I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the good shepherd. Everyone thinks of this verse (rightly so) as applying to the cross, to Jesus giving up His life in His death for His people.
But there’s more than crucifixion here.
The greek verb tithemi, to lay down, in this verse is in present active indicative tense.
Simply put, Jesus wasn’t looking to His future, but to His present when He spoke those words.
Christ’s entire earthly life, from being born in a stable to growing up among humans in a small village to ministering to people who didn’t understand or appreciate who He was to being mocked, tortured, and executed— it was all laying down His life for His sheep.
Every thought, every plan, every word, every action He ever took was not for His own pleasure, not for His own plans, but only to please the Father through giving His life for His sheep. In John 5:19 Jesus declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing.”
So, if Christ’s life was all about laying down His life for His sheep, how are you doing?
Are you a good shepherd?
What was that? Don’t you realize that you are to follow Christ? Don’t you realize if Christ was a shepherd, laying down His life for the good of His sheep, He calls us to do the same? Don’t you remember that Jesus called Peter to love Him by using the same word picture of a shepherd? Or how about this admonition from Paul:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
What was this frame of mind that we are to emulate? Part of it is being a servant, serving, taking care of, being a shepherd to, others.
Take an inventory of your past 24 hours. Think of your thoughts, what you were planning. Think about the words you chose to speak and why. Think about the actions you took. How many were for your benefit, to make you feel good, to get something for yourself, to stroke your ego? And how many had nothing to do with you, but were poured out to shepherd and care and feed and serve the people in your life, your family, your friends, your coworkers?
How did you do? Are you taking the call to follow Christ seriously? Are you a good shepherd? Are you laying down your life for His sheep?