Continuing in the Book " See Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls"

Chapter 1 

The Life of Our Shepherd. 

We can see the heart of our Shepherd in His life for us. He had left all to be a shepherd. He left His home in glory.  How can we who have never experienced the beauty of heaven, much less the presence of God the Father in His fullness, appreciate His leaving heaven to live here on earth?  He left the glory of heaven’s holy and righteous undefiled environment to live on this defiled and polluted earth with wicked, ungodly people.  What lonesomeness He must have experienced.  How repulsive it must have been to His holiness and righteousness. Yet He willingly obeyed His Father’s will and left all to come to earth to accomplish the will of His Father to live a perfect life for us and suffer the penalty of death for our failure to save us. 

Consider the humble submission of Christ, out of love to the Father, described by Paul.  “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  8And being   found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philip. 2:6-8 

What an amazing shepherd of our souls we have.  If only we could appreciate what it took for him to leave glory and be willing to do this.   Consider the humility of His incarnation.  The earthly life of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls began in the little town of Bethlehem. There our God took upon Him flesh as we are. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God.  3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.....Vs.14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” John  1:1-3,14   "6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” Philip. 2:6-7

He was born of Mary a devout virgin Israelite. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the  prophet, saying,  23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is ,God with us." Matthew 1:18-23 

Jesus, our Saviour, Emmanuel. Our God, our creator had become flesh, born in a stable, with a manger for a cradle, wrapped in swaddling clothes, unnoticed by the world.  He was raised in the humble carpenter's house in Nazareth, a city with a poor reputation.  Jesus grew up as any other child under the tutorship of His devout parents and the scribes in the synagogue. While with His parents in Jerusalem for the Passover it appears that Jesus took it upon Himself  to go before the doctors of the law for his Bar Mitzvah and become a “son of the Law.”  He did this while His family was part of a caravan traveling home to Nazareth.  When they became aware, He was not among them, they went back searching for Him. “ And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?  50And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.  51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”  Luke 2:46-51 

We cannot overlook the humility and grace Jesus demonstrated by His response to the doctors of the law and his parents. Consider the restraint it took for Him to respectfully submit Himself to the authority of these fallen  members of the human race He had made.  His stepfather Joseph trained Him to be a carpenter.  At approximately 30 years of age, He left the work of carpentry and started His ministry.  He had no glowing credentials from the high priest or religious leaders that He was the Christ that was to come.  Though they had Jesus’ credentials given by the prophets concerning His virgin birth in Bethlehem, His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection, they did not pay any attention to them.   Jesus also gave them credentials of His deity in the form of miracles by which He demonstrated His powers as their God and creator. Jesus demonstrated His powers of a deity when He changed the elements He created making water to wine, by controlling the elements when He stilled the wind, and walked on the water.  They saw Him heal the sick and raise the dead, for Jesus is the creator of our bodies and the giver of life.  Again Jesus demonstrated His power over the spirit world and Satan when He cast out demons from those who were indwelt by them and directed the demons to the place of His choosing.  The more He revealed Himself, the more He was rejected and persecuted by the religious crowd of His day. They dogged Him everywhere He went, always trying to prove him to be a phony.  The saddest words of the Bible are “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11 

From the time He started His ministry He had no place to call home, not even a place to rest His head.  He traveled from village to village, town to town, speaking in open fields, homes and synagogues anywhere they would listen to Him.  However, Jesus was always sensitive to the needs of those around Him. He met those needs, whether they were spiritual, physical or a need for comforting and giving hope where there was no hope.  Where a rebuke was needed, he gave that too, although He knew it would cost him His popularity and acceptance, especially among the religious crowd. 

During His three years of ministry He had few followers among the religious rulers.  Most were common people as were the twelve men He chose to be His disciples.  His followers ranged from honest fishermen to crooked tax collectors and prostitutes, for which He was criticized.“ And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.  10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans   and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.  11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?  12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:9-13  

The religious leaders mocked Him and sought to entrap Him at every opportunity they could find.  Eventually they took Him and unjustly tried Him, and had Him crucified. Yet during all this time He did not seek to destroy His enemies but to restore them.  He lived the perfect law of God in their place, died in their place, for their failure, that they might have life with Him.  Then He  rose again for their justification.  Though Jesus was and is their Christ, their Messiah, Jesus lived a life of rejection and persecution.  According to the Scriptures Jesus never sought entertainment and had little relaxation apart from what He found at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany, where He went on occasion for a short rest after a trying period. Indeed His life was a lonesome one, no wonder He spent so much time in prayer talking to His Father in heaven. 

However, no matter who received Him, He received them. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12.  He is still doing so today, have you received Him?  If not Press Here. 

The heart of Jesus Christ the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, is seen in His nature and character.  He is Holy, pure, and undefiled in His motives, incapable of a wicked thought or deed.  He is Righteous, just in all His ways.  He is fair in His dealing with man.  He is Guileless; there is no deceitfulness about Him.  He is Honest, for He is truth.  He is Gracious, showing unmerited favor toward those that fear Him.  He is Forgiving, forgetting the offenses of those that ask Him.  He is Merciful, to those in need; He gets involved in helping them.  His mercy is always active, never passive.  He is Humble, void of pride of self, being willing to serve even the undeserving.  He is Meek, not weak, restraining His power for the benefit of others.  He is Immutable, unchanging, faithful, consistent and sure.  How wonderful is the nature and character of our Lord and Shepherd. 

How great it is to know the heart of our Shepherd as He calls unto us . . . “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30  His yoke is His nature and character. His heart is to be our heart, also.  We are to take on His character, so as to fulfill the purpose of our creation, to be in His image and likeness. However, this a progressive ongoing process of a life of change.  It is not an overnight experience.

How loving, merciful and gracious our Chief Shepherd is. Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  His life and ministry were a living sacrifice for the faith of others.  For thirty years, in the eyes of the world, He was a nobody.  They despised Him, mocked Him, rejected Him, persecuted Him, and crucified Him.  Yet He sought them no harm neither was He bitter toward them, but lovingly longed for them. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!“  Matthew 23:37

Remember the saddest words in the Bible are these: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  John 1:10-11 

However, He stayed true to His mission, and fulfilled it, praise God what a Shepherd we have. How gracious are the words: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12   It is hard to imagine how or why He would be so gracious as to receive any member of this fallen, depraved, unworthy, human race. We should love Him, praise Him, for being what He is, a God of love, mercy and grace.   How much more, we should and praise Him for being our God and our Saviour. Amen! 

The heart of our Shepherd is seen in His love and respect of His Father. This was demonstrated by His obedience to His Father's will for His life. Consider Jesus’ words “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence” John 14:31.....; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. Chapt. 15:10 b .........  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Chapt.17:4 

Should not this be the way we demonstrate our love and respect to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls as well?  Consider the joy in Jesus heart as He said: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” John 17:4  Should not our love for the Lord cause us  to strive to be able to say those same words when we see Him?   

May your decisions bring you the promise Romans 8:28   

“ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”   
Your friend in Christ Warren T. Smith

 

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