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“The Good Shepherd”

A name is more than a title, for nearly every name has a meaning. A name is more than  a title when actions are joined with that name. A name can also describe a person, telling us something about him.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

In the Holy Scriptures we are given many names that describe the Savior Jesus. Each of these names comforts us, each in its own way.

The Lord Jesus is called “Christ” (cf. Matthew 16:16). We understand that this isn’t Jesus’ last name but a name that means ‘the anointed one’ or ‘the chosen one.’ The name indicates to us that Jesus was anointed by God—chosen to be our Prophet, our Priest, and
our King.

The Lord Jesus is called “the Alpha and the Omega” (cf. Revelation 1:8, 22:13ff). This name reminds us that Jesus is the eternal God. He is pictured as the Alpha and the Omega in the Greek alphabet (A and Z), for He was there at the beginning (cf. John 1:1), is with us at all times (cf. Matthew 28:20), and will be there at the end (1 Corinthians 15:24).

There are other names given to the Savior that comfort sinners (for example, “Jesus” – Matthew 1:21), but the one that stands out for me is the one Jesus used of Himself when He called Himself “the good shepherd.”

Jesus didn’t describe Himself as the “the warrior of Calvary” or “the conqueror of evil” but used the rather pastoral term, “the good shepherd.”

In What Ways Is Jesus the Good Shepherd?

He is the Good Shepherd because He gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). In this context Jesus contrasts Himself to hired shepherds (John 10:12ff) who, when push comes to shove, don’t put the needs and protection of the sheep as their primary concern. Hired shepherds run away, leaving the sheep to fend for themselves when they are in danger; by contrast, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

We understand that we are the sheep—we and all those who believe in Him, who rely upon Him for forgiveness of sins and entrance into the Father’s House (He is also “the door of the sheep,” cf. John 10:7ff).

We see Jesus as the Good Shepherd when we realize
and confess that He died for ME! 

Now may He who from the dead
Bro’t the Shepherd of the sheep,
Jesus Christ, our King and Head,
All our souls in safety keep!

To that dear Redeemer’s praise,
Who the cov’nant sealed with blood,
Let our hearts and voices raise
Loud thanksgivings to our God.
(TLH #51:1,3)

He is the Good Shepherd also because He watches out for both our body and our soul. He provides for the needs of our body, and in His Word He gives food for the soul. He sends His angels to guard and defend us (Psalm 91:11-12, Hebrews 1:14), and He makes even the things we consider evil work out for our eternal good (Romans 8:28).

Jesus’ love for us extends beyond this life. He didn’t lay down His life merely to remove the consequence of sin that looms over us because of the curse of the law–eternal death, but He died also that we might live with Him forever in Heaven,
a place without sin, sorrow, or crying.

Our eternal inheritance is assured by His resurrection from the dead (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5ff). He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. He is also the Good Shepherd who took up that life again on the third day—as He promised (cf. John 10:17-18)—to rule forever as the Good Shepherd.