The Good Shepherd


 

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am the door of the sheep— Joh_10:7

 

The Man Born Blind and the Good Shepherd

 

Chapter nine of John’s Gospel tells about the man born blind. Then in the following one is the lesson of the Good Shepherd. And I dare say it seems at first as if there were no link between the two. But if it is hard for us to find a link, it was all plain as daylight to the man born blind. He hid in the crowd and drank in every word that Jesus said; and as he heard that wonderful talk about the shepherd, he said to himself, “Every syllable of that is meant for me.” Had not the Pharisees excommunicated him? Had they not slammed the door of blessing in his face? “I am the door,” says the Lord Jesus. Had not the Pharisees been mad with rage that he, a poor lost sheep, should dare to teach them, the shepherds of the people? “I am the good shepherd,” said Jesus. Christ knew what had happened. He knew the treatment His beggar-friend had gotten. It stirred His heart into this noble eloquence. And as the sunflower springs from its seed, so all the wealth and beauty of our chapter spring from the healing of the man born blind.

 

Many Were Called the Shepherd of the People

 

Of course, when Jesus calls Himself a shepherd, He is far from being first to use that figure. The originality of Jesus does not lie in saying things that were never said before. Old Homer (whom I hope many of my readers love) is fond of calling his heroes shepherds of men. It had been used of Cyrus in Isaiah; of rulers and prophets in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is the name given to the teacher of wisdom in Ecclesiastes. It comes to full bloom in the twenty-third Psalm. I wonder, too, if you have ever thought how many of God’s great leaders had been shepherds. Abraham and Jacob both had to do with sheep. Moses was keeping Jethro’s flock when God spake in the burning bush. When Samuel came to seek a king, the king, a ruddy lad, was shepherding. Amos the prophet was a simple herdsman. And Jeremiah, the prophet most similar to the Lord, would seem to have been a shepherd too. Did not Christ know all that? Had He not brooded deep upon these shepherds, as He wandered among the hills of Nazareth? Now, at the touch of need and under the impulse of a great compassion, He glorifies and crowns that ancient image by making it the express image of Himself.

 

As a Shepherd, Christ Knows His Sheep

 

Now you will note that Jesus knows His sheep. That thought was clearly before the mind of Christ. There was not a Pharisee who knew the blind beggar although they had passed his begging-place for years. But beggar or prince, it is all one to Jesus; as the Father knows Him, He knows His own. Mr. Moody used to tell about a girl who was very ill, and her mother sang to her and spoke to her and shifted her, but the little patient still tossed and fretted. And then her mother stooped down and took her in her arms, and the child whispered, “Ah, mother, that’s what I want!” You see that even a mother, for all her love, can never be sure what her little one is wanting. But every want and every need, and every trial and every hope, of every separate boy or girl who trusts Him—it is all known to Jesus. The day is coming when Christ shall say to some people, “Depart from Me, I never knew you! “But that same Jesus is saying today, “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep.”

 

The Sheep Know Their Shepherd

 

Note once again that the sheep know their shepherd. There is a story of a Scottish traveler in Palestine who thought he would try an experiment upon the sheep. He had been reading this chapter of St. John, and he was eager to put it to the test. So he got a shepherd to change clothes with him; and the tourist wrapped himself in the shepherd’s mantle, and the shepherd donned the tourist’s garb, and then both called to the flock of sheep to follow (in the East the shepherd goes before his flock). And the sheep followed the voice and not the dress. It was the voice and not the dress they knew. So you see that every sheep in the flock has got an earmark—it can tell the voice of the shepherd from a stranger’s. And every sheep in the flock has got a foot mark—they follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Have you been branded on the ear and foot? Are these two marks of ownership on you? Samuel was but a child when he cried out, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth!” The Shepherd called him and he heard the voice.

 

The Good Shepherd Lays His Life Down for the Sheep

 

We never think of a shepherd as a hero. But in the East there is never a day that dawns but may reveal the hero or the hireling in the shepherd. Tonight there may spring a lion on the flock. Or who can tell but that yon swirling dust betokens the galloping of Bedouin sheep-stealers? If that be so—come, trusty blade! It must be battle now! For all my watching and my watering shall be vain unless I am ready to combat to the death! So is the Eastern shepherd faced with death. Serving amid fierce beasts and fiercer bandits, he may be called to die for his sheep tonight. And I am the Good Shepherd, says Jesus, and the Good Shepherd gives

 

Church of the Good Shepherd - explore front pa...

Church of the Good Shepherd – explore front page 🙂 (Photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor)

 

His life for the sheep. Learn, then, that the cross is Jesus’ noblest deed. It is not an accident; it is an act. It is the crowning service of the Shepherd to the sheep, whom He loves too deeply ever to let them go.

 

There Is Only One Fold

 

Then, lastly, mark that the shepherd has sheep outside our fold. In the early Church there was a fiery saint, some of whose books our students study yet. And this “fierce Tertullian,” as one of our poets calls him, said, “The sheep He saves, the goats He doth not save.” But in the very days when Tertullian was writing, there were humble Christians hiding in the catacombs. And they loved to draw the figure of the Good Shepherd, and many of their rude drawings are there still—and often the Good Shepherd is carrying on His shoulders, not a lamb, but a kid of the goats. To the Jew there was but one fold—it was Israel. Jesus had other sheep outside that fold. And whenever we send a missionary to China, whenever we pray for the savage tribes of Africa, we do it because the Good Shepherd has said this: “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”

 

 

The Man Who Does No Miracle


Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monas...

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monastery in Lower Egypt. The bones of St. John the Baptist were said to have been found here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true— Joh_10:41

The Brilliant and the Average

The kind of man who does no miracle is the kind we are meeting every day. He is the man who never makes us marvel. There are men like Shakespeare who cannot take up a pen without enriching us with miracles of wisdom. There are women who delight us with miracles of song. But the average man is different from that. One can reckon on the thing that he will do. It is the sort of thing that we can do ourselves. Now, brilliance may be perilous; but mediocrity also has perils. Remember that in the Master’s story it was the man of the one talent who made shipwreck. So it may help us to consider briefly what Scripture has to teach about a man who never did a miracle.

Even Though John Didn’t Do Any Miracles. He Had a Lofty Character

First, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he had a lofty character. Perhaps we should be aware of that more vividly if the Baptist did not stand so close to Jesus. A flower is apt to blossom unobserved if it be near one that is altogether lovely. And our blessed Lord, in that perfect poise of His, was “altogether lovely.” So that often we are likely to miss, from its very proximity to what was perfect, the grandeur of the character of John. How true he was in every relationship! How wise in the midst of tumultuous excitements! How brave both in the desert and the dungeon! How exquisitely and gloriously humble!—and all this loftiness and moral worth found, not in the child of genius, but in the man who never did a miracle. Character does not demand great gifts. Character can ripen in the commonplace. Men who have no wonder-working genius can “come smiling from the world’s great snare uncaught.” And to do that, when life is difficult, and skies are dark and temptations are insistent is to reach the sunrise and the crown.

John Had a Special Work to Do

Again, the Baptist did no miracle, yet God gave him a special work to do. It was the work of witnessing to Christ, and John fulfilled it in the noblest way. Others dreamed that the Messiah would come in splendor: John witnessed that He was in their midst. Others dreamed that He would appear in sovereignty: John witnessed that He was the Lamb of God. And this great mission, of such supreme importance in the loving purposes of heaven, was given to a man who did no miracle. We are so apt to think that special service is only given to very special people, that great tasks are not for common folk but for men of wonder-working gifts. And the beautiful lesson of our text is this, that though you may have no power to do a miracle, for you, too, there is a special service-something that only you can do; something that won’t be done unless you do it; something the world needs, which you and you only can supply—you, not dowered with any gift of miracle. Business men in a humble way of business, mothers in undistinguished homes, riveters working in the shipyards, clerks and typists in the city offices—such do no miracles and never will save the one miracle of patient drudgery; yet God for each has a special work to do.

John’s Influence

Then the Baptist did no miracle, yet he exercised a deep and lasting influence. It was of that, in part, our Lord was thinking when He said that John was greater than the prophets. In the long history of Israel none were more influential than the prophets. They stirred the conscience; they revived the state; they brought God to bear on daily life. But even greater than that prophetic influence was the influence of John the Baptist—yet John was a man who never did a miracle. Is not that true of human life? Most of us in our journey through the years have met with some who had the gift of miracle—some who could take a common thing and touch it, and it would blossom into a world of beauty. And for all these wonderful gifts we shall be grateful, for every good and perfect gift is from above, but—are these the folk who have influenced us most? Is it not far more often common, humble people, dowered with no extraordinary gifts?—a wife or mother, a wise and faithful friend, a minister whom none would call a genius? It is one of life’s most perfect compensations that influence does not depend on brilliance but comes to those (like John) who do no miracle.

God’s “Well Done” Is for the Faithful Man

Lastly, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he won the highest praise of Christ. “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John.” A man may lead a false and rotten life and yet win the praise of men. The acid test of the successful life is this: does it win the praise of Christ? And the fine thing is that to win that praise one does not need to be wonderful or striking: it is given to those who may do no miracle—to those who trust Him when everything is dark; to those who keep their faces towards the morning; to those who, through headache and through heartache, quietly and doggedly do their appointed bit; to those who “endure” with a smile upon their lips; to those who help a brother by the way; to those who look for a city which hath foundations. In this big world there is room for every gift and for every genius who has the power of miracle. But in this big world there is room and power and victory for the great multitude who do no miracle. It is not “Well done, thou good and brilliant servant,” else would there be little hope for millions. It is “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

 

The Number Of Hours


 

Jesus

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Are there not twelve hours in the day?   John_11:9

 

 

 

The Disciples’ Misunderstanding of Christ

 

These words were spoken by Jesus at the time when news had been brought Him that Lazarus was sick. For two days Jesus had made no move, but had abode with His disciples where He was. The disciples would be certain to misconstrue that inactivity—they would whisper, “Our Master at last is growing prudent”—and therefore their amazement and dismay when Christ announced He was going to Judea. They broke out upon Him with expostulation—”Lord, it was but yesterday that You were stoned there. It is as much as Your life is worth to think of going—it is the rankest folly to run that tremendous risk.” And it was then that Jesus turned upon the twelve with a look which they never would forget and said to them, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” It is on these words that I wish to dwell a little. I want to use them as a lamp to illumine some of the characteristics of the Lord, for they seem to me to irradiate first, the earnestness; second, the fearlessness; and third, the restlessness of our Savior.

 

 

 

The Earnestness of Christ

 

What first arrests us, reading the life of Jesus, is not His strong intensity of purpose. It is only gradually, and as our study deepens, that we feel the push of that unswerving will. If you put the Gospel story into the hand of a pagan to whom it came with the freshness of discovery, what would impress him would not be Christ’s tenacity, but the variety and the freedom of His life. Never was there a career that bore so little trace of being lived in accordance with a plan. Never were deeds so happily spontaneous; never were words so sweetly incidental. To every moment was perfect adaptation as if that were the only moment of existence. This hiding of intensity is mirrored in the great paintings of the face of Christ. In the galleries of the old masters I do not know one picture where the face of Christ is a determined face. For the artists felt with that poetic feeling which wins nearer to the heart of things than argument, that the earnestness of Jesus lay too deep to be portrayed by brush upon the canvas.

 

But when we reach the inner life of Christ, there passes a wonderful change over our thought. We slowly awake, amid all the spontaneity, to one tremendous and increasing purpose. As underneath the screaming of the seabirds we hear the ceaseless breakers on the shore, as through the rack and drift of driving clouds we catch the radiance of one unchanging star, so gradually, back of all stir and change and the varied and free activity of Christ, we discern the pressure of a mighty purpose moving without a swerve towards its goal. From the hour of His boyhood when He said to Mary, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business,” on to the hour of triumph on the cross when He cried with a loud voice, “It is finished,” unhasting and unresting, without one check or falter, the face of Jesus is set in one direction; and it is when we come to recognize that unity hidden amid the luxuriance of freedom that we wake to the sublime earnestness of Christ. I think that the apostles hardly recognized it till He set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem. Before that, they were always offering suggestions: after that, they offered them no more. They were amazed, we read; they were afraid. The eagerness of Jesus overwhelmed them. At last they knew His majesty of will and were awestruck at the earnestness of Christ.

 

 

 

Christ’s Certain Knowledge of His Limited Time

 

There were many reasons for that wholehearted zeal which it does not fall to me to touch on here. But one was the certain knowledge of the Lord that there were only twelve hours in His day. Before His birth, in His pre-existent life, there had been no rising or setting of the sun. After His death, in the life beyond the grave, the day would be endless, for “there is no night there.” But here on earth with a mighty work to do and to get finished before His side was pierced, Christ was aroused into triumphant energy by the thought of the determined time. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.” That must—what is it but the shadow of sunset and the breath of the twilight that was soon to fall? A day at its longest—what a little space! Twelve hours—they are ringing to evensong already! Under that power the tide that seemed asleep moved on “too full for sound or foam.”

 

It is always very wonderful to me that Christ thus felt the shortness of the time. This Child of Eternity heard with quickened ear the muffled summons of the fleeting hours. It is only occasionally that we hearken to it; far more commonly we seek to silence it. Most men, as Professor Lecky says, are afraid to look time in the face. But Christ was never afraid to look time in the face; steadily He eyed the sinking sands, till moved to His depths by the urgency of days, the zeal of the house of His Father ate Him up. Have you awakened to that compelling thought, or do you live as if your sun would never set? There are but twelve hours in the day, and it will be sunset before you dream of it. Get done what God has sent you here to do. Wait not for the fool’s phantom of tomorrow—Act, act today, act in the living present!

 

 

 

Christ’s Fearlessness

 

In the next place, our text illuminates Christ’s fearlessness, and that indeed is the textual meaning of it, for it was when the disciples were trying to alarm Him that Jesus silenced their suggestions so. “Master,” they said, “It is a dangerous thing to show Yourself at Bethany. Remember how You were stoned on Your last visit; it will be almost certain death to go thither again.” And it was then, to silence all their terror and with a courage as sublime as it was simple that Jesus asked, “Are there not twelve hours in the day ?” What did He mean? He meant, “I have my day. Its dawn and its sunset have been fixed by God. Nothing can shorten it and nothing can prolong it. Till the curfew of God rings out, I cannot die.” It was that steadying sense of the divine disposal which made the Christ so absolutely fearless and braced Him for every “clenched antagonism” that rose with menace upon the path of duty. When Dr. Livingstone was in the heart of Africa, he wrote a memorable sentence in his diary. He was ill and far away from any friend, and he was deserted by his medicine-carrier. But he was willing to go anywhere provided it was forward, and what he wrote with a trembling hand was this: “I am immortal till my work is done.” That was the faith of Paul and of Martin Luther, the faith of Oliver Cromwell and of Livingstone. They had caught the fearless spirit of the Master who knew there were twelve hours in the day.

 

 

 

The Strength in Knowing That God Appoints Our Times

 

Now it is always a source of buoyant strength when a man comes to see that his way is ordered. There is a quiet courage that is unmistakable in one who is certain he is led by God. But remember, according to the Master’s doctrine, our times are fixed as surely as our ways; and if we are here with a certain work to do which in the purposes of God must be fulfilled, no harm can touch us nor is there power in death till it draws to sunset and to evening star. What is it that makes the Turk such a brave soldier that with all his vices we cannot but admire him? It is his conviction of a relentless fate which he cannot hasten yet cannot hope to shun. In the name of freedom, Christ rejects that fatalism; but on the ruins of it He erects another. It is the fatalism of a love that is divine, for it includes the end in the beginning. Never shirk dangers on the path of duty. On the path of duty one is always safest. Let a man be careful that he does his task, and God will take care of the task-doing man. For always there are twelve hours in the day, and though the clouds should darken into storm, they cannot hasten the appointed time when it is night.

 

And just here we ought to bear in mind that the true measurement of life is not duration. We live in deeds, not breaths—it is not time; it is intensity that is life’s measurement. Twelve hours of joy, what a brief space they are! Twelve hours of pain, what an eternity! We take the equal hours which the clock gives, and we mould them in the matrix of our hearts. Was it the dawn that crimsoned in the east as Romeo stood with Juliet at the window? It seemed but a moment since the casement opened, and—”It is my lady, O it is my love.” But to the sufferer tossing on her sickbed and hearing every hour the chiming in the dark, that night went wearily with feet of lead, and it seemed as if the dawn would never break. “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” said Jesus—yet Jesus died when He was thirty-three. The dial of God has got no minute hands; its hours are measured by service and by sacrifice. Call no life fragmentary. Call it not incomplete. Think thee how love abbreviates the hours. If God be love, time may be fiery-footed, and the goal be won far earlier than we ever dreamed.

 

 

 

Christ’s Restlessness

 

 

 

Then lastly, and in a word or two, our text illuminates Christ’s restlessness. For never was there a life of such untiring labor that breathed such a spirit of unruffled calm. We talk about our busy modern city, and many of us are busy in the city, but for a life of interruption and distraction, give me the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Some of us could hardly live without the hills—a day in their solitude is benediction; but when Jesus retired to that fellowship of lonely places, even there He was pressed and harassed by the crowd. Every day was thronged with incident or danger. There was no leisure so much as to eat. Now He was teaching—now He was healing—now He was parrying some cruel attack. Yet through it all, with all its stir and movement, there is a brooding calm upon the heart of Christ that is only comparable to a wave less sea asleep in the stillness of a summer evening. Some men are calm because they do not feel. We call it quiet, and it is callousness. But Christ being sinless was infinitely sensitive—quick to respond to every touch and token. Yet He talked without contradiction of His peace—”My peace that the world cannot give or take away”—and down in the depths of that unfathomed peace was the thought of the twelve hours in the day. Christ knew that if God had given Him a twelve hours’ work, God would give Him the twelve hours to do it in. To every task its time, and to every time its task, that was one great method of the Master. And no man will ever be calm as Christ was calm who cannot halt in the midst of the stir and say, “My peace”; who cannot stop for a moment in the busiest whirl and say to himself, “My times are in Thy hand.” God never blesses unnecessary labor. That is the labor of the thirteenth hour.

All that God calls us to and all that love demands is fitted with perfect wisdom to the twelve.

Therefore be restful; do not be nervous and fussy; leave a little leisure for smiling and for sleep.

There is no time to squander, but there is time enough—are there not twelve hours in the day?

 

10 Principle Of Life


 

Share these simple but true principles of life, that is able to transform not only you but those around you.

 

English: Photoworks Rendering of a Banjo Steer...

English: Photoworks Rendering of a Banjo Steering Wheel for a 1951 Ford F-1 Streetrod Pickup. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

1] Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a “steering wheel” that directs the right path throughout the journey.

 

 

 

2] So why is a Car’s WINDSHIELD so large & the Rear View Mirror so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, Look Ahead and Move on.

 

 

 

3] Friendship is like a BOOK. It takes a few minutes to burn, but it takes years to write.

 

 

 

4] All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If going wrong, don’t worry, they can’t last long either.

 

 

 

5] Old Friends are Gold! New Friends are Diamond! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold! Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!

 

 

 

6] Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend, not the end!

 

 

 

7] When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn’t solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.

 

 

 

8] A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?” He replied: “Yes, losing your vision!”

 

 

 

9] When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

 

 

 

10] WORRYING does not take away tomorrow’s TROUBLES, it takes away today’s PEACE.

 

Success


 

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

~ Earl Nightingale

Based on Earl’s quote above, let’s define success. Success is…

  • The school teacher who is teaching school because that’s what he or she wants to do.
  • The woman who is a wife and mother because she wanted to become a wife and mother and is doing a good job of it.
  • The entrepreneur who starts his/her own company because that was their dream…that’s what they wanted to do.

 

In You


If you can’t find happiness inside yourself, you’ll never find it in the outside world, no matter where you move. Wherever you go, there you are. You take yourself with you. This is the essence of happiness–learning to find inner contentment in any situation.

You owe it to yourself to finish strong my friend.

Rebecca Ajibola

Attitude


 

Inspiring leadership is defined by an inspiring attitude. Inspiring words and acts are preceded by an inspiring attitude. Like it or not, our thoughts and interpretations of people and circumstances directly influence our beliefs, and ultimately, our leadership actions.

Yes, bad things do happen and they sometimes “just show up.” Any leader would be hard pressed to remember a week when no curve balls were thrown at him or her. However, it is our interpretation that makes a situation negative. A surprise event or a challenging moment doesn’t have to drag us down. The way we choose to think about what happens determines the ultimate outcome. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right.” In other words, your attitude reflects your past, describes your present and predicts your future.

Our experiences are much less important than our attitude toward them. Our interpretations of experiences either limit or enable our future success. Here’s an example: A mission-critical project you are leading has “promotion” written all over it, but it bombs – it’s over budget, past its deadline … the works. How you choose to interpret those facts is how you shape your future. Do you see yourself as a failure, a poor leader who is maxed out and on the way out? Or are you a great leader in the making who is learning some tough lessons that will help ensure success on the next project?

Think the best ALL the time. What’s the harm? If you choose to protect yourself from disappointment by always thinking the worst, you have also chosen disappointment as the filter through which you view all things and people … and that’s just what you will get. On the other hand, you can choose to think the best all the time. Sure, you might be disappointed occasionally but, most of the time, you will be programming your mental attitude to achieve your best. This creates a tremendously powerful chain reaction that looks like:

You think the best of your team

Team performs to meet you expectations

Customers’ expectations are met

Better business results

You think the best because you have seen the benefit of doing so.

We must manage our attitude as carefully as we manage our money. At any moment during daily leadership, we can fall victim to our own attitude. Self-doubt and fear are the enemies of inspired leadership. Instead, choose an attitude of victory and your team’s performance will follow.

Action Questions:

1. What does my attitude today say about the results I can expect tomorrow?

2. How does my attitude toward my own capabilities, my team and my goals affect my leadership?

 

 

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