Tue, February 19, 2019
John 10:18b – “I have authority to lay it (my life) down and authority to take it up again.”
The story of Jesus does not end tragically in a gruesome death on a cross. It leads to an open tomb—but it doesn’t end there. It winds down through the centuries, all the way to today, through the lives of millions of transformed followers of Jesus who have experienced resurrection life. Ours is the only religion that points to an empty tomb. Ours is the only religion that leads people to impact the world in life-giving demonstrations of sacrificial love. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives so that we can experience a resurrected life that places Him and His values in the center of everything. He has authority—He is the authority. One day every knee will bow in recognition of that reality (Phil. 2:10).
Wed, February 20, 2019
John 10:16 – “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”
Embedded in this Good Shepherd discourse is the prophecy that Gentiles would come to Jesus and become a part of His “flock.” (That includes you and me.) In fact, many believers in the first-century Gentile church most likely came from paganism to Christ through the intermediate step of becoming converts to Judaism. The Greek culture worshiped many false gods, but the Jews recognized Jehovah as the one true God. The Greek gods were immoral, but the God of the Jews (Jehovah) was always righteous and good. The philosophies of heathen gods were in conflict with one another, but the Jewish canon of Scripture contained the revelation of God’s unchanging law. Gentiles found in Judaism something better than the futile paganism of their day. In Jesus we find a solid, reasonable faith that made sense then and makes sense today.
Thu, February 21, 2019
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus started His “Good Shepherd” discourse with a reference to the thief and the robber. Thieves are sneaky and get their booty through subtlety. A robber obtains his booty by violence. Either way, Jesus refers to those who illegally gain access to His flock, try to take them away from the Good Shepherd and, in the process, inflict death and destruction. The many false Messiahs of Jesus day instigated revolts (see Gamaliel’s comments in Acts 5:36-37). The life that Jesus gives His flock includes peace no matter the circumstances (John 14:27). It includes love and care for one another (John 15:12). Life lived to the full (abundant life) is replete with strength and stability, wholeness and joy, deep and loving relationships, and purpose rooted Kingdom goals. Give thanks today for the life that our Good Shepherds gives.
Fri, February 22, 2019
John 10:4 – ...His sheep follow Him because they know his voice. (Vs. 3b) – He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.
The Lord’s people hear His voice and follow His lead. They refuse to follow others. This is John’s picture of belief in action. Just as a baby learns to discern its mother’s voice, so new followers of Jesus learn to discern His voice. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus knows your name? Mary wept at the empty tomb when she begged the “gardener” to take her to Jesus’ body. When that “gardener” spoke her name, her eyes were opened and she realized he was Jesus. Grief has a way of blinding us to the view of His presence. But when we engage in worship and hear the rustle of angel wings, we know He is near. He is our Good Shepherd who leads us carefully through the tragedies of life and brings us safely to the other side. Follow His lead.
Sat, February 23, 2019
Psalm 23 (The Message) – God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Meditate on this. Amen.