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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”— John 10:11 (NLT, emphasis added)
Being a parent is a beautiful thing. There’s nothing else in the world like it. It’s arguably the most difficult, and at the same time, most rewarding thing a person can experience on earth. As a parent, especially to younger children, you are their world. They depend on you for everything—provision, protection, instruction, encouragement, discipline, and love. They look to you, up to you, and they admire and depend on you. Studies have even shown that newborns can recognize their parents’ scent within days of birth, can clearly recognize their voices after less than two weeks, and as they get older, can recognize their parents’ voices in less than a second—even being able to pick their parents’ voices out of a crowd.
It’s amazing just how much the relationship between a parent and child mirrors the relationship between the Lord and His children. He is indeed a good Father, One who loves and cares for His us, who disciplines, protects, comforts, and guides us in everything. And He gave up everything to bring us into His family, to adopt us as His sons and daughters.
This depth of love is clearly shown in today’s verse as Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” A few verses prior to this, Jesus describes the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep: “The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3–4 NLT). Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Yesterday, we saw Jesus refer to Himself as the gate through which the sheep enter their pasture. And today we see Him take it a step further and tell us that not only is He the gate, but He is also the shepherd who “sacrifices his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
The “I Am” statement we looked at yesterday made it clear that there was no other way to inherit eternal life than by following Jesus and His teaching, even pointing out that “all who came before me were thieves and robbers” (John 10:8–9). This doesn’t refer to the prophets, but to those who came pretending to be pastors, messiahs, or guides for the people. In essence, He was telling His audience that following the teachings of the religious leaders, the Pharisees, and all those who claimed to be holy and higher than the people would lead them to desolate wastelands of legalism, ritual, and empty sacrifices.
Today’s “I Am” statement explains why He is the only way in no uncertain terms. By calling Himself “the good shepherd,” Jesus wasn’t just using a relevant analogy that works to explain how He guides His sheep to salvation, it was much more than that! You see, this title was widely known by the people to be a direct reference to the foretold Messiah, the seed of David who would sit on the throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12–16). Ezekiel 34:23–24 (NLT) says, “And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I the LORD have spoken!” Theologian Charles Ellicott put it this way: “Obviously, this prophecy can find its accomplishment in no merely human ruler.” He goes on to explain that the name of David refers to the Messiah, the Son, the Branch, the Offspring of David. He was making it clear that He was, indeed, the One they’d been waiting for, the King and Savior. That’s why the people “were again divided in their opinions about him” (John 10:19 NLT).
So, the big questions you need to ask yourself today are “Do you recognize His voice when He calls to you?”, “Are you listening for His voice?”, and “What do you do if/when you hear His voice?”
DIG: Read John 10:11–21, Ezekiel 34:1–31, and 2 Samuel 7:12–16.
DISCOVER: Consider what it means to hear His voice in our world today. How can we hear Him? How does He speak to us?
DISPLAY: Make intentional time today—30 to 45 minutes—to pray and study the Word. Before beginning your study time, pray that the Lord speaks to you through His Word and shares with you what He wants you to hear; to give you His word for your life.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.