Pastor’s Blog March 2018

I’ve been studying John 10 over the last few days. It is the well-known passage about the Good Shepherd.

The OT has a number of significant passages in which God is spoken of as the Shepherd of Israel. Most notably in Ezekiel 34, the shepherds (leaders) of Israel are condemned for their selfish, self-serving use of power and God promises that there will come a day when he will shepherd Israel.

The context of John 10 suggests that Ezekiel 34 is clearly in the background of Jesus’ and Johns’ thinking. In chapter 10 Jesus is in dispute with the leaders (shepherds) of his day and his teaching about the Good Shepherd is posing the question, how will you know God’s true shepherd (king) when he comes?

Jesus gives various answers but the one I want to highlight is found in v11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The surprising answer to the question, how will you know the true shepherd? Is that you will know him because he lays down his life for the sheep. This was not the answer anyone was expecting and it still isn’t!

We need, I think, to be clear about this, Jesus’ death on a cross for the salvation of all who believe in him was and is a scandal. All of the gospels give a significant amount of space to preparing us for and then describing the crucifixion of Jesus precisely because, no one was expecting that this would be the way that God would reveal his love and his glory to us.

As during this month we approach Easter, perhaps we could ask God to help us to hear the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion in  a way that brings home to us afresh the absolute scandal and shame of the cross and the beauty and power of the love that enabled Jesus to lay down his life for us.

Phil Dixon