Dear MLEPC Members and Friends,
We got off to a "good" start last week as we began our summer sermon and study series, studying the "I Am" statements of Jesus. We looked at Exodus 3 where God meets Moses in the burning bush. When Moses asks God who He should introduce Him as to the people, God says, "I Am Who I Am" and "I Am has sent me to you." Our study now brings God even closer as God sent Jesus, His Son, into the world. In our "I Am" statement for this week, Jesus says "I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:11 ESV). That little word "good" is much used in our society today. Consider how many times you say it throughout just one day -
good morning, we had a
good week at VBS last week, the fireworks event on the rooftop on July 4 was
good night, etc., etc., etc! In fact, we so overuse the word that we have to stop and consider the significance of what this word means in relation to God and His Son, Jesus!
Using the word "good" as an adjective before the noun, shepherd, gives us a clear understanding of who Jesus is. The language of "shepherd" is not as familiar to us today as it was in Bible times. Shepherd language would be familiar to Jews in the first century as the Old Testament is full of sheep and shepherd imagery, including two of the most well-known psalms, Psalm 23 and Psalm 100. Our son's fiancé spent time with her family touring Ireland in May, and my favorite pictures from her trip are the many she took of sheep grazing with the beautiful landscape scenes in the background. One thing strikes me in all of Jessica's pictures, the sheep are peacefully grazing or looking around, secure in the fact that the shepherd is caring for their needs. He or she is providing green pastures and still waters, protection through any valleys of danger, and the shepherd will make sure they are safely "home" each evening, whether that is in a barn or a sheepfold.
In Psalm 23, David uses pronouns which makes the psalm personal to each believer: "The Lord is
I shall not want," He makes
ME to lie down in green pastures, etc. In Psalm 100 verse 3, we are identified as sheep who belong to God: "Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." What a comfort it is to know that we are cared for by the Lord Jesus, who is the good shepherd who pursues us, protects us and provides for us! Our study guide suggests an exercise I've used often with senior adults I visit. Many have memorized the 23rd Psalm as children, and I tell people if they are in a situation when they just don't know how to pray, pray the 23rd Psalm, substituting their own name for those personal pronouns. If I were to do that exercise, I would pray: "The Lord is Linda's shepherd, Linda shall not want. He makes Linda to lie down in green pastors," etc. I encourage you to try this exercise as you consider how loved you are by God and His Son, Jesus, who is the good shepherd who laid down His life for us - his sheep.
Love, in Christ,