‘I AM’ The Good Shepherd


Jesus Christ! The great ‘I AM’ The significance of ‘I AM’

‘Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your Fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ ‘What shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. And he said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:13-14.

‘I AM EHYEH’ first singular present of TO BE. HAYAH denotes that God is personal, eternal, self-existent i.e. absolute being.

1. Eternal. Psalm 135:13.

2. Self-existent. Psalm 88:6-7.

Then God, having revealed to Moses some essential aspects of His (God’s) personality informs Moses of the name by which He (God) wants to be known. God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘YHWH the God of your fathers, has sent me to you, this is my name for ever and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’ Exodus 3:75 / Psalm 135:13

YAHWEH plural form

Genesis 1:26, ‘Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness’.

The plural in the name YHWH, us and our, can in my opinion be regarded as an indication of the plurality of God’s nature and character, of which the Son and the Holy Spirit are part; three distinct persons who can act individually though never in disharmony and who are united in the godhead as one God. That the Spirit i.e. the force of God was there at creation is clear, ‘and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters’. Genesis 1:2

That through Jesus all came into being is stated in John 1:1-3 and John 1:18. It was through Jesus, i.e. God Himself Incarnate that redemption would be wrought.

The name YHWH meaning ‘the Becoming One’ is the ‘redemptive’ name of God and refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ who is in the bosom of the ‘Father’ God; Jesus who is part of the Godhead. When Jesus made Himself equal with God He was merely speaking the truth and had indeed every right to utter the words, ‘I AM’ in such a special way.

The Jews understood perfectly well what was alluded to by the term I AM used by Jesus.

‘This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.’ John 5:18 / Leviticus 24:16.

Now, remember the Bible doesn’t use names for God in the same way as we use names today. God doesn’t have a name as such but He uses certain words to describe His character or nature.

For example, the word El-Shaddai describes His nature as the all-sufficient One, the all-powerful One. The word Adonia describes His character as Lord, Master, the One with all authority. The word Yahweh describes His nature as the everlasting, self-existing One.

And so when God speaks to Moses, He is not giving Moses a name as we understand it. But He’s telling Moses to tell His people that Yahweh, ‘I AM THAT I AM’, the self-existing One has sent you. God is basically saying to Moses I don’t need a name but I will give you one to tell my people.

Now remember the Israelites have been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years and so God goes on to say in Exodus 3:15 just in case my people have forgotten who ‘I AM’, tell them ‘The LORD, (The One with all authority), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’

Now let’s fast forward a couple of thousand years. We know that the Gospel according to Matthew focuses a lot on prophecy where Matthew points out time and time again that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The Gospel according to Mark focuses a lot on Jesus’ miracles and Mark uses the word ‘immediately’ regularly.

The Gospel according to Luke focuses a lot on Jesus’ humanity and shows Jesus as being the Son of man. And finally, the Gospel according to John focuses a lot on Jesus being the Son of God which shows the Deity of Christ.

But have you ever wondered why all the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are found in John’s Gospel? John writes in John 20:30-31 ‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’.

Now John never uses the word miracle in his gospel but he does use the word sign regularly. And there are 16 signs recorded in John’s gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said. John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are signs, selected from many other signs. And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.

And so just as `I AM’ is God’s own identification of Himself in Exodus 3:14 to Moses. Remember that strictly speaking, it is not a name, but a declaration of His Nature. When we come to the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was not giving Himself a Name or a title, but was asserting His Deity. In other words every ‘I AM’ reveals some aspect of His nature and purpose.

‘I AM the Good shepherd’

Jesus says, ‘I AM the Good Shepherd’ and indeed so He is, for His love for His sheep is so beautiful and infinite that even if one of his sheep wandered off and finds itself in peril when it cries for help He will come it its rescue and with gentleness help the sheep as to join the flock again. Every sheep, every sheep is equally of utmost importance to Him, the sheep’s welfare is more important to the Good Shepherd than his own life. John 10:11.

The sheep that are in the fold need not worry or be afraid when it is attacked by evil all the sheep have to do is to look at the Shepherd, trust Him and obey His voice and the Shepherd will take care of the problem and fight with whatever or whoever is threatening the sheep; under these conditions, the Shepherd absolutely guarantees the sheep’s safety.

Equally so, all that the sheep have to do is in trusting obedience to follow the Shepherd and he will lead them to green pastures and still waters where they will be satisfied and sustained. Psalm 23 / John 10:9. The Good Shepherd feeds his sheep so that they are happy and content knowing that their safety, their very lives depend on them following their loving Master.

Could there ever be a more beautiful example of tender love than the Good Shepherd who loves his sheep with love that surpasses all comprehension? Just like a good mother protects and defends and nurses her child so the Good Shepherd does to his sheep.

Therefore we, Jesus’ sheep should fear no evil threatening or attacking us since as long as we are looking upon Jesus, nothing can separate us from his love Romans 8:35 from him to who is given all power in heaven above and earth beneath Matthew 28:18 him who has overcome the world John 16:33 him who has overcome death and thus broken Satan’s power Hebrews 2:14.

Jesus is saying that He is the only door i.e. the only entrance to the place of safety, John 3:16 / John 10:9 / John 10:28 / John 3:16.

‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’. John 10:10

To be saved is stated to be synonymous with having eternal life. We should have confidence that Jesus protects and saves and that he leads us into the place of safety which is to be found in His church. i.e. His body, in His protecting and loving arms ‘and will go in and out and find pasture.’ John 10:9 where we have the perfect freedom under His care and can feel at home, Psalm 121.

The previous passages of scripture make it quite clear that the Lord will sustain us, give us joy, peace and everything we need in abundance.

‘All who come before me (are thieves and robbers)’. John 10:8

In Greek, this translates like this, ‘pantes hosoi elthon pro emou’. It is interesting to investigate the meaning of the word ‘pro’.

1. If we bear in mind that Jesus is speaking in the presence of the Pharisees and is answering their question ‘are we also blind?’

John 9:40. Then in Jesus’ use of the word ‘pro’ we might see a clear allusion to the Pharisees. Jesus would then be saying that all who came before, i.e. the definition of place, standing before him are thieves and robbers. The same word is used in Acts 12:6 ‘pro tes thuras’ meaning guarding, before the door.

2. The word ‘pro’ might be used here as a definition of time such as in Matthew 8:29, ‘elthes ode pro kairou’ translated as ‘did you come here before the time’ (to torture us, the demons).

In this case, Jesus would be saying that all those who came before him in time and claimed to be the ones whom the people should follow to find the truth and the light, John 8:12 are impostors. This would of course although enlarging the number of people to whom this would apply still and foremost refer to the religious leaders.

Most probably Jesus meant to say both things but he had especially the religious leaders in mind since the context doesn’t say anything about false Messiahs but it does make it clear that Jesus is uttering these words as a reply to the criticising Pharisees. John 9:40 / John 10:19.

It is also significant that Jesus says ‘are thieves and robbers’ and not ‘were’, thus using the word are in connection with, ‘came before me’, the definition of place! and regarding him speaking in presence of and answering a question posed by the Pharisees.

Jesus is clearly attacking the religious leaders and calls them thieves and robbers. Thieves because they are trying to steal, i.e. take what doesn’t rightfully belong to them, the people, and robbers because if treats would be insufficient, John 9:22 / John 9:28, they would use violence, John 9:34.

This becomes even clearer if we bear in mind the connection in the events concerning the man born blind and the Pharisees’ dealing with the matter as recorded in John 9 and notice that John 9:35-10:21 are forming one ongoing conversation.

Jesus makes the contrast between himself ‘The Good Shepherd,’ John 10:11 who so loves his sheep that he is willing to lay down his life for them, as we know he would do and the religious leaders whom he calls ‘thieves and robbers’ only seeking ‘to kill and to destroy’ John 10:8 / John 10:10

‘He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose won the sheep are not… because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep’ John 10:12-13

Here Jesus is saying that the religious leaders are just hirelings, they don’t own the sheep, they don’t love the sheep and they are only interested in their own gain.

And in saying ‘I AM the Good Shepherd’, Jesus is making a total contrast between the religious leaders and himself, i.e. that he (Jesus), owns the sheep, loves the sheep and isn’t interested in his own gain but seeks the welfare of the sheep in laying down his life for them. John 10:11.

‘For this reason, the Father loves me because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.’ John 10:17-18

Here Jesus makes it quite clear, that he is in absolute control; he lays down his life on his own accord, no one takes it from him. That death has no power over him but he has power over death.

‘I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.’

That he lays down his life voluntary, ‘For this reason the Father loves me.’ If the Father would force him to do so and Jesus had no choice in the matter, there would be no merit and there would be no reason for the Father to love.

Jesus laid down his life since it would have been taken from him. Since the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23 and Jesus is without sin, John 8:46, Jesus was not in the power of death and thus for him to die would involve him to lay down his life voluntarily. Hence the reason why death could not hold Jesus in its grasp but had to let him go.

In voluntarily laying down his life Jesus obeyed ‘the charge’ which he received from his Father and was thus exalted above all things. Philippians 2:5-11.

Hence, if we trust, obey and follow him and keep on doing so like a sheep follows its shepherd, we can be assured of salvation. Let us always bear this in mind when life is difficult.

In the Old Testament, the youngest child looked after the sheep and Israel as a nation were originally shepherds. Job 1:3 tells us that Job had 7000 sheep and at the end of his trials he had 14000 sheep. Job 42:12

The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep knows his voice. Shepherd would come together and then part, call on his own sheep and they would separate from other flocks. The love of the shepherd for the sheep and sheep for the shepherds.

Psalm 22-24 Trilogies

Psalm 22 The suffering shepherd.

Psalm 23 The good shepherd, the Lord.

Psalm 24 The shepherd king, the one who is able.

Kings were supposed to shepherd the people. The Shepherd King is the Messiah. Genesis 49:49 notice the staff and rod are mentioned and Judah has the lion’s sceptre and staff. In those days, the head, the staff which stands for authority was planted or placed in-between his feet whilst legs were crossed. The rod stood for justice, Judah would become the King.

1. Foretold in Old Testament prophecy is the promise of a Shepherd.

It would be glad tidings for the cities of Judah, Isaiah 40:9-11. He would gather Israel as a shepherd does his flock, Jeremiah 31:10. He would feed them, a type of David (who would be his ancestor), Ezekiel 34:23.

2. Revealed in the New Testament is that Jesus is that Shepherd.

He is the Good Shepherd, who will bring other sheep into His fold! John 10:1-16. He is the Chief Shepherd, who has other shepherds watching His flock! 1 Peter 5:4. He is the Great Shepherd, who through His blood makes us complete! Hebrews 13:20.

3. The motif of a shepherd is revealing. It pictures the blessings enjoyed by those who follow Jesus and it should remind us of the duties we have as His sheep.

The blessings of Jesus our shepherd

He gave his life for us. He laid down His life for His sheep, as foretold in the Old Testament, Zechariah 13:7 / Matthew 26:31. As Jesus told His disciples He would do, John 10:11+15. Thus, He is able to offer eternal life to His sheep, John 10:28 / 1 John 5:11-13.

Offering security to those who continue to believe. Such that none can snatch them from the hand of God. Though one can fall from God’s hand through neglect. Hebrews 3:12-15 / Revelation 2:10

He now cares for us. Having called us (through the Gospel). John 10:3 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Having gathered us into His one-fold (even Gentiles!) John 10:16; cf. Ephesians 2:11-22.

As our Good Shepherd, He knows us, John 10:14+27 / 2 Timothy 2:19. He feeds us, John 10:9 / Psalm 23:1+2. He guides us, John 10:3+4 / Psalm 23:3. He cherishes us tenderly, Isaiah 40:11 / Ephesians 5:25-29.

He protects and preserves, Jeremiah 31:10 / John 10:28+29 / Jude 28-29. Wonderful are the blessings of Jesus our Shepherd! Such blessings are prefigured in that most beautiful of psalms, Psalms 23.

Our duties to Jesus our shepherd

Heed his voice. His sheep hear His voice, John 10:2-3. His sheep follow Him, for they know His voice, John 10:4. Thus Jesus expects His sheep to heed His voice. As proclaimed during His earthly ministry, Luke 6:46. As stated in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20.

Which we do today by heeding the words of His apostles, to receive them is to receive Him, John 13:20, thus the early church continued steadfastly in their doctrine, Acts 2:42, for they taught the commandments of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:37.

Hold to his flock. There is one flock (or one body), John 10:16 / Ephesians 4:4. We should strive to maintain the unity of that flock for which Jesus prayed, John 17:20-23, for which Jesus died, Ephesians 2:13-16.

The Chief Shepherd has shepherds to guide His flock, they are the elders in a local congregation, 1 Peter 5:1-4 and their duty is to oversee and pastor the flock, Acts 20:17 / Acts 20:28 / 1 Peter 5:1-3.

Jesus expects His sheep to respect His shepherds to submit to their oversight, make their duty a joyful one, Hebrews 13:17 and esteem them highly in love, being at peace, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Wonderful are the promises for those who follow ‘Jesus Our Shepherd’, Revelation 7:13-17.