The Superiority of Christ the Great Shepherd
The words "that great shepherd of the sheep" emphasize Christ’s immeasurable superiority over all the typical and ministerial shepherds of Israel, just as the words "a great high priest" (Heb. 4:14) stress His eminency over Aaron and the Levitical priests. In like manner, it denotes His authority over the pastors He sets over His churches, for He is "the chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4) in relation to all undershepherds. He is the Shepherd of souls; and one of them is worth far more than the whole world, which is the value He sets upon them by redeeming them with His own blood. This adjective also looks at the excellence of His flock: He is the great Shepherd over an entire, indivisible flock composed both of Jews and Gentiles. Thus He declared, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this [Jewish] fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16, brackets and ital. mine). This "one fold," a single flock, comprehends all the saints both of the Old Testament and the New Testament (see also how the Apostle Paul sets forth this unity of the people of God by his metaphor of the olive tree in Rom. 11). The phrase "that great Shepherd" also has respect to His abilities: He has a particular knowledge of each and every one of His sheep (John 10:3); He has the skill to gather, to feed, and to heal them (Ezek. 34:11-16); and He has the power to effectually preserve them. "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28). Then how greatly should we trust, love, honor, worship, and obey Him!