Good Shepherd Sunday 2023


Jesus is called Shepherd three times in the New Testament and each time, a special adjective is put in front of the word to show His role in our lives.

In our Gospel reading for today, John 10:11, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, with the emphasis of laying down His life for the sheep.

In Hebrews 13:20, Jesus is called the Great Shepherd, with the emphasis on His resurrection and how He accomplishes His purposes through His sheep.

And in I Peter 5:4, He is called the Chief Shepherd, with the emphasis which emphasizes his second coming and his reward to the under-shepherds.

As the Good Shepherd, He dies for the sheep. As the Great Shepherd, He rises from the dead. As the Chief Shepherd, He returns to reward His people.

Today we are speaking on the Good Shepherd. Before I tell you about the Good Shepherd, though, we have to realize our role as sheep. That is how the Bible describes all of us. “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

Notice the emphasis, the two words “every one”. That means everyone is included, no one is excluded, we are all sheep. While sheep is not a flattering term, it is appropriate.

Have you ever noticed that no colleges or universities use sheep as their mascot? They always choose something vicious, majestic, or strong. The Louisiana State University Tigers, University of Michigan Wolverines, or Kentucky Wildcats. No one uses sheep. Alabama Sheep? UCLA Sheep? It doesn't even sound right. Why? Because of who sheep are.

Sheep are easily frightened; they are defenseless and they are highly dependent. They need guidance and protection.

But it is comforting to know that we have a Good Shepherd, and that changes everything.

Listen to Jesus' words: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11).

John 10 is about the relationship between the Good Shepherd and the needy sheep. Sheep have no chance unless they have a shepherd, and not just a shepherd but a Good Shepherd.

Always remember, we never graduate from being a sheep the older we get in Jesus. We always need the Shepherd. We always need Him!

The chief enemy of the sheep is the wolf. Sheep have no defense mechanism except for the shepherd. And here is what is so important: sheep are only as strong as the shepherd. If the shepherd fails, they fail.

The wolf scatters the sheep. Why? So he can isolate them away from the shepherd. If he can get them away from the shepherd, then he can devour them. He scatters, isolates and them has the helpless, defenseless sheep to himself.

Here is how Jesus puts it:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. (John 10:11-14)

Sheep are known by their shepherd. They are known in two ways: sheep know their name and they know the voice of the shepherd who calls it.

So as sheep, we have one job: stay close to the Shepherd. Stay within ear shot of His voice. And when we do, we will find his protection, we find provisions for our needs.

A man in Australia was arrested and charged with stealing a sheep. But he claimed emphatically that it was one of his own that had been missing for many days. When the case went to court, the judge was puzzled, not knowing how to decide the matter.

At last he asked that the sheep be brought into the courtroom. Then he ordered the plaintiff to step outside and call the animal. The sheep made no response except to raise its head and look frightened. The judge then instructed the defendant to go to the courtyard and call the sheep. When the accused man began to make his distinctive call, the sheep bounded toward the door. It was obvious that he recognized the familiar voice of his master.

Our Shepherd calls us each day. Let us follow His voice.