The Good Shepherd

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" — John 10:11

Among the most cherished titles of Christ is that of “The Good Shepherd.” Never resting, ever vigilant, exposed to the elements, vulnerable to predators, the beloved Shepherd persists in leading, caring, providing and guarding His sheep.

His sheep? That’s us. We are defenseless sheep, creatures capable of neither flight nor fight, prone to wander, easily lost, blindly following, and desperately needing wise shepherding. Jesus is all that for us.

Note the plural noun at the end of the preceding sentence: For us. The blessings of the shepherding of the Good Shepherd certainly apply to us individually. The Lord is my shepherd and consequently, I shall not want. He leads me to the green pastures. He leads me to the still waters. The first person pronoun is prominent right through to the end of the 23rd Psalm: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Yet the primary application of the metaphor of the Good Shepherd of John 10 is to us collectively, the people of God together. “Sheep” in English can be either singular or plural. Not so in the original language; in Greek it is plural. The blessings of the Good Shepherd are promised to God’s people collectively. Jesus locates us together in the sheepfold (Jn 10:1-5). He leads us in and out, together, to pasture and abundance (Jn 10:11). There are “other sheep” who are “not of this fold,” that is, not of the then current ethnic-national entity the Bible calls Israel that must be brought into the “fold,” so that there might be “one flock” under the direction of “one shepherd.”
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