By Jarrod Belcher
This is the fifth column in a series of columns on the Seven I Am statements in John’s Gospel. Last week I started writing on Jesus’ fourth “I Am” statement from John’s Gospel where he says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Let us continue writing on the significance of this teaching. In John 10:15 Jesus tells us that as the Good Shepherd he lays down his life for the sheep. We should know that in the crucifixion of our Lord his life was not taken from him.
He was not surprised when the time of his death came. Instead he willingly gave his life up as a substitution for the Sheep of the fold of God. And the violent manner in which the Messiah would give up his life was foretold of in the Old Testament long before Jesus actually came and fulfilled it. In Zechariah 13:7 it says, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” It also fulfills other prophecies like the Passover Lamb and Isaiah 53 concerning the manner of the Christ’s death and what it would accomplish for God’s people. And so in John’s Gospel Jesus is reaching back into the Old Testament for us to see how he fulfills all that had been predicted concerning the redemption that would be purchased by the Savior. Christ embraces that reality and it finds fulfillment in him.
He also says there in John 10 that he has other sheep not of this fold. Here it is a clear reference to the bringing in of the Gentiles into God’s Kingdom. And indeed the very fact that the salvation of God has come to Gentile people living on the other side of the world from the place that these words were spoken is evidence of the wonderful grace of God and a fulfillment of Christ’s word.
Jesus the Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. And let us point out that he has not merely died for a people who would potentially be his. He has died for a specific people. The sheep of God’s pasture who are part of every tribe, tongue, and nation.