Names of Jesus: Good Shepherd

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Names of Jesus: Good Shepherd

In John 10, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees after He has just healed a man on the Sabbath and the Pharisees excommunicate the healed man because He professed his belief that Jesus was of God. Jesus then explains to the Pharisees that He is the Good Shepherd of His sheep, giving a stark contrast between Himself and the religious leaders of the time.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, 

15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. 

16 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.

John 10:14-16 CSB
  • Good – G2570 – kalos
    • good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends
      • genuine, approved
      • precious
      • joined to names of men designated by their office, competent, able, such as one ought to be
  • Shepherd – G4166 – poimēn
    • a herdsman, esp. a shepherd
      • in the parable, he to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow

As Shepherd, others entrust their care and control to Him and follow His teachings, thoughts, rules, and behaviors. As our Good Shepherd, He is excellent in nature and characteristics and competent in His designated office of Shepherd. He is qualified and able to take care of us and to be entrusted with control of our lives.

Why does Jesus call Himself our Good Shepherd?

We are all sheep, but only the sheep who hear Jesus’ voice are sheep of His flock. There are sheep who do not hear His voice, who do not believe in Him. The Shepherd would feed, protect, guide, and provide for the sheep of His flock. He would fend off predators, guard them against getting lost, and carry them home when they were sick or wandered off. The Shepherd constantly cared for his sheep.

25 For you were like sheep going astray,[a] but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer[b] of your souls.

1 Peter 2:25 CSB

We all went astray like sheep;

we all have turned to our own way;

and the Lord has punished him

for[a] the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 CSB

The Shepherd knew all of his sheep and gave them each a special name, and each of his sheep knew their shepherd and listened to his voice. They would respond to him and obey him, but they would not listen to or follow the voice of a stranger. They knew the difference between the voice of their shepherd and the voice of a stranger. The Shepherd would also go before his sheep to make sure the path ahead was safe.

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not [a]want.

He makes me to lie down in [b]green pastures;

He leads me beside the [c]still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV

Describing Himself as the Good Shepherd, the people would have understood the metaphor. Additionally, Jesus talks about “other sheep” which was referencing the Gentiles, meaning that He would also call on the Gentiles to believe, and the Jews and Gentiles would be united by their faith in Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36 CSB

Jesus emphasizes that He voluntarily lays His life down for His sheep, and in this declares His power and authority to do so, as well as to rise again from the dead, which only God can do. As our Good Shepherd, He gave up His physical life in order to give us eternal life through Him.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 

13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13 ESV

In being our Good Shepherd He displays the greatest of love for His sheep and sets the example of love for us, calling us to live by His example. Those who call on the name of Jesus, professing faith in Him as our Good Shepherd, should love others selflessly as Christ loves us, and follow His example and teachings in all things. Through our faith in our Good Shepherd, we obtain the promise of salvation and eternity with our Heavenly Father.

17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

    and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:17 ESV

Trusting Jesus as our Good Shepherd gives us peace that surpasses understanding as we trust in Him to guard, lead, and control our lives in the ways He knows are best for us. We are immeasurably blessed when we choose to enter into a personal relationship with Him and enter through the gate into the promise of salvation that can only be obtained through Jesus Christ.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Acts 2:21 ESV

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Have you accepted the grace of God?

If you have not accepted the grace of God and chosen to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to pray to God now and invite Him in, accept Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins, and repent of your sins. Submit it all to God, lay it at His feet, seek the forgiveness of God, welcome Him into your life, and believe that Jesus died and rose again to save you from your sins.

If you would like to learn more about salvation, you can find a couple of studies that may help here:

  1. Names of Jesus: Savior
  2. Don’t Neglect Your Salvation
  3. Prayer of Salvation
  4. What is grace and why do we need it?
  5. What does it mean to be justified by grace?
  6. Don’t Reject God’s Grace
  7. Don’t Reject Christ
  8. Godly Women – what it means to live a godly life
  9. Redeemed Women – what it means to be redeemed
  10. What is Biblical Love?
  11. What are Spiritual Gifts?
  12. How to live in Spirit and Truth
  13. How to test what is pleasing to God
  14. Names of Jesus as the Son of God
  15. Names of Jesus as the Son of Man
  16. Names of Jesus as the Truth

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Names of Jesus The Good Shepherd
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