Monday, December 8, 2014

Solus Christus: The Good Shepherd

Yesterday we looked at Christ as the King. He’s the King from the line of David that God promised to establish forever, but His kingship is far beyond any ideas we might have of kingship. He’s the King of the universe and the King of believers’ lives. While thinking of Him as King, let’s not imprint on Him what this world has done with kingship. Let’s not identify Him with the dictatorial, self-serving, narcissistic kings the world has seen come and go through the ages. He is King and as King He’s the sovereign Lord, but He’s also the good Shepherd:
9 Go on up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
    lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. (Is. 40:9-11)
Isaiah goes on in this passage to describe Him as the sovereign Creator and sovereign Ruler of the universe, but those are both within the context of Christ as the good Shepherd who “will gather the lambs in his arms” and “will carry them in his bosom.”

When Christians hurt—when life knocks us over and then kicks us while we’re down—we often ask two basic questions: “Can Jesus take care of this mess that I call a life?” and “If He can, does He actually care enough to do it?” Being the sovereign Creator and Ruler of this universe means that of course Jesus can take care of this mess that we call our lives, but that’s little comfort if we don’t know for certain that He actually cares enough to do it. But, Isaiah’s words above remind us that of course He cares—He’s our Shepherd. Indeed, He Himself tells us that He’s the good Shepherd:
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd…. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (Jn. 10:11-15)
The sovereign Lord whom God the Father appointed to be born of a virgin and whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, is the good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep. Isaiah tells us that the same God who is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of this universe—who “comes with might and his arm rules for him” —is also the sovereign Shepherd who gathers His beloved lambs and tenderly holds them close to His chest. The same mighty arm that rules this universe and brings princes, kings, and presidents to nothing: that same arm gently lifts the hurting lamb and lovingly leads the bewildered sheep. Can He deal with this mess? Absolutely, for He’s the sovereign Lord. Does He care enough to do so? Of course, for He’s the good Shepherd.

On this day of Advent remember the baby born in Bethlehem who is our kingour prophetour high priest, and the world’s righteous judge, is also the good Shepherd. Remember that He loves His sheep like you and me. Indeed, He loves His sheep so much that He became one of them and laid down His life for their salvation. What other king would do that for his people? None but Jesus. Go to Him with your pain, your problems, your sins, and your needs. He won’t turn you away. He won’t tell you to suck it up and deal with the pain. He won’t tell you your problem is too small or insignificant. He won’t tell your sins are too big or atrocious. He won’t tell you that your need is too trivial for His attention. He’ll gather you in His arms and hold you close to His chest. He’ll love you with an intense love. I know this to be true because He laid down His life for His sheep and there is no greater love than that.

By His Grace,

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