John 10:11 ~ I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
The imagery and theme of shepherding are seen throughout the bible. Having a good grasp of the Old Testament regarding this theme paints the Lord's words in much more vibrant light. It demonstrates His love that led to His sacrifice on the cross and with that same love He shepherds His children today.
A brief history of the shepherd
Isaiah 40:11 ~ He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads the nursing ewes.
Psalm 23:1 ~ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Ezekiel 34:23 ~ I will appoint over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them. He will feed them and be their shepherd.
These are just some of the verses that carry this theme. It is also depicted in entire events in the bible such as Moses becoming a shepherd and eventually being tasked with leading the people out of Egypt. It is no coincidence that God performed many miracles using Moses’s staff.
King David of course was also a shepherd, and the role of the king was similar. He defeated Goliath with a weapon used to defend a flock of sheep. Honestly, we can write a book about this but basically, when Jesus uses this illustration in John 10, it comes connected to this progressive theme throughout scripture. This indicates once again that the bible is one unified story and should never be read or taken out of context.
The great Shepherd
This statement has two big implications for all believers today. Jesus is teaching on the deception and temptations of sin to lead us astray but unlike the false shepherds and people that teach worldly wisdom for self-gain, He will not leave us to our own devices. If we have truly placed faith in Christ and repented of our sins, we belong to Him forever.
The other thing we must know is how this theme of shepherding is carried forward into the rest of the New Testament. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. He is the silent shepherd, and we must closely study the scriptures and submit ourselves in obedience to his leading. Our pastors and teachers are called shepherds as well by Peter and we must not follow someone who does not love us as Christ does and who would lead us astray. We must be discerning and make sure our pastors meet the biblical qualifications.