Jesus took on many names for Himself. Lord, King, Bread of Life, Creator, Only Begotten Son and many others.

The one that is most accessible to us or at least the people of His day is Shepherd. The Israelites were a nature based society. Farming and shepherding were ways of life for almost everyone. As the cities of Israel grew, other professions came into their own.

Even Jesus grew up in a family with carpenter skills. Carpenters in those days did not make lots of furniture or put up 2×4 stud walls, they built roofs. Most Israelites did not have anywhere near the furniture that our houses have, nor were the walls made of wood, but usually Limestone. 

So why does Christ accept the title of Shepherd or even elevate that title over the others like Carpenter? 

It’s similar to the mystique that surrounds cowboys in the western states. Cowboys would give their life to protect animals in a herd and you could ask, “what for”? The pay was atrocious, the hours were terrible, the weather was often extreme and there was little reward for the hard work and sacrifice.

The same is true of the Shepherd. I’m suggesting ever so slightly that the Shepherds of the Bible were the Cowboys of their time. I know there are holes in this comparison, but there are many links to the two as well.

When you read the Messianic Psalms, you find this theme operating as well. The Lord is my shepherd is well known, 

Here’s one from Isaiah, 

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently
lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

This is hundreds of years before Christ called Himself the Good Shepherd. It’s as if He was accepting the title as His crown.

The most heroic and the most lowly position known to man was taken on by Christ. The flock knew what their shepherd would do for them and we know what Christ will do for us. And if you think it’s not about us, read the 23rd Psalm again and look closely, better yet, listen closely to the pronouns. The Shepherd David uses the personal pronouns over and over again

David is not diminishing the Shepherds role in our lives, in fact, he is elevating it. David was boastful to the nations around him that God was his shepherd, not the god of flies or jackals or sun or moon, but the God of the universe. And David, a brave and skillful shepherd, identifies God as shepherd. Can we identify with Him even now? He is the Good Shepherd and His flock hear and adore His voice.