The time has come for the Shepherd to lay down His life for all the sheep.
The Parable of Joy
by Michael Card
My name, Rachael, means female ewe. A mama sheep, that's who I am. I identify with those bumbling creatures, afraid of their own shadows sometimes and capable of following their own noses off a cliff. We, the sheep and I, are creatures with an intrinsic need for a Shepherd.
A Good Shepherd.
A Shepherd who knows those in His care and calls them by name. A Shepherd who protects. One whose presence and voice bring comfort through the dark nights.
A real shepherd will actually lie down in the gap of the sheepfold at night making himself the door for the sheep.
This Good Friday I am reminded that the time has come for the Shepherd to lay down His life for His sheep making Himself a Door for the salvation of many.
Throughout Lent I have studied the relationship that Jesus had with his disciples. They were the ones who first believed, who leaned in close and listened to his voice wanting to hear more. They witnessed his miracles, sat at his feet and ate with Him. He fed them, served them and taught them how to love each other. In Jesus' last discourse around the Passover table He confused the disciples with talk of leaving to go prepare a place for them. Their greatest desire was to continue following Jesus but they did not know where he was going. However, Jesus insisted that they knew the way. After giving up everything to follow him they must have felt like he was about to abandon them. The comfort that Jesus' presence provided was about to be ripped away. But not without a promise.
But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.
Despite their best intentions that is what the disciples were about to do . . . scatter.
The ministry of Jesus here on earth was coming to a halt and instead of standing strong they ran for safety.
This is real life stuff. That is what we do.
The disciples were in a transition period Jesus, the one they followed was about to be taken into custody, accused and crucified. They did not do well with the transition. Can you blame them?
When we take our eyes off the Good Shepherd we do not do well either. Transitions of life cause us to run for safety, deserting our posts of ministry. We deny our purpose and withhold ourselves from each other becoming stingy with the blessings of Christ in our individual lives. We focus on the wrong shepherd and feel abandoned and confused
Even though Jesus was not going to be with the disciples in the flesh he commanded them to love one another. He showed them how to serve one another. He gave them the promise of comfort through the Holy spirit and the gift of peace.
He did all that for us too. We are now the disciples living out the legacy of Christ in our homes, at work and within the body of Christ. But lately we have listened to the voice of fear instead of the voice of God. We have been like the pharisees refusing to believe the miracles of God that are happening right before our eyes, always waiting for more proof that God is moving in our midst
This Easter we will all go to church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ right smack in the middle of a real life transition. Jesus' death and resurrection mean salvation for those who believe but it was also an example of sacrifice. An example of laying down ones life for another.
Let's celebrate that too and honor the Good Shepherd by living out that example as well as the commandments he left for us to follow and accept the gifts of peace and comfort moving through uneasy transitions.
Thomas said to Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how would we be able to know the way?"
I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life," Jesus said.
Together let us live that Way remembering the purpose of the ministry He was called us to as disciples listening to voice of the One whom we know to be the Good Shepherd.