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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Good Shepherd – Part 5

        “I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:15b Previously, Jesus said in the parable of the good shepherd vs false shepherd that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Now Jesus personalizes this saying “I lay down my life for the sheep” making it clear that He is the Good Shepherd. Jesus will soon lay down His life at the cross for the whole world. The eternal plan of the Father was for Jesus to lay down His life for the sheep. Jesus willingly did this out of His love for the Father and for humanity who were originally made in the image and likeness of God. His self-sacrifice motivated by love not only saves us, but also leads us into the green pastures of His Word by His Spirit to recreate us into the image and likeness of God once again. As we allow the Spirit and Word to take root in us by doing it, we are day by day conformed into His image. Our Good Shepherd will lead us to the path of righteousness and love.
The love of the Father is fully manifested in the Son laying down His life and taking it up again in His resurrection. He had the authority of the Father to do this. Jesus said in John 10:17-18, “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.”  While Jesus walked the earth in His flesh body, He had all authority given Him by God. They were One – equal in power and authority because they are both God and holy. Jesus raised Himself from earthly death to eternal, spiritual life restoring Himself back to His original place with the Heavenly Father.

Other 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.”
            While Jesus walked the earth, He focused His ministry on the “house of Israel.” He came to the Jew first because God had chosen the Jews to be His light to the world. Obviously, they were human just like those in the church, and didn’t do it perfectly which is why God had to reproduce to send His holy and perfectly obedient Son to save all – both Jews and Gentiles. The other sheep Jesus is referring to are the Gentiles – all other nations, tribes and people. The “sheep pen” represents the Jews. After Pentecost, Jesus’ Jewish disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit took the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. There had been many gentiles throughout the ages converted to Judaism. In Christ, however, all – both Jews and Gentiles – must believe in Jesus to become “one new man (body)” (see Ephesians 2:15) in Him. In Ezekiel 37:17-19, God showed this uniting to the prophet Ezekiel using Judah and Israel. The Lord uses the “natural” to teach “spiritual” truth. God honored the Jews despite their imperfection by sending Jesus to earth through a Jewish virgin. What the Jews and the Law couldn’t do for God’s people, Jesus did!
Like the earthly sheep pen Jesus was using to teach spiritual truth, there were many folds led by different shepherds but were one flock. This is true in the spiritual as well. There are many folds, but only one flock (Body) with One Holy and Perfect Shepherd – Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd and the Great Shepherd. (see 1 Peter 5:4: Hebrews 13:20)

          At these words, the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to Him?” John 10:19
            But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open blind eyes?”v20
            Jesus did not withhold the Truth. He spoke only Truth to them. Some Jews believed in Jesus and some did not. This is nothing new. There are those today and throughout the ages who believe in Jesus and His Truth, and those who don’t.

Feast of Dedication

         Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. John 10:22-23
            This Feast is also known as the Festival of Lights (Hanukah). This Feast of Dedication celebrated the re-cleansing of the Temple and its re-dedication to the Lord. The king of Syria had desecrated the temple by turning it into a house of prostitution and didn’t allow the Jews to circumcise their male babies or possess a copy of the law. Instead the Syrians sacrificed pigs on the altar and sold the Jews into slavery. This evil king oppressed the Jews in every way even putting many to death. He also tried to abolish Jewish worship. A group of Jews referred to as the Maccabees who were willing to fight for their country and their religion took control of Judea from the king of Syria. They purified the temple and lit the 7-branched candlestick but only 1 cruse of pure oil could be found to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, God let that one cruse of pure, consecrated oil last 8 days – the length of the feast—until new oil could be prepared as God directed. This oil had to also be consecrated by the High Priest. Jesus, the Light of the world and the Supreme High Priest, would eventually pour out the eternal oil of the Holy Spirit to keep His spiritual light and fire burning within us forever. The oil of the Holy Spirit will also defeat the spiritual enemy of God's people. Jesus is walking in the temple down Solomon’s colonnade (porch).  The Living Temple of God not made by human hands was walking in the earthly temple made by human hands in Jerusalem. Solomon means "peace." Jesus is the the eternal King of peace.
         John in this scripture said that it was winter, so Jesus is walking through Solomon’s covered colonnade to be sheltered from the weather. Solomon’s colonnade is on the eastern side of the temple by the outer court. Jesus is our shelter from the storm.He never leaves or forsakes us.
            During this Feast, Jerusalem and the temple were illuminated by large menorahs, and lights were in every house. God’s holy city was full of light. These lights reminded the Jews of God’s provision of oil for the great 7-branched menorah. Seven is the number of perfection/completion. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.”  He is the perfect and full Light. Jesus is giving the perfect Light of truth to His audience. It was the Word of God that brought light in Genesis. It is the Word of God – Jesus – who is giving the Light of truth in the Gospels. With Jesus and His Word in our hearts, we become the Light of the world whether Jew or Gentile. God is no respecter of persons!

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