Home » Sunday: Divine Self-Sacrificing Shepherd    


Sunday: Divine Self-Sacrificing Shepherd — 19 Comments

  1. Last week's lesson highlighted how weak we humans are and how dependent we are upon God for wisdom and everything else. And also how God is trying to mature us through trials and tests into being a mature Christian, lacking nothing (James 1:4). So here's a question. Once we do reach spiritual maturity, once our faith in Jesus is complete and perfect, never faltering or wavering, will we still be weak? Will we still be sheep in need of a shepherd?

    I thought of this question after I read what I see as an answer in today's lesson. Hebrews 13:20-21 KJV calls Jesus the "Great Shepherd of the sheep" AFTER pointing out that He rose from the dead. After He rose from the dead, He is "working in us that which is pleasing in His sight."

    Some context... we know that Jesus had a human nature that needed to grow in wisdom (Luke 2:52) and that He was perfected through His sufferings and death (Heb. 2:10). So if Jesus rose from the dead fully matured through His sufferings and is still called our Good Shepherd, I'm thinking that the matching counterpart is that when we rise up from the death of self as new creatures in Him, we will still always need our Good Shepherd and we will always be His sheep. By God's design and the way we were created, we will always be needy for Jesus. We will always be dependent upon Him.

    Yesterday, the sermon I heard at church was all about John 15 and how we are only able to bear the beautiful, tasty Fruits of the Spirit when we are abiding/staying in Jesus. If we are cut off, no more fruit production. Love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other fruits listed in Gal.5:22-23 are things that burst forth naturally in a new creature (Gal. 5:24 NIV; 6:15) in Jesus who is maturing and matured. They are not things to work at. (I used to. I used to try to focus on one fruit at a time and try to make that fruit appear in my mannerisms. But I learned that I can no more "be loving" or "be joyful" by working at it, than the children of Israel could obey the commandments on their own power: Ex.19:7-8; 32:1,7-8).

    So, what I see in Scripture is that even when we enter heaven in glorified bodies and cleansed from sin and not sinning anymore...the reason we are not sinning anymore is not that we have become strong enough to be independent of help from Jesus, but that we have become strong in staying fully dependent upon Jesus. We will always be His sheep and in need for Him to be our Great Shepherd. And we will be happy to be His sheep and to follow Him as our only hope. Heb. 13:20 tells us that it is Jesus that equips us with everything good to do His will. It's not a one-and-done equipping, but a living relationship like a branch on a tree. It's an everlasting covenant or agreement (Jer. 32:40). We won't become unbelievers again because He will be alive in our hearts and minds. Heb. 13:21 says that He will be the One getting the glory "forever and ever". We get the care, He gets the credit. Some more texts to support this encouraging vision of Jesus as our Shepherd forever are 1 Peter 5:4 and Rev. 7:16-17.

  2. Growing up on a sheep farm, Psalm 23 wasn't just words on a page. It was a living experience. With my grandfather as the shepherd and me as his apprentice, I learned not only about sheep but also about life. Just like Moses, shepherding became a stepping stone to something larger.

    Even now, those familiar verses transport me back to chilly spring mornings. Lush New Zealand fields dotted with white sheep, each ewe with her newborn lambs. Grandpa knew them all. He'd scan the paddock, saying, "Missing the old biddy with the bent ear!" and we'd search until we found her.

    He taught me everything from spotting a sore foot, to assisting with lambing, and even to making the difficult call of ending suffering. While we often connect Psalm 23 with Jesus, it also reminds me of something crucial: in a world that may not see Jesus, we can be the shepherds.

    This is a challenging but vital truth. Reread Psalm 23 as a call to action, a reminder of our own responsibility to guide and care for others, just like the shepherd for his flock. Even those without firsthand experience with sheep can still grasp the essence: our relationship with others matters deeply.

    • From a former sheep-shearer--Great uptake on sheeping, Maurice. Captioning the words "shall follow me" in my Bible, I found this scrawled in its margin: "The original verb is much stronger, and the text should read: '. . . goodness and mercy and unfailing love will pursue me . . .'"

  3. The intimate relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is so deep in a sense that an inseparable bond is durable in terms of security. On the other hand, shepherding that requires a constant monitoring and holistic service to the sheep is not an option. The sheep is totally dependent on the Shepherd. Unless a sheep is without a genuine shepherd, then it is vulnerable and lost to a world without compassion and empathy.

  4. Some people find it hard to think of themselves as sheep. These poor animals have got a bad rap: stupid, docile, and incapable of thinking for themselves. In fact, because of the deep disdain in which sheep and held, people perceived to behave like them gave birth to the portmanteau 'sheeple'. Nobody I know wants to be classified as such. But, truth be told, that's not the whole story. We humans are not as independent as we would want to feel. And as Christians we know from first hand experience that trying to get along without an acknowledged dependence on God never ends well.
    Remember, God does not see as man does. In His eyes, higher order behaviour recognizes our limitations and accepts His guidance and protection. You see, most times the humans whom other people follow don't even care about them so they cannot be authentic shepherds. Our Shepherd, on the other hand, values us so much that He would take a bullet for us...just like that. Plus He never ever leads us astray and has no ulterior motivation for being good to us; He just loves us pure and simple. Why would I not want to follow such a Shepherd?

  5. In this life we will never attain to true perfection because of our sinful nature, Psalm 51:5. However, Matt 5:48 says that we should be perfect even as our father in heaven is perfect. So, how is this possible? Jude 24 says that, "He is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless..." Perfection in God's sight is total dependence on God. We cannot gain it on our own. However, we would still be susceptible to sin. That is why Jesus's second coming will concurrently transform us from mortal to immortality and from corruption to incorruption. At that point we will be like Adam, before he sinned. This is God's goal for us.

    • Thanks for the nutshell version of a difficult-to-grasp concept. Still, I struggle with the notion,according to what I've read (Ben Tupper would have said, "redd!)--that our characters will not be transformed . . . giving me pause, in light of how often I must repent for some dumb thing I've done (again!).

  6. Having Jesus as a guide is a privilege of choice. We can choose Him, or anything we think is more important. But we will never be disappointed when we decide for Him. Besides, He owns the Universe; why would I choose otherwise?

    • Amen to this: He owns the Universe, this Earth and all life in it, Plant animal and human. Therefore He owns me too. And in His Son Jesus He took me back and now owns me as a rescued lamb of His----Amen, and Amen to this and Hallelujah!

  7. It is only when it is "sin" that we have to repent and this will be also "often" too. But who is to say when something we do and even "often" that it is also "dumb?" It is only when what do, and even "often," but it is only when it is a "worldly wise thing," that it is only and also "a dumb thing." But "sin" is way more than just "dumb" it is a "deadly thing." But even this can be covered by Jesus spilled blood 2,000 plus or minus years ago as soon as we, by faith, claim that flawless, sinless, righteous, and holy spilled blood by faith! And this too and for most if not all of us will be also something we need to do "often," and possibly for our entire life here on this earth.

  8. When you are holy/perfect in our fallen nature,you are not ready to sin even in secret. You feel bad when you sin.You regret and repent and confess.You will not continue in that sin anymore.You are alert.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>