The Good Shepherd

We wouldn’t need a shepherd if there weren’t wolves.

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It’s easy to think we are in control of our lives (especially if you are an American), but we are not.  Life will toss you or I around like everyone else.  Any one of us today living in quarantine, could be any one of them, who are now clinging to life and courting death with every breath.  We simply do not have as many tomorrows as we think we do.

Perhaps we take this idea of free will too far.  Our culture encourages us to embrace our own truth and not impose it on others, so it’s only natural that we would construct a truth that sat well with us.  One that didn’t offend.  Though it’s true, this life does gives us a sense that we are in charge of ourselves, especially in the west.  This could not be said of every human experience, but it is notable how much personal power we have amassed in the 21st century.  Yet it’s quite a leap [of faith] to assume we would have the same autonomy after we die.  Seriously, if our piddly personal life-force can’t manage to overcome basic human conditions like addiction, overeating, violent outbursts and the like, how is it reasonable to believe it could not only endure death, but still somehow have the god-like power of eternal determination?

It would be wise to consider Peter’s words: 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…”  as well as to think on Jesus’ own words in John 10:27-28.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we need a good shepherd.  We just don’t appreciate that reality until we come face-to-face with our utter neediness.  It takes a deep humility to identify oneself with sheep.  There is not a whole lot to recommend them.  They aren’t fierce.  They are pretty ugly, with the exception of the babies, which are cute, but only for a little while. They aren’t particularly smart either. They get themselves stuck in all kinds of mortal jams.  Not many people who believe in ‘spirit animals’ would claim their spirit animal to be a sheep!

Many people will find agreement that by following the teachings of Jesus Christ you can improve the quality of your life here on earth.  But to truly appreciate Jesus as God, as the only One who has the power to lead us through this life, through our physical death and into life everlasting we must have a clear picture of our own perpetual helplessness.  Only Jesus can route the enemy of our souls who comes to kill, rob and destroy.  Jesus deals with our sin at a soul level, because sin rots the soul.  Sin is what creates the wedge between us and God.  God knows we can’t fix this problem from our side, just as the sheep cannot fend off the wolves themselves.  The Good Shepherd laid down is life to save the sheep.

Train your ear to hear your Shepherd’s voice.  This world is a world of confusion.  But in the din of all the news cycles, all the demands, all the temptations, and all the compulsions… if you listen for the stillness you too will hear your Shepherd’s voice.

Lord, in all humility we come before you today to confess our need for YOU.  We confess our arrogance, our apathy and our disobedience.  We confess our vain attempts to control outcome.  Help us to recognize our need for you, not just in this life, but also in death so we may follow You into life everlasting!  Lord, You are the Lord of our days. You are the Lord of our nights. You are the Lord over our physical death and the Lord over our resurrected lives.  The reality of Your perfect love casts out all fear.  Lord Jesus, thank you for the work you did on the cross, for the path you walked that led you to Calvary, redeeming us and granting us eternal fellowship with You.  Because You love us and because You did the will of your Father, we have life!  We love You.  We praise You.  We give all thanks and glory to You, Jesus, our shepherd, Jesus our Lord.

Hosanna in the Highest!

Scripture references:  John 10:27-28; 1 Kings 19:12; 1 Peter 5:6; 1 John 4:18