“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14″I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I 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. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19At these words the Jews were again divided. 20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
I realize that lately I have fallen into a trap. I realized it this morning while reading 1 Timothy. It’s a short pastoral letter that Paul wrote to his young disciple named Timothy. At the end of the short letter I read this: “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.”
What I realized after reading this is that I had gotten away from my own stated reason for beginning this blog in the first place. I set out with an objective to spend 90 days in John’s Gospel and I got away from that. I have been having so much fun irritating atheists and evolutionists that I haven’t been writing as much about John’s Gospel. I got too caught up in godless chatter, opposing ideas, and something falsely called knowledge. I am going to take a break from writing and blogging about those things and get back to my main objective: The Gospel according to John and its exposition and application in a devotional and meditative format. With that said…
Here’s the key to understanding Jesus versus all other comers: He lays down his life for those who belong to Him. This begins with a rather simple assumption: We needed someone to die for us. We were in some sort of trouble that required intervention. I have thought about this, too. Nearly everyone on the planet will acknowledge that man, even as a concept, is defunct. We ruin everything we touch: we are fond of war, violence, and all sorts of atrocities. Here’s where Jesus differs from every other person who has ever walked on the earth: Jesus looked at that condition and died for us because of that condition. He was not willing to walk away from mankind simply because mankind was so profoundly offensive. The Apostle said as much:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11, NIV)
I know that there have been people in the history of humanity who have died for someone else, but no one has done for humanity what Jesus has done. No one willingly acknowledged man’s depravity and died so that depravity could be vanquished and extinguished. Jesus said that when the time comes to stand in the gap and protect the sheep He is the only one willing and able to do so: “The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” In other words, his own life is more valuable than the life of someone else. (I guess here we have a little bit of that ‘survival of the fittest.’)
I got to thinking about this during the last week or so that I have been arguing with certain evolutionists. I disagree with them profoundly. I don’t think they could be more wrong than they are. I don’t think they could condescending if they tried (they would argue with me of course!). I don’t think they could be more blasphemous (they might try though!). Here’s my point: Even these sheep, Christ died for: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). I could be that I have not spent nearly enough time telling these angry people what Jesus himself said, “For God so loved the World, He gave His One and Only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He says it again in verse 15: “…just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” The greatest evidence for Christian faith is Jesus. Why? He knows the Father. How does that prove anything? Because He laid down his life. His death is the evidence for the truthfulness of Christianity. He wants to drive this point home: “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” Jesus places all of his credibility before man and God in one basket: His death and Resurrection. Apart from His Death and Resurrection, Christianity is meaningless.
Whats more is this: His death and resurrection took place in history. Both events were witnessed by real human beings. God did not hide His actions, but put them right before the eyes of humanity: Between heaven and earth. I have concluded that, insofar as my conversations with certain unbelievers is concerned, I cannot convince them with arguments. They always counter my arguments. I cannot convince them with anger and sarcasm; they are equally angry and sarcastic. When it gets down to the heart of the matter all I have is this: The authority of Jesus is the Cross and Resurrection. I don’t need to argue or defend any other point—I don’t even need to defend these two. Jesus says that his validation is from the Father. One further point is that since these things were done in history, they rise and fall of their own accord.
Jesus says: You can’t kill me. I lay down my own life of my own free will. No one took his life. He gave it. Furthermore, no one can keep him dead: He took up his life of his own accord. Death had no hold on him. Death had no grip on him. Death had no claim on him. The Way, the Truth, and the Life could not be held by the grave!
Jesus says that those who are his will hear his voice and listen to it. They will hearken to it. They will follow him, flock to him, and run away from anyone whose voice is not His. Sheep are not that dumb: They know who will protect them, they know who will help them, they know to whom they belong.
With all this in mind, there are two results. One group of people said: ‘He’s out of his mind. Raving mad. Doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He must have a demon.’ That is the response of people who are unconcerned, however much they feign concern, about life. They don’t care to live. They don’t care about the Shepherd’s Voice. They are content to follow the thieves, robbers, and hirelings. They are content with destruction. This is the group of people that I hear from the most. They will argue with me about matters of death, but won’t begin to talk about the matters I discuss that deal with life.
There’s another group, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” No.
But Jesus can, Jesus did, and Jesus will—if only you want him to. I’ll take Jesus’ empty tomb, and the foolishness that goes with it, over Darwin’s (several) billion (s) year old graveyard, and the supposed wisdom that goes with it, any day of the week. Jesus was interested in life, not death; so am I.
Soli Deo Gloria!