Who is this Jesus? (Part 5)
Greetings precious people, I hope all is well with you. In todayís article I would like for us to continue looking at who Jesus is. You may have noticed that this is part five of a series on who Jesus is. You might be wondering, "Why is this guy spending so much time on a person that has been dead for nearly two thousand years?" The reason is simple, it is true that Jesus did die nearly two thousand years ago, but He rose from the dead three days later just as He had said. Unlike every other religious leader, Jesus is not dead, He is alive forevermore. In so rising from the dead, He has the power and authority to give everlasting life to whom He will. In Hebrews 2:8-9, we read, "You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He (God the Father) put all in subjection under him (God the Son, Jesus), He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." And in John 5:20-29, we read, "For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
What you know about Jesus Christ the Lord and do with that knowledge, will effect you for all eternity. So like the Apostle Paul, I have determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, so that I may to the best of my ability make Him known to you dear ones. For there is no salvation in any other but Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Jesus is not only interested in your eternal state; He is also deeply interested in your everyday life. Jesus calls Himself the "Good Shepherd". In John 10:11 and 14, Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own."
In identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus aligns Himself with that much loved and best known portion of Scripture known as the Twenty Third Psalm. As David, the author of this Psalm has come to know of Godís wonderful love and care for him, he writes this of God, the Good Shepherd. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever."
This Psalm is often read at funerals and memorial services mainly due to the verse that mentions walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Though this brings comfort to the hearers, it should be understood that this entire Psalm is for the living. It declares Godís love, care, and concern for His children in their everyday lives.
To better understand the role of a good shepherd, lets contrast him with a bad shepherd. Jesus does this for us in John 10:1-14, we read, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own."
Notice the contrasts between the Good Shepherd and the evil shepherd who is really not a shepherd at all. The evil shepherd is likened unto a "hireling". A hireling is someone that is hired to do a job. He has no vested interest in the sheep that he has been hired to watch, it is merely a "job" for him, a way to make money. When danger arises, and it comes down to his life or the life of the sheep, he runs away to save his own skin. He doesnít know the sheep, their individual needs, tendencies, wants, dangers, etcÖ Therefore, he is incapable of taking good care of them. He is a stranger to them as well, the sheep donít know him either, for he hasnít been with them from the beginning. This shepherd is also characterized as a thief and a robber who has come only to steal, kill, and destroy.
The "Good Shepherd" on the other hand is caring and loving, even to the extent of laying down his own life for the lives of his sheep. This is not only speaking of the ultimate price of death, but also of the daily "dying to self" ones own wants and comforts in order to care for the sheep. The Good Shepherd forgoes the comforts of home so that his sheep can be rightly cared for and watched over. Jesus Christ left Heaven and came to this earth in the most humble of ways. Born in a stable, not a castle, He grew up in a humble home, the home of a carpenter. As He began His public ministry, which lasted just a little more than three years, He was thought to be a little crazy by the people of His home town and some within His own family. During the three years of ministry, He and His disciples would sleep outside and travel by foot without any fanfare. At the conclusion of His ministry, He would be crucified like a common criminal.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads His sheep in the way that they should go. Notice the term "lead". You can not drive sheep like a cattle drive, they will not survive. Sheep need to be led. Sheep are incapable of taking care of themselves. They have the tendency of getting into all kinds of trouble. They get lost easily, stuck in a thicket of thorns, eat poisonous plants, when their wool coat is full they can roll over onto their back and not be able to right themselves, they can drown easily and many other dangers that threaten their health and life. The need for a good caring shepherd is a must for sheep.
The question for you is, "Who are you following today? Which shepherd are you following? Is it the Good Shepherd or is it "another"? It is all a matter of choice. When God created you and me, He gave to each of us the power of choice. You have to decide who you are going to follow, who you are going to serve. I pray that you will make the wise choice and begin to follow the Good Shepherd.
Next time we will continue to look at who this Jesus is, until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine