Psalm 23 says, if I follow the Lord as my shepherd, I will not lack any good thing– John 10
Some commentators say that this entire chapter takes place during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) even though the Feast is not mentioned until verse 22. This Feast celebrated the cleansing and dedication (sanctification — set apart) of the temple after it had been desecrated by Greek soldiers under Antiochus Epiphanes as they put the blood of pigs on the temple altar. Also many of the Jews themselves had compromised and adopted numerous Greek cultural and religious habits and thus many false shepherds (Jewish priests and leaders) were leading the people astray. Part of the Feast included reading Ezekiel 34 where God speaks so strongly against false shepherds. (e.g., see Ezek. 34:2-10)
In this context, Jesus declares Himself to be –“the good (noble, trustworthy) Shepherd” and explains what a good shepherd does for his sheep; guides them (versus drives them) as he calls them by name (knows them intimately), provides pasture for food and water, protects the sheep even at the risk of losing his life and gathers them in, always looking for the lost and those outside the fold of his care. In contrast false shepherds (which He calls thieves, robbers, hired hands and strangers) steal and kill the sheep for their own needs. He is surely referring to the Pharisees in this verse (v.10) and not just the false shepherds in the Old Testament.
The abundant life Jesus promises us (v.10) is not what we as American Christians often think it is — health, wealth and a no-hassle life. This life (zoe) is the life Jesus promises to all his children even the poorest of the poor. For it is a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) It is an inner life of abundance that overflows the goodness of God to others.” Godliness with contentment is great gain and a great witness. (1Tim. 6:6)
We as believers are called –“sheep” – needy, defenseless, prone to wander and stubborn. And the wolf loves the lone sheep as they are an easy target. So stay to close the Shepherd, learn His voice (Heb. 5:14) and stay in the flock (Christian fellowship).
In the Old Testament God repeatedly reveals Himself as Israel’s Shepherd so Jesus is again alluding to His deity as He calls Himself the good Shepherd. He talks about the intimacy He has with His Father and how much the Father loves Him and how He wants his people (sheep) to know the same intimacy that He has with the Father even as sons of God and the bride of Christ. He speaks of His authority to lay down His life (–“no one takes it from Me”) and –“take it up again” — resurrection and ascension. Once again the people are divided over Jesus’ strong claims and some call Him demon-possessed and others say that no demon-possessed man could do what Jesus did — open the eyes of the blind! Jesus’ claim as God incarnate and the only way to salvation still divides people today. He divides history (B.C. and A.D.) family and friends (Matthew 10:34-37) and our eternal destiny, heaven or hell. There is no middle ground with Jesus Christ.
Once again we see the mystery of God’s electing -–“My Father who has given them (true believers) to Me” v. 29 and yet man’s responsibility to believe in Jesus. (vv. 25, 37-38)
Also we see a strong statement of the doctrine of eternal security. –“ And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39) So we rejoice in God our Savior for we are heaven bound.
This is His last public discourse before He returns in the spring to be crucified so He clearly states Who He is: –“I am the Son of God.”(NASB) Again many of the people wanted to stone Him –“but He escaped their grasp.”
Jesus then returns to where He first began His ministry — across the Jordan river where John baptized Him. And though many of the religious leaders rejected Him and tried to stone Him there in Jerusalem, many people traveled a long distance, sought Him out and came to Him and believed in Him. He still promises that those who seek Him with all their heart will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
And this great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20) humbled Himself and became the lamb of God slain for us that we might become sons of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
A George Barna survey asked high schoolers where they turn to in times of tension, confusion or crisis. Their answers were shocking: # 28 on the list was their father; # 11 on the list was their mother; music and personal friends topped the list. In other words false shepherds (music) or immature shepherds at best (friends).Where or who do you turn to in crisis? How do you know they are trustworthy?
How does the analogy of being a sheep in a dangerous land filled with predators relate to your day to day life in this wilderness we call the world?
How can we learn to hear the voice of Jesus over all the voices that compete for our attention? (See Hebrews 5:14) Share a time where He spoke to you and guided you or provided for you or protected you or revealed His love for you?