glad to meet you and discuss how you can know for sure that you may have eternal life.


Use the buttons below to share this with your social networks.