I Am the Good Shepherd

Do you know what your name means? Have you researched it?

Did you know that the name Rachel means, Ewe – a female sheep?

Growing up, I used to say that name was fitting for me because I was as stubborn as a sheep. Determination and endurance to see what I wanted to come true were strong traits. Recently, the meaning of the name has changed for me. Instead of seeing myself as stubborn, the picture has tenderly changed to a little sheep yearning to follow her Shepherd.

Yes, sheep are stubborn animals, but they also have a unique sense for following their leaders. In one of our episodes on the Inspire Hope Podcast, Sammy shared of a time he worked with sheep. He said that sheep will always follow their leader. If the alpha sheep falls off a cliff, the others will follow after it. They are very trusting creatures. That’s why they need a shepherd to keep them safe and lead them in the right direction.

I’ve heard the story that a shepherd will break a sheep’s leg if it wanders off. This may be legitimately or metaphorically speaking. Either way, it sounds cruel. But, it’s for the best interest of the sheep. The shepherd will break its leg and then begin the process of restoring it back to full strength. In that process, the sheep is learning to trust the shepherd as it cares for it. Then, when fully restored, the sheep will remain close to the shepherd instead of wandering off again.

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5

The trust between the shepherd and the sheep builds so much that the sheep run when a stranger approaches. It’s like a little child being told by her parents to not talk to strangers. The same is true in this. It is critical for the sheep to know their shepherd’s voice.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them.  This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep.” John 15:11-13

Who is this referring to?

We, as Christians, are the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He has paid the price for the sheep and owns each one in His flock.

Do you remember what I AM means? It is the personal name for God. It represents His eternality and confirms that He is ever-present in your life. Put “I Am” and “Good Shepherd” together – this means Jesus is always your Shepherd. He will permanently lead you and care for your needs both now and forever.

Who is the wolf?

It is Satan, the enemy. He seeks to keep people from knowing Jesus, and discouraging and distracting those who do. When you’re in the sheep pen, you’re protected by the Shepherd and the Gate – both names for Jesus. When you’re in the pasture close to your Shepherd, you’re safe because He’ll fight off your enemies. It’s only when you wander from your Shepherd that fear mounts and the real threat of the enemy encroaches.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”

He’s on the outskirts waiting and watching for any who wander away from the Shepherd. That’s why the Shepherd will risk breaking the legs of those who do, in order to keep them safe in His care. He knows what’s roaming in the wilderness and will do whatever necessary to protect you. Just like a good parent disciplining their child. Or, like a coach disciplining his athletes with harder drills in order to teach them to trust him and their team. Both the parents and the coach understand the importance of doing hard things in order to get the best results. The Good Shepherd is the same.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” John 10:14-18

Try to wrap your mind around the love of your ever-present, Good Shepherd. He knows every single one of His sheep, personally. He loves each one so much that He gave up His own life to protect them, including you.

People murdered Jesus, but it was out of His own plan, not theirs. It was His mission from the beginning, before He even came as a man on this earth. He came to rescue all sheep from the wolf.

Who’s the other sheep Jesus referred to?

They are the Gentiles.

Jesus’ audience in this parable were the Jews. They knew God, but most of the world did not. By Jesus coming and dying for all sheep, He was offering to bring the rest of the world into Israel’s family of sheep, making Himself their Shepherd as well.

The good news of Jesus is offered to the whole world by way of the gift of salvation He offers everyone. Give up trying to make it on your own in the wilderness, always fearing when the wolf is going to come for you. Listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice calling out to you, and join His flock of sheep, where you’ll be protected and loved forever.

Like in the descriptions at the beginning of this post, Jesus is our Good Shepherd – one that can be fully trusted. By placing your trust in Him, you can safely follow Him wherever He guides you because He’ll never lead you astray. He will mend your broken legs, heal your wounds, and restore you to good health. He’ll bring you to lush pastures and calm waters to nourish you. He’ll protect you against your enemies.

Enjoy the pleasure of living in the presence of your Good Shepherd today, and always.

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  1. James B. Kennedy III, PhD

    January 3, 2024 at 3:21 pm

    You wrote: Did you know that a shepherd will break a sheep’s leg if it wanders off? At first, that sounds cruel. But, it’s actually for the best interest of the sheep. The shepherd will break its leg and then begin the process of restoring it back to full strength. In that process, the sheep is learning to trust the shepherd as it cares for it. Then, when fully restored, the sheep will remain close to the shepherd instead of wandering off again.
    Now there is no truth to this myth. There is no historical evidence of this ever happening.

    1. Rachel

      January 4, 2024 at 12:02 pm

      Thank you for addressing this concern. I have updated the post to reflect this change.

  2. Raul

    March 10, 2024 at 9:20 am

    Some people believe this is a myth, some do not. I can attest that it is true, legitimately or metaphorically. Your entire article is exactly me. I was the wandering sheep. Wandering and going astray over and over. Eventually, the Lord literally broke my leg to protect me from ruin. He protected me from the wolf. There is so much more to my story but I know from experience that the Lord disciplines those that He loves. And now, all I want is to stay close to His presence. Be encouraged. What you wrote is true.

    1. Rachel

      March 11, 2024 at 10:52 am

      Thank you, Raul. We appreciate you sharing your story with us. His discipline is hard to understand for the moment, but done with so much love, grace, and truth. It’s wonderful to hear of your desire to remain close to Him. Continue to shine His light to those around you. Thank you for your encouragement.

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