Did you know that sheep are mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible? Also consider the number of shepherds in Scripture, beginning with Abel in Genesis 4. Abraham, Moses, and King David were shepherds, too. In the New Testament, shepherds were among the first to learn of Christ’s birth.
In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd (vv. 11, 14). Jesus used this image to communicate the intimate nature of the relationship between Him and His followers.
First, He reminded them that the shepherd never has to forcefully command his sheep. They follow the shepherd not under duress but because they know and trust his voice (v. 4). Second, the sheep were allowed freedom and given nourishment (v. 9). The shepherd cared for them with sacrificial love (v. 11). The sheep never had to be afraid because the shepherd was aware of all threats and provided complete protection (v. 12). Third, there was an intimacy between Jesus and those who followed Him: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (v. 14). Jesus compared this relationship to the one He has with His own Father (v. 15).
The relationship of the Shepherd and His sheep is so solid and committed that nothing can destroy it. Nothing can separate us from the Good Shepherd, not even death: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (v. 28).
The reaction of the crowd was divided. Some declared him “demon-possessed” and scorned His authority (v. 20). Still others picked up stones to stone Him (v. 31). Notice that their antagonism was not based on a misunderstanding; they rightly understood that He was claiming to be God. The truth caused some to believe but others to accuse Him of blasphemy (vv. 33, 42).
If you’ve never committed to memory Psalm 23, consider learning these verses. Our Shepherd leads, protects, and guides us, offering us provision and care. We are never alone, even in the most difficult situations. You can also listen to the hymn “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” to focus your worship on Jesus, our Great Shepherd.