“I Am The Good Shepherd” (what you need to know about the John 10:11-18 meaning)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Throughout the Gospel of John we see seven “I Am” statements that Jesus made. These statements are incredible and reveal to us who Jesus is and what he came to do. 

In this “I am” statement, we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This is a powerful image, but we often miss the true beauty and depth today because most of us have never even seen a shepherd. 

So in this blog post we are going to dive into the meaning of John 10:11-18 and see what it teaches us about Jesus. 

The Context Of The Good Shepherd 

Before we can look at this passage we need to understand the context first. This will help this passage come more to life for us today. 

Throughout John 10 we see Jesus making this comparison between what a good shepherd does and a bad shepherd. This is a slap in the face to the religious leaders who Jesus points out as false shepherds. They were only interested in themselves, but the true shepherd (Jesus) has the best interest of his sheep in mind. 

The primary role of a shepherd was to guide and protect his sheep. Sheep are not the most intelligent animals; they need someone to guide them. Sheep are also defenseless; they need someone to protect them. Sheep are dependent on a shepherd. 

Jesus is a good shepherd who guides and protects his sheep. This was also supposed to be the role of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, but they were more interested in themselves. 

This leads Jesus to say, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” John 10:10

Jesus came to give life. That’s what he’s trying to show by using this illustration of him being a shepherd. 

So, let’s dive further into what exactly that means. 

The John 10:11-18 Meaning 

In John 10:11-18 we see Jesus say that not only is he a shepherd, but he is the GOOD Shepherd. In fact he says it twice: 

  • “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 
  • “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14

And throughout the rest of this passage Jesus describes what exactly the Good Shepherd does. 

I Am The Good Shepherd Meaning

If we back up just a few verses we see Jesus say that not only is he the Good Shepherd, he’s also the gate for the sheep (John 10:7). This further shows us what it means that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. 

Mark Moore in The Chronological Life Of Christ says this, “Shepherds often functioned as a door to the sheep pen. When the sheep came in the fold at night, they would pass the shepherd one at a time. He would examine them for cuts and abrasions. If necessary he would treat them with oil to avoid infection. Then, when the whole flock was in, he would lay himself in front of the opening of the pen.”

This is the picture of what Jesus does for his followers, his flock. He cares for them and protects them. With him laying in the door they are safe. 

Jesus as the Good Shepherd comes immediately after this. And if you read John 10:11-18 you will see the incredible level of detail that Jesus uses to care for his flock. 

Here’s what John 10:11-18 teaches us about the Good Shepherd.  

  • He lays down his life for his sheep. 
  • He protects the sheep from attacks. 
  • He will not abandon his sheep. 
  • He cares for his sheep. 
  • He searches for sheep and brings them into his pen. 
  • He knows his sheep. 
  • He loves his sheep. 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he displays incredible and loving care for his sheep. For you. 

This is in contrast to the religious leaders in Jesus’ day who only cared about themselves. Their flock was used as a means to an end; it was about what they could get out of it. 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And you can trust him because he has your best interest in mind. 

You might also like: The Powerful Meaning Of John 10:10 (the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy)

What Jesus As The Good Shepherd Means For Us Today

So, what does this mean for us? There’s a lot of lessons we could pull from this passage, there’s a lot in there. But I want to end with what I think is the primary invitation that he is extending us today. 

1. Enter Into His Flock 

The reality is we aren’t much better than sheep. We get lost easy. We find ourselves in bad situations regularly. We need someone to guide and protect us. That’s what the Good Shepherd does for us. 

So, enter his flock. 

What’s incredible is that Jesus isn’t just waiting for us. In John 10:16 we see that Jesus isn’t just waiting for the sheep to come to him, he’s going out and searching for them. When you were lost Jesus was searching for you. 

You will find safety and comfort in Jesus’ flock. He will care for you and protect you. But the choice is yours— will you enter the flock? 

2. Listen To His Voice 

There’s this beautiful picture in John 10:14-16 that Jesus knows his sheep and they know him too. So much so that the sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd. 

Once you enter Jesus’ flock we need to listen to his voice. He directs us and guides us to where we should be. He steers us away from trouble and towards green pastures. 

The problem is many followers of Jesus listen to his voice and instead go and do their own thing. But this doesn’t lead to life; it brings them to destruction. 

The Good Shepherd instructs his sheep because he cares for them and loves them. So listen to his voice because he has your best interests in mind. 

3. Find The Rest And Care He Has For You

We see in John 10:10 that Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest. Jesus wants you to experience an abundant life. 

Others will claim to be the good shepherd, but they don’t care for their sheep, only about themselves. In Jesus you can find rest, you can find peace, and you can find joy. 

So, go to the Good Shepherd and see what he has for you. 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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