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Gospel of John 10: 11-18 (NIV)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jesus spoke of himself as “the good shepherd”. Over the preceding centuries, Israel had known many shepherds. Until Jesus, there had been none like David. 2 Samuel 5: 2 records the people saying to David, “The Lord said to you: ‘you will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
Despite all his kingly characteristics, David had failed as a shepherd. Jesus, “the good shepherd”, never did. Compare the responses of each when tempted by the devil.
- When Jesus was tempted by Satan to satisfy his physical appetite (hunger) (Luke 4: 2-4), he resisted. When David was tempted by Satan to satisfy his physical appetite (lust) by committing adultery with Bathsheba, he succumbed.
- When Jesus was tempted by Satan to exploit his relationship with the Father and leap from the temple roof, expecting to be saved (Luke 4: 9-12), he refused. When David was tempted by Satan to exploit his relationship with the commander of his army, to corrupt Joab into being an accessory to murder, he succumbed.
- When Jesus was tempted by Satan to worship him rather than the Father (Luke 4: 5-8), he refused. When David was tempted by Satan to jettison his relationship with God and to murder Bathsheba’s husband Uriah rather than have his sin exposed, he succumbed.
In each case Jesus relied on Scripture, the word of God, to defeat the temptations of Satan.
Jesus is “the good shepherd”; he cares for his sheep. He does not exploit them. As “the good shepherd” he laid down his life for his sheep. He went to the cross in order that we would not have to suffer the punishment rightly ours because of our own sinfulness. His complete obedience to the Father has compensated for our lack of obedience to him.
We are called to emulate “the good shepherd”. We are to resist daily the temptations of the evil one. We are to know and rely on God’s word, on Scripture, to recognise evil and to turn away from it. We are to be willing to lay down our own lives when called to do so, to sacrifice our own self wills, in order to protect God’s people in our care.
Great David’s greater Son is our example for living but more than that, he is our Saviour and our friend. Praise him!