“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” Jesus was surrounded by the Pharisees who were attempting to tempt Him and catch Him in error to prove that He was not the Anointed of God. Jesus told them that He had come into the world for judgment and to cause those who cannot see to see and to blind those who could see. He told these leaders of Israel that their sin remained even though they thought themselves blameless according to the righteousness of the law. So when He states that he is the ‘good’ shepherd He is identifying and making a declaration against the evil shepherds.
These men had become very prominent in the Jewish society and thrived in the power of the office. Search all the Levitical Law and there can not be found any mention of the Pharisees, Saducees, Herodians, Scribes or lawyers so they had no place in the economy of society of the Law. Yet these had become successful and politically active and it did not matter if they were not even of the tribe of Levi. They set the policy and interpreted the law, they sat in judgment against others who were suspected to be in violation of the law and they ordered, sanctioned and oversaw the execution of sentence against all malefactors with great zeal. They were respected and feared as teachers of the traditions of man for the doctrines of God, and Jesus was rebuking them.
He did not take this opportunity to spin a yarn about some cute little lambs and the wonderful shepherd that came to champion the cause of the downtrodden and underprivileged. Nor did he attempt to divert the attention away from these Pharisees and in order to justify Himself. He did not come with His own words or to do His own will. He came, as recorded in the volume of the book, to bring judgment against the evil shepherds, judge between and identify His sheep and to save His flock from the wrath to come. He spoke of the shepherd and the sheep because of the prophesy of God as given to Ezekiel. Here some 550 years before any of these men were born, Jehovah God told His servant to “prophesy against the shepherds of Israel” (Z. 34:1). These men who had been set up to be the guides and leaders of the nation had exploited them for personal profit and gain. They had become wealthy in their endeavours and like any good entrepreneur, they refined this wickedness as the years progressed. Sadly enough, as the prophet Jeremiah records, the people loved this way more than the truth and thus the poor remnant according to grace who delight after the law of God after the inward man, were fleeced, starved, shoved aside, trampled upon, diseased, sick, broken, driven away and lost. Here they “wandered through all the mountains and upon every high hill, yea My flock was scattered upon the face of the earth and none did search and seek” (34:6). This was the word that Jesus was speaking to these very well educated and pompous people who thought themselves righteous.
The good shepherd cares only for the sheep and gives His life for them. Only He knows them and therefore only He can judge between cattle and cattle, between fat cattle and lean cattle, between he-goats and rams and He is the only One who can “seek out My sheep and deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day”. The Pharisees were busy transversing the oceans proselytizing rather than caring for and protecting the little flock. They were more enamored with making someone twice the child of Satan than feeding and guiding the chosen ones of Jehovah. But the good shepherd placed a separation between His sheep and all others of this world, first by matter of the lineage of that eternal incorruptible seed, second by the seal of the Father’s name in their forehead and third because He became a partaker of flesh and blood just like His brethren. Man does not have the mind of God and cannot discern the things of God. He cannot distinguish between a sheep and a goat, or a man of strength and a high and lofty one, or wheat and tares or between the five wise and the five foolish virgins. They all look alike and act in very similar manners but the good shepherd KNOWS His sheep and He had come to seek and to save that which was lost, to gather all that were scattered and to pasture them in the goodly fat pastures of His Holy mountain called Zion. He did not intend to bring them back to the plains of the Jordan or the cities of the plains but rather He gathered His fold into their own land (not Palestine remade), upon the mountain of Israel wherein the house of Jehovah is established forever, where they should lie down in a goodly fold and be fed with the feast of fat things and wine upon the leas (Is. 25:6).
Now Jesus did not say that He was come so that the events of this prophesy could be fulfilled in a century or two (or more) He said He had come to fulfill the Word of the Father and complete it in all righteousness. Therefore, He did seek out all that were scattered, He has saved them from the wrath of God by becoming the sin of His people and He has, is and ever shall cause His sheep to lie down and ‘Shabbot’ rest in the salvation of Jehovah. The Beloved has made a covenant of peace with His people because He was ‘raised up’ of the Father and has drawn all men unto Him. This covenant of peace is because He “was delivered up for our offences and raised again for our justification, therefore being justified by (His) faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rms. 4:25f). Because this is complete and He is seated at the right hand of the Father, His sheep, whom He has gathered together unto Himself, must needs be seated together there with Him in His Holy mountain. There can be no stragglers or ones who have not yet been brought in for there is One fold and One shepherd. The evil beasts have ceased out of the land wherein there can be no “dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:15) and ‘the tree of the field has yielded her fruit’. This is the same tree that was in the garden of God and which is in the midst of the street and on either side of the river of living water which bear twelve manner of fruit every month (22:2) and is called the tree of life.
This is how the sheep know Jehovah their God and that they are even the house of Israel, My people (Ez. 34:30). The Spirit within bears witness with their Spirit that Jehovah is My shepherd I shall not want. He has restored my soul because the soul that Adam had died in the garden (the soul that sinneth shall surely die (Ex. 18:4)) and He has breathed life into me, being born again by His Spirit. He has given me a craving for and a delight in His Law and He causes me to walk in the paths of righteousness for His name sake by the Spirit within. He is Jehovah God and He has been the dwelling place of ALL His people throughout all generations and He cannot change, therefore, His sheep shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.
The good shepherd puts forth His own sheep. He goes before them and leads them and the sheep follow Him because they know His voice. You proud, boastful, arrogant teachers of the flesh who subvert the truth with the wisdom of man and science falsely called have been judged and found wanting. I am the good shepherd and I have come for My sheep. They have been given to me of My Father, I have come to lay down My life for them and to save them and I have lost none. I have also come, in the end of the world, to bring this judgment against the evil shepherds. These are the words of the Lord. He has finished all that was given to Him and herein is the comfort of His people.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
December 18, 2011