“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 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.” John 10:14-18
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In chapters 11-13 the prophet Zechariah told of a flock destined for slaughter because it had been tended by “foolish” shepherds, who were interested in their own gain rather than the well-being of the sheep.
Then the Lord anointed a shepherd to tend the flock. Under the care of this “good” shepherd the flock prospered, and the worthless shepherds were sent away. But the sheep traders became upset because they had lost the income that the flock was producing so they fired the good shepherd and when they paid him for all his good work, they only paid 30 pieces of silver. (The price of a common slave or the wages of a few days work.) The good shepherd then took this insulting sum and threw it into the house of the Lord – to the potter.
The good shepherd then broke the symbols of God’s favor and His unity with the community and pronounced judgement on the people who had disrespected the flock, foretelling that they would lament over the one whom they have pierced. At the same time, the Lord remembered His promise to David and promised to pour out grace and mercy on the faithful.
Every time I read Zechariah, I am struck by the many similarities between the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion and the vision of Zechariah half a millennium earlier. Once again demonstrating that God’s plan for sinful humanity was just waiting for the right time to be fulfilled. Jesus is truly the “good” shepherd of Zechariah’s vision and the authorities of Jesus’ day were “foolish” shepherds leading the flock to destruction.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, overwhelm us with Your love so that we can love others the way You love us. Amen.
I have been very nearsighted all of my life. I did not get eyeglasses until I was in the sixth grade and it was only then that I realized that it was not magic that allowed other children to read writing on the blackboard or to recognize friends from across the street. It did not help me hit a baseball but at least I could see what I was missing. Our Lenten series this year reflects on the many ways that people of that age viewed Jesus. Some people view Jesus with misjudging eyes. Others viewed him with betraying eyes some viewed him through tears and some by denying him. We will be looking at all of these, but during the Lenten season we should always remember that the goal is for us to learn to see clearly who Jesus really is.
We don’t need new eyeglasses in order to see Jesus clearly, but there are several things that can definitely be helpful. The first thing to do is to set aside some time each day for study and devotion using the devotion books that we have provided. Surprisingly you might even find that when you do that in Lent, it will persist into the rest of the year. Popular times to set aside are in the early morning or in the evening before bedtime. The important thing is to be disciplined and regular and so it is good to set a time that cannot easily be set aside because you are tired or because you have things to do that day. Therefore, I suggest that a good time is during the lunch hour.
Another very desirable habit would be to study the Scriptures each day and read the lessons in context. That is to read the story of Jesus from beginning to end in one of the Gospels rather than in the snippets that are provided in the devotion book. Very often we find it when we look at the story of Jesus as it unfolds we have insights that come more clearly than they do when we pick one section at a time.
And finally, a good practice is to discuss what you have been reading with fellow Christians. It is amazing how often other people’s perception of similar lessons can sharpen our understanding of what we have read and you will also be sharing the gospel.
With all of these tools at our disposal I think you will find that you will see Jesus much more clearly in your own eyes and you will have accomplished the purpose for which the lessons were designed. Join me as we learn to see Jesus clearly in this Lenten season.
Pastor George Smith
Read Pastor Abatelli's published article on Bible Study Tools page!