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The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11-18



These verses show us one of the principal offices which Jesus Christ fills for true Christians. Twice over our Lord uses an expression which, to an Eastern hearer, would be singularly full of meaning. Twice over he says emphatically, ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ It is a saying rich in consolation and instruction.
Like a good shepherd, Christ knows all his believing people. Their names, their families, their dwelling-places, their circum­stances, their private history, their experience, their trials —with all these things Jesus is perfectly acquainted. There is not a thing about the least and lowest of them with which he is not familiar. The children of this world may not know Christians and may count their lives folly, but the Good Shepherd knows them thoroughly and, wonderful to say, does not despise them.
Like a good shepherd, Christ cares tenderly for all his believing people. He provides for all their wants in the wilder­ness of this world and leads them by the right way to a city of habitation. He bears patiently with their many weaknesses and infirmities and does not cast them off because they are way­ward, erring, sick, footsore or lame. He guards and protects them against all their enemies, as Jacob did the flock of Laban, and of those that the Father has given him he will be found at last to have lost none.
Like a good shepherd, Christ lays down his life for the sheep. He did it once for all, when he was crucified for them. When he saw that nothing but his blood could deliver them from hell and the devil he willingly made his soul an offering for their sins. The merit of that death he is now presenting before the Father’s throne. The sheep are saved for evermore, because the Good Shepherd died for them. This is indeed a love that passeth knowledge! ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).


For meditation: When a stranger enters a field of sheep they scatter in alarm. When their own shepherd comes they are con­fident. They know they can trust him.


Suggested further reading: Psalm 23


J. C. Ryle

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