Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“Good. Great. Chief."

"Good.  Great.  Chief."

    "The Lord is my shepherd" (Psalm 23:1).

    The New Testament refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd, our Great Shepherd, and our Chief Shepherd.

    "I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
    "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).
     "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (I Peter 5:4).

    "Good" refers to the Lord's character, that is, the wonder of His loving, gracious, and merciful heart that led Him to the cross of Calvary for our sakes.  We begin here in the consideration of Christ's shepherding because Scripture emphasizes character above all else.  1 Corinthians 13 tells us that without love, we are nothing.  This would be true in God, were it possible for Him to be other than who He is.  Being precedes doing and position.  Indeed, consider the horror we would face if the Lord Jesus possessed greatness and occupied the role of Master apart from a heart of goodness.  We wouldn't want to exist were this the case.  Thankfully, Christ is the Good Shepherd whose nature of unselfishness governs all that He does and all that He is.  "God is love… Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (I John 4:8; I Corinthians 13:5).  Indeed, we do well to consider that our Good Shepherd was also "the Lamb of God" who died for ours sins (John 1:29). 

   Our Lord is also the Great Shepherd.  This points to His power whereby He works in His trusting children to "make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight".  Unlike human shepherds, the Lord Jesus not only commands His sheep to follow, He also provides His own strength and enabling for the journey.  "I can do all things through Christ which which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:19).  Our Shepherd dwells within His sheep through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thereby we experience wonders of greatness that cannot possibly originate in ourselves.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, "By the grace of God, I am what I am" (I Corinthians 15:10).  The Christian life is the life of Christ, the Great Shepherd who leads His sheep by walking in us and enabling us to live the life to which He calls us.  "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).

    Finally, we humble ourselves before the Chief Shepherd.  We live in a creation of hierarchy wherein our Heavenly Father establishes many roles and ranks of authority under which we live our lives.  All bow before the Lord Jesus, to whom God gave "a Name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).  Interestingly, our Chief Shepherd is also Himself under authority, being submissive to His Father - "My Father is greater than I… The head of Christ is God" (John 14:28; I Corinthians 11:3).  Thus, He exercises His "Chief" office in the humility of "Good" and the power of His Father's "Great".  This is a Lord, a Shepherd, to whom we can safely entrust our hearts and lives in this moment, this day, and forevermore.  Or, as our Good,  Great, and Chief Shepherd declared of His role in the lives of His sheep…

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 6:23)

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