Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘sheep

Luke 2:8-20

Angel&Shepherds

When was the last time you received good news? What did you do?  Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with others?

Imagine you were one of those shepherds watching over your sheep.  It was a night like any other or so you thought…

Suddenly an angel appears out of nowhere and a bright light shines around you. You’re scared.  You wonder what is going on.  The angel assures you and the other shepherds that there is nothing to be afraid of.  He has come to share good news.  Then he makes the big announcement, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Savior whom you and others have been waiting for is born.  He’s in Bethlehem in a manger.  While you are still trying to digest this incredible news, other angels join the first one and the air is filled with their glory as they raise their voices in a song of praise to God. What a glorious sight. You can hardly believe what you are seeing.  After the angelic host leaves, you and the other shepherds are filled with excitement.  You can’t wait to go and see the Child for yourselves. You are anxious to go and see what the Lord has made known to you. You hurry off to the manger where you see Mary, Joseph and the Child.

The shepherds “made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child” and those who heard it couldn’t help but marvel but Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered over them.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through her mind.  First, an angel visited her and told her that she was going to have a Son who would be called Jesus and that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. Then, on the night after she gives birth, shepherds show up at the manger to see Him because they too were visited by an angel.  This is a lot to grasp.

The shepherds left the manger and returned to their sheep, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen.  It was a night they would never forget.

What can we learn from this wonderful story?

  • After hearing about Jesus, seek Him out for yourself
  • After you have seen Jesus and have been in His presence, go and tell others
  • Glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so that through Him we can be saved

This Christmas, take time to reflect on God’s greatest Gift to mankind.  Celebrate Jesus and thank Him for leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth to dwell among us.  Thank Him for the gift of eternal life which we can receive only through Him.  Share the message of love and hope of the season with others.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men – Luke 2:14

 

 

And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?  But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?  Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).

stdas0089-3333333333333333333Yesterday morning while I was fixing my husband’s lunch, our seven year old son thought that if he did his work, he would get to play Super Mario.  In other words, he thought that because he did all of his school work he would get a reward.  He and I had a conversation earlier and I told him that he shouldn’t do things in order to be rewarded.  His father later said the same thing.  We wanted him to do his work for the right reasons.  We told him that he had done what was expected of him so don’t expect to be rewarded for it.  If we rewarded him for doing what he was told to do, he would expect this every time.  And he would not be doing his work because he wanted to but in order to get a treat.

When Jesus spoke to the disciples about faith and duty, He told them that a servant shouldn’t expect to get any special treatment or privileges from his master because he did what was expected of him.  And the same principle applied to the disciples.  Instead of expecting rewards or recognition or perks, they should just acknowledge that they had done their duty.

When we serve God, we do it out of love for Him and for others, not to get something out of it for ourselves.  In everything we do, we do it for God’s glory not for our gain.

Read John 1:35-42

p_0003John the Baptist, when he was with his two disciples, acknowledged Jesus as the Lamb of God–thereby, revealing the Messiah to his disciples.  Immediately, the two disciples followed Jesus.  They heard what John had said and heeded his words.  How many of us have heard about Jesus and know of what He did on the cross but still don’t follow Him?  How many of us have been given the opportunity to know Him but have decided not to?  Our indecision is a decision in itself.  Andrew and the other disciple seized the opportunity to follow Jesus–to have a relationship with Him.  They left John who had prepared the way for others to follow the Messiah.  They didn’t doubt John.  In faith, they took him at his word, believed that the One he pointed out was the Messiah and they went after Him.

Jesus saw them following Him and He asked them what they were looking for.  He already knew because He was omniscient but, perhaps He wanted them to state their reason.  What would you say to Him if He were to ask you, “What seek ye?”

The disciples’ question answered Jesus’ question.  They wanted to abide with Him so they asked Him where He was dwelling.  Jesus invited them to go and see.  They were willing to be with Him wherever He was.  They went with Him to see where He was staying and they stayed with Him.  How many of us are willing to leave the past behind and pursue a new life–a future with Jesus? How many of us are willing to forsake our old lives for a new one with Jesus?  How many of us are willing to leave the familiar and comfortable behind and pursue the unfamiliar and sometimes hard, uncomfortable future?  Yet, Andrew and the other disciple did so.  They left their familiar life with John whom they knew, to follow Jesus whom they did not know but had long heard of.  Their faith in God’s promise of the Messiah and John’s testimony led them to go after Jesus.  We have more than John’s testimony and those of the prophets.  We have the testimony of Jesus Himself yet many of us do not follow Him.

Andrew went to his brother, Peter and told him that he and the other disciple had found the Messiah.  He took Peter to Jesus.  When we find Jesus, like Andrew, we should be eager to share Him with others.  When Jesus saw Peter, He identified him as the son of Jona and named him Cephas (Peter) which means stone.  It was Peter whom He asked to feed His sheep.  It is interesting that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him in front of the other disciples.  Why did Jesus do that?

Was it to give Peter a chance to redeem himself?  Was it to show Peter that though he had denied Him three times it by no means meant that he didn’t love Him?  Was it to reassure Peter who might have questioned his love for Jesus because of his denial?  Was it to show Peter and the others that despite what had happened that Jesus had forgiven him and still wanted him to be a big part of His flock?  He wanted Peter to carry on the ministry–to spread the Gospel–to feed the lambs and the sheep.

Peter denied Jesus three times and three times he was forgiven.  My study Bible says that Peter had been restored privately and personally but now it was to be a public matter.  He had disowned Christ in public three times.  Now he must own Christ three times in front of the other disciples.  Peter had sinned but Christ forgave him.  Handling the responsibility of Christ’s ministry was Peter’s way to redeem himself.

Jesus founded His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  This was revealed to Peter by God Himself.  Jesus recognized that Peter would be a great follower–that he would achieve great things in His name, that he would bring many to God.  Like Peter, Jesus sees great potential in each of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knew Peter would deny Him but He also knew that Peter would further the ministry, leading many to repentance.  He knew that far from denying Him, Peter would glorify Him, teach others about Him even at the risk of persecution and death.

Peter counted it worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41).  Far from denying Him, Peter and the others continued to teach and preach about Jesus though they were commanded not to.  Love for Jesus and his desire to carry out His command to feed His sheep far surpassed any fear Peter might have had.  If we truly love Jesus we should be willing to teach and preach about Him despite the risks, persecution, rejection we may face.  Like Peter and the other disciples we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus no matter what.  Like Andrew and the other disciple, we should seek Him and abide with Him.

“To day if ye will hear his voice” – Psalm 95:7

God speaks to us but we must listen. We must be able to discern His voice like a child is able to discern his/her mother’s voice by listening for it. The child knows his/her mother’s voice. We, as children of God, our Heavenly Father, should know His voice. To do this, we should read about Him, learn more about His nature from the scriptures and spend more time with Him. It is like a person you develop a relationship with. The more time you spend with him or her, the more you learn about this person. You become close and you are able to tell when they are happy or when they are troubled.

God is the same way. The more we get to know Him the more we are able to tell the difference between Him and the intruder who enters the pen through another way instead of the gate. This is the devil who tries to draw us away from God through whatever means are at his disposal. He tries to tempt us, deceive us and distract us. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and listen for His voice we will not be led astray. He will protect us and provide for us. When we lean on him, trust Him, give our lives to Him, it will be easier to block out the temptations of the world and not be led astray by the intruder (the thief, robber) who tries to separate us from God and the truth.

Jesus is the means through which we are able to have a relationship with God. He is the gate through which we, the sheep, enter and God is the Shepherd. We have to go through Jesus to get to our Father. It is through Jesus that God expressed His love for His sheep. It is through Jesus that our sins were forgiven. It is through Jesus that we have the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us. It is through Jesus that God conforms us to Christ’s image and prepare us for His work. We are sanctified through Jesus.

It is through Jesus that we are able to resist temptation, follow His example, learn more about God, Heaven, forgiveness, love, trust, faith, tolerance, mercy, salvation, truth. Jesus is the gate. Whoever enters through Him will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture (John 10:9). This means that once we accept Christ, we are saved and have everlasting life. The pasture is the word of God. Once we feed on the word of God, we will not want of anything as pointed out in the 23rd Psalm. The pasture is God. Once we hunger for Him, we will not want of anything.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and we know Him. He laid down His life for us. He protects us from the wolf (the devil). If one of us gets lost, He goes out of His way to find us and bring us back to Him—under His loving care and protection. He will not allow the wolf to scatter His beloved sheep.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27

When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was Peter said that He was the Son of the Living God.  Jesus blessed Peter and told him that this revelation came from God.  Peter recognised God’s voice in the midst of all the voices who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets.

Then, when Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen—His persecution and trials and His death and resurrection, Peter rebuked Him.  Jesus recognised that the devil was trying to contradict Him.  This is an example of how the devil tries to prevent us from following God’s plan for each of our lives and how he uses those close to us. 

Peter heard God’s voice telling that Jesus was the Christ, His son.  And Christ means “anointed” or “chosen one” in Greek.  Christ in Hebrew means “Messiah.”  Jesus was God’s chosen one to bring salvation to His people and the only way this could happen was for Jesus to die on the cross.  Then, He would be raised to life.  This was God’s plan.  But, then, Peter heard a conflicting message—one that was a direct contradiction to God’s word.  It was contradicting what the prophets wrote.

Everything Jesus said about what would be become of Him was written in the scriptures.  He said that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  He was flogged, spat on, mocked and rejected by the people who did not believe that He was the Messiah. (John 12:37-50)  To rebuke Jesus, is to rebuke the scriptures—the word of God.  This is an example of how to discern God’s voice from the devil’s.  God would never contradict Himself.  Everything Jesus said came from God. (John 8:25-30, John 12:49-50).

Basically, what the devil was saying through Peter was, “Your plan will not work.  You’re wasting Your time.”  This speaks of our failure to see the big picture—things from God’s perspective rather than our limited one.  In that instant, Peter was thinking like man instead of like God and forgetting that with God, all things are possible.  God’s desire was to have His son come to earth and live among us, teach us what we need to know about Him and how to live spiritually.  Then, Jesus would take on our sins, die on the cross, which is a symbol of God’s love for us and our salvation and then rise from the dead.

God’s plan was to forgive us our sins and show us that there is life after death.  He wanted us to know that we were saved and no longer enslaved by sin.  Jesus was sent into the world to defeat sin and remove the punishment of sin.  When we sin and confess our sins, God forgives us.  This is what the devil was trying to prevent.  He tried to tempt Jesus who came into the world to restore what the devil had destroyed.

Jesus came to teach us the truth—that there is a God who loves us and wants us to trust and believe in Him and who would save us from our sins and protect us from evil.  Satan deceives and destroys while God saves and protects.  God wants us to know that we can resist the devil through His strength, His power.  He knows that we would be tempted as Jesus was and lied to as Peter was when he told Jesus that He would not fulfil God’s plan.  Satan wants to give the impression that God doesn’t love us enough to willingly sacrifice His Son’s life to pay for our sins once and for all.  But the Cross says differently.

The other day when we were in the gas station, my four year old and I were sitting in the car while my husband was filling the tank.  I was thirsty so I went into my handbag to get some change.  As my husband passed to pay for the gas, I called out to him but he didn’t hear me.  Disappointed, I put the coins back into my wallet.

A few minutes passed and then I heard a tap on the window beside me.  I turned to see a woman standing beside the car looking at me.  I hesitated.  I couldn’t roll down the window because the car engine was off.  I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to open the door.  However, I did.  I had to in order to find out what she wanted.

She told me that she needed change for the bus.  I hesitated and then I took out my wallet.  My fingers closed over the same coins I was going to give my husband to buy me water and I gave them to her.  An expression of gratitude came over her face and she took the coins.  She reached out to shake my hand.  I stared at her hand.  I don’t normally shake hands with perfect strangers.  Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I held her fingers in a feeble handshake.  And she said, “God bless you.”  Of course, I felt badly that I didn’t give her a nice, warm handshake.

Any way when my husband returned, we talked about it.  He had seen what happened and he was happy that I helped the woman out.  He believed that God sent her to me for the bus money.

This evening as I was reading the story of the Sheep or Goats found in Matthew 25 to my four year old, I thought of the woman at the gas station.

Jesus spoke of a king who will separate two groups in the last day just as a shepherd separates the sheep in his flock from the goats.  One group of people will be on the king’s right and the other on his left.  The ones on the right will be those who will share in His kingdom because they helped those who were in need while the ones on the left did not.  The words that struck me were, “Every time you saw one of my followers–however unimportant–and refused to help him in his need, you were refusing to help me.”  Had I refused to help that woman, it would have been the same as refusing to help Jesus.  She was a follower of His and she was in need.  She needed money in order to get to where she needed to go and I had the money.  Yes, I was thirsty but her need was greater.  I didn’t need the water and she needed the change I was going to use for that water.  God had other plans for that money.  He saw a greater need for it and prevented me from wasting it.

I am very thankful now that God used me to help someone in need.  I am grateful that helped someone who needed it.  I hope and pray that the next time God gives me an opportunity to help someone in need, I will not hesitate.

When God’s judgement day comes, which group will you belong to–the sheep or the goats–the ones who will live with the King forever or the ones who will be banished from His presence forever?  I pray that you will be among the sheep.

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,  Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.  So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid (Mark 15:42-47).

Now Jesus is in resting in the tomb.  He lay there while others prepared for the Sabbath.  The temple was destroyed (He was crucified) but on the third day, He will be raised up.

This makes me think of all those who have died and will die in Christ.  Their temples will be destroyed (death and decay) but on that day they will be resurrected incorruptible.  Right now they are resting before their resurrection.  The next sound they will hear is the voice of the One who was pierced.

When Jesus was on the cross, He said, “It is finished.”  He had spent three and a half years doing the work His Father had sent Him to do.   He went about preaching and teaching, performing miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick.  He was alone in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was betrayed and deserted.  He was arrested like a common criminal and brought before the council at night.   He was mistreated by the Jewish leaders and the Gentiles.

The members of the Sanhedrin who liked to think they were better than the Gentiles behaved no differently from the soldiers who mocked Him.  The chief priests, elders and scribes condemned Him to be worthy of death; spat on Him, blindfolded Him; beat Him and said to Him, “Prophesy!”  The soldiers who were present joined in–they struck Him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:63-65).  Isaiah 50:6 says:  I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;  I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.  He was given thirty lashes (the same number of coins Judas was paid for his betrayal) and then handed over to be crucified.

As He hung on the cross, He was mocked,  “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 26:40).

Jesus suffered for our sake as the prophet Isaiah prophesied.  “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken,Smitten by God, and afflicted.   But He was wounded for our transgressions,  He was bruised for our iniquities;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,  And by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.  And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief (Isaiah 53:4-10).

Jesus went through a great deal for us and it must have pained Him to see the people pointing and laughing at Him and to hear their jeers yet, He asked His Father to forgive them.  It must have been horrible to feel the Father’s presence which He had known since the beginning of time leave Him.  You could almost hear the despair in His voice when He cried out,  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).  Afterwards He cried out in a loud voice and then took His last breath.

Now He is resting in the tomb.  His disciples and those who love Him are mourning.  The bridegroom is no longer with them.  Now they are fasting.  But in a little while, their mourning will turn to laughter and their sorrow to joy.  Let us remember and take comfort in these words, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).



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