With this post we begin the seventh year of writing and sharing these brief devotionals. We hope they continue to be an encouragement for all who choose to follow them.
“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” – John 21:17 (NASB)
Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him. He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us; He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Jesus takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him. It was the third time Jesus asked Peter if He, Simon by name, loved Him. First in verse 15, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Second in verse 16, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Third in verse 17 – our verse for today. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter replied using a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past after a bold declaration of being committed. The resolution we might do well to consider this year would be to submit to Jesus’ demand of total commitment as His follower. Place our love for Jesus above our love for all else in our lives.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (NASB)
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:15 (NASB
Shepherds worked very difficult jobs. Sheep were important to the lives and the livelihood of sheep owners and an important industry. Finding a good shepherd, one that could be trusted, was not always easy. Here, Jesus declares himself the Good Shepherd. A strict more literal translation is “I am the shepherd, the good one.” A good shepherd would be willing to hazard his all for the sheep. King David was a shepherd who risked his life to protect the sheep from wild predators. A shepherd may, indeed, risk his life in the defense of his sheep (1 Samuel. 17:34–36), but he does not really lay down his life as a voluntary sacrifice. But our Good Shepherd has a different relationship than a hired shepherd. To save His sheep, the Good Shepherd sacrificed his life so that they can live. Jesus doubles this promise and He did lay down His life for the sheep because He knows each intimately by name and they know and follow Him. His sheep know him in the same way as God the Father and God the Son know each other for they are one. Perhaps difficult to understand, it is His promise to us.
“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7 (ESV)
Jesus is the Son of God and the manifestation of God Himself who came to earth to live a life that his created humans lived. He claimed to be the Bread of Life, the Living Water, Living Light, and now we learn the Good Shepherd. The shepherds in that time would sometimes lead their sheep into a fold. This round pen would be most likely have a rock wall with one opening. To protect the sheep at night the shepherd would sleep in the gateway as the door. He would know if anyone came to rob the sheep. When Jesus says, “I—emphatic; i.e., I alone—am the door of the sheep,” he means that he is the only One through whom anyone obtains legitimate access. There simply is no other entrance. The sheep in this way were saved from the threats and dangers in the world. No predator would be allowed in to frighten or molest the sheep. The Shepherd protected them with His life. Jesus promises, when he says, “I AM” the door that He was the only way sheep found safety and we are invited to enter by faith believing into His flock by trusting His promise.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)
The life and work of a shepherd was a well known occupation from Old Testament times. When Jesus was on this earth walking among the people he used familiar words to describe Himself – one of them was to described Himself as the Good Shepherd. Those who followed Him were His sheep. Like the sheep cared for by their shepherd, followers of Jesus know and listen to His voice. That means, of course, that Jesus speaks to His followers. We hear his voice as we read the Bible or as we listen to others reading from it. He has so much to tell us. When we read in the Old Testament we can sense Him speaking to us. He speaks to us in the New Testament too. We can hear Him in His teaching to the disciples and the people as recorded by the Gospel writers. We also hear his voice in the letters written to the churches. Jesus also speaks to us in our hearts through our consciences and He uses the Bible to confirm what he says. Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Let’s be sure we’re listening.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11 (ESV)
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. – John 10:14-15 (ESV)
Sheep were very important for those who lived in Israel at the time of Christ and for centuries before Christ. More than a millennium before Jesus Christ, David, a shepherd, wrote “The Lord is My Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) It was a natural illustration that Jesus used when He said twice “I Am the Good Shepherd,” as recorded in John 10. For Jesus, sheep and the tending of sheep typified His life and purpose. Those listening to Jesus knew about the care required for a flock of sheep. Christ says He is THE good Shepherd. Some were careless in their duty, neglecting their flock when it was in danger and threatened. Bad practices spring from bad principles. The Lord Jesus had no bad principles. He is sure of His own because the chosen have put their trust in Him. This is a demonstration of the grace of Christ. None of us could demand Jesus do what He did when He willingly chose to be our sacrifice. He laid down His life for our redemption and salvation. He offered himself to be our Savior even when we were lost in our sin of rebellion.