In John 10, our Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd. What is His distinguishing mark? The true shepherd gives his life for the sheep. David was a good shepherd. You remember when a lion and a bear came and took away the sheep, that he went after it and rescued it, and slew both the lion and the bear (I Samuel 17:35). Yet David did not give his life for the sheep. But Christ gave his life.
It was not merely temporal death that he died; but it was equal to eternal death. It was death under iniquity: ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:5). It was a death under sin: ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23).
And observe, it was freely done; he did it out of free love; therefore it is always said, ‘He gave himself for us.’ Love one another, even as Christ loved the church, ‘and gave him self for her’ (Ephesians 5:25). Observe that Christ so loved the sheep that he gave his life.
When you arrive in heaven, what will you see? “ A lamb looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Are you attracted by that sight? Is your heart seized by His amazing love? To whom else will you go if not to him? Note what he offers you — HIMSELF. “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
What is Jesus saying? “I am willing to do two things: Lay down my life for you, and, secondly, give myself to you.” And, in embracing me for who I am, you will be compelled to lay down your life for others (1 John 3:16).
— Adapted from Robert Murray McCheyne, A Basket of Fragments, 1843