What Does Jesus Mean When He Says "I am the Good Shepherd"?

“When Jesus says, ‘I am the Good Shepherd,’ he’s saying something unflattering about us, but he’s saying something essential about himself.” In today’s Take Five, Sam Allberry discusses how Jesus’ claim to be our “Good Shepherd” is surprisingly controversial and perhaps a little insulting at first.

God repeatedly says that, spiritually, the animal we are most like is a sheep. It’s why Jesus makes this claim: “I am the good shepherd.”

The shepherd is everything to the sheep: the shepherd provides for them, the shepherd leads them, the shepherd protects them, the shepherd cares for them. And so when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” He is saying He can be everything that we need.

Jesus is so committed to us that He was willing to face a death He says that we deserve.

Make it Personal

  • Have you ever stopped to consider how unflattering it is to be called a “sheep?” And have you allowed yourself to be truly humbled in considering the implications of this?

  • How might we translate the idea of Jesus being the “Good Shepherd” in our modern day to our neighbors around us?


I have to be honest growing up in the city I did not really know that it was unflattering to be called a “sheep.” I actually did not know the difference between a sheep and a lamb. So, the image I had was a cute furry lamb cuddled by a strong big shepherd. I certainly had no objection to that. It was on a mission trip that I actually learned more about sheep. They are not quite as cute as the lamb.
Of course, it is compelling that Jesus said, " I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." And He did, He sacrificed His own life to be nailed on the cross for the chance of our redemption. What greater love can there be?
I also remember the parable of the lost sheep. It says that “when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” How wonderful is that He cares about each one of them, not wanting anyone to be lost.
But, I think what is most comforting to me is to know that, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” I know I can learn about Him and depend on Him, but He said that He knows His sheep, He knows me, He knows my struggle, my desire, my needs. That is just so wonderful.
A friend sent me this video clip that I would like to share. I want to be just like those sheep that knows my shepherd, his voice, his calling. How sweet it is.

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