This morning, as we studied Ephesians again, we read about a famous actor who was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works.
An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the Twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed on one condition…that the preacher would also recite it.
The actor’s recitation was eloquently done…just the right dramatic emphasis on just the right words. And when he finished, he was given a lengthy applause and a standing ovation
Then the old preacher rose to recite the psalm. His voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished. But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.
When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he said, “I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.”
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the patient and understanding Shepherd. Jesus loves the sheep.
I am a sheep. Well…actually, I am a sparrow. But either way, Jesus loves me. How much He loves me does not depend upon my intellect. It does not depend upon my beauty. It does not depend upon my loyalty.
Sheep are not intelligent – in fact, sheep are stupid. Sheep are not beautiful, especially when they are in desperate need of a good shearing. And sheep are not loyal. They will follow anything from a goat to a wolf in sheep’s clothing away from the protection of the shepherd. Yet, we are told the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
I have spent more than half my life getting to know the Good Shepherd – Jesus Christ. I believe I’ve come to know Him fairly well. Still, every day I learn something new and amazing about His love for me.
Today, in our prayer time a new insight caught me by surprise, casting a bright light on the blessings I tend to take for granted every day. Like a stupid sheep I often allow myself to accept the blessings without having a grateful heart for the one who blesses me.
In this passage Jesus walked into a village one day and ten lepers cried out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He stopped, looked at them and said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And “as they went, they were cleansed”. But only one came back and fell at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Notice the very sad words of Jesus that followed: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”
Now obviously the other nine knew it was Jesus who had cleansed them. Still, they did not bother to go back and thank Him. I pray that when the blessings come, and they come every single day, I will always remember to give God the praise, glory and honor, and acknowledge that He is the source of every blessing in our life.
Right here we learned that when the man came back to thank Jesus, he received the additional blessing of becoming whole! Jesus said to him, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19, KJV) He was not just cleansed of leprosy, he got his missing fingers and toes back!
This tells me when my heart is thankful toward the Good Shepherd, I position myself for even greater blessings!
We also learned another lesson today. It is about serving God as a shepherd (a pastor…a vision we still hold close to our hearts). If we are ever to step up to lead another flock for the Good Shepherd we must be acutely aware of the warnings. Shepherds are to be smarter than the sheep! Jeremiah 10:21 says:
For the shepherds are stupid:
they don’t seek the LORD.
Therefore they have not prospered,
and their whole flock is scattered.
This tells me only if and when we seek the Lord, with willing hearts, before we attempt to guard a band of His sheep, will they prosper and not go astray.
Thank the Lord for all His blessings!