The good shepherd

The good shepherd entered by the main gate.  The sheep heard the good shepherd, so that they followed him.  They would not follow a stranger.  They did not understand.  Jesus said that he was the gate, so that the thieves and the robbers tried to get in.  Jesus had come to give life.  The good shepherd was different than the hired shepherd.  The hired servant did not care about the sheep.  On the other hand, the good shepherd knew his flock.  The Father knows Jesus, so that there is one flock and one shepherd.  Jesus would lay down his life, because he had a command from his Father.  Now the Jews were divided.  Why should they listen to Jesus?  Yet did a demon give sight?  Do you believe that Jesus is the good shepherd?

The good shepherd (Jn 10:11-10:11)

“I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd

Lays down his life

For the sheep.”

ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων·

John uniquely told this allegorical story of the good shepherd.  Here Jesus explicitly said that he was (ἐγώ εἰμι) the good shepherd (ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός), using the divine phrase “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι) to show his power and authority.  He explained that the good shepherd (ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς) lays down (τίθησιν) his life (τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) for his sheep (ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων).  Like Psalm 23, the good shepherd led his flock away from dangers into safe green pastures.  Jesus was willing to die for his flock of sheep.  David, the great Israelite king, was also a shepherd.  Thus, Jesus took the Davidic psalm and transposed it to himself.  Jesus proclaimed that he was the messianic descendant of King David in the end times.  The theme of the good shepherd had strong roots among the early Christians in their various rural settings.  Have you ever met a shepherd?

The two staffs (Zech 11:7-11:7)

“So,

On behalf of the sheep merchants,

I became

The shepherd

Of the flock doomed to slaughter.

I took two staffs.

One, I named Favor.

The other, I named Unity.

I tended the sheep.”

Zechariah was going to be the good shepherd.  He was going to take over the flock of doomed sheep.  He had two staffs.  One was called favor or grace, while the other was called unity or unifier.  Thus, he would tend these sheep with his two staffs of grace and unity, instead of the ordinary single stick.

Yahweh returns them to the good pastures of Israel (Ezek 34:13-34:15)

“‘I will bring them

Out from the various people.

I will gather them

From the various countries.

I will bring them

Into their own land.

I will feed them

On the mountains

Of Israel.

They will be

By the water fountains,

In all the inhabited places

Of the country.

I will feed them

With good pasture.

The mountain heights

Of Israel

Shall be their pasture.

They shall lie down there

In good grazing land.

They shall feed

On rich pasture

On the mountains

Of Israel.

I myself

Will be the shepherd

Of my sheep.

I will make them

Lie down.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Somewhat reminiscent of Psalm 23 about the good shepherd, Yahweh, their God, said that he was going to bring all his lost sheep together from the various countries where they had been. They were going to go back to their own land. Yahweh was going to feed them on the mountains of Israel with flowing water in all the inhabited places of their country. He was going to feed them from the good pastures in the mountain heights of Israel. There they would lie down in this good grazing land. They would eat from the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. Yahweh was going to be their shepherd, the good shepherd of his sheep. He was going to make them lie down in great green pastures.

The shepherd (Song 1:7-1:7)

Female lover

“Tell me!

You whom my soul loves!

Where do you pasture your flock?

Where do you make it lie down at noon?

Why should I be like a veiled woman?

Why cannot I be beside

The flocks of your companions?”

This female lover now talks about a shepherd who was guarding his flock. Once again, this may be an allegory for Yahweh the good shepherd. She wanted to know where he was pasturing his flock. She was going around as a veiled woman while he was with his companions, the other shepherds. Thus there was a change from a king to a shepherd.

The good shepherd (Ps 23:1-23:3)

A psalm of David

Yahweh is my shepherd.

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths,

For the love of his name.”

This is the famous Psalm 23 of David that places Yahweh as the good shepherd. This “The Lord is my shepherd” is rather short compared to the preceding psalm. There is no other indication in the title other than that this is a psalm of David. David was himself a shepherd so that this is an easy amplification of his own role. Yahweh as shepherd makes sure that David does not lack anything. David as a sheep has lovely green pastures to lie down in. He has still water to drink. This restores his soul. The good shepherd leads him on the right paths. The love of the name of Yahweh drives him. The good shepherd keeps the sheep from going astray.