Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

In Ezekiel 34, God prophesies against the Shepherds of Israel because they do not go out after the lost, I think it is interesting how God always compares himself to a Shepherd, and how meaningful it is that he does this.

The Image of God as a Shepherd starts with Jacob in Genesis 48:15 when Jacob blesses his grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh he says "May the God...who has been my shepherd all my life to this day...may he bless these boys". I think it is great how Jacob after his whole life of sinfulness -being the perfect picture of God's grace in election- describes God's goodness as a shepherd, leading him everywhere.

God says in Ezekiel describing himself as a Good Shepherd, "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice".

Psalm 23 perfectly illustrates this same fact that God is the shepherd, and this is beautifully seen in Francis Thompson's poem "The Hound of Heaven" who describes God's love and mercy as the sheep dogs of Psalm 23 chasing him into the arms of the Father.

Finally Jesus comes and says about himself in Luke 19:10 "The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost" he describes himself as THE Good Shepherd in John 10:10-11 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." He is the fulfillment of the prophetic visions of God as the good shepherd, and he does all of this for his lost sheep.

I like how Paul says it in Romans 5:7-8, "when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I was reading something the other day about Jesus, by Ken Gire. He described God's entire nature as giving. He said that in Jesus we see God continually giving and giving. He gave up his place in heaven to become man, he gave up his comfort and power to live homeless and nearly alone in relative obscurity, he gave himself up for those who rejected him, and gave up his clothes his friends everything, until all he had left to give was his life...and then he gave that too. He gave up EVERYTHING for us, everything for me... how dare I even consider not doing the same for him.

Gratias Tibi Domine.

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