Right in the center of the “I am” statements Jesus proclaims something great about Himself. The first three statements are made as invitations to those who are religious and do not believe. They are repeated. They are pleading statements. They are spoken in earthly terms. The concluding three are spoken to those who believe. They are eternal in perspective. They are spoken only once. In the middle of the two sets stands a transition between the plea to follow and the commands to obey. Right in the middle the Gospel writer records Jesus as stating, “I am The Shepherd, The Good One!”
As we have seen in the “I Am” statements, Jesus connects Himself to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 34, God scolds the leaders of Israel as false shepherds who are killing the sheep. He calls them wicked for slaughtering the fat ones for themselves, for ignoring the lame, and for selfishly providing for themselves alone. God then says that He will be the Shepherd of Israel and will be done with these hired hands! Jesus connects Himself to this passage rather blatantly. When Jesus speaks of hired hands you can almost feel Him pointing at the priests and leaders.
The Shepherd of Israel has come and He is all powerful and King!
It’s fascinating that Jesus uses the word “good.” It’s fascinating that Jesus uses this word because it means “intrinsically good.” Let me back up for a moment. In the New Testament there are two words we translate as “good.” The first is “agathos,” meaning benevolent or charitable. The second is “kalos,” meaning intrinsically good. Jesus says that He is Kalos! He is intrinsically good. Jesus is not merely doing good things or being nice as a shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the One, The Shepherd that is Good. It is not merely that He does good things or behaves in a good manner, He IS good. Thus the call of Jesus to follow becomes a call to have Him define what is good or not good. It is a call to surrender your rights to choose for yourself good or evil. It is a call to submit to His definitions of good because He is Good.
The call to follow Jesus is the call to surrender what you think makes you good in order to obey the One who is good in Himself. The Shepherd has come.