I Am the Good Shepherd
Open Your Bible
John 10:11-21, Psalm 23:1-6, Ezekiel 34:11-24, 1 John 3:16
BY Guest Writer
Sometimes a song undoes me. Certain lyrics and melodies have a way of releasing the yearnings of my heart. So it is with these words from Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. / Prone to leave the God I love.”
My wandering makes me ache.
Is it any wonder that God’s people are called sheep so often in the Bible? Sheep need a shepherd. Without guidance, they easily wander and become lost. Don’t we also veer off into uncharted territory and become disoriented? Our agendas, worries, and unbelief all lead us away from dependence on Jesus, and soon we don’t know which way to turn.
Sheep need a protector. It is dangerous for them to stray from their shepherd’s care. Unlike animals with sharp claws or speedy legs, sheep are vulnerable and defenseless. If left alone, they will likely be attacked and killed by wild animals.
We, too, have a predator, an enemy of our souls. Scripture tells us to “be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We need a Shepherd to guide us, keep us in the fold, and protect us from our enemy.
Sheep also need a provider. They often cannot find clean water or nourishing grass on their own. They struggle to care for themselves. If sheep stumble and fall over, they cannot get back up and will die on the ground with their short legs sticking up in the air.
When faced with our own suffering and confusion, we also can find ourselves wrestling in the dusty dirt of life, struggling to get back on our feet. Like sheep, we need a Shepherd to make us lie down in green pastures and rest, to lead us beside quiet waters and renew us (Psalm 23:2–3).
David wrote the poetry of Psalm 23, and he intimately understood shepherding. As a boy, he tended his father’s sheep (1 Samuel 16:1–13). As King of Israel, he shepherded a nation. And in the midst of his own wandering, he wrestled in the dirt of his sin and brokenness, and realized just how desperately he needed a Shepherd (2 Samuel 11, Psalm 51).
Through the words of His prophet, Ezekiel, God graciously promises, “I myself will search for my flock and look after them” (Ezekiel 34:11). Jesus boldly echoes His Father and reveals His divine identity as He declares, “I am the good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Like David, Jesus lovingly tends his Father’s sheep. Like David, Jesus wrestled in the dirt of sin—but it wasn’t His sin. It was ours. Jesus conquered sin and death, just as John the Baptist boldly proclaimed He would: “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The Good Shepherd willingly became the ultimate sacrificial Lamb to atone for our sin and make the way for His people to be right with God, to bring His sheep safe within the fold.
Yes, I ache when I wander. But I also rejoice when I recognize my Shepherd’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). His words ring true. His voice undoes me. What a Good Shepherd, what a Savior!