The good shepherd - The faithful and true shepherd, willing to do all that is necessary to defend and save the flock.
Giveth his life - A shepherd that regarded his flock would hazard his own life to defend them. When the wolf comes, he would still remain to protect them. To give his life, here, means the same as not to fly, or to forsake his flock; to be willing to expose his life, if necessary, to defend them. Compare Judges 12:3; “I put my life in my hands and passed over,” etc.; 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21. See John 10:15. The Messiah was often predicted under the character of a shepherd.
I am the good shepherd - Whose character is the very reverse of that which has already been described. In John 10:7, John 10:9, our Lord had called himself the door of the sheep, as being the sole way to glory, and entrance into eternal life; here he changes the thought, and calls himself the shepherd, because of what he was to do for them that believe in him, in order to prepare them for eternal glory.
Giveth his life for the sheep - That is, gives up his soul as a sacrifice to save them from eternal death.
Some will have the phrase here only to mean hazarding his life in order to protect others; but the 15th, 17th, and 18th verses, as well as the whole tenor of the new covenant, sufficiently prove that the first sense is that in which our Lord's words should be understood.
What pains the Great Shepherd takes to call His sheep by name and invite them to follow in His footsteps. He seeks the wandering. He flashes light from His word to show them their peril. He speaks to them from heaven in warnings and reproofs, and in invitations to return to the right path. He seeks to help the erring by His presence and to lift them when they fall. But many have followed the path of sin so long that they will not hear the voice of Jesus. They leave all that can give them rest and security, yield themselves up to a false guide, and presumptuously hurry on in blind self-confidence, going further and further from light and peace, from happiness and rest. 4T 503.1
I implore you to heed the light which God has given, and reform. The cross of Christ is our only hope. It reveals to us the greatness of our Father's love and the fact that the Majesty of heaven submitted to insult, mockery, humiliation, and suffering for the joy of seeing perishing souls saved in His kingdom. If you love your children, let it be your chief study to prepare them for the future, immortal life. With the unhappy dispositions they now possess, they will never see the paradise of God. Work while it is day; redeem the time, and win the crown of immortal glory. Save yourself and your household, for the salvation of the soul is precious. 4T 503.2
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The preacher who bears the sacred truth for these last days must be the opposite of all this and, by his life of practical godliness, plainly mark the distinction existing between the false and the true shepherd. The Good Shepherd came to seek and to save that which was lost. He has manifested in His works His love for His sheep. All the shepherds who work under the Chief Shepherd will possess His characteristics; they will be meek and lowly of heart. Childlike faith brings rest to the soul and also works by love and is ever interested for others. If the Spirit of Christ dwells in them, they will be Christlike and do the works of Christ. Many who profess to be the ministers of Christ have mistaken their master. They claim to be serving Christ and are not aware that it is Satan's banner under which they are rallying. They may be worldly wise and eager for strife and vainglory, making a show of doing a great work; but God has no use for them. The motives which prompt to action give character to the work. Although men may not discern the deficiency, God marks it. 4T 377.1
The letter of the truth may convince some souls who will take firm hold of the faith and be saved at last; but the selfish preacher who presented the truth to them will have no credit with God for their conversion. He will be judged for his unfaithfulness while professing to be a watchman on the walls of Zion. Pride of heart is a fearful trait of character. “Pride goeth before destruction.” This is true in the family, the church, and the nation. As when He was upon earth, the Saviour of the world is choosing plain, uneducated men and teaching them to carry His truth, beautiful in its simplicity, to the world and especially to the poor. The Chief Shepherd will connect the undershepherds with Himself. He does not design that these unlearned men should remain ignorant while pursuing their labor, but that they shall receive knowledge from Himself, the Source of all knowledge, light, and power. 4T 377.2
It is the absence of the Holy Spirit and of the grace of God that makes the gospel ministry so powerless to convict and convert. After the ascension of Jesus, doctors, lawyers, priests, rulers, scribes, and theologians listened with astonishment to words of wisdom and power from unlearned and humble men. These wise men marveled at the success of the lowly disciples, and finally accounted for it to their own satisfaction from the fact that they had been with Jesus and learned of Him. Their character and the simplicity of their teachings were similar to the character and teachings of Christ. The apostle describes it in these words: “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 4T 378.1Read in context »
“Feed the flock of God, ... taking the oversight thereof.”Read in context »