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The Good Shepherd

March 21, 2012

In general, I’m not a “throw-away” kind of person.  Now I want to be clear, I’m not a full out hoarder or anything…but I’ll hang on to things.  For instance; I have a brown leather belt that I’ve had since I was in high school.  And since I’m not the most fashion forward person in the world, I essentially wore that belt every single day for many of those years.  It wasn’t until my wife pointed it out to me that I even realized how worn out the thing was.  It was faded…starting to crack…it was actually kind of gross on some level.  You see, sometimes we get so used to things, so comfortable with them, we don’t realize how bad a shape they’re actually in.

 I hope you’ll take a moment today and read through John 10:11-21.

 It would be a complete fabrication to suggest that I have a whole lot of hands on experience with sheep.  In fact, I’d be willing to concede that the vast majority of my knowledge of sheep came from lessons in the church.  And as much as I can appreciate the fact that they actually contribute something tangible to society, in general, sheep aren’t usually cast in the most flattering light.

 In this passage, Jesus is revealing some things about the nature of God.  And at no point is He going plural on this.  He isn’t suggesting that He is “a” good shepherd.  He’s establishing the uniqueness of Himself in saying, “I am the good shepherd.”  And listen; there are lots of shepherds, both in the natural sense, and the spiritual sense.  Jesus says, in light of all of them, “I am the good shepherd.”  Now, this is not an empty word.  He’s not positing some type of hypotheses…he’s making a definite claim when He adds, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  He’s telling them, even if they didn’t understand at the time, that this is something that is going to happen.  And it’s going to happen for a specific group of sheep…His sheep…and He knows who they are.

 Here’s the problem with many of us today.  We understand that Jesus is talking about sacrificing Himself for His people.  We understand that those people are what we call Christians, people who trust in Christ alone for salvation.  We even understand that this is the only means by which we could be saved.  The problem is that we forget what it means that we (you and I) are the sheep.

 If we’re honest, many of us still believe that the flock, the sheep of the Good Shepherd, is a really great flock.  We’re not messy.  We’re not dumb.  We’re not easily swayed…no, not us.  We’re a flock worth saving.  Truthfully, often times, we think the Shepherd is really lucky to have us.  We look at the flock just like me with my old brown leather belt.  We’re so comfortable with it…that we fail to see how nasty it is.  But let’s be real, you and I…we’re not a perfect flock.  We chase after other shepherds all the time…shepherds that promise us an easier life…or immediate pleasures. We’re a dirty flock…none of us are unstained…we all bring scars.  And no, we’re not dumb…we just try every day to purchase the salvation that we know we could never pay for.  You see, the only thing that makes the flock of the Good Shepherd special is that it is His flock.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t that you were good enough that God would have been stupid to pass on you…it’s that He loved you too much to let go of you.  So He bought you.  He purchased you.   He made you His own…and the price was His blood.  That’s the glory of it all…that’s the good news.

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