“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
We are halfway through our look at the seven emphatic I AM statements Jesus makes in the Gospel of John. Last week Jesus said He was the Door of the Sheep. This week in that same conversation, virtually in the next breath, He proclaims He is the Good Shepherd. Each statement employs a metaphor to describe His salvation work. But in each of the conversations or discourses, He also exposes us.
As we said last week, Chapter 10 of John is actually a continuation of a long back-and-forth with the Pharisees that began in chapter 9 with the healing of the man born blind. This is late in Jesus’s ministry. His confrontations with the entrenched religious leaders are more intense. He has endured more at least one attempt on His life.
The Good Shepherd stands in contrast to the hired hand. The hired hand doesn’t know the sheep and doesn’t seem to have an interest in knowing them. He bails when danger approaches. He’s only doing his job because of the money. Bottom line, they aren’t his sheep so his interest and investment are limited at best.
The Good Shepherd, however, sacrifices his life for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, John 10:14
The Good Shepherd doesn’t just sacrifice his life for the sheep. He pours time and energy into knowing his sheep. He can identify them. He understands their makeup, and he has forged a close bond with them.
Here’s where the challenge comes in. My own know me. We love the imagery of being the sheep of his pasture, under his protective, providing hand. But with Jesus’s statement that his own KNOW him, he lays down a challenge for us. Verse 14 is half a sentence. The rest is “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:15
Let that sink in. Jesus has the goal that we enjoy the same intimacy with him that he enjoys with the Father. “My own know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
Think about those you are closest to. How did those relationships develop? Now consider, have we taken the time, expended the energy to know Jesus?
Time – If we are relying on a weekly thirty-minute sermon– and nothing else– to build our relationship with Christ. Those you know best are those you interact with regularly. You talk to them. You spend time together and long for those moments. For your relationship with Christ that means prayer (you talking), reading your Bible (Jesus talking) and being still in His presence (more listening). This takes time. If our response is, “I don’t have time,” then our priorities are perilously out of balance.
Energy – We must be active in pursuing a deep relationship with Christ. We include him in our decision-making. We lean on him in the difficult seasons. We exult over his blessings in the good times. We cultivate a deep awareness of his presence. We learn the things that are important to him, what breaks his heart, what brings him joy. We join him in his mission. This takes effort. If our response is, “That’s too much work,” then we need to evaluate what we are working for.
He is the Good Shepherd. Do we know him?