The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23: 1-4 (NIV
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10: 14-18 (NIV)
The term shepherd in relation to God is not something new (Psalm 23; Genesis 48:15; Genesis 49:24; Psalm 80:1; Ezekiel 34: 16, 23; Zechariah 9:16). Throughout the Bible, God refers to those he appointed over Israel as shepherds over his flock—the Jews. He also called prophets and priests shepherds.
Shepherds were to protect, care for, and lead their sheep. In addition to protecting and caring for the physical needs of their flock, those who were called to shepherd people were also called to lead and teach them the ways and commandments of God. Shepherding was a great responsibility.
By claiming to be the ‘good shepherd‘ Jesus professes his authortiy as a leader/teacher/protector of the Jews. But there are two things in Jesus’ assertion which aroused an angry response—he was the ‘good shepherd,’ and the sheep were ‘his.’
By calling himself good, Jesus places himself on the same level as God. Jesus, himself, said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19) Jesus confesses an intimate understanding and relationship with the Father and says his actions are in direct obedience to the Father’s command.
Unlike the Old Testament shepherds of Israel, Jesus claims ownership of the Jews who hear and respond to his voice—and not only the Jews but ‘other sheep that are not of this pen‘ who will also respond to him.
“There will be one flock and one shepherd“—Jesus, the Good Shepherd!
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”