Summary: The knowledge of who God is should be reflected in the way we live.
I heard a story about two men who were asked to read Psalm 23. The first one, who was an orator, stood in front and started reading. He read with so much voice technicalities. As if you are listening to a drama on the radio. He knew when to pause, when to read faster, when to soften his voice and when to speak louder. In short, he read the passage really well. And the people gave him standing ovation when he finished.
Then came the second man’s turn. He stood in front and started reading. But unlike the first one, this man had no background in public speaking. He just read the passage calmly yet with deep emotions. After he read, no one applauded. Everyone was just silent and in deep meditation.
After a short while of silence, the first man stood up again and said, “Do you know how the two of us differ? I… I know the Psalm, but he… he knows the Shepherd.”
[PAUSE FOR A FEW MOMENTS AND PRAY]
I know a certain pastor. And to many of us, pastors are the ones who are well versed with the Bible, the ones who use the Word of God to encourage people, the ones who stand strong even in the midst of trials, the ones who have a very strong faith, or the ones who would never give up on life.
But I found out that this pastor that I know of, recently thought of actually giving up because of the overwhelming trials. This pastor came to a point when, yes, the Bible was still an everyday companion, but unlike before, the words became empty and lifeless when this pastor reads it.
Our passage today talks about the Good Shepherd. And I would like all of us to reflect and ask ourselves, “Do we know the Good Shepherd?”
One way to find out if we really do know the Good Shepherd is to assess our own lives. Does it reflect who the Good Shepherd is? That we do not only know Him in our heads. And that we do not only say that the Good Shepherd is Jesus and He is the second member of the Trinity that is why the Good Shepherd is God. But more like, can our lives actually be a living definition of who the Good Shepherd is?
So, in today’s passage, what characteristics of the Good Shepherd can we see? And in response to these characteristics, how do we see our lives, if we are claiming that we are one of the sheep, the one who are believing in the Lord Jesus Christ?
1. SHEPHERD: SELFLESS
Firstly, the Good Shepherd has the characteristic of selflessness.
According to what I have read about sheep, many are saying that sheep are prone to danger. They do not have the capacity and the ability to defend themselves from wild animals who would come to attack them. They are helpless. So, a shepherd, who is good, will never let his sheep get attacked by stronger animals. He would rather get hurt or even be killed for the sake of his sheep.
Just as like how humankind was on the verge of death because of our bondage to sin. If there is no one to defend us or no one selfless enough to sacrifice for us, the danger would surely come chasing us.
The Good Shepherd claimed these words three times saying, “…I lay down my life for the sheep.” Just as how Jesus selflessly sacrificed His life for us sinners. And that is not because we did something worthy of His death. But only because He is Good. He selflessly sacrificed for our salvation.
Can we see how selfless he is? The shepherd’s sheep can never pay him with anything in return. But still, because he is good, he was willing to lay down his life for them.
Now, what does this characteristic of the Good Shepherd mean for the sheep? Because of the selflessness of the shepherd, the sheep can have hope.
Those who are claiming to know the Good Shepherd should reflect a life full of hope. Hope for what?
a. Hope that through Jesus’ selflessness, those who will believe in Him will have a life eternal. And…
b. Hope that whatever hardships and pain you are going through in this world right now. They will end when Jesus Christ comes again. And this is a promise. Unlike humans, He certainly keeps His promise. That is why He rose again from the dead because He will come again.
So, do we see ourselves living with so much hope despite the pain, the sufferings or even having a tiring life to live? Do we sometimes forget, when we are overwhelmed by this world’s chaos, that Jesus Christ died and rose again on the third day? That He selflessly sacrificed His life to bring about salvation to humankind… Do we only feel hopeful during the Lent and Easter season? Does our hope fade away after the season passes? Friends, how true is Jesus’ death to you? How true is Jesus’ resurrection to you?