In my last blog on John 10 we saw that Jesus is the gate through whom we enter into the new life of his gracious gift of salvation and peace. In him our goings out and comings in are safe and filled with true joy. Now John 10 moves on to declare that Jesus is not only the gate in the sheepfold, but also the Good Shepherd.
In the original Greek Jesus does not use the basic word for ‘good’, but another word ‘kalos’ which may also be translated as ‘beautiful’. The Roman Catholic Raymond Brown in his Anchor Bible commentary translates it as ‘the model shepherd’. In John’s time ‘kalos’ was used of some of the Greek gods (e.g. Hermes) and carried the sense of what was the ultimate ideal. Jesus is indeed greater than any god and he is the ultimate ideal. It often related too to the concept of truth, which is one of John’s great emphases in his Gospel – Jesus is the Truth and is utterly to be trusted in faith because he is always consistently true and trustworthy. We can therefore trust the good shepherd implicitly as he leads us into his chosen pasture.
So Jesus is not only morally good and perfect (another implication of ‘kalos’) with wonderful works which are also described with the same adjective ‘kalos’. He is perfectly beautiful both in his personal character and also in what he does. And the climax of his glorious working on our behalf is that he lays down his life for the sheep (John 10.14/15) – and his sheep are not just coming from the Jewish fold, but Jesus also has sheep among other nations (John 10.16). And he brings all his sheep together into a glorious unity in the one flock, the one church – sheep from every nation, people and continent.