10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep
John has used many metaphors for Jesus, and now he uses the image of the good shepherd. In the Old Testament, the shepherd motif was used to describe God's relationship with His people, Israel. We see this reflected in David's Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, and leads me beside the still waters." John's purpose is to show that Jesus has come from God and is God. And then he goes on further to explain why Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Of course the shepherd's main job was to protect the sheep from the thieves and wild animals. As an application of this metaphor, we might say Jesus meant to say, "The evil one has come to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come to give you abundant life." Many people are looking to find life in all kinds of ways. But often these ways don't bring life, but death. Some might think following Jesus can be a "drag" and Jesus came to take away "all our fun". But this passage reminds us that following Jesus is the best way to "really" live.
Jesus gives one more example of why he is the Good Shepherd. He compares the hired hand with good shepherd's care for the sheep. The hired hand just punches the clock and collects his pay and goes home. He may or may not know his sheep. They are just a means to an end for him. When they are in danger, he may or may not put his own life on the line to save them. To the contrary, the good shepherd, Jesus, knows His sheep and they know him. Finally, when trouble and danger come that threaten the flock, the Good Shepherd is willing to lay down His life for His own sheep.
How can you apply this metaphor in our life today? How do you view Jesus? Do you know him? He wants to know you! He alone can give you abundant life. With Jesus as your shepherd, your deepest needs will be met. And he will protect you from your enemy. Whether you know it or not, Satan's main goal is to destroy your relationship with God and destroy you. But you have a Good Shepherd, who not only looks out for, but also has laid down his life for you to save you from the evil one. While the hired hand just wants to use you for his own ends, Jesus came to give you life and life to its fullest! Come into the fold by inviting Jesus to be Your Good Shepherd, he will never let you down.