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Posts Tagged ‘John 10’


Ezekiel 34: Jesus, the Authentic Shepherd – A Reprise

Monday, January 15, 2018

George Vicat Cole: Watching the Flock

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we remind ourselves that Jesus is the one, true, timeless and reliable shepherd.

In the New Testament, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and John describe the Good Shepherd.  We have heard these lines so often that we might be able to recite them from memory.

In Matthew 9 and Mark 6 we read that Jesus sees the people as a shepherd-less flock.

In Matthew 25 and Mark 14, Jesus tells us that the Son of Man will divide his flock as a shepherd does, who knows each sheep well.

In Matthew 26 when Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of him, he uses the metaphor of a shepherd being struck down and the flock scattering.

John in Chapter 10 develops the beautiful imagery of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep . . . I know my sheep and my sheep know me The sheep gate, Jesus, admits only the rightful shepherd.  The hired hand runs away in fear to abandon the sheep to the attack of the wolf.  The Good Shepherd also has sheep in other pens which he must bring into the one fold.

God as shepherd brings us back in peace in the letter to the Hebrews (13:20)

Peter tells us that the Good Shepherd leads the flock to safety, and brings us joy. (2:25 and 5:4).

Finally, in Revelation 7:17 we see Jesus the Lamb as the ultimate shepherd.

All of this is not a coincidence.  The continual reminder of God’s presence in our lives as shepherd through Christ and the holy Spirit are meant to be signs to us.  In today’s reading from Ezekiel we are reminded that false shepherds abound.  They are subtle yet abusive.  Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!  They prey on the weak and lord it over the flock.  They eat the very sheep they are called to protect.  There is also the one, true and constant shepherd who will gather the scattered, who will rid the countryside of ravenous beasts, who will send rain in due season so that the trees might bear fruit.

God asks us these questions through Ezekiel in verse 18: Was it not enough for you to graze on the best pasture, that you had to trample the rest of the pastures with your feet?  Was it not enough for you to drink the clearest water, that you had to fowl the remainder with your feet? 

We know the answers to these questions once we explore scripture. God will judge the lean and the fat.  God, the Ultimate Shepherd, knows each sheep by name.  God, the Good Shepherd, carries the ewes and the lambs in God’s arms.  God, the Protecting Shepherd, defends the sheep from the wolf.  God, the Healing Shepherd, will seek out the lost and the weary.  God, the Abiding Shepherd, will gather us home with all of the faithful flock.

When we compare versions of these verses, we find the shepherd we seek. 

Tomorrow, a prayer to the shepherd.

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Ezekiel 34: Parable of the Shepherds – Part IV

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Himalayan Shepherd

The New Testament Gospels of Mark, Matthew and John describe the Good Shepherd, and because we have heard these lines often, we may be able to recite them from memory. If this is the case, we will want to spend time with varying translations to allow these images to sink into our sinew and bone. For we can only act as Jesus asks when we fully own his words. We can only enact our own Good Shepherd Parable when his words move through us into our ears and lips, hands and feet.

In Matthew 9 and Mark 6 we read that Jesus sees the people as a shepherd-less flock.  In Matthew 25 and Mark 14, Jesus tells us that the Son of Man will divide his flock as a shepherd does, knowing each sheep well.  In Matthew 26 when Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, he uses the metaphor of a shepherd being struck down and the flock scattering.  St. John in Chapter 10 develops the beautiful imagery of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. The hired hand runs away in fear and abandons the sheep to the attack of the wolf while Jesus, the sheep gate, admits only those he knows . . . I know my sheep and my sheep know me

It is difficult to distinguish between false shepherds and the Good Shepherd and so it is important to look for the one who mercifully brings other sheep into the one fold, the one who forgives and heals, the one who calls, leads and protects, the one who watches through the night, the one inviting us to begin our own parable of shepherding.

Tomorrow, shepherds in The Letters and Revelation.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 20, 2008.

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Isaiah 11: The Rule

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Favorite from February 28, 2010.

We often consider what passion we might need to live as disciples of Christ.  Today we look at the rules by which we must learn to live.

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to look past appearances; we must not make decisions based on hearsay.

Justice shall be the band about his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

If we wish to part of kingdom building, we must learn – as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 – that the only armor we need is Christ.

He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel; the dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth.

If we wish to be a part of kingdom building, we must wait for the signal, and we must be able to recognize the Shepherd as John tells us in Chapter 10 of his Gospel.

The envy of Ephraim shall pass away and the rivalry of Judah shall be removed; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to put aside envy; we must learn that God calls for unity and not rivalry.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to delight in wisdom, to listen for God’s counsel, to draw from God’s strength, and to love the Lord our God more than life itself.  This fear, this awe, this love will be all we need to carry us through any adversity we face.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must take all of this in . . . and we must make the Rule part of our fiber and tissue, our heart and soul.

For more reflections on how God’s love manifests itself in our lives, enter  the words The Law into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Sunday, January 27, 2013 – Ezekiel 5 – Considering Our Image of God – Part II

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Yesterday we reflected on an image of God that we may derive from the words of Ezekiel and we saw how easy it was to focus more on what frightens us rather than on what saves and heals us.  We came to understand that when we isolate these images of God we see only the spectacle of God’s supreme power and the inevitability and absoluteness of God’s decisions.  We leave no room for Jesus who said . . .

Judge not lest you yourself be judged.  (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37)

I tell you to forgive [your brother] not seven but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:22)

If [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him.  (Luke 17:4)

Everything is possible for him who believes.  (Mark 9:23)

A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you so must you love one another.  (John 13:34)

With Jesus’ words – and with Jesus’ actions – we begin to see the possibility that there is a Christ-like way to perceive this prophecy.  When the world is viewed through the values Jesus brings to us – and the lessons Jesus teaches us – we see plainly that in our attempt to avoid pain, suffering and eternal damnation we avoid self-examination.  This evasion of suffering at any price and the search for happiness at all cost will tempt us to engage in vigorous judgment and even condemnation of others for when we respond to interior panic we ignore the call to empathy.   In our headlong rush to please and appease the angry God we see on the surface of Ezekiel’s prophecy, we do not examine the prophet’s words closely.  We take flight and trample our neighbors in our feeble attempt to save ourselves . . . and we fly away past the shepherd who stands before us, waiting to save.

Picture1It is possible that Jesus drew his imagery of the Good Shepherd from Ezekiel.  Once we spend time with these verses we begin to see connections.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  (John 10: 14-16)

I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.  . . . I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land . . .  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 34: 13-15)  

This is the image of God that Jesus brings to us from Ezekiel.  This is an image of God we do well to consider today.

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