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The portrayal of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a deeply comforting and meaningful image in the Bible. This metaphor serves as a testament to Jesus’ profound concern, guidance, and selfless love for those who follow him, presenting a reassuring and inspiring message for Christians today.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:11-16).

This passage highlights several key aspects of Jesus’ role as the Good Shepherd:
1. Sacrificial Love: Jesus willingly lays down His life for His sheep, symbolizing the ultimate sacrifice He made on the cross for humanity’s salvation.
2. Intimate Knowledge: Jesus knows His sheep personally and profoundly, indicating a deep, individual relationship with each believer.
3. Protection and Care: Unlike a hired hand, Jesus is committed to protecting and nurturing His flock, never abandoning them in times of danger.
4. Inclusivity: Jesus speaks of other sheep that are not of the current fold, reflecting His mission to bring salvation to all people, uniting them under one shepherd.

I AM: The name that God revealed to Moses is “I am.” When Jesus used it, it symbolized his identity as God’s second person with divine attributes. In the Old Testament, God is depicted as the shepherd of his flock, Israel. Psalm 23:1-4 is a typical example: “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” Jesus is God the shepherd who took human form.

GOOD: When Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11), the “good,” here stands for the shepherd’s commitment for the sheep distinct from normal shepherds. Jesus exemplifies the goodness of a shepherd by stating that he “lays down his life for the sheep.” A typical example is David. When King Saul asked David on his ability to attack the giant Goliath, he said: “Your servant used to tend his father’s sheep, and whenever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock, I would chase after it, attack it, and snatch the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the throat, strike it, and kill it. Your servant has killed both a lion and a bear” (1 Sam 17:34-36).

Jesus proved his credentials as a ‘good shepherd’ by sacrificing his life for us (1 Jn 3:16; Jn 15:13). Jesus said that the Son of Man came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). Unlike the accidental death of a shepherd while fighting with the wolf, Jesus came to rescue us with his death. It was a willful and voluntary decision of Jesus and his Father for the sake of God’s sheep. His death was the substitute sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Abraham, and a replacement of the imperfect animal sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem.


Jesus distinguishes a true shepherd from a hireling. Unlike the true shepherd who is personally invested in the sheep, a person who works for pay will not risk his life to rescue the sheep from the attack of wild animals or thieves. Jesus explains the lack of motivation of the hired man in the double phrase that follows: “not a shepherd” and “sheep are not his own.” Jesus is not like a hireling. He has a personal stake in us, entrusted to him by his Father. He knew that he would have to suffer and die to save us. Still, he volunteered to take up the task and rescued us.

The distinction between the true shepherd and the hired person starkly comes out when the threat looms. The shepherd who loves his sheep risks his life; whereas the hireling flees for his own safety, leaving the sheep to their fate. The Pharisees and other religious leaders during the public ministry of Jesus were typical hirelings, who were invested in their own skins rather than the people’s salvation. They were not at all concerned about people’s spiritual welfare. Jesus, out of his love for us, could not leave us in the cesspit of sin. So, he rescued us by the sheer sacrifice of his life.

Jesus presented the false prophets like ravenous wolves who come in sheep’s clothing (Mt 7:15). Here, Satan is the wolf who comes in the attire of a prophet. Jesus depicts those who persecute his disciples as wolves. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Mt 10:16; Lk 10:3). Satan challenges Christians and preachers of Jesus through the church’s persecutors. Saint Paul used the same metaphor of wolves for false teachers. “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock” (Acts 20:29).


This shepherd has a personal relationship with his flock. He names each of his sheep and leads them, calling them by their names (Jn 10:3). The sheep know the shepherd, trust him, and go with him. The shepherd and his sheep know and love each other. Hence, the good shepherd protects his sheep out of his love for them rather than as his property or source of income.

Jesus compared his knowledge and love for his sheep similar to his relationship with the Father. The Father knows and loves his son, Jesus. He did send his son to rescue humanity. Jesus also knows and loves us. He expressed his great love towards us by even laying down his life for us. That proves he is a good shepherd.


The metaphor of Jesus as the Good Shepherd offers profound lessons and encouragement for Christians today.

1. Trust in His Guidance
Just as sheep rely on their shepherd for direction, we are called to trust in Jesus’ guidance. In a world full of uncertainties and challenges, Jesus guides us with wisdom and love, bringing us peace. Psalm 23:2-3 reassures us that He “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

2. Security in His Sacrifice
The foundation of our faith and security lies in Jesus’ willingness to lay down His life for us. During times of uncertainty or worry, we can reflect on the immense love that guided Him to the cross, guaranteeing our salvation and eternal life. Romans 8:38-39 reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. Embrace His Care
When we face trouble, anxiety, or sorrow, we can find peace knowing that Jesus will never forsake us. He is the caring Shepherd who accompanies us in our most difficult times, providing comfort and tranquility. As Jesus assures in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

4. Extend His Love
As believers in Christ, we have a responsibility to mirror the shepherd’s love and care when we interact with others. This requires watching out for the lost, meeting the needs of the less fortunate, and cultivating a community characterized by inclusiveness and compassion. John 13:34-35 instructs us to love others as Jesus loved us, showing our commitment as disciples.

5. Unity in Diversity
Jesus’ mention of “other sheep” urges us to foster inclusivity within the Christian community. The Church is diverse, encompassing people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. We are called to foster unity, recognizing that we are all part of one flock under one Shepherd. Galatians 3:28 affirms that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

6. Protect from deceivers.
Misleading teachers serve as instruments of the evil spirit opposing Christians and the Church. The wolf’s behavior serves as a metaphor for the crushing effect of hostile powers on Christ’s followers. Staying watchful is crucial for safeguarding against false teachers and negative influences. As caretakers of those under our watch in the family, church, or community, it is our duty to be watchful and even brave enough to protect them from Satan.

The representation of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is highly meaningful to Christians. It serves as a reminder of His boundless love, His guiding presence, and His selfless dedication to our welfare. As believers, we are called to trust in His care, find security in His sacrifice, show His love to others, and seek unity in the diverse body of Christ. The shepherd guides us to more than just green pastures; he leads us towards a purposeful, compassionate, and everlasting life.

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