One of the seven “I am” statements, in John 10, Jesus calls himself the good shepherd. Considering that Christ was/is the awaited Messiah, it might have seemed odd to the disciples to hear Jesus call himself a simple shepherd. The coming Messiah was a promised king of Israel.
I feel certain that the Pharisees he addressed at the time were also perplexed.
But when Christ made this revealing statement, he claimed himself God. Take a look at Psalm 23:1 (below). Here, the psalmist (King David) says that God is his shepherd. Both Pharisees and disciples likely knew this passage by heart and understood that when the famous King David wrote these words, he would certainly know the work and character of a shepherd. He’d been one.
Remember? David, before becoming king of Israel, tended sheep as a profession.
In this discourse with the Pharisees, Jesus goes on to explain that he owns the flock he tends to. He tells these legalistic scoffers that hired shepherds who do not own their own flocks will make for the hills when a wolf comes to steal and kill for his dinner. Hired hands who aren’t invested in the life of their sheep aren’t going to face a threat head on.
Just as Jesus’ audience likely knew this Psalm of David, there’s a high percentage rate that they also knew the story of David, the good, but fierce shepherd. You see, David single-handedly killed both a bear and a lion that threatened to steal sheep from his flock. And, as we all know, David also came to the battlefield (bringing lunch of all things), and was the one who stepped up to kill Israel’s biggest threat: a giant named Goliath. (By the way, David didn’t kill Goliath with a slingshot. He knocked him down with that thrown stone. Once he downed the big guy, he ran to the beast, pulled the giant’s sword from his sheath, and cut his head off.
David the fierce shepherd is the perfect foreshadow of our coming King.
In these “I am” passages, Jesus stands before his scoffers and his followers and states that He is The Good Shepherd and because He owns the sheep … well, now the wolves in sheep’s clothing have something to be concerned about.
I wonder if those law-loving leaders within earshot began to sweat as they thought about David killing the threats to his father’s flocks.
If David is a mere shadow of Christ the King, then imagine what Christ will do when bears, lions, or wolves come calling.
Think decapitated giant.
Considering that Jesus had just told this same crowd that He was The Door/Gate to the sheepfold, and anyone who came into the fold any other way was a robber and a thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy the sheep in the fold … woe to the thief. As the Good Shepherd, Christ told the wolves gathered (false teachers leading the flock astray) that He would be the protector who would slaughter anything that came for His own.
A shepherd. Conjures up images of a poor man, staff in hand, gently leading his sheep to green pastures. But with David as a foreshadow of the coming Christ King, we’re shown a dynamic, new picture.
I’ll never looks as shepherds keeping their flocks the same way.
Psalm 23:1- The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.
John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.