The Relationship Between The Good Shepherd And His Sheep

The Relationship Between The Good Shepherd And His Sheep January 10, 2018

Jesus is called the good shepherd, so why does Jesus use the analogy of His being a shepherd, and we being His sheep?

The Nature of Sheep

My uncle in Iowa raises sheep, and I can remember him saying a lot of things about his sheep; most of it bad. For one thing, sheep are defenseless against predators. They can’t fight back and they can’t outrun predators. They simply panic. They’re afraid of water and can only be led to still water by a shepherd (Psalm 23:2), and who can blame them? Sheep can’t swim. Imagine getting all that wool soaked, so they’re really good at doing two things in water…sinking, and drowning. They’re also very good at getting stuck on their backs and being totally defenseless. They can be frightened into having a heart attack by imagining a dog or wolf is going to attack, even if it doesn’t. And sheep must be led to green pastures (Psalm 23:1); otherwise they’d eat the grass down to the roots, destroying the pasture.

The Door

When Jesus spoke of Himself as the Good Shepherd, saying “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 15:1-2). The sheep can come in and go out, but only through the door, and He calls Himself the door. He is the one and only way in or out of the sheepfold (Acts 4:12), so only “To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). And just like my uncle’s sheep, they will not go up to anyone else…they will not follow anyone else. In fact, they’ll run away from anyone else. That’s why Jesus says, “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). In ancient times, when a shepherd laid down at night to guard the sheep, guess where he lays? Right at the door or the gate of the fence or pen. No one can come in or go out without going over or through the shepherd, including ravenous wolves, so He guards the sheep all night and feeds them during the day. They are all under His constant vigilance, just as believers are under Jesus’ constant care. He knows His sheep and knows that they can become restless, so the shepherd has to go slow in some cases to stay with the stragglers. He watches over them day and night, and only His voice do they know, and only His voice will they hear, and only His voice will they obey, but He also knows their voice (John 10:4).

JEsus shepherd

Total Dependence

Do you see the analogy of a shepherd and Jesus being the Good Shepherd? Jesus is the True Shepherd who guards His flock, and that’s good because sheep are absolutely helpless and vulnerable without “The” Shepherd. Not just any shepherd will do. If a sheep falls onto its side, it can become turned upside down…and will die if not picked up and placed upright. It can literally starve to death or lay there, being vulnerable to predators. And we of His flock can fall down and be on our backs, helpless and vulnerable, but the Good Shepherd can set us upright again. Sheep, not being the most intelligent of animals, have been known to just walk right off a cliff, but the True Shepherd won’t let that happen as long as they are in His fold. And this shepherd gives peace to the sheep…He restores them and makes them lay down in green pastures to rest in Him (Psalm 23:1-2), so sheep must be led to green pastures or they’ll destroy the pasture. And since they have no natural defenses, no way to fight back, and are slow on foot, the shepherd is invaluable to the life of the sheep. We sort of adopted an old tomcat (or rather, he adopted us). He was abandoned in the middle of winter and so he will not let anyone else approach him or even get near him; not even within 50 feet. For some reason, I was the only one able to approach him, but it days of speaking to him in a soft, quite voice. It took a month or so before he finally trusted me. Today, he knows my voice and not that of a stranger, so I speak to him in a gentle, caring and soft voice, and he’s learned to trust me completely. Even around a blind corner where he can’t see me, if he knows my voice and he comes running. He knows I’ll feed and care for him, just as the sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice and the Shepherd knows their voice and cares for them. So why would any sheep want to leave the flock, and by extension, their local church? Regardless of this, some do. And some wolves, cloaked in sheep’s clothing, or acting as another shepherd, can hurt the sheep. For one thing, he can be fleecing them, and since sheep are not that intelligent, they might fall for anything, however, the true sheep must learn to recognize the True Shepherds voice, and the Shepherds voice is found in the Word of God.

In the Fold

The shepherd cannot easily protect any sheep that don’t remain in the fold. And if they don’t hear the Shepherd’s voice often enough (Bible), after a while, they might not be able to recognize it at all. Then, these sheep then might follow any self-proclaimed shepherd, but here’s a given; no sheep can come into the flock without first going through the shepherd, so there is only one way to the flock and into the fold, and this is through the Shepherd Himself. There is no other way, there are no other paths, and there is only one door. Sheep that can do tricks or good deeds still can’t go into the fold except by the Good Shepherd. And He stands at the door to invite new sheep in and to keep the present sheep safe. He guards this door. In fact, you might say, He is the door. Thieves and robbers can scale the fence, but the Good Shepherd has authority and power to keep them out. If the flocks are the saints, the fence is the church, and Jesus is the door, when they go outside of this safe and secure environment they can get hurt, so He lays down at the door or gate of the pen to protect them. The True Shepherd literally laid down His life for His sheep and has purchased the sheep with His own blood (1 Cor 6:19-20, 7:23). They are His, and He is theirs. You must go through the Shepherd to join the flock of the Landowner (God), because He is the door. And if you knock, He will open. And you may come in, but only through Him. And with Him you shall remain, forever. Then you can say with the psalmist, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).


Sheep are really good at just a few things. They are good at drowning, being defenseless, and being utterly dependent upon the shepherd. They do provide wool and meat, but they can’t even take credit for that since their Creator made them that way. Isaiah the Prophet nailed it when he wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus knew the nature of people without a shepherd. Matthew wrote that when Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36), and we’re helpless too…without Jesus as our Good Shepherd.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud are helpless and hapless and hopeless. Your self loathing is off the chart.

    The storybook character name of “jesus” was an immoral monster. It was not until he was introduced into the storybook that the made up convention of “hell” was introduced and the threat of eternal suffering and torture was put forward for anyone who didn’t subscribe to the cult. The made up character name of “jesus” was a tyrant…a sick, deluded individual who ruled by intimidation and threat. He condoned slavery and ordered lunatics like you jack to OBEY all the 600+ laws of the old book….do you?

    You cannot have a “relationship” with a non existent story book character. Only 3 year olds and psychotics talk and relate to imaginary friends.

    Fortunately no such figure actually existed except in the pages of your completely immoral book of death, torment, genocide, slavery, and ignorance.

    • Iain Lovejoy

      I love your irrepressibility. You can say the same stuff over and over again, go completely apeshit when asked to back it up, then pop back again with the same recycled invective the next day. Inspiring.

  • pud

    ““Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).”

    Tell us jack…what are you going to do for the 1st trillion or so years dwelling in the house of the lord? How about the next 10 trillion years?

    And why did you leave out this wonderful quote from the same book?

    Psalm 58:10 – The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

    Will you be glad jack? Will you be taking a bath in their blood? Do you share this word from the lord with the little children at sunday school? Why not?

  • R12.18

    The shepherd knows his sheep better than they know themselves.

  • pud

    So “jesus” was a 6’2 tall white guy eh? LOL You live in a fantasy

    • Iain Lovejoy

      Why am I not surprised that the concept of art is another one you apparently don’t understand?

      • pud

        I understand art very well. I also understand propaganda and intentional misrepresentation for indoctrination purposes. This is one more example of how evil your cult is

        • Iain Lovejoy

          So you are objecting that a picture of a person you apparently maintain never existed doesn’t look like him?

          • pud

            No, I object to the deceitful practices of your cult which include so called “art” like this as well as your lying to children. This illustration is purposeful. If the invisible “jesus” actually existed and was a short, black, fat nosed, greasy haired jew (which odds favor he would be) then you wouldn’t have a cult as none of you demented white boys would follow him. Cult leaders have to be attractive and full of charisma to succeed which is why your mythical jesus is every bit the Germanic european in build and stature. All part of the early cult members efforts to recruit more dumbasses like you through the ages

          • Iain Lovejoy

            And the Ethiopian church portrays Jesus as Ethiopian and the Indian church Indian and the South American church as South American Indian and so on and so on and so on…
            Obviously pictures of Jesus should be based on his passport photo, but for some reason no-one thought of that.

          • pud

            That’s because he’s totally imaginary! He can be anything you want him to be …except gay or a tranny

          • Iain Lovejoy

            Make up your mind. You started off complaining the picture wasn’t accurate.

          • pud

            My mind is solid. The point stupid was that you delusional lunatics can create any image you want to suit your purposes! The REALITY is this character would have looked like a fucking Neanderthal ….good luck getting a cult built around him! hahahhahaaa~


          • Iain Lovejoy

            Dark skinned arab-looking people are “fucking Neanderthal” now?
            So you’re racist as well as delusional. Nice one.

          • pud

            You’re a first class moron. Look at the link…shall I post a drawing of a Neanderthal so you can put them side by side?

            All you do is avoid the obvious…the truth….the facts surrounding your chosen cult. So cowardly

          • Iain Lovejoy

            “short, black, fat nosed, greasy haired jew”
            I’ve just re-looked at this following your subsequent post with the “fucking Neanderthal” remark, which sheds a lot of light on this little gem. You really are a nasty, bigoted, racist piece of sh*t, aren’t you? Christianity too Jewish for you, is that it?

          • pud

            My description is exactly what the scientific reconstruction presents. Too bad if it spoils your image of germanic warrior fitness model jesus! LOL You might recall that they didn’t have spas and hair conditioner back then to go with the pits they shit in…gee did I spoil your perfect vision some more? hahahahaha!

          • Iain Lovejoy

            I’ve seen the picture before. You are a racist piece of sh*t who thinks brown people are ugly.

          • pud

            That image is fucking butt ugly. That’s a fact! Ask 1000 people of any or every race and they would tell you the same thing! Your mythical, invisible, no show jesus was an ugly mofo! Which stupid, is EXACTLY why made up art work was created!! What don’t you get dummy? NO christian cult could EVER have been created if that image was the one presented for your lord and savior! hahahhahaa! Never would have happened! People would have thrown rocks and ran away from him!

            Which once again PROVES my point that you and your cult are nothing but FRAUDS! Perpetrating make believe, fantasy and lies on the gullible sheep and innocent children of the world!

            Hey kids! Look at “jesus”! Isn’t he handsome, tall, white skinned, fit with nicely styled hair? hahahhahaha!!

          • Iain Lovejoy

            Because of course “handsome” and “white-skinned” are synonymous in your nasty little mind.
            As well as a racist, you are also apparently a moron. It does take a special kind of stupid to think that is intended as or could be a picture specifically of Jesus. How, exactly, could that be the case and where would that come from? What you have there is an attempt at a picture of a typical man of Jesus’s race and time, which is all it claims to be. And of course, because that race is not white, you consider it “butt ugly”. What a deeply unpleasant man you are.

          • pud

            Hey dummy…here’s a challenge to you…show me a single artistic representation of mythical jesus anywhere on the planet Earth that looks like what the actual jesus would have looked like if he actually existed.

            Gee…there aren’t any!! Every single piece of propaganda has “handsome jesus” doesn’t it? Why is that do you think?

            Oh, forgot…you don’t think…you “believe” hahahahhahahaaa!

            I’ll help you…here’s “400 images of jesus” What do you know? Not a single image of Neanderthal jesus! How come?


            Not a single one of what science tells us the actual jesus would have looked like!! NOT A ONE!! Why not dummy? How come only “fitness model jesus”?


          • Iain Lovejoy

            Racist, stupid and illogical, I’m surprised you can string a sentence together. So far you:
            1. You have said Jesus didn’t exist (in defiance of every mainstream historian).
            2. Said pictures of Jesus are deliberately not like what the actual (non-exisistent) Jesus looked like.
            3. Said Jesus is always portrayed as white (except when he isn’t).
            4. Produced a picture of what you said the actual (allegedly non-existent) Jesus looked like, despite the absence of any pictures, and producing instead an attempted recreation of what a typical man of Jesus’s race and time might have looked like.
            5. Described (being a racist piece of sh*t) this representation of a typical person of that race as “fucking Neanderthal”, ” butt ugly” a “dirty Jew” and someone rocks should be thrown at.
            6. Are apparently unable to fathom why conventional images of Jesus produced over the course of nearly two millennia before it existed do not match a speculative reconstruction of a man of Jesus’s race produced a few years ago. I presume you think that Christian apologists for propaganda purposes deliberately didn’t use 21st Century techniques of facial reconstruction, genetic study and computer imagery in portraying Christ.
            7. Continue to substitute shouty capitals, insults, stylised laughter and cutting and pasting other people’s thoughts you don’t understand for having any capacity to think for yourself.

          • pud

            Being a liar and stupid must be a pre-requisite to being a christian eh?

            1. Never said that…said that there is NO extra biblical evidence for the existence of any jesus and since we KNOW that the claims made of storybook jesus are impossible, storybook jesus could not (per the laws of physics) exist

            2. Why isn’t there a single picture/illustration of even an average man as storybook jesus? Why is EVERY illustration that of fitness model jesus? Where are the zits, warts, moles and how did storybook jesus have such nice hair?

            3. Did not say he is always portrayed as white…said he was ALWAYS portrayed as other than what he actually would have looked like

            4. I trust in science to give a valid statistically valid representation

            5. That image that I linked you too is fucking ugly! Take a poll and see! lol Didn’t say that people “should” throw rocks, said they would…stop lying. Didn’t use the term “dirty jew”…tell me about the hygiene of Bronze and Iron Age peoples…stop lying

            6. Yep…no artist EVER produced a scientifically accurate image. All images are by design models of perfection willfully done so that your cult can more easily propagate itself. No one would ever follow Neanderthal jesus…one more proof of your deception and delusion to keep the members coming!

            7. No one has original thoughts. We all parrot and process what we learn. Tell me a single truly original thought you’ve ever had…one that no other human has ever conceived….waiting LOL!!!!!!

          • Iain Lovejoy

            Ranting racist Pud, without his own thoughts in his head, and with only exclamation marks, insults and LOLs in lieu of his own actual thoughts.
            Since all you want do is send unpleasant and aggressive posts until someone is foolish enough to rise to the bait, do that you can cut and paste suggested replies from someone else’s websites, wouldn’t it be simpler just to post a link to wherever you crib from to anyone interested and cut out the middle man?

          • pud

            Must suck to lose every argument and be caught in so many lies eh? LOL!!!

          • Iain Lovejoy

            If in doubt, just rant.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “Sheep that can do tricks or good deeds still can’t go into the fold except by the Good Shepherd”
    You asked me, in a different blog, how I thought the “Love me or I will hurt you” theology distorted everything else. This is a good example. I loved the way you brought out the “good shepherd” analogy, and thought it captured the idea in a way I hadn’t considered before. But then I hit the above.
    A shepherd’s job is to keep wolves out, not sheep. He’s supposed to bring the sheep into the fold and keep them there. All of them. It his no part of his job to pick which sheep get to be in the fold. If a sheep doesn’t enter the fold it’s because it is lost or scared, and it’s the shepherd’s job to round up every one of them, including if he is a good neighbour anybody else’s lost sheep he finds wandering about. The theology I complain about turns the good shepherd standing at the gate ushering everyone in into the very bad shepherd barring entry to any sheep he doesn’t like the look of so that they can stay out and get eaten by wolves.
    John 10:16: “and other sheep I have that are not of this fold, these also must I lead: they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”