Advent: The Good Shepherd
“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 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; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.'” (John 10:7–18)
Read: John 10:1-42
Throughout John 10, Christ continually points to a few key realities.
First, the true Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know him.
He “calls them by name” and they “hear his voice” (John 10:3). Jesus says that “he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4). The sheep (the elect) have a personal and integral relationship with their Shepherd! Jesus claims: “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…” (John 10:14-15). God our Shepherd takes great ownership in our lives. He cares about the big things and the small things, and He guides us in His way of righteousness for His glory.
“A true Christ-follower will hunger for the Word, abide in the Word, and respond to the Word.” – Brody Holloway
Second, Jesus reveals that “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
The foreshadowing of Christ’s crucifixion is undeniable! This Good Shepherd discourse shares rich insight into Christ’s ultimate mission of redemption. “…I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18). It is only by this sacrifice that we, His sheep, “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Third, Jesus reminds us that no one can steal us away from the Shepherd.
He loves us with a perfect, never-ending, and never-failing power that keeps us safe in His flock. Our Lord acts in power, righteousness, and love toward those who are His sheep. The triune nature of our God is perfectly faithful to Himself—and thus faithful to His sheep. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30). Our chief Shepherd knows us intimately, loves us sacrificially, and protects us eternally.
- What shepherd are you following? What guides your actions, words, and relationships on a daily basis?
- Are you reading God’s Word and abiding in Him? Many of us long to hear God speak to us while we ignore the 66-book love letter He’s left for us. God’s Word is His favorite way of speaking to His sheep. Don’t ignore it.
- Are you listening to God’s Spirit in prayer? Make sure your prayer time isn’t merely a list of requests this season. Intentionally plan time to pray, meditate on God’s Word, and listen to Him.
Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. There is no other like you. Thank you for speaking to me, loving me, and protecting me as your sheep. Forgive me for the ways that I sometimes pull away and follow other shepherds. Give me a greater desire to abide in you, so much so that I immediately recognize and flee from any sin that desires to draw me away.
Family Discipleship Time
John 10:11-16 (or Psalm 23)
- What does a good shepherd do for his sheep? Why would God (Jesus) use this example to help us understand who He is? (Shepherds love, protect, and speak to their sheep. This example fit the culture of biblical times so that people could understand. It’s also interesting to think about how lowly the job of shepherding was viewed—they smelled bad, lived in the mountains alone, and slept on the ground. It was a difficult, thankless job.)
- What proof does Jesus give them to show that He is the Good Shepherd? (He tells the people that He will lay down his life in death and rise again in three days. They didn’t understand it, but He was explaining the crucifixion was the reason He came to become a sheep—the Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God.)
- Sermon – “The Good Shepherd” by Brody Holloway
4 Distinctives of True Sheep
- God will speak to true sheep.
- True sheep can distinguish the voice of the Shepherd from the voice of a thief.
- True sheep will follow the Lord.
- True sheep will refuse to follow a stranger.
Free Advent Bible Study (2023)
Let’s stand back and marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
Join this 25-day Advent journey as we worship Christ and celebrate his coming.
John Ragon is Snowbird’s website manager. He lives in Western NC with his wife and six amazing kids, and began serving at Snowbird in 2009 after graduating from Union University.
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