Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Jesus says, I AM the Shepherd

We’ve been discovering Jesus through His I AM statements. Last time we encountered Him as the Door. This is an image of Him as our protector and way to find peace and pasture.

Throughout John chapter ten, Jesus draws parallels about sheep and their shepherd. A good shepherd protects his sheep from thieves and predators. He tenderly cares for every need and watches over his flock. He knows each sheep and calls them by name. And his sheep know his voice. This is in contrast to a false shepherd who is the first to run at any sign of trouble or danger.

It was common for multiple sheep herders to gather their sheep into a common sheepfold overnight and then call their sheep out in the morning. Each shepherd’s call was distinct, combining songs, words and pitches. The sheep responded to their shepherd’s voice—the voice of the one who called and cared for them since they were lambs. Jesus then calls Himself the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep.

In my study of the shepherd I found something interesting, clearing up a misconception. I always thought a rod and a staff were the same thing but discovered they are different.

The Shepherd Carries Four Essentials:

A Scrip – A shoulder bag to carry his food and other needs. You will remember David putting five smooth stones in his bag when he went up against Goliath.

A Sling – An offensive and defensive weapon to protect the sheep. They didn’t have sheep dogs so to call a sheep back from wandering, the shepherd would fling a stone just past the sheep’s nose to redirect it. A Shepherd was very skilled with his sling and his accuracy was remarkable. This also makes me think of David, the one who killed the lion, a bear and then killed Goliath with his sling and a smooth stone.

A Staff – A short wooden club studded with nails at one end, slung by a strap and carried on the shepherd’s belt. The staff was another weapon to protect the sheep against wild animals or thieves.

A Rod – This long walking stick had a crook on one end used for guiding the sheep or pulling them to safety. Sheep in distress could be lifted from a ravine using the crook of the rod. When the shepherd called the sheep back to the fold at night, he would hold the rod across the entrance and each sheep passed under it while being inspected for cuts or injury.

(Adapted from Barclay, William, The Daily Bible Study Series, Gospel of John Vol. 2 ©1975)

These shepherd’s tools give me a clear picture of God’s provision, protection and guidance. He is a gentle Shepherd whose focus is on the tender care and undying defense of His flock.

We are His Sheep

Throughout Scripture God is referred to as a Shepherd; and we are sheep. Sheep aren’t very clever. They are easy prey and can’t defend themselves. They are skittish, don’t like moving water, and are unable to right themselves if they fall. These defenseless creatures tend to stray easily too. Sound familiar? There are frequent laments in Scripture about lost sheep and their need of a shepherd.

This description of a lost sheep describes me very well. I need the Good Shepherd’s protection. I need to be redirected when I wander. I also need His careful inspection of my wounds that need healing.

Jesus says, “I AM the Shepherd of the sheep”. He laid down his life protects us out of love. And once we discover our need of Him, we follow and begin to know His voice above all others.

How have you been rescued by the Shepherd? Can you identify with being a sheep?
Visit Sherry Carter's blog for more insight and a series written about the Shepherd in Psalm 123.

Sheep respond to their shepherd’s voice—the one who cared for them since they were lambs

Jesus says, “I AM the Shepherd of the sheep”

Read the previous I AM posts at  Bread of Life, Living Water, Light of the World and the Door
Images Courtesy of 

Discover more about the Good Shepherd:


  1. It's comforting to think of Jesus as our Shepherd. Thank you for describing the pieces a shepherd would carry with him. I have wondered what the difference was between a rod and a staff.

  2. I didn't know the difference in the rod and staff either, Jeanne. I've been posting on Psalm 23 and today I posted on v4: "Your rod and your staff comfort me." You brought a new perspective - I wish I'd read this before I posted mine. :)

  3. Katy and Sherry,
    Thanks for stopping in. I also found that information interesting. It helped me have a deeper understanding of Him as my Shepherd.

    Sherry, I'd love to link to your post. Let me know if you'd like to trade links

  4. Hi dear Jeanne,

    Several years back, my family and I were part of a church transition that involved a new pastor, etc. We began hearing unusual perspectives taught from the pulpit, and most alarmingly, we began hearing the Gospel presented inaccurately. We left, whereas many we love have stayed and continue to be influenced by false doctrine. When I think of our Shepherd's protection, this came to mind. I'm SO grateful He enables us to recognize His voice and that He leads us in the ways we should go.

    Thank you for your faithful Bible teaching. It's critically important for us as God's people to know His Word.

  5. Emily, what a great example of listening to the Shepherd. I have such a burden for people to KNOW the word. How else can we discern error?
    Thanks for your thoughts


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