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Shepherds Don’t Run

11 Aug
from Google Images

from Google Images

Awhile back I attended a church most Christians would call a cult.[1] After attending for a few years, I heard a voice that, today, I liken to the midnight cry in Matthew 25:6. It came from a group who wished to break away from the main body, but I heard it as though it came from the Lord. For the first time since joining the group, I listened intently to evaluate what was said. I found that neither the main body nor the smaller faction was saying anything different. Corruption was the outcry from the smaller group, and heretic was the cry coming from the mother church. I looked into God’s word and began asking questions of my own. I found that neither group considered me valuable enough to fight for—to risk anything to protect or save me. So, they ran from me. No one came looking (Luke 15:4-6)—but Jesus!

From time to time we all become disoriented. We are made to face situations where we are confused about the correct way—which road will take me down the path God wants me to be on? It becomes even more difficult and frustrating when those one once trusted have proven themselves false. In John 10 Jesus reveals himself as the Good Shepherd, and shepherds don’t run! The sheep are valuable to him. The fact is, he stands ready to risk is life for his sheep, and greater love than this can be boasted by no man (John 15:13), because if a man is willing to risk his life, he risks all he has or ever intends to have.

In one sense at least, the sheep are valuable to both the shepherd and the robbers. The difference is: the shepherd enters the fold by the door (John 10:2), but the thief or robber comes over the wall. The thief and robber intend to steal, kill and destroy, but the Good Shepherd preserves the sheep’s life, and intends that life to be beyond measure (John 10:10). In the context of John 7-10, Jesus intends for us to see that the thieves and robbers are religious leaders—the rabbis, Pharisees, and priests who ruled and fleeced God’s people and debated with Jesus. For me, several decades ago it was the religious leaders who fleeced me, tried to take my life in Christ away, destroying me that they might live in abundance. But, the sheep are led out by the Shepherd, because they know his voice. He doesn’t have to drive them like cattle, they run to him, because they know his voice or word and will run from the voice or word of a stranger (John 10:3-5).

In John 10:9 Jesus revealed himself as the door. When the shepherd kept his flock out in the field overnight, he had either a natural cove-like place set against a hill to corral his sheep or he built up an area with stones on three sides, and he slept across the open gateway. He was literally the door to the sheep. Through him they entered for protection or out for pasture (John 10:9b). Any enemy had to come through the shepherd to get to his fold. What I find most interesting about John 6-10 is that we never find Jesus trying to make a believer out of an unbeliever. Instead, we see him using the truth (his voice) to call out those who are his from the multitudes who followed him for other reasons. Some heard Jesus’ voice and drew near, while other’s heard Jesus’ voice and fled. This tells me that our relationship with Jesus is never one sided. Just as Jesus and the Father know (G1097) one another (John 10:15), so do we know (G1097) Jesus and one another (John 10:14).

This knowing (G1097) is important, if we intend to be like our Shepherd. When Jesus says that he loves us and gives his life for us (John 15:3), this was not done through compulsion. That is, although he was obedient to the Father, it doesn’t mean Jesus did what he didn’t want to do. John 10:17-18 shows us that Jesus’ decision was completely his to make. For Jesus, knowing the Father was to be like him (Hebrews 1:3), so our Father’s love for us is revealed in Jesus’ love for us (John 10:17; cp. John 16:27 and Luke 12:32). Therefore, if we wish to follow in Jesus’ steps, we need to understand that knowing him is to be like him (2Corinthians 3:18). Knowing him is to let his mind lead us (Philippians 2:5). At the end of the day, Love is a choice not a command. We have a choice to be as Jesus is—to set ourselves aside in order to help others reach their goals (Philippians 2:3). It’s choosing to be last, so someone else could be first. It is choosing the path most try to avoid. It is not running when risk is involved.

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Jesus

 

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