“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me..."
Wooly animals that are kept in fields?
No, people. Us.
So who is Jesus to call Himself our “Good Shepherd?"
He explains this further in the passage:
7 “... Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture." John 10
And it was not only for the Israelites Jesus would be Shepherd, as He alludes to further into the passage here (italics mine for emphasis):
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."
This is the promise made in Isaiah 49 that Gentiles would be cared for by this Shepherd of Israel.
6 “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
But where in the Bible was Israel promised a Shepherd to lead the sheep, and why was this promise made? God tells us in Ezekiel 34 that the men He appointed to act in His stead were scattering His flock and destroying them. Simply put, they were failing in their duties as shepherds of Israel. So God in His everlasting love and mercy provides for us by His own hand.
20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away,
22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another.
23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.
24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken." Ezekiel 34
How interesting. Yet Jesus states in Matthew 25,
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
So, we have only one option left.
There are not 2 Shepherds.
God is the Good Shepherd of Israel, yet Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd of Israel.
That leaves only one explanation.
Jesus is the God of Israel, Shepherd of His people through the line of David as promised.
Note: all Scriptures quoted are taken from the New International Version (NIV).