Trusting our ‘Good Shepherd’ for Guidance & Protection: "But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." (John 10:2-4, 11)
The metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep is intended to show the relationship of Jesus with His people. The use of shepherds as an imagery for leaders comes from the Old Testament (Ezek. 34:11–13; Num. 27:15–18). This narrative describes the daily activities of a shepherd, who leads his sheep from the fold to the open pasture in the morning and then back into the fold at night. Jesus is the true Shepherd who knows His sheep intimately. Just like sheep will follow only the voice of their shepherd, true believers will follow Jesus because they recognize and obey His voice as He speaks to them daily through His Word (Psalms 100:3; Acts 20:28).
The shepherd would often sleep in the doorway of the sheepfold in order to function as a gate. Similarly, Jesus functions as the protector of His people. He is the source of eternal life and, like a shepherd who leads his sheep into pasture; Jesus provides all that is necessary for growth for His sheep. In other parts of the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the “Great Shepherd” (Heb. 13:20), “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4); and “the Lamb… (who) will shepherd them.” (Rev. 7:17)
When the true Shepherd brings out His own sheep, he does not drive them, but rather He leads them. He does not ask them to go anywhere that He Himself has not first gone. He is ever out in front of the sheep as their Savior, their Guide, and their Leader. Those who are the true sheep of Jesus follow Him close behind. They enter His sheepfold by being born again, and thereafter they only have the desire to go where He leads them!
Though a Palestinian shepherd cares for his sheep, it will be unusual for him to die defending them. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He desires to willingly give His life for the sheep. Jesus has laid down His own life for us in order to save us (see 3:16; 1 John 3:16). It is interesting to note that Jesus has laid down His physical life in order to give us eternal life. The lamb who died to save us 2000 years ago is the Shepherd who lives to lead us today! As our Good Shepherd, Jesus feeds and protects us when we are in danger. He knows us intimately by name, and will never leave our side. Truly, we have nothing to fear as Jesus guards us well from our enemy Satan, and will take care of us until our last day on this earth.
When we trust this Good Shepherd, be assured that He will lead us into the right flock and pasture (vv. 3–4, 16). He will go before us and lead us by His Word (v. 4) so that we will always find spiritual nourishment (v. 9). Let us be sensitive to listen to His voice as He speaks to us daily through His infallible Word and allow the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He will lead us in righteousness that is consistent with His character and will. Let us trust our Good Shepherd for guidance and protection every day!