3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Easter


A website asked this question: “What have you sacrificed for love?” Some of the answers include:

“I sacrificed my autonomy. Because when you love someone, all the things that you do when you are single and is still not committed to someone will be compromised or be left behind like hanging out with friends, playing computer games and all the stuff that will demand time.”

“Money. Friends. Going places I loved to go. Self-esteem.”

“Self love.”

“Everything. I cease to care about myself but to care about the person I love.”

“I didn’t make any sacrifice but my parents did. They sacrificed all their time, happiness, hard-earned money for me and my sister.” (Quora.com)

The verb “sacrifice” means to surrender or give up something for the sake of something else. It is derived from the adjective “sacred,” so a sacrifice is an offering consecrated to God lovingly, not lightly.

What kind of sacrifice did Jesus make on the cross? Did He obtain material or physical benefits in return? Who was the sacrifice for? Why did Jesus offer a sacrifice at the cost of His own life?

Be Acquainted with the Shepherd

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.

More than 200 sheep have plunged to their deaths in the Pyrenees while apparently trying to escape a brown bear. The bears have been reintroduced to the mountain region over the past three decades after being wiped out by hunters. The sheep, which belonged to a farmer in Couflens, south-west France, are thought to have taken fright when the bear appeared in the area last Sunday.

After the predator attacked one of the sheep, 209 others in the flock panicked and hurled themselves off a 200 metre-high cliff on the border between France and Spain. The bodies of 169 sheep were found the next day at the foot of the cliff in the Spanish village of Lladorre. The other dead animals were found in France. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/bear-chases-200-sheep-over-cliff-edge-france-spain

Jesus is not just a shepherd, but a good shepherd; not just a good shepherd, He is “the” good shepherd – the only divine, dutiful and dependable Shepherd of our souls. In His discourse Jesus freely used the adjective “good” to portray its superior, surpassing and stirring quality, nature and benefit, including good fruit (Matt 3:10), good works (Matt 5:16), the good ground (Matt 13:23), the good seed (Matt 13:37), a good tree (Luke 6:43) and a good heart (Luke 8:15), but only “the good shepherd” comes with article “the,” and never “a.” Good can also mean morally honorable, noble and admirable, but in the comparative sense it not only means outstanding, but outlasting and overcoming. The Greek language has no “better” or “best” other than “good.” Good is a quality for excellence and eminence, with no equal or exaggeration.

A shepherd is not defined by the art or skill he hones but the animals or sheep he herds. The good shepherd places his life for the sheep. All versions except for KJV use “lays down” (tithemi) instead of KJV’s “give.” It means to sacrifice or place at risk, surrender or place his life, substitute or take the place.

The good shepherd is contrasted with the hired hand or hireling. The noun “hired” (misthotos) is from the word “hire” (misthos) for payment, compensation, reward, wages. The hireling is differentiated by three verbs – see, abandons/leaves and runs away/flees, and the wolf does two things – attacks and scatters. See is the wolf, leaves is the sheep, and flees is from the predator, prey and place. Leave is depart, but flee is disappear. The first is to be out of danger, and the second is to be out of sight.

The wolf, on the other hand, attacks/catch and scatters. The verb “catch” is translated as take by force (Matt 11:12), spoil (Matt 12:29), pluck (John 10:28) and pull (Jude 23). It means to snatch and seize. The second verb “scatters” (skorpizo) or “disperse” (2 Cor 9:9) is derived from an insect noun “skorpios” or scorpion. So the wolf not just disperses, but destroys, devours and decimates the flock.

The further indictment on the hireling is that he does not care (v 13) for the sheep, but for the salary. Care means interest, involvement and investment. The hireling has no relationship with the sheep, ownership of the flock or proprietorship in the animals.

Be Added to the Saved

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.

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