Pastor's Corner: The loving good shepherd

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am the Good Shepherd; that is, I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and also, I give My life for the sake of the sheep. John 10:14,15

One of the most beloved pictures of Jesus is with Him as the Good Shepherd at the head of His flock. While holding one of the little lambs He leads the sheep beside a meandering stream as they pass through a rocky valley. The artist wonderfully expresses our knowledge of Jesus as the One who shepherds us through life.

This knowledge of Jesus is based on Jesus and His Father "knowing" one another. This knowledge expresses the unique relationship the Son has with His Father. Nothing is hidden between them; nothing divides them. They are so intimate with one another that Jesus says they are "one" (17:21,22). This "oneness" results in eternal life for the believer in Jesus (5:24). At the same time the believer knows the Father because of His revelation in the Son (14:7-9).

Such an intimate relationship, whether between the Father and the Son, or between Jesus (our Shepherd) and us as His sheep (as believers in Him), can only be found in love. This love is not some vague emotion, as portrayed in movies and novels. Instead, it is made definite and certain in the saving acts of God. The loving God acts in love for us.

How did Israel know the Lord was the true God? He delivered them from the Egyptians and destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the process (Ex. 12-15). How did John the Baptizer know Jesus was the One promised by God? Jesus fulfilled the promises made in Isaiah concerning the healing of the blind and lame, and the preaching of the Gospel (Mt. 11:5). How do we know God loves us? He sent His only Son into the world to be the pleasing sacrifice for our sins, thereby giving us life (1 Jn. 4:7-10). True love acts in love.

For us to truly "know" Jesus means that we believe He loves us and has given His life for our sakes. Christianity is not merely having information arranged in the precise order, but instead, is the impact of God's love in His Son for us fallen sinner. Our broken and fragmented livesare made whole in the perfect and sacrificial love of Jesus for us. Union with God Himself is re-established in God's own Son.

True knowledge originates with the love of the Father and the Son. It is made certain for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our love for God is based on God's love for us; and our unity is declared in the Lord's Supper. Our love for one another grows from God's love (1 Jn. 4:11). In obedience to His commands it expresses our faith-filled knowledge of the One whom God has sent, namely, our Good Shepherd who gives His life on behalf of His sheep.