The Costly Substitutionary Payment


In our daily meditations, we are continuing on the theme of Jesus being the Good Shepherd, the One who laid down His life for His sheep. Here’s the passage:

7Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The 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. 12The 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. 13The 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— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:7-15).

In the summer, the shepherds of Israel would take their sheep further away from the town where the grass was more plentiful. It would be too far to go home for the night so the shepherd would find a cave nearby, or he would construct an enclosure made into a sheepfold from the many stones and boulders on the Judean plateau. He would lay brambles or thorn bushes on top of the walls to stop any wolves getting to the sheep during the night.

The shepherd would allow only one gap where the sheep could go in or out the sheepfold. Jesus said, “I am the gate for the sheep (v. 7), or “I am the door,” depending on the translation you use. That would be the place where the shepherd would rest and sleep for the night. He would be the door of the sheepfold. The sheep would be able to come in and go out (v. 9). They could rest peaceful and secure for the night because they could see the Shepherd in the doorway, and the sheep knew He loved them and would protect them from any wolves.

Satan has come as a wolf or a false shepherd to “fleece the sheep” or kill and destroy us, but Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (v. 10). Jesus came to impart life to all who respond to His call, which means that before we meet Him, we don’t have life as God intended. God laid upon Christ the iniquity (sin) of us all. Because it was God in the flesh, only His life has the value needed to satisfy eternal justice and to bring us “home.” Only God could pay the substitutionary price for us all. It would be His life for our life, a unique exchange, and one that is significant to our advantage far more than we can ever comprehend.

Let’s put it another way. If we were to think regarding ants, for example, how many ants would amount to the same value of a sheep—a million, maybe ten million, what about the whole population of ants, would that equal one sheep? A sheep is a higher life form, and higher value than all ants put together. Well, let's go further with that thought. How many sheep would be the equivalent value to a human being? In God’s view, all sheep all over the world do not equal the life of one human made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Let's go one step further; what kind of price had to be paid to buy all human beings out of the slave market of Satan? Only the Sovereign Lord Himself could equal the value of the total of all who would take Christ’s death as a substitute for theirs.

We are talking about the redemption payment of the Son of God laying down His life in exchange for our mortal, imperfect life. That’s why the death of Christ paid for all your sin. No man can take away sin, but the Lord of Glory can, and He did. The Lord laid on His Son the sin of all us sheep that had gone astray. If we receive Christ by faith, we are regenerated or born-again by the payment price of the precious blood of Christ. We now belong to the Good Shepherd who has given His life for the sheep. Jesus said that He came to lay down His life for His sheep (v. 15). Keith Thomas

Shortened from the more extended study at the following link: Jesus, the Good Shepherd