Matthew R. Perry

Guided By Our Good Shepherd, Part II: We Are Who We Are Because He Is Who He Is

In Church Life on October 1, 2007 at 3:59 pm

We Are Who We Are Because He Is Who He Is

In the New Testament, Jesus describes himself with a number of “I am” statements. He says, for instance, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the living water” (John 7:37-38), “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He is even so bold as to say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life — no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Each of these descriptions contains some wonderful descriptions as to who Jesus is.

Here, we have another one of Jesus’ “I am” statements that we would do well to read and heed. He notes, “I am the good shepherd.” This is who he is. Shepherds tend sheep. In fact, all one has to do is to go to Psalm 23 to see exactly what a shepherd does. Look at Psalm 23:1-3

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.

Take that apart: “I shall not want.” We have a Shepherd who will supply all of our needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19) — even willing to endure personal sacrifice to secure this. We have one who will give us rest in “green pastures” and will restore our soul beside the still waters. The shepherd also leads us down the paths we are to go! He even may lead us in dark valleys, but he will never forsake us. That “rod and staff” is clenched in his right hand as comfort — why? — to stave off attacks from man and beast.

The title I have in service of this church is “pastor.” What does that mean? Literally, it means, “Shepherd.” In the church 222 years, we have had a number of undershepherds — fifty to be exact. We have had some pastors who have served here for a long time. Others served only a short time. When one of you thinks back on a particular minister, you may have some idea of what “good” is. Some will say a minister is “good” if he’s a good preacher. Others think a minister is “good” is he is an adequate preacher but does lots of visitation. Everyone has an idea of good.

But truth be told, each of these ministers while good, were flawed. Even the present minister here is flawed. So we must not think that it is simply the ministers who lead the church. Colossians 1:18 says, “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (ESV). Just as an earthly shepherd is the “head” of the flock, so Jesus is the head of the church.

So when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” what is he saying? In John 6, he showed himself to be greater than Moses (John 6:25-34) and to be greater than Abraham in John 8 when he said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58). Now, he says, “I am the good, the most excellent, the highest and greatest shepherd,” — which made reference to whom in Jewish history? He was saying, “David was a shepherd, but I am greater than David.”

What are we seeing? We easily see how when thinking over the history of a place how we can exalt people to a pedestal. The Jews then exalted Moses, David, and Abraham to the ultimate pedestal. We risk that as well. But each of these men and each of our pastors, I pray, only sought to exalt Christ. Jesus is the true Shepherd of our church.

(You can catch up by reading the Introduction or you can listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here.

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