pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Sheep of the Shepherd

Reading: John 10: 11-18

Verse Fourteen: “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”.

In the ancient Jewish world the occupation of shepherd was looked down upon. In spite of people like Moses and David being shepherds, it was still a job that came with much scorn and ridicule in Jesus’ day. So when Jesus, this man who some saw as the Messiah, called Himself a shepherd, it must have raised an eyebrow or two. It seems to always shock the people when God chooses someone or something unlikely to lead or lift up… the last of Jesse’s sons, the stutterer, the dreaded tax collector, the title of shepherd. Anything is possible with God.

Despite being a shocking choice to His audience, the choice of shepherd makes perfect sense. In His role as Savior, Jesus will endure scorn and ridicule from the religious authorities, the Romans, and even from the people He came to save. Like a shepherd, Jesus Will and continues to protect His sheep. He continues to lead and guide and teach His sheep, fulfilling His statement, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. He helps us to know His better and He knows each of us by name.

In His role as Good Shepherd, there are also some reversals. Jesus comes not just for those now in the pen – the lost sheep of Israel – but He also includes “sheep that are not of this pen”. Other peoples will come to know the voice of the Good Shepherd. Jesus also reverses the roles of sheep and shepherd. Traditionally, the lamb was sacrificed to make atonement for the sins of the person or the people. Jesus instead chooses to “lay down my life” as the atoning sacrifice. Jesus goes to the cross on His “own accord” as the final offering to pay the price for the sins of the world.

As the sheep of the Good Shepherd, may we walk each day in His care and protection, being ever blessed by His love and mercy.


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Broken

Reading: Luke 15: 1-3 & 11b-32

Today’s parable is familiar and allows for interesting perspectives.  One can easily see the story from multiple character’s views and can easily relate to each because most of us have filled all three roles at points in our lives.  If not us personally, we have been privy to others playing these roles.  The age-old question is always: who do you best relate to?  To me, the answer can vary at different times and maybe at times it can be all three that we relate best to.

Generally the older son is seen as the responsible son, at least at the beginning of the story.  He stayed and worked faithfully.  Like a good soldier he has been trudging along all these years.  One can easily envision the scorn and disgust he felt as the younger brother walked away from the family.  Once he returns we see that the older brother has not been serving happily all these years.  He reminds me of that coworker who has been on the job five years too long.

Generally the younger brother is seen as the rebel, as the selfish one.  In that day he was essentially saying, “Dad – you are as good as dead to me – can I have my money now”?  After going off and spending his third of the estate in “wild living”, he comes to a place of brokenness, repents, and heads for home to live as one of his father’s hired hands.  But the apology script he has practiced over and over isn’t really needed.  I’d guess the father never even heard the words his youngest son was trying to offer.

For the father and in our relationship with God, the words do not matter.  What matters is the condition of our heart.  God does not need to hear our confessions.  He does desire for us to come to Him with a broken and contrite heart, a heart that knows our deep and great need for Him.  This day may we come to admit our brokenness and may we seek Him in a real and deep way, connecting to God as we express our absolute need for Him.