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Parable of the Good Shepherd Bible Lessons

The Parable of the Good Shepherd is also known as the Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep.

This parable is included in one Gospel of the Bible, in the Book of John, Chapter 10. The parable itself is included in John 10:1-5, but Jesus provided further context through verse 18, so John 10:1-18 gives us the full scope of the Parable of the Good Sheperd and His Sheep.

Jesus spoke the Parable of the Good Shepherd directly to the Pharisees, who refused to see Him for who He is, the Son of God.

In the same way, His words speak to us today to remind us who we are and Whose we are.

The Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep Parable - Shepherd is carrying a small sheep on his shoulders

The Parable of the Good Shepherd Summary

Jesus used examples in His parables that would be familiar to the people of the time. In this case, they were familiar with shepherds and how critical they were to the survival of the sheep they tended.

The summary of the Parable of the Good Shepherd is that the Shepherd is truly committed to the care and survival of the sheep. No one else (hired hands) has as much commitment to the sheep as the shepherd does.

Thieves and robbers try to deceive the sheep, but the sheep will only listen to and trust the shepherd because they know him. He leads them and protects them.

The actual Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep can be found HERE.

The Good Shepherd Parable Meaning

The Parable of the Good Shepherd’s meaning is that Jesus was proclaiming His role as the Son of God and that He is the only pathway to heaven.

If we choose to follow Him, we can trust He will lead us to eternal salvation. When we follow Him, we learn to recognize His voice.

For a relatively short parable, there are references made to several ‘characters’. Once you understand their meanings, you will understand the parable more fully.

Let’s break it down below:

Who is the Shepherd in the Parable of the Good Shepherd?

Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd many times in the Bible and it’s one of the many names that He’s known by today.

The Good Shepherd in the parable is Jesus. He leads us with the utmost care and commitment. He leads us to eternal life through His ultimate sacrifice.

Who is the Gatekeeper?

The Gatekeeper in the Parable of the Good Shepherd is God, the Father.

The Father is the only One who knows what names are written in the Book of Life, which is the list of everyone who will be welcomed into eternal peace.

God is the Gatekeeper of His eternal Kingdom and this is represented by the gatekeeper of the sheep’s pasture. He controls who is allowed to enter.

Who is the Gate in the Parable of the Good Shepherd?

Jesus said in John 10:9 that He is the gate and whoever enters through Him will be saved. It is through Jesus that the sheep must go to get to the pasture (Heaven). Jesus is the gate.

Who are the Sheep?

Who are the sheep in the Parable of the Good Shepherd? We are!

The sheep are followers of Christ, who trust Him where He leads and listen to His voice.

In today’s world, the term ‘sheep’ has a negative connotation. It has become a derogatory term to represent people who blindly follow where they’re told to go.

They’re seen as weak and mindless, needing to be led because they can’t find their way themselves.

Christians know the term doesn’t mean weak, stupid, or gullible at all. We don’t blindly follow Christ because we were told to or because eternal life is ‘wishful thinking’.

We follow Christ because we know Him. We know He represents Truth and Life. We know His love for us is eternal and there’s nothing more we want than to spend eternity in God’s heavenly Kingdom.

We can trust where Jesus leads us. We can hear His voice above the noise of the world and know that if we continue to follow where He leads us, not only will we have the most fulfilled life on earth possible, but we can look forward to eternity in Heaven.

Go ahead, call us Sheep! We wholeheartedly agree!

Who are the Thieves and Robbers in the Parable of the Good Shepherd?

The thieves and robbers in the Parable of the Good Shepherd represent those who try to lead Christians astray.

These are false prophets, false religions, our own idols that pull us away from Jesus, and every evil that tempts us or makes us question our faith.

None of these things “come through the gate”, meaning none of them come from Jesus nor conform to any of His teachings.

Who are the Hired Hands?

The Hired Hands in the Parable of the Good Shepherd represent those who watch over the flock.

These would be ministers, priests, deacons, youth leaders, laypersons, and anyone who helps lead the church. These are all good and necessary roles to help people nurture faith in Christ!

Jesus references the hired hands in His parable to acknowledge their necessary role, but He also points out that the people in these roles don’t love “the sheep” as much as Jesus does.

Hired hands are humans and they make mistakes. They have families and other priorities. Their congregants aren’t always their most important thing.

Sometimes they do very bad things. Sometimes their faith is weak and they can’t effectively lead their people to Christ.

These hired hands are an important part of God’s work, but they’re incapable of caring for and loving people the way Jesus does. Jesus is our Number One!

The Parable of the Good Shepherd Explained

The Parable of the Good Shepherd explained is that Jesus reveals He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jesus makes clear that He is the way to eternal salvation. Our belief in Jesus as the Son of God is what distinguishes Christianity from other faiths.

The way through the gate to heaven and salvation is through Him.

If we choose to trust and follow Jesus, we learn to hear His voice. When we keep our focus on Him, we steer clear of false teachings and resist worldly desires and traps.

If we go where He leads us, we will never go wrong.

The Parable of the Good Shepherd Lessons

As with all the parables, Jesus spoke them at a certain time and place for His original audience, but human nature hasn’t changed, so His messages still speak to us today.

The following Life Lessons from the Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep will give you food for thought for your own life.

1. Listen for His Voice

Jesus said His sheep know His voice. Do you know Jesus’ voice? Do you have a personal relationship with Him in which you seek Him and listen for His feedback and direction?

If you’re someone who knows what it means to listen to His voice, that’s wonderful! Unfortunately, I’ve had many people tell me that God doesn’t really speak to them. I tell those people, “Yes, He does. You’re just not listening!”

Whether or not you have a close relationship with God, He is right at your side and wants to interact with you the moment you turn to Him.

God speaks to all of us through the Holy Spirit. Most of the time, we don’t give His voice a chance to cut through all the worldly noise.

He tells us to “Be still and know that He is God” Psalm 46:10. He usually speaks quietly to your heart or mind, and not audibly; almost imperceptibly.

He whispers to most of us. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. That’s why He said to be still and listen.

You won’t hear Him while you’re multitasking or running around in the rat race of life. You have to give Him your dedicated time and attention to hear from Him. He’s definitely worth that, isn’t He?

I can almost guarantee that once you get a clear message from Him, you’ll be absolutely giddy and wanting more. Be still and listen!

2. Jesus Will Guide You

When we choose to follow Christ, what does it mean to let Him be our Good Shepherd and guide us?

There are so many ways to develop a true relationship with God and the key for each of us is to find the ways that work best for us.

We develop a relationship with Christ like we develop a relationship with anyone. Giving Him our time and attention means actually spending time with Him in prayer.

Ask for His guidance and listen for His replies, then do what He says.

Read the Bible and reflect on its meaning in your life.

Thank God for the blessings in your life.

In other words, treat God the way you would treat anyone you love deeply.

When you take the time to develop a relationship with God, it’s easier to see where He’s leading you.

When you know what He expects of His people, you know whether the path you’re on in life will be pleasing to God or not. You’ll know whether the relationships you have with people would be ones Jesus would choose for you to have. You’ll know whether your priorities in life are aligning with God or with the world.

The more you learn about God and seek to know Him, the easier it will be to see where He’s leading you.

3. Jesus is the Way

Jesus tells us several times in the Bible that the only way to the Father is through Him.

He tells us this again in the Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep. He said He is the gate, which means it’s through Him that one must enter the pasture of Heaven.

Jesus is the way to our salvation because we aren’t capable of being good enough to earn our own way into heaven. Humans are just too sinful. This is why God sent Jesus to earth to become the sacrifice for our sins.

It’s not through our own actions that we will someday enter heaven. It’s by the mercy and grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son.

This can seem like a harsh truth. Most of us want all ‘good’ people to go to heaven. But if we believe the truth of God’s Word in the Bible, Jesus is THE gate to eternal life that God offers us.

4. Don’t Be Led Astray

Evil exists in the world. If you don’t believe that, certainly you can see sin in the world.

You can probably recognize that sin is evil. With that in mind, our sinful nature is drawn to sin and our sins pull us away from Christ.

This human condition goes way back to the beginning when God chose to give us free will because He loves us so much – but we sometimes choose evil (disobedience) instead.

There are many things that pull us away from God. If you’re not actively moving toward Him, you’re moving away.

You’re moving away from God when you give in to worldly desires, choose to follow the crowd over following Christ, and worship false idols like popularity, money, pride, or jealousy.

Following Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is a choice. The choice is yours.

The good news is that if you’ve been drifting away from God, you can choose to turn back to Him at any moment and He is there waiting for you.

Are you seeking deeper faith, a more meaningful life, or greater inner peace?

Embark on a journey of spiritual growth and self-reflection through the timeless teachings found within the forty parables of Jesus Christ. Grab your ebook, softcover, or LARGE PRINT. Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited! Learn more on Amazon (affiliate link). Read a Sample!

The Good Shepherd Bible Verse John 10:1-18

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “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. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

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. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”


Find the Parable of the Good Shepherd (or the Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep) Commentary at Bible Study Tools.com. This link will lead you to the free Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, but you can find other Biblical commentaries HERE. They include free and paid versions.

I have referred to Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary for this post.

This post may contain affiliate links. This is my full disclosure.

More Parables!

Do you love the parables as much as I do? You may enjoy reading life lessons on these others (listed below), these activities for adults and children, or this list of Parables and Meanings. More parable lessons are underway. See them all HERE!

Do you love journaling? Does writing down your personal reflections help you process your thoughts more fully? Perhaps these Christian writing journals will be helpful as you reflect on the life lessons of the parables.

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