Credentials of the Good Shepherd :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

John 10:1-16, Psalm 23, Ephesians 2:18, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Hebrews 7:25

Summary: Of the numerous images of Jesus painted by John in his Gospel, probably the most descriptive is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10). Like a shepherd, Jesus is concerned with the welfare and care of His flock, showing His never-changing love and compassion.

Several decades ago, the late English actor Charles Laughton (1899-1962) had been called on to recite to a group the Twenty-third Psalm from memory. Also in the room was an aged minister who had come to listen to the great actor present his recitation. Mr. Laughton repeated the Psalm in a powerful manner, gaining applause from the audience. The minister, who admired what had just happened, humbly asked if he might quote the Psalm for the audience as well. Mr. Laughton graciously invited the old man to come to the stage and present his rendition. The minister, whose voice had been made raspy and weak over decades of preaching, quoted the Psalm and then sat down to reverent silence from the audience. Mr. Laughton quietly arose from his chair onstage and said, “What you heard from me and this man of God was that while I know the Psalm, he knows the Shepherd.”

If this story is true, I can only hope that Mr. Laughton got the opportunity to know the Shepherd as well before he took his final breath (Luke 12:13-21; Hebrews 9:27; James 4:13-15).

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Author of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:19-21), which includes the aforementioned 23rd Psalm, is the prophesied Shepherd of His people Israel and of all who come to Him in faith (Jeremiah 50:6, 17; Ezekiel 34:6; Matthew 10:6, 11:28-30, 15:24, 18:25; John 6:37; 1 Peter 2:25). It is He and He alone who possesses all the necessary traits to be the perfect Shepherd. He has all the right credentials, and this chapter supplies us with the details.

In John 10:1-3, Jesus refers to Himself as “the Door” by which His flocks enter and are kept safe under His watch. He uses the term “sheepfold” as a word picture to describe the circular wall around ten feet high with a single opening that served as a door. Nothing could get into or out of there without having to go through the door. He told His audience that only thieves and robbers will use another means besides the door. The shepherd always comes through the right way.

Jesus came into the world in the right manner in order to fulfill the role of the Good Shepherd. He had been virgin-born (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23). He had been born in Bethlehem according to prophecy (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-8; Luke 2:1-20). He had come at the right time in history (Galatians 4:4). He had been brought out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-25), and His arrival had provoked the rage of His enemies (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18).

The false shepherds of Satan had been on high alert for this time (Genesis 3:15) and were determined to thwart the mission of Jesus, to no avail (1 Corinthians 2:7-9). Jesus Himself declared that He was the One of whom Isaiah spoke (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19) and of whom John the Baptist confirmed, declaring His identity (John 1:29). As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knows how to give the proper commands to His flock (vv.4-5). When He calls His sheep, they instinctively know Him and follow Him. He never has to drive them or be harsh when they stray. A truly redeemed person will follow the direction of Jesus and desire to obey and serve Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus possesses the right character to be the Good Shepherd by means of His personality (vv.6-8). In these verses, He reveals Himself as the Door, the only means by which the flock or any wandering stray can enter the sheepfold. If anyone desires entrance into the fold of God, it is only through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12). Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father, and anything else leads to death and damnation (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23).

While modern society sees this as “narrow-minded” and “out of step,” that is of no concern to the LORD, for His word never changes (Romans 3:4; 1 Timothy 2:5). He plainly tells His listeners that He alone is the door into God’s eternal salvation (v.9). His promise to those who enter is that they will be saved. That is, rescued from the wrath of God and will experience the fulness of His perfect salvation (John 5:24; Romans 5:9). His promise to protect us is illustrated by the efforts of the thief who attempts to enter into the fold to use the sheep for his own gain, not caring about them. As the Good Shepherd, it is Jesus who gives His flock the new and better life He offers in Himself (9b-10). Everything changes when a person meets Jesus. When He enters into a life, it is never the same again (Ephesians 2:1-4) – (“But GOD!).

Jesus possesses the right concern as the prophesied Good Shepherd (vv.11-13) by His sacrifice. He is the concerned shepherd as opposed to the hireling who is there only for the pay. When trouble comes, he will run away and leave the flock to be devoured by the wolves. The shepherd owns the sheep and will go to any lengths to defend and save them from the wolves or other predators, even if it means giving his life for them. Jesus saw the danger we were in and did not run away. He did everything in His power to save us because we are wayward in sin (Isaiah 53:6) and need His intervention through means of the cross in order that we may be brought into His fold for all time, free from sin and the coming judgment that will send many to hell (John 3:18, 36; Romans 6:23).

Some may ask why the death of Jesus is so important to our salvation. According to Scripture, it is the shedding of blood that is required to redeem the soul from sin (Hebrews 9:22). When Jesus died, He shed His blood, and later after His resurrection, He ascended into heaven with the blood and offered a perfect sacrifice on the mercy seat there (Hebrews 9:12, 24-28, 10:12). It is the perfect, sinless, incorruptible blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that is the sinner’s only plea (1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5, 5:9). He had to die in order that we might live.

He knows us personally and intimately because of what He has done for us as our Shepherd, Protector, and Provider. He is never distant (Hebrews 13:5), and He is always with us to see us through difficult times and will use His staff to correct us when we do stray. He will always care for us and will never leave His post (1 Peter 5:7). He is returning for us (John 14:1-3), and we will meet Him and our loved ones in the air at the event known as the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), which I believe is closer than a lot of us expect in terms of what is happening in the world.

Is Jesus your Shepherd, or are you relying on yourself or someone else to give you the grace, mercy, and truth that so many people long to find. Come to Him today and be part of the flock that is safely within the fold.


Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

In 2018 he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. His website is: . A copy of his resume is also available upon request.