The Shepherd in Sheep’s Clothing- John 10

God’s people are a thing sought after.  Some want them for their own, others hate God’s sheep, and still others just hate God.  And I’m sure most of the pursuers are a mixture of all three and then some.  It’s dangerous being a sheep in God’s flock. 

Especially since we’ve all, every one of us sheep, called upon ourselves a slaughtering.  We flirt with our enemies.  We tempt them and make them salivate with the thought of dining on our flesh and wearing our wool.

But we have a Good Shepherd, One who will always fight for us and Who will always triumph.  If we turn away from sin, and listen to His voice, then we will always find safe pasture for our souls.

He is not a hired hand.  Some claim to be defenders of the Church, but when it comes down to their very life being on the line… well, they abandon us just as fast as they can.  I’m guessing they’re not even truly employed, but rather they are something more like mercenaries waiting on wages that were never offered or promised.

Jesus isn’t like them.  Like a mighty Lion, He wages war for His Zion.

There has been a problem created by our actions though.  There is a required payment for our sins.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who lays His life down for His sheep.  And because it’s a sheep’s blood that’s required for the sheep’s sins, Jesus took our form upon Himself to satisfy the debt. 

His blood became as our blood, except without the sickness of sin.  He became one of us, and knew our every struggle intimately.  Being found in appearance as a man, the very nature of a servant, He humbled Himself and obeyed death.  And not just death, but death on the cross.  He became the Shepherd in sheep’s clothing, sacrificed.

Some people, not all but some, die for others because they have no choice.  If they’re going to die anyway then they figure they might as well do it for a good cause.  Or maybe, against their own will, their life is taken in place of someone else’s. 

Jesus isn’t like them.  No, Jesus didn’t have to die… ever.  But He layed down His life of His own accord, on our behalf.  And by the same authority given Him to lay it down on our behalf, He took it up and overcame death.

He is the Good Shepherd.

There is a constant blood-lust that hungers for the sheep of God.  But we need not fear the wolf in sheep’s clothing… not when we follow the voice of the Shepherd in sheep’s clothing.

The Director (John 8)

The Setup

John 8 begins with the story of the woman caught in adultery.  To better understand the situation, one should note what had happened the day before.  It was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Temple Guards had returned to the Pharisees.  Contrary to their orders, they did not have Jesus with them.

The Pharisees lashed out at the guards.  Then Nicodemus questioned their methods, saying that the Law requires them to hear Jesus’ side.  The Pharisees then lashed out at Nicodemus as well.

The Plot

Now come back to the next day.  The Pharisees have been brewing in their anger all night.  They’ve been plotting. 

Jesus is teaching again in the Temple courts… their temple, as far as they are concerned.  And when they come to Jesus, they bring a woman that they just happened to catch in adultery that day.  They didn’t bring the man, mind you.  Just the woman.

And they throw this woman before Him like a dog.  They make her stand there in front of all these people that Jesus was teaching.  They’re trying to prove something to Jesus’ audience, and trying to find a reason to accuse Him.  They want the people to stop following Jesus.  And they want Jesus dead.

They pose their question to Jesus.  What they wanted was for Jesus to say “Yes, the Law says to kill her so kill her.”  If He did then in their minds not only would it look like His message of mercy was tainted, but it would also give them Jesus’ own approval to kill in the name of the Law.  And they wanted to accuse Jesus of blasphemy, so they could kill Him.

Remember that the people were excitable.  It wasn’t exactly safe for the Pharisees to brave the crowds for the sake of killing Christ.  In the interest of self preservation, they needed the people on their side.

The Real Powerplay

It’s easy to look at this situation as just a convenient trap.  But this was a very deliberate and hate filled plot.  This was an attempt to catch Jesus in just the right place, at just the right time.

Proverbs 16:9 says:

 “A man’s mind plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. “

This confrontation was to be no exception.  These men planned and plotted death for Jesus, and were willing to kill this woman to do it.  But Jesus came to bring life.  With a wisdom far beyond their own, Jesus turns the tables.

He didn’t use a show of force.  He didn’t use a miracle.  He simply spoke.  And with His words, Christ spoke of the same message that they were trying to quiet.  A message of love, truth and mercy.

Not only did he speak His message of mercy, but He compelled the blood lusting Pharisees to follow it.  The Lord directed their steps. 

The Mistake

If only they knew the Law…

My Flesh, My Blood (John 6)

Jesus wasn’t a man chasing the status quo.  He sought God’s righteousness.  And some of the things He said didn’t sit very well with the fallen people around Him.

One crystal clear example of this is the second half of John 6, where Jesus makes a bold statement.  He says to the people that they must drink of His blood and eat of his flesh in order to receive life.

Now the Jews were a people who saw cannibalism as a sin.  And that’s certainly what it sounded like Jesus was teaching them.  But they should have known that He meant something else.  He left no question on whether He followed the Father’s will.

I don’t know what I would have thought had I lived back then and heard this for the first time.  I’m guessing it would have been hard.  But we see that his closest disciples at least understood that Jesus was the one they needed to cling to.  They knew Jesus would direct them in the path of God.

I like the way Rich Mullins talked about this in an article he wrote for Release Magazine back in ’96.  Here’s what he said…

The Communion of Saints

by Rich Mullins

Release Magazine September/October 1996 

 

 

In one of those especially poignant passages that so frequently and powerfully mark the gospels and charge them with the character of Christ, we encounter Jesus and His twelve in a moment of deep sorrow followed by a great flash of glory. (And does glory ever come except on the heels of sorrow?)

Jesus has just alienated many of His disciples by telling them that they must “eat (His) body” and “drink (His) blood.” This directive must have been even more startling to its original audience than to us. They did not hear it through the filter of some 1900 of systematizing theology contrived to intellectualize and cushion us against the blow of His outrageous command. They it head on and felt the full force of it and they were repulsed.

Here, Jesus, who was habitually pushing the margin of reason into the realms of faith, crossed the line. Here, He ventured too deeply into the uncharted territory of the kingdom of God, articulated too clearly the good, yet disturbing news of that kingdom, and called for an obedience too radically opposite the reasonable sensibilities of many disciples at that time. He called them to follow too far outside their well-defined comfort lines…and they ran away in disgust or stood paralyzed in terror as Jesus walked on – walked on into the blinding light of the liberating truth He had just spoken.

The twelve stayed with Him – maybe reluctantly, maybe for reasons that they didn’t know. But when Jesus asked that heartbreaking question, “Will you also leave Me?” it is Peter – the impetuous apostle – who gives us the secret to the hidden heart of discipleship:
“Where else can we go? You have the words of life!”
Peter may very well have been as perplexed over the point of Jesus’ teaching as those who abandoned Him, but he was not confused about the person Jesus. Peter might have misunderstood His methods and mission, but he was certain that Jesus was Messiah. He may have been in the dark about where he was going, but he knew that in Jesus there was light. He may have been scared nearly to death by the demands of discipleship, but he knew that in Jesus there was life. Just before this confession of his dependency on and the sufficiency of Jesus, he had sunk in the storm of intimidating waves and been rescued by the hand of a Master who knew his weakness and the shallowness of his faith (Matthew 14:22- 31).

There is much that we are intimidated by in our walk: doctrines that run counter to our cultures and egos, tasks that seem nearly insurmountable, the weakness of our wills and the seeming severity of God’s. We can get lost in the endless debates over the mechanics of Christianity and sink in the despondency of our powerlessness to grasp the mystery of grace, but in the midst of that, we must do what the writer to the Hebrews advised and what Peter did, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” It is He who calls us and He who enables. His body is our bread; His blood our drink. He has the words of life.

Gennao Anothen (John 3)

What does it mean to be born again?  Nicodemus, a teacher and leader amongst the Jews, couldn’t understand it.  Many today seem not to understand it.

We know from Romans 6 that it happens at baptism.  It’s clear that it is the beginning of a new way of life.  Completely new.  Jesus tells us in this passage that it is a thing of the spirit.  He goes on to talk about the necessity of believing in Him, even though men love the darkness.  He says that when we live in the truth we come into the light so that it may be plain to see that what we’ve done is only by God.

I find that I must pause and really consider if this describes me.  In so many ways people can point to my life and say “Look, it’s still the same old Cris.  He does as he pleases.”  In so many ways I fail to live anew.  Sometimes I fool myself by taking pride in the good works I’ve done.  Sometimes by emphasizing to myself that I have been baptised just like He told me to be.  But I must remember that it is His blood that makes those things of any worth.  And the application of that blood always begins with the truth of my sin.  Without Christ they are empty and in vain.

But I must believe that God will continue the good work He has started in me, and that He’ll see me through all the way.  I must believe that because the Bible says it.  And when I do take time to pause and look at my life, I find it is plain that God has done some amazing things in me.  It’s even plainer that it was only through God that I was able to do those things.  One doesn’t need to know too much about me, or anybody else for that matter, to see the need for God.  And when one accepts God, truly accepts Him and is born again, it will be plain that what they’ve done is through God.

So look at your own life, I ask you, and see if it is plain that God has worked through you.  Remember not to get proud, because if it is indeed plain that God has worked through you then you have nothing to boast about… Only God does. 

Is it plain that through God, and not through yourself, that you are Gennao Anothen?

Here’s a couple of videos from Andrew Peterson.  Watch them as you consider whether you are truly a new creation…