Jesus is the good shepherd because he laid down His life to save His sheep.
Remember, this wasn’t Jesus saying He would be willing to lay down His life for His sheep, the way I’d be willing to lay down my life for my wife and kids. Jesus actually laid down His life for you and I. Not only that, but Jesus went to specific lengths in John 10:14-18 to explain how He laid it down.
1. Jesus laid His life down SACRIFICIALLY
Read John 10:11 again. Jesus says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Significantly, the Greek preposition (yep…I said it… “Greek proposition”) translated “for” in v.11 is used in an exclusively sacrificial context in John’s Gospel. It’s always used in reference to the death of Jesus for His people. Do you know what this means? It means that Jesus didn’t die to be a mere example to us, but a sacrifice for us. Instead of taking from His sheep, Jesus sacrificed Himself for His sheep. By the Shepherd’s sacrifice, the sheep are saved.
2. Jesus laid His life down SOVEREIGNLY
Four times Jesus says, “I lay down my life…” In verse 18 He leaves no room for misunderstanding stating, “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 amazing profession of power reminds us that Jesus was never a victim, but always the victor on the cross. Even in that darkest moment, when evil looked on the crucified Christ, believing it had won, it was actually looking at the source of it’s own demise and destruction. Christ wasn’t conquered on the cross - sin was.
3. Jesus laid down His life SUBMISSIVELY
Jesus concludes v.18 saying, “This charge I have received from my Father.” Think about the quantity of love this reality displays. The Father loves you so much He sacrificed His own Son for you. I have two sons and I honestly can’t comprehend a love that would compel a sacrifice so costly. It doesn’t even stop there. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, loves you so much that He willingly obeyed the Father and sacrificed His life for your sin. No Christian need ever doubt the love of God. If they do, they need to take a long and lingering look at the cross.
Jesus is the good shepherd because He laid down His life for His sheep. He laid it down sacrificially, sovereignly, and submissively. How could we not follow a Shepherd so generous, gracious, and good?