The Great Shepherd of the Sheep

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

The Good Shepherd is one of the most endearing names that Jesus bears. But did you know that Jesus is also called The Great Shepherd?

Each of these adjectives symbolizes a different aspect of Jesus’ ministry. He tells the crowd in John 10 that as the Good Shepherd He came to protect His sheep from those who are more interested in their own well-being than in the safety of the sheep. He also declares in verses 11 and 15 that He will voluntarily sacrifice His life for the sheep–the objective of his earthly ministry.

But now Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father in the heavenly realms, and He bears a different name—the Great Shepherd. Hebrews 13:20-21 reads, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.”

The NIV translators use the verb “equip” in verse 20 to describe Jesus’ present ministry, but “make perfect” or “complete” are more accurate translations of the Greek word katartizo. By using this word, the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing that Jesus is not only the author of our faith but also its finisher (Hebrews 12:1).

One of the marvels of our salvation is the truth that God is not finished with us. He redeemed us, yes, but now He is “finishing” us—remaking us into the likeness of His Son (1 John 3:2). Hebrews 13:20-21 states that God completes this work through Jesus Christ, our Great Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd redeemed us. The Great Shepherd completes us. What a privilege it is to belong to His flock.


Psalm 23 is another famous portrait of Jesus as a shepherd. In this psalm, David is describing Jesus’ present ministry as the Great Shepherd.  What aspects of our completion process does David emphasize?

In Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19, katartizo is translated “mending” (KJV) and “preparing” (NIV).  How does this picture of fishermen with their nets illustrate Jesus’ present work as the “finisher of our faith”?

What does 1 Peter 5:10 include in the katartizo process?                      

Denise K. Loock


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