Of all the battles you will ever face in life the hardest will be the one to become sure of who you are. You may disagree now but no one on their death bed would. At the end of your life it will not be what you own, or even what you have done, but who you are which will define your dying breaths.
Everything you do and all that you acquire in life come out of who you are. Ignore that and you just become an actor and a collector. You play a part and you accumulate things but you do not really live.
Can you imagine how hard it was for a man in his early thirties to announce that everything that those listening to him believed about their God applied to him?
Listen to five words. I-AM-THE-GOOD-SHEPHERD. The Jews believed God was and is the Great I AM. They had read David’s 23rd Psalm describing the Lord as Shepherd. They believed no one was good but God himself.
The Son of Man did not say he was a shepherd but the Shepherd – and the Good Shepherd. Three or perhaps four times in five words he is announcing that he, a real human-being, is also God among them.
It’s easy from this century to miss his impact, no wonder they were divided. It’s also easy to miss the breadth of his words.
These pieces are about work. The Son of Man takes hold of a well-known job title as well as a God title to wake people up. We will come back to this in another piece.
Right now I want to invite you to realize that he had already battled with wolves before he could say these five words.
Here is something you already know. You can’t teach before you learn. You can’t lead if you’re out of control. You can’t protect if you are powerless.
The Son of Man describes his shepherding style as protective. The Good Shepherd fights off wolves to protect. Here’s the point. He has had to fight against wolves of doubt, fear, discouragement, misunderstanding and resentment. Jesus did not fight on literal battle fields with swords or chariots; he was the Prince of Peace. But his battles were with all the forces which wanted him to miss the point of his life and the discovery of his identity.
The reason this good shepherd can shepherd you is because he has first shepherded himself. He can guard you against the packs of wolves which will want to destroy your life, deflect you from your purpose and deceive you about who you are, because he has already done that for himself.
From the moment you met him and before, to the last breaths on earth and beyond this shepherd will not abandon you. No matter what you face he will not run away.
What does this mean this week? Become conscious of your sacred quest to find your identity. Don’t just live day to day, rather grasp the meaning of the days and travel as an explorer learning who you are at the deepest level.
The Son of Man found his five words, don’t you think he wants you to find yours?
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
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