In my last post I talked about the thief of John 10:1. Now I focus on the shepherd.
Something I heard on the Christian radio station caught my attention. The speaker said that a good writer catches your attention when he speaks on an emotional level. I try to do that, primarily because I am pulled into a story line, or scripture, because it speaks to me in that way. This emotional level to me has much to do with my being open and honest with you, telling you that some things hurt or confuse me. Maybe by doing this we can both get through what ever it is.
Every time I read scripture I create an emotional connection by trying to look into their imaginary faces and listen for the tone of the words being spoken (I call it putting flesh and blood on them). This emotional aspect becomes important because we can receive the same sarcastic joke differently depending upon the tone and the relationship we have with the person saying it (I speak from experience).
Consider Jesus Christ, the shepherd, as he interacted with Nathanael .
Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.” But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.” When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.” Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.” Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!” Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.” (John 1:45-51 MSG)
This was dripping with sarcasm and humor, and yet this is our shepherd.
Now the alternate side of this shepherd could be like one a previous pastor tried to convey. He told us, with conviction, that the shepherd, which he was supposed to be one, would break the leg of a sheep that would continually stray off. Having done that he would then carry that sheep until it was healed and that sheep would then bond to that shepherd and no longer stray. That did not register as correct then, nor does it now, and if you had tried to win me to Christ with a message like this I would have had nothing to do with it.
Just trying to think through this leg breaking from an economic point of view makes no sense either. To damage a sheep blemishes it and no decent Jew would buy a blemished lamb for it could not be used in sacrifice. Sheep only served three purposes. They were either raised for wool, food or sacrifice.
I suspect you need to look at some of these concepts, especially if you feel that God is calling you to be a shepherd.
What kind of shepherd would you be?
I was a rambling sheep. It is possible that in some ways the shepherd broke me? I thought that was entirely my doing. As I talked with the men in one of my groups recently, one responded sternly, “the devil is not in everything, some things are just personal choice!” I believe he is wrong for there is only good and evil in the world. It is a choice, but the way to judge whether you chose to follow the devil in this “choice” you made is to look at the fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
What was product of your “choice”? Something other than this? Then no matter how that motivation got in your head it was of the devil and meant to destroy you. If I happened to proverbially get my legs broken while caught up in that non-sense, and the good shepherd should happen to pick me up, is it proper to then say that the shepherd is the one that did it? NO.
That being said, lets continue to look at John’s gospel and the shepherd
John 10:2-6 GW
(2) But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd.
(3) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep respond to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out of the pen.
(4) After he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.
(5) They won’t follow a stranger. Instead, they will run away from a stranger because they don’t recognize his voice.”
(6) Jesus used this illustration as he talked to the people, but they didn’t understand what he meant.
The concept of a shepherd was not new to the learned Jewish crowd.
The Psalmist spoke of the shepherd of Israel.
For the Director of Music: According to “The Lilies”. A testimony of Asaph. A psalm. Shepherd of Israel, listen! The one who leads Joseph like a flock, the one enthroned on the cherubim, display your glory. (Psalms 80:1 ISV)
The prophet Isaiah stated,
Like a shepherd, he tends his flock. He gathers the lambs in his arms, carries them close to his heart, and gently leads the mother sheep.” (Isaiah 40:11 ISV)
Ezekiel referred to David as a shepherd of God’s people.
“‘Then I’ll install one shepherd for them—my servant David—and he will feed them, will be there for them, and will serve as their shepherd. (Ezekiel 34:23 ISV)
The prophet Zechariah said,
Those who buy them will kill them and go unpunished. Those who sell them will say, “Praise the LORD! I’ve become rich!” Even their own shepherds will have no pity on them. (Zechariah 11:5 GW)
They knew what he was talking about, they merely refused to listen.
Now for the obvious.
John 10:2 NIV The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
What is the problem with that? Nothing really. It seems like a very ordinary statement, except that Jesus is the gate and the shepherd at the same time, and that in itself seems impossible. Fortunately we serve a God that consistently deals in the impossible. Jesus cleared this up for those who were struggling with his statement.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7 ESV)
Oprah Winfrey seems to have re-birthed herself and once again espoused an aspect of her religion based upon Eckhart Tolle’s teachings that we are all on the same path. Jesus should have left no doubt in the mind of the hearers that day as he said, “I am the door”. If we are all on the same path are there a multitude of doors? I don’t think so. I do think that God is willing and capable of finding you no matter what path you are on and inviting you to enter through the door into life.
But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. Simple, straight forward, understandable, but don’t we have to enter through that same door? If that is the case what is God trying to say to us?
To me it sounds as though the calling on our lives is important and automatic. If you are a husband, then shepherd your wife; if a father, then shepherd your children; if a friend then shepherd that one person. But do not think for a moment that you get to break legs to control them. That is not a what a good shepherd does, is economically unsound, and illegal. You open the gate for them to see the true shepherd – clue: he is found in His Word. And then you be an example of what this shepherd is supposed to look like. (Don’t get confused here, just live a decent, peaceful life, filled with the fruit produced in one that is focused on God. You know: love, joy, peace, long-suffering … )
By the way, this is not the last time you will find a reference to the door or gate.
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.
(Revelation 4:1-3 NIV)
Someone opened the door. Because of John’s gospel we already understand that Jesus himself is the one opening the door. Looking through the door into heaven what does John see? The Son of God in all his glory.
In Revelation 3 we get a clear picture of Jesus being the one that opens the doors that no man can shut.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: (Revelation 3:7 NASB)
Keep these words in mind for the next time someone tries to tell you you are through. God is not done until he finishes what he started, and that includes you.
- Come to the Shepherd (danielescalante77.wordpress.com)
- Life of Christ – Part 13 – Jesus Attends Two Feasts(6) – The Good Shepherd (edraby.wordpress.com)
- Jesus Said, “IT IS FINISHED” But why do I still feel the way I do? (poems4him.wordpress.com)
- The Calling of Phillip and Nathaniel (iamnachomomma.wordpress.com)