Our Good Shepherd is willing to die for his sheep
By Roy Burket
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
John 10:11 focuses on two aspects of our shepherd: his identity and his mission.
His identity: Jesus says that he is the “good shepherd.” Jesus is a good shepherd because as a shepherd he is willing to lay his life on the line for his sheep. When compared to the hired hand (John 10:12-13), who cares nothing for the sheep and abandons the sheep when they are in danger, Jesus comes to our rescue and gives his life for us.
His mission: Jesus never wavers in his mission. His mission was to “lay down his life for the sheep.” So the question is, why does Jesus want to lay down his life for the sheep, for people like us that do not even know who he is?
Jesus, the good shepherd, died for us because we are sinners who need to be redeemed and reconciled to God. The Pillar New Testament Commentary says, “The words ‘for (hyper) the sheep’ suggest sacrifice. The preposition, itself ambiguous, in John always occurs in a sacrificial context, whether referring to the death of Jesus (6:51; 10:11, 15; 11:50; 17:19; 18:14), of Peter (13:37–38) or of a man prepared to die for his friend (15:13).” According to John 15:13, a person who lays down his life for his friends demonstrates the greatest love a person can have. This tells us that Jesus, the good shepherd, has the greatest love anyone can have for us; he willingly and voluntarily gives his life on the cross for us. Romans 5:8 says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.
Galatians 4:4 tells us, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Ephesians 1:7 says that we gain redemption and forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross.
In the Old Testament we read about the numerous sacrifices of animals whose blood was shed to temporarily cover the sins of the people. But in the New Testament we learn in Hebrews that Jesus sacrificed his life “once and for all” that we might be redeemed and reconciled to God. Hebrews 10:12,14 states, “ But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (ESV).
Take a moment to ponder the depth of the good shepherd’s love for us.
Roy Burket is senior pastor at Bethesda MB Church, Huron, SD.