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June 17 – The good shepherd

“I AM the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

Scripture reading: Ezekiel 34:1-10; John 10:11-16

This may be one of the most familiar titles for Jesus—The Good Shepherd. You may be familiar with this title from Psalm 23. Our reading in the Gospel of John highlights the work of Jesus. The Old Testament reading fills in the background. Why did Jesus need to come? Why did He upset the religious leadership so much?

Notice the very ones who were supposed to be caring for the people of Israel, the kings, priests and prophets of Israel, were taking advantage of the people of God. They took as much as they could from the people of God for themselves. Even the vulnerable of the land were ravished with no concern for the fact that the LORD of Hosts Himself was looking at these leaders, judging them, and calling them to account. The glorious, ancient promise of the LORD of Glory was: “I will rescue my sheep from their mouths” (Ezekiel 34:10).

When Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, He was bringing forward this ancient accusation from Ezekiel against all the false shepherds. Jesus called out the priests and prophets. He used the Old Testament prophecy to expose the faults of this false leadership.

We call Jesus the Good Shepherd because He laid down His life for the sheep. We experienced being gathered up from our lost condition, our wounds being healed and brought into His people. As Christians we see the sweep of history and, with thanksgiving, recognize that the Living God has fulfilled the ancient promises of coming to the earth to shepherd His people.

Suggestions for prayer

Bless God as the One Who keeps His promises. Give thanks for Sunday and prepare your mind and hearts to worship God. Ask God to bless His under-shepherds, the preachers and evangelists, missionaries and Bible teachers who will bring the Word.

Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at  

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