What He Does!
This is the second installment in a three-part series on the Good Shepherd who is revealed to us in Scripture. We are focusing on Jesus’ words in the gospel of John:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns 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. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
On Wednesday, we took a look at who this good Shepherd is in both the Old and the New Testaments. Today, in part 2, we will see exactly what the good Shepherd does: He lays down His life for His sheep. Our Lord said this plainly in verse 11 and then again in verse 15. When our Lord repeats something twice in Scripture, it is not because He forgot he said it the first time or because He is just “rambling.” He repeats Himself for emphasis; He is calling our attention to what He saying. “Do you see this, sheep? Do you grasp this? I lay down my life . . . for you!”
There is no greater demonstration of true love than for one person to willingly lay down his life for another. Indeed, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, stood in our place of condemnation and paid the penalty of our sin. He took . . .
- Our beating
- Our scourging
- Our crown of thorns
- Our nine-inch nails
- Our cross
- Our death
Jesus freely, willingly laid down His life to set us free from the penalty and the power of sin. For those who, by grace through faith, trust in Christ alone for eternal life, the penalty of sin has been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb who takes away all our sins. It is finished, as Jesus said in John 19:30. Our sin debt has been paid in full.
As glorious as that truth is, there is something that just flat-out amazes me every time I stop to think about it. Jesus did not lay down His life for his friends! Others have done that . . . a soldier leaps on a live hand grenade to shield his brothers from the blast. We read of such heroic acts and hope that we possess that same kind of courage and love. But here’s the thing: Colossians 1:21 tells us bluntly that we were alienated from God and enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior. That was our condition when Jesus died from us. Jesus died for us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) . . . when we were His enemies! It is that supernatural, utterly indescribable love that prompted Charles Wesley to write in 1738, “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
And that’s not all! Not only has our Lord removed the penalty of sin forever, but the power of sin has also been taken away. After we have been raised from death to life by the power and the grace of God, we must remember that the same grace that saved us is the same grace that sanctifies us. The power that raised Jesus from death to life is the same power that is inside of every Christian (Ephesians 1:19), giving us the power to say NO to the things we ought to say NO to and the power of YES to the things we must say YES too!
So . . . knowing what the good Shepherd does, the question that each one of us must ask and answer is: “Has He done this for me?”
On Friday I will present the final installment of the great work of our good Shepherd.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!