The Good Shepherd vs. The Hireling

This parable of the Good Shepherd helps the believer see what they are in the eyes of Jesus Christ, and who He is in our lives. Three times in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is represented as the Shepherd. In each case, the word “shepherd” is preceded by a different adjective. In John 10 Jesus is called the “good” shepherd. Here the emphasis is upon the voluntary and vicarious death of the Shepherd. In Hebrews 13:20-21 Jesus is called the “great” shepherd–“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will. May he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” The emphasis here is on Christ’s resurrection, and his ability to work through and accomplish his purposes in his sheep. The third passage speaks of Jesus as the Chief Shepherd. It stresses his second coming to reward those who have served him as undershepherds. Note I Peter 5:4–“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

These passages highlight the focal points of Christ’s ministry. As the Good Shepherd, Christ dies for the sheep. As the Great Shepherd, Christ rises from the dead so he might serve the sheep. As Chief Shepherd, Christ returns to reward those who have been faithful in the responsibilities to which they have been assigned as undershepherds.

In verse 6, we find that Jesus has been speaking a parable or story. Yet the hearers did not understand what the parable was about. Jesus then says “Verily, verily” or Truly, truly, I am the door of the sheep.” He is the entrance for the sheep to come into shelter. Jesus goes on to say that, if there were any previous “shepherds,” they were false. They did not truly care for the sheep. Jesus calls them “thieves and robbers.” The sheep did not respond to their call because they did not know their voice. Verse 9 repeats what Jesus said about Himself being the door. The reason why it is repeated is that Jesus wants them to get it concerning Him being the only door. Anybody who comes through shall be saved. That individual will find nourishment in Him. Verse 10 is a verse that is repeated often by believers. The thief comes for three reasons: (1)steal; (2) kill; (3) destroy. Jesus has come to give life, and that the believer will have such life in abundance. Jesus proves Himself to be the good shepherd.

Since Jesus has described Himself as being the Good Shepherd, He goes on to explain the characteristics of a hireling. This is an individual who will follow the instructions of an individual for pay. This individual is careless, and the protection of the sheep is the farthest thing from their mind. When this person sees the wolf coming, he takes off in order to protect himself. The wolf then has the opportunity to scatter the sheep in order to capture one sheep that is alone. Jesus reiterates that He is the Good Shepherd, and the sheep will never be in danger. In verse 14, Jesus once again says He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep.



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