But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.

2 Peter 3:18





I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  John 10:11


As noted in a previous TULIP GEMS article “Yahweh: The Great I AM” God revealed himself to Moses, at the burning bush, as I AM, THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14).


Jesus used the same name for Himself in His seven, great I AM statements found in the Gospel of John.  In our July/August 2014 Tulip Gems Issue, we examined John 6:35, where Jesus said, I am the bread of life.


In our September/October 2014 Issue, we studied John 8:12, where Jesus said, I am the light of the world.


In our November/December 2014 Issue, we considered John 10:9, where our Lord Jesus said, I am the door.


Now, if the Lord wills, we’d like to take a closer look at our Lord’s fourth great I AM statement, found in John 10:11,  I am the good shepherd.


To better understand our Lord’s statement, it might be wise to read it in context.


I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.


But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.


The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.


I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.


As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.


And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.


Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.


No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.   John 10:11-18




In the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament) Psalm 23:1 is often quoted “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  Here King David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that YAHWEH (translated LORD—all in CAPS in the KJV Bible) is his Shepherd.


David goes on to ascribe to the Shepherd the attributes of provision, protection and the promise of eternal life.  Knowing all this, Jesus, in claiming to be the Good Shepherd, is claiming to be YAHWEH.


This is a claim to Deity.  Now, either Jesus is liar, lunatic or LORD of all.  His many miracles of healing were signs that He was, in fact, the promised Messiah.


Even more important, His Substitutionary Death for His elect sheep, is a sign that he is the YAHWEH-SHEPHERD David wrote of in Psalm 23.


The Hebrew Prophet, Isaiah, foretold Messiah’s Substitutionary Death, in our place, for our sins, in Isaiah 53.


Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.


But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.


All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  Isaiah 53:4-7




This is what our Lord was referring to when he said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."




Note, if you will, several important facts that God is teaching us here:




·      First, it shows the required death penalty for our sins.


·      Second, it shows the need of the sheep for the Good Shepherd.


·      Third, it shows the love of the Good Shepherd for His Sheep.


·      Fourth, it shows that Christ limits the atonement to the elect.




Let’s prayerfully take a brief look at each of the above facts.







“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”   (Genesis 2:16-17)


The fall of mankind into sin in the person of our first parents, Adam and Eve, is not just a story.  It is a sad fact.  Moses and the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles all interpreted Genesis 3 literally and based their theology upon it.


Even infidel science now admits that Y-DNA testing confirms that we ALL descend from the SAME First Man.  And mtDNA confirms that we ALL descend from the SAME First Woman.


The Creation account in Genesis is fact, not fiction.  The Fall of man into sin is also fact, not fiction.  Just read the news and look at the graveyards.






The death threatened by God included instant withdrawal of the divine favor and fellowship upon which man's life depended.  It included the alienation and curse of God, the sense of guilt, corruption of nature and consequent actual transgressions.


Death meant the miseries of life, the dissolution of the body and the pains of Hell forever.  DEATH ultimately means SEPARATION.  It means far more than just the separation of the soul from the body upon physical death.  It means separation from God.


It was primarily spiritual death that was threatened by God.  The death of the body was just one of the first fruits and relatively unimportant consequences of that greater penalty.  Adam lived for many years after the fall into sin, but he died spiritually the moment he sinned.


He immediately began to grow old.  The state of original goodness and happiness in which Adam was created was lost.  In its place came an overwhelming state of sin -- brought about as effectively as one puncture of the eye involves the whole person in perpetual darkness.


The wrath and curse of God rested upon him.  He was now possessed with a sense of guilt, shame, pollution, degradation, a dread of punishment and a desire to escape from the presence of God.


 According to the Torah (the Law of Moses) death was the penalty  for idolatry, blasphemy, witchcraft, breaking the Sabbath, disobedience to parents, murder (including even accidental abortion—Exodus 21:22-23), adultery, homosexuality, bestiality and a whole list of other offences.




Below are just a few sample commands from God through Moses to Israel:




Leviticus 20:2


Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.




Leviticus 24:16 |


And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.




Exodus 22:18


Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.




Exodus 22:19


Whosoever lieth a beast shall surely be put to death.




Deuteronomy 22:22


If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.




Leviticus 20:13


If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.




This death penalty was to be decided by the judges.  No individual had the right to kill another, without due process of law before the judges of the land of Israel.




One of the main duties of human government is to protect the innocent and carry out the just penalty on the guilty.  God gave capital punishment as a duty of human government, long before Moses, when He told Noah:




Genesis 9:6


Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.




Clearly, the Holy Bible teaches the death penalty for sin against God.






Ezekiel 18:4


Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.




Proverbs 8:36


But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.




Romans 6:23


For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.




We cannot save ourselves.  We can never fully pay for our sins.  We owed a debt we could not pay.  He paid a debt He did not owe.




His statement in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” shows the required death penalty for our sins.










No man can fully pay for his own sins.  Those who die, unforgiven, in their sins, will continue to sin in Hell forever.




All restraints to sin will be removed.  Unsaved sinners will plunge headlong into a bottomless pit of endless sinning.




The price of endless sinning is everlasting punishment.  Messiah said so in the following words:




Matthew 25:46


And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.




Much less can any sinner pay the price for another man’s sins by dying in his place.




Only the sinless, spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world could die in the place of sinners and pay the death penalty for our sins.




He had no sins to die for, so His death could be a substitute for another person’s death penalty.  His infinite value as the Son of God made His death of infinite value in the sight of God our Heavenly Father.




Therefore, Christ’s death on the cross is able to save ALL of God’s elect people that our Father in Heaven has given unto Him.




All of the sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow him.  They may go astray, at times, but He seeks them and finds them.




We are precious to Him.  He loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.  The Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep.




Without the death of Christ, in our place, for our sins, we, too, would be eternally lost.  We, too, would have to suffer the vengeance of eternal damnation.  We, too, would be guilty before the outraged justice of God.




Yes, in the words of Christ in John 10:11, we see the need of the sheep for the Good Shepherd. This is what our Lord was referring to when he said,




I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.








Where sin brought the sinner, love brought the Saviour.  He willingly laid down his life for the sheep (those whom God the Father had given Him).  He bore the death penalty due to us in His own body on the cruel cross.




Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.




No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.  John 10:17-18




Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.   John 15:13




But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:8




It was more than a shameful, agonizing physical punishment that He endured.  He suffered the outpoured wrath of God for our sins.  He suffered the equivalent of an eternity in hell.




Even nature itself shrunk in horror from such a scene.  There was darkness over the land for three hours.  It was midnight at midday.  The earth shook. Rocks split open.  Saints arose from the dead and appeared to many.




The Jewish Temple veil was ripped open from top to bottom.  This was the veil separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies.  Christ death now opened the way for access to God—for all true believers.




Think what we are saying here.  Jesus did nothing worthy of death.  Yet He willingly died for His people, to save them from their sins.  He bore the outpoured wrath of Almighty God, the infliction of God’s outraged justice.




For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit   I Peter 3:18




My friend, Jesus death on the Cross for His sheep was the greatest display of God’s love that the universe has ever seen.  It clearly shows the love of the Good Shepherd for his sheep.







I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.   (John 10:11)



But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me . . . (John 10:26-27)



I pray for them: I pray NOT for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.  (John 17:9)




Notice, if you will, several things in the above verses of Scripture.  First, Christ limits the purpose His Crucifixion to the sheep.  In other words, He tells us exactly for whom He died.


Second, He reminds unbelievers that they believe not, because they are not in that class of people that He refers to as His sheep.


He does not say, “you are not my sheep because you believe not.” Rather, He says just the opposite-- "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep."


Faith in Christ is a gift from God.  Only those chosen by God receive this gift of faith in Jesus as Lord.  Only they are called His sheep.  Only they follow Him.  It was only for them that He died on Calvary’s Cross.


It is true that anyone who desires to come to Christ may.  It is true than anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  But, the only ones who do call upon His Name and come to Him are His sheep.



Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Anointed One) died for His elect (chosen) people. He died for the sins of men such as Abel, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter and John. He did NOT die for men such as Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, Dathan, Balaam, Absalom or Judas Iscariot.


Messiah's sheep hear His voice and follow Him in obedience to His Word. He gives unto us eternal life. He gave His life a RANSOM for the lives of the sheep, NOT for the goats. A ransom, when paid and accepted, automatically frees the people for whom it was intended.


Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a RANSOM for many.  (Matthew 20:28) (Emphasis mine)


In other words, our Lord's Atonement at Calvary's cross was limited to those He ransomed. It was a Limited Atonement or a Particular Redemption.




Our Lord’s great I AM statement  shows that Christ limits the atonement to the elect.


I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  (John 10:11)




How say you?  Is Jesus a liar?  Is Jesus a lunatic?  Or is Jesus LORD of all?


As for me, He is the Good Shepherd.  He is YAHWEH—The Great I AM.




I am the Resurrection and the Life

George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God.  He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019).  They have 8 grown children.  You can contact George at support@tulipgems.com

Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss