Lesson 60

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 10:12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn't own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. 10:13 The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn't care for the sheep. 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; 10:15 even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.

 Today's Lesson 

The second conclusion that Jesus draws from the parable of the sheepfold is "I am the good shepherd." When Jesus said that He was the door of the sheepfold, His primary meaning was that He was the legitimate access to the Father. When He says that He is the good shepherd, He has something specific in mind as well. Jesus is not saying that He is the good shepherd in every way that a shepherd might excel in caring for sheep. Though these traits might be applied to our Lord, He has one particular trait in mind.


The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. In the illustration that Jesus is using, it is the willingness to sacrifice himself for his flock that makes the shepherd "good". The good shepherd is contrasted with someone who simply cares for the sheep as an occupation. When the sheep of the hired hand are attacked, the hired hand will not risk his life for the sheep. They are not his sheep, so if they are slain he will simply move on to another flock or another job. He has no real interest in the sheep. His interest is in his pay and what he can afford to buy through his labors.


But, the good shepherd identifies himself with his sheep. They are his flock and his purpose for existence. He is willing to place his own life on the line in order to protect his sheep. Jesus says there is a bond between Himself and His sheep. The bond is similar to the bond that is between the Father and the Son. The Father and the Son are united because they are of the same nature and have the same purpose. Jesus said that, "I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father."


Jesus laid down His life for you and I. The recognition of this fact is one way that we know that we are His. When the Spirit of God convicts our hearts, and we come to recognize the price that Jesus was willing to pay for our behalf, this is one of the surest signs that we are of Jesus' flock. In fact, I'm not at all convinced that one can be of His flock if they are not aware of the sacrifice that He has made for us. Jesus is not just a good teacher with excellent ideas. He was a man who claimed to be the Son of God who laid down His life so that He might tell people about God. He was willing to die in order to reveal God to a world that was, for the most part, unwilling to see.


This sacrificial nature is an integral part of the Son and the Father. That is why the proper understanding of Christ death is so important. His life, death and resurrection are the revelation of God. It is the very willingness of God to suffer and die to reveal Himself that is the revelation. The depth of concern that God has for His creation is seen in this understanding of the purpose for which Christ lived. Christ death was not accidental or uncontrollable. His death had both purpose and meaning.


As we proceed in this Gospel, the death of Jesus Christ will become a greater issue. And, not simply His death, but His willingness to die. And the reality of His resurrection. He was the good shepherd. He was willing to place Himself between our enemy and us. He was willing to die for us.


What does Jesus' death mean to you? What does it show you of His nature and His purpose? Can you hear Him calling, even from the cross?


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