Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whit-Tuesday: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 32:14-20 For the palace will be forsaken. The populous city will be deserted. The hill and the watchtower will be for dens forever, a delight for wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is considered a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness; and righteousness will remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in a peaceful habitation, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Though hail flattens the forest, and the city is leveled completely. Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out the feet of the ox and the donkey.

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

John 10:1-10 “Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.” Jesus spoke this parable to them, but they didn’t understand what he was telling them. Jesus therefore said to them again, “Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

Banish all the sentimental pictures from your head. We are not fluffy, cute, little sheep wandering calmly through the meadow. We are fat and ugly sheep stained with sin and unrighteousness, surrounded by sheep thieves. But Christ has marked us as His own in the waters of holy baptism and so we know His voice. Do not listen to the other voices that call to you and promise an easier or better way. They're only trying to kill you. Do not listen to the guy with the Jesus mask. Do not listen to the guy who claims to bring you the words of Christ but brings his own concerns. Do not listen to the more attractive shepherds that promise you health, wealth, and success but they only bring death. Do not trust in the shepherds who are pointing you to your own works and life principles. Your own work only leads to death.

Jesus is your Shepherd. Jesus identifies Himself as God Himself by identifying Himself as the Shepherd of Psalm 23. The Lord is your Shepherd. Jesus is the Door. These are not mere metaphors. Jesus really is the Shepherd. Jesus is the true Door. All earthly doors and shepherds are mere shadows of Him. All other doors and all other paths lead to death. Jesus brings us life abundantly. By all earthly standards, the path of Jesus appears to be the path of death. He was crucified and many have been killed for being His sheep. But true life only comes by being united to Jesus in His death. True life only comes by being drowned in the waters of holy baptism and being united to Jesus. Jesus guides, guards, and protects us. Jesus lays down His life for us. Jesus is the only true Shepherd.


X said...

Would it be right to say that Sheep don't do any labor. Their only value to humans is in their death (skins, meat). ??

Chuck Wiese said...

I think so. They might be able to help their fellow sheep out from time to time as they nurse the baby sheep but nothing that they do will make the shepherd any better.