John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The relationship between Christ and his people is like a shepherd and his flock. Good shepherds guide their flock with love and compassion. When a sheep wanders off, they go after it and bring it home again (Luke 15:4-5). Sheep cannot care for themselves very well, so they look to the shepherd to meet their daily needs.
Jesus went beyond the normal duties of shepherding, however, and laid down his life for the sheep. This seems noble at first, but then it seems absurd. If I owned a ranch, and my son was a shepherd, I would tell him to take good care of the sheep, but never to risk his life for them. It would be foolish to get between a sheep and a lion, since a person is worth far more than a sheep.
If this is true for people and sheep, how much more for God and people. If it is foolish for a person to die for a sheep, what can be said of God on a cross? The difference between people and sheep is great, but the difference between God and people is infinite. For the infinite God to lay down his life for people like us defies comprehension.
And yet, the good shepherd’s death was foretold by the prophet Zechariah. Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! declares the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 7:3). When Jesus read these words, he understood that part of his mission was to lay down his life for his sheep.
John 10:14-15 I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
This personal knowledge is unique to Christianity. Muslims don’t know Muhammad, Confucians don’t know Confucius, and Buddhists don’t know the Buddha. But we know Jesus Christ because he not only died for us, but sent his Spirit to live in our hearts.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5), wrote Paul. And, this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3), said Jesus.
This is why Christianity is so compelling, and why many are so convinced. We haven’t just accepted a set of teachings; we have encountered the one true God. More than that, he actually lives within us. Christianity is more than knowing about Jesus Christ; it is knowing Christ himself. No other religion can offer a personal relationship with God like Christianity.
John 10:20 Many of them said, He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?
It was hard to listen to Jesus for long without believing in him, or rejecting him. If he was not God in human flesh, he had to be demon-possessed or raving mad–the greatest deceiver who ever lived, or completely insane.
And just to be clear Jesus said, I and the Father are one (John 10:30). Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him. . . . We are not stoning you for any good work [but] because you, a mere man, claim to be God (John 10:31-33), they said.
Even today, whoever listens to Jesus Christ must decide if he was demon-possessed, raving mad, or divine. Some want to say he was merely a great teacher, but a great teacher would not teach that he was God, if it was not actually true. So let us avoid any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to (CS Lewis).
John 10:28-30 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
No words in the Bible describe the believer’s security better than these. Our security does not depend on our own strength or resolve, but on Jesus Christ who said, I shall lose none of all those he has given me (John 6:39).
Furthermore, we are not only in the Son’s hand, but also in the Father’s hand. And no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand, said Jesus. Believers in heaven are happier than believers on earth, but are no more secure. We could not be more secure if we were in heaven already.
Reflection and Review
How does Christ shepherd his flock?
How do believers know Jesus Christ?
Why can’t Jesus be just a great human teacher?