From the series Letters to the Prison
Last week, Jesus made a “bombshell” of a claim:
- “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11a).
He goes on to add an even more stunning claim in that same verse. But for this week, those five simple words are enough to marvel over. To begin, we suggested in the last few weeks that you read Ezekiel 34. If you have, you know that it begins by saying, “the word of the Lord came to me” (Ezekiel 34:1). Further, all through the chapter, you see phrases like “thus says the Lord God” (vs. 2), “hear the word of the Lord” (vs. 7), and the whole chapter ends with “…declares the Lord God” (vs. 31). So, the prophet Ezekiel is clearly and confidently recording the very words of God himself.
Now, before we look at what God said through the prophet Ezekiel, consider this: Ezekiel wrote between 590-570BC… 600+ years before Jesus walked the earth. And, Ezekiel wrote from exile, having been deported to Tel-abib (near Babylon) from Jerusalem into captivity by the invading Babylonians who would soon destroy both the city of Jerusalem and the temple of God located there. So, during what many would agree was one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history, God makes a profound statement through the prophet Ezekiel.
And it’s not just a statement. It’s a promise. “As I live, declares the Lord God…” (Ezekiel 34:8). That, dear friends, is an oath like no other. The very God of the universe, eternally existing always, is swearing on his own life that he will do something. Then, God proceeds to describe very plainly what he swears on his own eternal life to do… “I will…” more than 25 times in Ezekiel 34. And what does God promise to do?
Some highlights from Ezekiel 34: “I will rescue my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:10); “I will search for my sheep and will seek them out” (Ezekiel 34:11);”
- AND: “I will be the shepherd of my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:15).
So, 600 years later, when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11a), and has already claimed to be God numerous times… and when Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18), we can begin to recognize that here, in the Gospel of John, chapter 10, Jesus is not only claiming to be God… he’s also claiming to fulfill the promise he made as God… the oath he took on his very life… that he himself proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel Over 600 years before.
Friends, if that doesn’t stop us in our tracks with our mouths hanging open, dare we consider the rest of what Jesus claims in that verse and in what follows? Look what else he says:
- The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. -John 10:11b
If it wasn’t a bombshell of a verse with the first five words, wait until next week when we consider the rest. We love you! Keep reading John 10 and Ezekiel 34!