He explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. (John 10:7-13)
Jesus thought that people mattered more than his own life. Their wellbeing was of greater worth than his. His love was that powerful.
Jesus sometimes spoke in allegory. In an agricultural society, his images were obvious and easy to get, though their implications were profound. Sometimes—perhaps most of the time—Jesus’ audience missed his point all together, whether that audience was the wider crowd or even his closest friends.
The picture of a shepherd taking care of his flock would have been easy for his audience to understand. But Jesus also alluded to the well-known Psalm 23, identifying himself with God as the protector of his people. Jesus was the gate into the sheepfold, so no one could get in without him knowing. Jesus was also the shepherd who took care of the sheep. He was not just a hired hand concerned only with his next paycheck. He loved the sheep more than anything.
Jesus , just like a shepherd taking care of his sheep, wanted to give every person a rich and satisfying life. This echoed the Psalm, which pointed out that goodness and mercy would be a part of a believer’s life forever. Only the lying wolf would make you think otherwise. It’s easy to lose sight of the shepherd when the wolf appears.
Jesus pointed out that no matter what they face, the shepherd is always with his sheep. They are never alone. It should be comfort enough to know that we have a good shepherd with us.