I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John10:11 ESV).
We have all sorts of little sayings to emphasize that we are telling the truth and we really are going to keep our promises:
- "No brag, just fact."
- "Just the facts, ma'am."
- "Let me be brutally honest"
- "Now truthfully ..."
- "I want to walk the talk."
- "You can take it to the bank."
- "Let me be brutally honest!"
And a bunch more if we wanted to list them.
While Jesus had a way to emphasize the importance of something he said, when it comes to promises, the Lord advocated that we simply tell the truth the first time without elaboration or oaths (Matthew 5:34; James 5:12). Our lives really prove the value of our words, and Jesus wanted his life to speak clearly and loudly about his faithfulness: faithfulness to both God and to us.
Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, and The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. This was so important that he said it in slightly different ways five times in one setting (John 10:11-18). However, the ultimate test of a shepherd is whether he lives for himself or for his sheep — if he truly lays down his life for his sheep in both big and small ways.
Jesus proved himself to be a faithful shepherd by what he did and how he did it!
- Jesus gave up the protection and perfection of heaven for the flaws and mortality of human life (Philippians 2:5-11).
- Jesus prepared his closest followers for his absence even when wrestling with his impending death. He lovingly spent time with them and prepared them for his absence and promised them his ongoing presence through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (John 13:1-17:26).
- Jesus paid the ultimate price by dying on the Cross and was raised from the dead to release us from the tyranny of sin and death (Mark 10:45; Romans 4:25).
Jesus spoke these words of promise, "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15), then proved his word true by laying down his life every step of his journey with them.
But why is this important? Why make such a big deal about it?
Today, two reasons seem very important to me.
Second, Jesus shows us the heart of real leadership. Leadership "Jesus' style" is not about being served or finding status or exercising power. Leadership "Jesus' style" is about setting an example, living our lives to bless others, and giving up our lives to help others find God, hope, and heaven. Anyone who leads in the footsteps of Jesus should not be surprised that leadership requires us to lay down our lives for those we lead as we follow the Master's example!
Jesus did more than say he loves us: he has proven his love by his actions. And because his love has been proven, we can trust his promises to be with us and to bring us to the Father. No brag ... just fact!
The following questions are for your own reflection and may also be used in small group discussion or house church settings. I would also love to get your feedback on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/hl102909
What are your favorite promises of Jesus?
- Why can you trust these promises to be true?
- What do they help you look forward to experiencing with God in the future?
- How do they help give you reassurance in difficult times?
Why do you think we tend to forget Jesus' promises when we are going through times of trouble?
How does Jesus' proof of his faithfulness to the hard and painful promises give us assurance that he will keep the glorious promises?
What can you do to help some other believer hear and accept the promises of Jesus?