Alex Enabnit – Programming Coordinator
This weekend we continued our summer series, “1×8,” exploring the eight “I Am” statements of Jesus from the Book of John. Today’s statement comes from John 10 – “I am the good shepherd.”
You may be familiar with the image of Jesus as a shepherd, either from paintings of Him holding sheep or being in church for a while, but one thing we lack is the context of this image. In our modern, relatively shepherd-free civilization, we don’t really have a strong opinion about them one way or another, but to Jesus’ Hebrew listeners, there would have been an immediate reaction to this statement.
In the message, Jeremy walked us through history to show us, as surprising as this may be, that shepherds actually earned quite a bad reputation over the years. Their image degraded so much that laws were passed, one stating that items for sale by a hired shepherd should be assumed to have been stolen, and another even suggesting that nobody should feel obligated to help a shepherd who has fallen into a pit.
I’m sure you’re wondering by now why Jesus would even associate Himself with this image. Here’s the big idea: In Jesus, what we actually see shatters what we expected to see. Jesus is redeeming the image of a shepherd and turning it on its head. He is intentionally using a flawed image to show the contrast of His goodness.
So what is our response to the Good Shepherd?
Trust Him. It isn’t hard to trust Jesus when times are good, but we need to trust Him through the bad times as well.
Follow Him. We may not always know the destination, but Jesus continually shows us the direction. Are you listening for His voice?
Verses and quotes from the message:
John 10:11-16; Genesis 4:2b; Genesis 46:31-34; 2 Samuel 7:8; Zephaniah 2:5b-6; Amos 7:14-15; Ezekiel 34:1-6; Psalm 23:1-6
“The rabbis ask with amazement how, in view of the despicable nature of shepherds, one can explain why God was called ‘my shepherd’ in Psalm 23:1.” Dr. Joachim Jeremias
“The dryness of the ground made it necessary for the flocks of sheep and cattle to move about during the rainless summer and to stay for months at a time in isolated areas, far from the owner’s home. Hence, herding sheep was an independent and responsible job; indeed, in view of the threat of wild beasts and robbers, it could even be dangerous. Sometimes the owner himself or his sons did the job. But usually it was done by hired shepherds, who only too often did not justify the confidence reposed in them.” Dr. Joachim Jeremias
“We cannot read the Bible as we would a cookbook, giving equal weight to everything it teaches. We should rather read it like a novel in which the final chapter forces us to rethink everything that preceded it. More specifically… we should read the Old Testament through the lens of the revelation of God in Christ, and especially through the lens of the cross, which sums up everything Jesus was about.” Greg Boyd, Benefit of the Doubt