The Heart of a Shepherd


We often use John 10:10 as our “go-to” verse when explaining that evil comes from the devil and not from God: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  But if we read the entire chapter of John 10, the message goes even deeper.  Life comes from Jesus in His role as our good shepherd.

Let’s look at John 10:1-18, 27-29 and break down how Jesus proves Himself as our shepherd:

He comes in honorably (verse 1-3a).

 While the devil comes in like a thief without our permission, Jesus comes in because we open the door for His entrance.  He’s a gentleman and won’t come where He’s not wanted or honored.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens. . .”

He calls us by name (verse 3b).

A thief could care less about our personal identity.  All he wants is to control us and steal our possessions.  The Jesus, on the other hand, cares about us and knows us so well that He will lovingly call us by our name.

“. . . and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

He leads us (verse 3a-6).

A thief, hard-hearted and cruel, will not lead us but will drive us forward.  Jesus, the greatest leader of all, will set the example by stepping out ahead and guiding us to our destination.

“. . . and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

He leads us to a good place (verse 9).

A thief will not lead us to a place of goodness where our needs will be met.  He will drive us to our demise, caring less about our well-being. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, will freely allow us to come and go to receive whatever we need whenever we need it.

“If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture . . . “

He gives life (verse 10).

A thief’s goal is not to give life, but to take and destroy it.  Jesus’ goal is to bring life, a life overflowing with His goodness!

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

He lays down His life (verses 11-18).

The thief, or a hireling, does not have the heart of a shepherd.  When danger comes, he leaves us to be destroyed.  Jesus, on the other hand, is willing to lay down His life to protect us from predators.  He cares about us enough to sacrifice Himself for our well-being.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

He adds more to the fold (verse 16).

While a thief is self-centered about who he allows into his clan, Jesus is open to adding new members to the fold.  He desires a big family, not for selfish reasons, but so that they too can be saved from the wicked thief.

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

He gives eternal life (verses 27-29).

The thief can only give eternal death in hell.  Jesus, however, has all authority to provide eternity in heaven, and no one can steal it from us.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Even an earthly, natural shepherd cares for his sheep.  He does whatever it takes to preserve their lives because they are valuable to him.  If they, in their weakness and imperfection, can exemplify the heart of a shepherd, how much more will our spiritual Shepherd reveal His heart through His perfection?

If we ever doubt God’s heart or how He operates, we should go back and review the heart of a shepherd.  Jesus purposefully used it as an illustration in order to describe Himself so that we could understand Him (verse 6).  Rest assured He will never leave His vocation.  He will forever be our Shepherd as long as we allow Him to be.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


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