The Good Sheperd
Just over a week ago, things were relatively normal. For the most part, it was life as usual here in KC. Since then so much has changed. That being said, the most important things haven’t changed a bit, and my hope is for us to meditate on those beautiful unchanging realities in the wake of this pandemic.
As I record this sermon, I’ll be honest, it feels so weird. I’ve never preached to an empty room. It means there’s no one to laugh at my joke, but if we’re honest, that’s no different than normal. HA!
For some sort of constancy, I wore a blue shirt just to make it feel like old times. If you know, you know! HA!
I miss my Twenty-Somethings family and can’t wait to be with you all again singing God’s praises and talking about His goodness in our lives. I love you all, I’m praying for you every day, and can’t wait to see you again soon.
Let me pray and then we’ll dive in.
God thank you for who you are. Thank you that you are our peace. Thank you that you are in control. Thank you for the technology that allows us to connect and hear from your Word, even if we can’t gather together. Help remind me that even though I preach to an empty room, just like any other time I preach, I ultimately just have an audience of One. Help me to teach your Word faithfully. Help me to help people see the hope we have in You. Thank you for sending your Son for us, that we might be saved. It’s in His name we pray, Amen.
Have you ever been led astray? Or have you ever been on a road trip or a drive with someone who clearly didn’t know the right way.
Thomas Driving Story
Thomas Driving Story
Once, right after my friends and I had turned 16 and had started driving, several of us rode together up to the WalMart by PV to get some ping pong balls to play extreme pong at the church. After we bought the ping pong balls, the guy driving, also a new driver, thought he would take a different route to church from the store. Instead of going towards the church, he got on I-35 North. The problem was that he had never taken that route and so he missed the exit to get to the church. No big deal, right? We all make mistakes. Just get off on the next exit and turn around to get on I-35 South and you’d be fine, right? Yes, but the issue is that the guy driving didn’t know you could do that. He had never been taught, or he forgot, that you could get off on an exit ramp to turn around and get back on the highway going the opposite direction. Since he didn’t know you could do that, we just kept going north. And kept going north, and kept going north, and kept going north. Despite all of our pleading with him that he should get off at the next exit and turn around, he didn’t believe the rest of us in the car. We were well on our way to Des Moines before he finally got off on an exit ramp and turned around. What should’ve been a 10-15 minute trip turned into a detour that lasted almost an hour.
Sometimes being led astray is less innocent and humorous and instead it’s more sinister.
We see a picture of this in my favorite movie series of all time, the Lord of the Rings. And if you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings, God just gave you 8 weeks to have a Lord of the Rings marathon, extended editions only.
In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam are on a journey to take the Ring of Power to Mordor and destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom. These two Hobbits have hardly been out of their home, the Shire, let alone across to the other side of the known world in Middle Earth. As they stumble across their journey after separating from the team called the Fellowship that was helping them, they quickly realize they don’t know their way very well. Soon they realize they’re being followed and confront the strange creature Gollum who had been tracking them. Instead of taking him out, they charge him to show them the way to Mordor. Gollum often acts as if he is trying to be compliant and trying to help them, but in reality, Gollum wants to keep the ring of power for himself. While he shows them the way to Mordor, he never intends to take them to Mount Doom. From the beginning, Gollum planned to deceive them for his own gain so he could take the Ring of Power, even though to Frodo’s eyes, Gollum was leading them the right way.
The guides we have in life are so important and determine so much about our safety, security, and well-being. A false guide will lead us astray, but a good guide will lead us to flourish.
Tonight, we’re going to be talking about what Jesus has to say to the guides in his day. If you have your bibles, turn or tap with me to John chapter 10. John chapter 10. We’ll be looking at both chapter 10 and chapter 11 tonight.
As with other weeks, in our Gospel of John series, there’s too much in these two chapters to read through every single verse, but over the course of our time together tonight, I think we’ll get a feel for what both chapters have to say together.
As you’re turning to John chapter 10, let me give you a brief overview of what’s been going on up to this point. In chapter 9, Jesus heals a blind man on the Sabbath and then the man’s neighbors bring the man to the Pharisees who eventually cast him out. After the man speaks with the Pharisees, Jesus talks with the man again. This is is how the very end of John 9 explains the interaction:
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”- John 9:35-41
The Pharisees’ response to Jesus leads us to our passage tonight starting in verse 1 of chapter 10. We’re going to see Jesus address the most prominent guides in his day, namely the Pharisees, by using the example of another kind of guide in his day, shepherds. Let’s dive into the first 13 verses!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy….Now skip to verse 12...He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
Jesus and the False Shepherds
Jesus and the False Shepherds
So what can we glean from this passage? Like we said earlier, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees, the primary guides or shepherds of his day by using the example of actual shepherds. The Pharisees would have been prominent leaders and many would have followed them. The Pharisees were the appointed guides or shepherds in that day and Jesus has many words for them. In many ways, Jesus is showing the Pharisees, and us, the difference between good and bad shepherds. So that’s going to be our focus tonight. We’re going to see the difference between good and bad shepherds, and what that meant for the Pharisees then and what it means for us now amidst a tumultuous time in our world 2000 years later.
Let’s begin by seeing what Jesus has to say about false shepherds.
Jesus is clearly addressing the Pharisees as the false shepherds in this scenario. So what does he say the false shepherds are like?
What Are False Shepherds Like?
What Are False Shepherds Like?
In verse 1, we see that false shepherds “do not enter the sheepfold by the door but climb in by another way.”
Jesus goes so far as to say that those folks, those false shepherds are “thieves and robbers.”
Next, in verse 5, Jesus says that the sheep will not follow a stranger “but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
In verse 10, Jesus says that thieves, or false shepherds, come only to “steal, kill, and destroy.”
Finally, in verses 12 and 13 Jesus says that hired hands (who are false shepherds) do not own the sheep and therefore when they “see the wolf coming [they] leave the sheep and flee, and the wolf snatches [up the sheep] and scatters them. [The hired hand or false shepherd] flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
So to sum up what a false shepherd is like, they...
Are thieves and robbers who “do not enter the sheepfold by the door but climb in by another way.”
Next, Jesus says that God’s sheep won’t follow false shepherds because those sheep don’t recognize the voice of the false shepherd.
Jesus says that false shepherds come to “steal, kill, and destroy.”
Finally, Jesus says that false shepherds flee when they see danger coming. False shepherds won’t defend the sheep.
The Pharisees fulfill all of these things. They are supposed to be faithfully shepherding God’s sheep, the people of Israel. Yet instead of leading God’s sheep to God, they have been leading the people astray. They’ve strayed from the intent of God’s laws and commands and have so missed the point in their religiosity and sin that in John 5:39 and 40, Jesus tells the very people who are supposed to shepherd God’s sheep that they wouldn’t even recognize God if they saw him, especially since God himself was standing right before them.
Jesus and the Good Shepherds
Jesus and the Good Shepherds
So what about good shepherds? What does Jesus have to say about them?
Jesus’s Description of the Good Shepherds
Jesus’s Description of the Good Shepherds
In verses 2 and 3, Jesus says that good shepherds enter the right way, by the door, and that the gatekeeper recognizes them.
Jesus goes on to say in verse 3 that the sheep hear the voice, they recognize him and the good shepherd calls them each by name, leading them out in the right way.
These shepherds, the good shepherds, love their sheep. They know each of their sheep by name and the gatekeeper recognizes them.
And notice that Jesus doesn’t just tell us about the shepherds, but he also tells us about the door of the sheepfold itself. Sheepfolds were structures, fenced areas, that the shepherds would take their sheep back to at the end of the day where they could rest in peace. Often times, local villages would have sheepfolds or sheep pens that shepherds could use to take their sheep back to. And these sheepfolds had doors that shepherds would take their sheep through to enter into safety and nourishment in the sheepfold.
In verse 7, Jesus says that He Himself is the door the sheep go through. He is the way that the sheep, God’s sheep enter into the safety and nourishment of God’s sheep pen.
We see a beautiful echo of this in Jesus’s words in John 14:6 when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Good shepherds lead people to Jesus, who is the way we enter into God’s rest and refreshment.
And only sheep following those good shepherds will enter through the door that is Jesus so they can experience God’s rest and peace.
The Pharisees were supposed to be pointing God’s people to Jesus, the coming Messiah, but instead, they were leading God’s people astray and trying to kill the very Messiah they were supposed to cherish.
The appointed shepherds of God’s people were not good, but false and they were leading people away from God. And this was not a new problem. In Ezekiel 34, God through the prophet Ezekiel thunders against the false shepherds by saying, ““Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.”- Ezekiel 34:1-6
The false shepherds were not protecting the sheep. They were abusing them, leading them astray, and instead of feeding the sheep they were just feeding themselves. The false shepherds were harsh with God’s sheep and didn’t care for them. Because of that, God’s sheep were scattered all over and were being slaughtered by wild beasts and enemies.
This prophecy in Ezekiel is a clear picture of what the Pharisees were doing to God’s sheep in Jesus’s day.
God’s people needed good shepherds. They needed people to point them back to God and lead them to safety and security in God. That was true then and it’s true for you and I now.
The Sheep Hear His Voice
The Sheep Hear His Voice
Now I want to point something else out about the good shepherds. Notice that Jesus says in John 10:3 that God’s sheep hear and recognize the voice of the good shepherds.
What is it about their voice that God’s sheep recognize? Was it something about the particular good shepherd’s voice that the sheep recognized? No, not at all. In fact it was the exact opposite. It was not the distinct sounds of the voices of the good shepherds that the sheep recognized. Instead, it was what the good shepherds said in common that made God’s sheep recognize them.
God’s sheep hear God’s voice through the good shepherds as those shepherds pointed people back to God. God’s sheep perceived God’s love for them through the voices of the good shepherds.
Whereas the false shepherds, namely the Pharisees, twisted God’s Word when they spoke, the good shepherds echoed God’s voice and pointed God’s people back to Him
Grandma Pete Example
Grandma Pete Example
I can see a picture of this with my Great Grandma Petersen. She was one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known. Even though she’s passed on now, my family and I still reminisce about her often. She had so many distinct sayings and phrases she would say to us. And when we reminisce about her we’ll often say those phrases to one another. Even though our voices sound nothing like her’s when one of us says one of her famous lines, I can almost hear her voice. I can picture her and am immediately led back to thoughts of her in my mind.
It’s like that with the good shepherds. Even though their physical voices sounded distinct, when they spoke God’s truth, especially from God’s Word, they pointed God’s sheep right back to God Himself.
What Does All of This Mean For Us
What Does All of This Mean For Us
So what does all of this mean for us?
The first thing to say is this: The question is not whether or not people have shepherds. We all have shepherds. We all allow people to lead us. The real question is whether or not our shepherds are any good.
Who are the good and false shepherds in our day?
Good shepherds always point God’s people back to God’s Word and God Himself. Good shepherds could be good writers, Christian family or friends, or Christian speakers who continually point us back to God.
False shepherds seek to pull our attention away from God. They could be idols or things that lead us into addiction or lead us to center our lives around things other than God Himself. This could be sports, activities, Netflix, social media, boyfriends or girlfriends, husbands or wives, kids, or dreams of marriage or a dream job. These things are not bad in themselves, but if they consume our attention more than anything else then they become false shepherds as they lead us away from God’s best for us.
Does this mean that every single thing we do, watch, listen to, consume and see must be explicitly Christ? Of course not. It’s a good thing to enjoy a movie on Netflix, to check in on people on social media, to love your children and significant others. In fact, many of us will have more time to enjoy those things in this season than we’ve had in a long time. And that’s ok. But if those things dominate our attention, our thoughts, or desires, and our dreams, either collectively or singularly, then they become false shepherds. We begin to see the world through the lens of those false shepherds and idols. Our hope and trust begins to rest on those things and not on God Himself.
One of the ways you can tell you are actually being led by false shepherds is by seeing what consumes your attention. As you may have more free time than normal over the next few weeks, are you spending more time being consumed by the latest updates on the news or are you putting your true hope in God. I recently heard a pastor say that one of the hard parts of his job is that he pastors a ton of people who rarely and inconsistently read their bibles, so he gets 30 minutes a week to point them to God and God’s Word. It’s difficult because those same people spend 12, 13, 14, sometimes 20 hours per week consumed by Fox News, MSNBC, social media, or Netflix. Whether or not they realize it, those people begin to view the world through the eyes of their favorite TV host, podcatser, TV show, or the continuous and reactionary updates on social media. What that means is that those people are really being led by false shepherds. They feel the fears of those false shepherds and seek after those false shepherds, rather than ultimately resting in the Lord.
The next few weeks will serve as a battle for your hope, your joy, and your soul. Are you prepared to fight and follow good shepherds or will you be led astray. 8 weeks is plenty of time to mold and shape your worldview. Will come out on the other side of this virus trusting in God more and loving God more, or will you come to the other side and be enamoured with other things and bored by God? Will you come out on the other side resting in God or fearful about the world? The time before us key. Don’t waste it. Satan is already on the prowl for your attention and as Mary Oliver says, “Attention is the beginning of adoration.” Will you adore and worship God, or will you worship and adore something else?
Good shepherds help us worship God. So we must find good shepherds to lead us. The best shepherds are the pastors and ministers God has appointed for us.
1 Peter 5:1-3 says, “So I exhort the [pastors] among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Your pastor, insofar as He points you back to God and God’s Word is a good shepherd. He probably knows your name, he loves you, and has given a significant portion of his life to care for you. Listen to him and he will help point you back to Jesus.
My pastors at PV, pastor Merle, pastor Tim, pastor Josh, pastor Brad, pastor Jared, pastor Bryan, pastor John, pastor Cory, pastor Ryan, and pastor Jerry are all good shepherds. They continually point me back to God and His Word. I’m so thankful for them. They are good shepherds in my life.
One of the things you can do over the next few weeks of this pandemic is to pray for your pastors. Pray that God would give them wisdom, endurance, and joy in this season and they shepherd many folks through this crisis, including you.
So if pastors are the best shepherds God has appointed for us, what is it that they are supposed to feed us with God’s Word.
That means that engaging with God’s Word is vital. If you want to be spiritually fed, read God’s Word. Listen to the preaching of God’s Word by good shepherds.
Many of you will have more time to read God’s Word in this season than you’ve had in years. Don’t waste it! You have no excuse!
Now, you might saying, “Yeah, I hear you Caleb, but I’m not a big reader”
I hear that all of the time and if I can be frank, that’s the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Unless you’re the rarest if the rare, you scroll through an insane amount of social media posts and news articles everyday. That means you read all of the time! And you’ll probably read more of those things over the next several weeks. You read far more than you think. What matters is what you read. Take time to read through God’s Word. It may not be easy at first, but it will be totally worth it. You will find hope and truth there that you can find nowhere else. Feast on the Word of God. That’s how you can keep your gaze fixed on Jesus.
Don’t be led by false shepherds. All it takes is a quick look at the Bible to see how far the false shepherds and Pharisees led God’s people astray. The false shepherds led God’s people so far astray that even when Jesus, the promised Messiah came, people weren’t even looking for their real need, a Savior, and instead were looking for him to be a political leader. Think about how easily that could translate to us today. How many Christians, if they’re honest are looking for a politician, a president, or someone else to save the day instead of trusting Jesus to be in control? Don’t be led by false shepherds.
Good Shepherds Aren’t Good Enough
But here’s the thing, even if we follow good shepherds, they will never be enough to save us. They themselves are insufficient for the task. Even the greatest human shepherd is not enough to save us. They are broken and imperfect people. They are not perfect guides. They will all let us down at some point. And they are nothing compared to our greatest predicaments and sicknesses, namely sin and death.
The same was true in Jesus’ day.
The Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd
Think back to the thundering words about the false shepherds in Ezekiel 34. The picture is bleak. All seemed hopeless. You can just hear the doom and gloom in Ezekiel’s prophecy.
There were no good shepherds to be found, and even if there were they would be wholly insufficient to save God’s people.
Darkness abounded and all seemed lost.
But notice what God says through Ezekiel later on in chapter 34 when he looks around and can’t find any good shepherds. Starting in verse 11, God says,
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
Think about that. God is saying that since the people who are supposed to be shepherding are leading them astray, and since there are no good shepherds to be found, God Himself will become their shepherd! He will lead his people. He will seek them out and save them. He will protect them and gather them up. He will feed them and give them rest. And He is wholly sufficient for the task.
Now look again at John chapter 10, specifically verses 14and 15:
Before the Pharisees, the false shepherds who would have known the prophecy in Ezekiel 34, Jesus says this:
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”- John 10:14-15
This is a watershed moment for the Pharisees and the whole world. Jesus is saying that He is the true good shepherd. The Pharisees would have immediately caught His allusion to Ezekiel 34 and would have understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, something that Jesus makes explicit a little later in John 10.
By showing the Pharisees that He is God and the true Good Shepherd, Jesus is saying that He will care for God’s sheep. Jesus himself will seek and save God’s scattered sheep. Jesus Himself will defeat the beast and the enemies of the sheep. Jesus Himself knows each of God’s sheep and loves them. And how much does He love them? He loves them so much that He would give His very own life for them.
This is a shepherd like the world has never seen. This is the true and ultimate Good Shepherd. The comfort and sustenance he brings is not temporary, but eternal. The sheepfold He brings his sheep to is the New Heavens and New Earth where God’s people will be with God forevermore in perfect joy, peace, nourishment, and satisfaction.
The Pharisees, the very people who were charged with shepherding God’s people would be the very ones who would put Jesus to death and secure the very means by which we could be saved.
In John 10:33, we see glimpses of this coming punishment and death right after the great exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees when the Pharisees say to Jesus, “It is not for good works that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Little did they know that they were speaking to God who had made Himself man.
As God who took on flesh, the true Good Shepherd transcended all of time and reality and yet entered into the midst of his people to save them. And our transcendent Shepherd transcended even Jesus’s very own metaphor when He, the Good Shepherd laid His own life down to save His sheep.
False shepherds and idols won’t die for your sins; they leave that to you and me.
Only the Good Shepherd dies for his sheep.
False Shepherds don’t know your name. They just use and abuse you.
Only the Good Shepherd calls you by name from all of eternity. Instead of abusing you, the Good Shepherd was used and abused on your behalf so you could be saved.
False teachers lead us into danger and away from God.
Only the Good Shepherd will truly protect us and lead us perfectly to God.
False Shepherds lead us to things that leave us empty and unsatisfied.
Only the Good Shepherd can sustain and satisfy us forever.
False Shepherds come to steal, kill, and destroy.
But according to John 10:10, the Good Shepherd comes so that we “might have life and have it abundantly.”
There is no one like our Good Shepherd, Jesus.
John 11: Jesus and Lazarus
John 11: Jesus and Lazarus
If we were to read on into John 11, we would read of the powerful story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
Think about that. What a powerful reminder that our Good Shepherd has power over not just little things, but over our biggest enemies, even Satan, death itself.
Our Good Shepherd went around healing the sick day after day, both with touch and from miles away. And one day this Jesus, will redeem all of the world so that there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more cancer, no more Coronavirus, no more fear, no more depression, no more anxiety, no more suicide, no more uncertainty, and no more death.
This Jesus commands the wind and the seas, and all of creation.
All authority on Heaven and on Earth has been given to Him.
He is sovereign over all and worthy of all of our trust and praise. He has the whole world in His hands and he knows each of us by name.
May we follow Him as our Good Shepherd. Over these next 8 weeks, or however long we’re in this, as we endure this crisis, listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him.
As we draw our time to a close, I want us to briefly reflect on one final passage, possibly the most famous passage about God as Shepherd in the whole Bible. May you’ve even read it already to calm your fears in the midst of the pandemic. Let’s see what it tells us about our Good Shepherd.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
May we take rest in our Good Shepherd.
Knowing He protects us, both body and soul, we don’t have to fear anything.
But if we do feel fear it’s ok, we can bring it directly to Him.
Sheep let their shepherd know when they are afraid. They bleat and cry out to their shepherd. Why do they do that? They do it so the shepherd can protect them. Take your fears to Jesus. Take your fears to the true Good Shepherd. 1 Peter 5:7 says that "we should cast all of our anxieties on him, because he cares for us." May we do that in the coming weeks.
In these days it may feel like we’re walking by the valley of the shadow of death but that’s ok. We can trust Jesus.
Sheep don’t always know where their shepherd is leading them, but when they’re following a good shepherd, they can trust Him. They can trust that his goodness will follow them all of their days. They can trust that their shepherd will lead them to nourishment, satisfaction, and safety. We can do the same. May we trust our Good Shepherd in these coming days. Nothing can defeat Him and nothing will satisfy us like He will.
We don’t know all that God is doing in this pandemic, but we know that He is using it all for His glory and our good.
The cross is proof of this. If God can take the worst evil the world has ever witnessed and turn it for the greatest good the universe has ever seen, He can and will redeem what’s happening in this virus.
Already we’re seeing a myriad of ways that God is using this pandemic.
With churches going online and live streaming, there are unbelieving spouses and roommates who would never step foot in a church, but are hearing the Gospel for the very first time.
There are parents who are learning to lead their families spiritually for the first time as services move online.
We see so many idols that consume so much of our time being temporarily knocked out, whether it’s sports, entertainment events, youth sports tournaments, and so much more. No more can we say that we can’t go to church because our kids have a baseball tournament or because the Chiefs have a big game. God has given us time to engage with Him and His Word, that we might trust Him more as our Good Shepherd.
We are seeing a picture of what Psalm 23:2 means when it says that God “makes us lie down in green pastures.” There are many people who struggle with the idea of Sabbath and rest who are being forced to slow down. Sheep don’t always know what’s best for them, they don’t always know that they need green pastures, but their shepherd does. Our Good Shepherd is making us lie down in the green pastures of rest, that we might read his Word, call out to Him in prayer, have a real and intimate relationship with Him, rather than just giving Him the scraps of whatever’s left over from our busy schedules.
God is giving churches to serve their communities and be the light of Jesus in ways we haven’t seen in years.
God is reminding us that we aren’t in control. We don’t uphold the world; God does. We are not sufficient to sustain ourselves. Only God is. And in all of this, we are forced to trust in Jesus Words, that if God cares for and sustains the birds and the flowers then how much more will He care for us?
God is reminding us of the importance of community. He’s reminding us of the beauty and privilege of gathering with saints every Sunday. I’m thankful for livestreams, but they will never comprare the glories of singing with my brothers and sisters, hugging them, talking with them face to face, and hearing the Word preached with them. I pray that our first Sunday back together there will be joy like we’ve never seen as the walls of churches all across the world reverberate with the joyous songs of the saints singing praise to their Savior. I can’t wait for that day!
Maybe more than anything, God is reminding us that we are feeble. He is forcing us to face matters of life and death. And in doing so, He is forcing people to consider Him, His existence, and their eternity for the first time in a while. In doing so, I pray scores of people would come to Jesus. And in this, I pray that we would have the opportunity to proclaim the glory of Jesus and His Gospel for the world.
In John 10:40-42, it says, “Jesus went away again across the Jordan to the place where John the Baptist had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to Jesus. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.”
May we be like John the Baptist in these days. Like him, we probably won’t bring about any miracles or signs (or cures for viruses), but we can proclaim the glory of Jesus so that people might hear about their Good Shepherd and be saved.
Hopelessness is impossible for you if you’re a Christian. The worst thing that could possibly happen to you (receiving the just wrath of God for your sins for all of eternity) has already happened in Jesus, and the best thing that could possibly happen to you (an eternity of infinite joy, satisfaction, and love with God) is already secured for you in Jesus. There is an infinite amount of hope for Christians.
May the world see our hope in this crisis. We don’t even have to fear death. Remember, that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? And Jesus has promised to raise us again on the last day so we can have life everlasting.
Imagine trying to scare Lazarus after Jesus had raised him from the dead. What could you have possibly said to rattle him? Even if you threatened him with death, whether through persecution or pandemic, he could walk away in peace because he had faced death and knew the one who would raise him up when he faced death again.
We can live in that hope. With our Good Shepherd Jesus, nothing, not even sin or death or pandemics can take away our hope.
May we rest in that hope together.
God, we thank you that you are our Good Shepherd. Thank you for the hope you give us. Thank you that you would send your very own son to give your life for us so that if we would put our trust in Him, we could be saved and be with you forever. Help us to live in hope in their coming days. Sustain us, protect us, and give us your joy even in sorrow and uncertainty. We love you and we thank you for our Good Shepherd, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray, Amen.