The Good Shepherd

I am really enjoying going through the gospel of John with my Johannine Literature class this semester.  This week we discussed John 10, where Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd.  The main point of the passage is Christological.  However, with the rich OT background and subsequent NT application of the title ‘shepherd’ to pastors, I think it is legitimate for us to look to the qualities of the Chief Shepherd as a model for us who serve as undershepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4).

Here are a few collected quotes from pastors of the past applying John 10 to pastoral ministry.  I hope the quotes benefit you as they have me.  Lastly, I have included a quote from a student paper which shares the same sentiment.

Alexander Maclaren: 
“Individualising care and tender knowledge of each are marks of the true shepherd. To call by name implies this and more. To a stranger all sheep are alike; the shepherd knows them apart. It is a beautiful picture of loving intimacy, lowliness, care, and confidence, and one which every teacher should ponder. Contrast this with the Pharisees’ treatment of the blind man.”  (106).

John Chrysostom:
“A great thing, beloved, a great thing is the role of leader in the Church. It is one that requires much wisdom, and as great courage as Christ’s words indicate: namely, sufficient to lay down one’s life for the sheep; sufficient never to leave them unprotected and exposed to danger; and sufficient to stand firm against the attack of the wolf.” – Homily 60, 133

John Calvin:
“No plague is more destructive to the Church, than when wolves ravage under the garb of shepherds.” (italics original) – 394

“The Name of “The Church” is highly honourable, and justly so; but the greater the reverence which it deserves, so much the more careful and attentive ought we to be in marking the distinction between true and false doctrine.  Christ here declares openly, that we ought not to reckon as shepherds all who boast of being such, and that we ought not to reckon as sheep all who boast of outward marks.  He speaks of the Jewish Church, but what he says applies equally well to our own.” (italics original) – 395

“…he alone is a faithful pastor or shepherd of the Church, who conducts and governs his sheep by the direction of Christ.” (italics original) – 396

“Nothing is more desirable than that the Church should be governed by good and diligent shepherds.  Christ declares that he is the good shepherd, who keeps his Church safe and sound, first, by himself, and, next, by his agents.  Whenever there is good order, and fit men hold the government, then Christ shows that he is actually the shepherd.” (Italics original) – 402-403

“…so it is the universal duty of all pastors or shepherds, to defend the doctrine which they proclaim, even at the expense of their life, and to seal the doctrine of the Gospel with their blood, and to show that it is not in vain that they teach that Christ has procured salvation for themselves and for others.” (italics original) – 404

“For he who looks to the hire, and not to the flock, though he may deceive others, when the Church is in a state of tranquility, yet when he comes into the contest, will give proof of his treachery.” (italics original) – 405

“This passage is an encouragement to me as one who feels called to preach the Word of God.  If I become a pastor, I must love the sheep like Jesus did.  I must be willing to die for my flock and guard my flock from wolves.  I must be willing to encourage and rebuke my flock and always do what is for their eternal good.  I must set an example for them in everything so that their faith may not be shaken by my poor leadership.  What an enormous responsibility awaits me.  May I never take it lightly.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *