Kingdom Principle: The Shepherd guides us on the Path of Life which is filled with Suffering.
Suffering will stay, the Shepherd will sustain.
|Acts 2:42-47||Psalm 23||1 Peter 2:19-25||John 10:1-10|
My kids don’t even know that Cap’n Crunch was on a cereal boxes… he was not a strong confident captain. Captains are called to leaders who command and lead those under their charge. In the Biblical language a Shepherd was to command and lead the sheep under their charge. This Biblical image as the strength of the Shepherd is throughout the Scriptures. (Ezekiel 34:11, 15, 16; Jer. 23:1-4; Psalm 77:20, 95:7, 100:3; Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 5:2-3) The shepherd was the model for protection and provision for the helpless sheep. Today in my culture, a shepherd is relegated to a manger scene at Christmas, and I do not have any personal connection to a shepherd or place to observe one in a natural setting. Even those who grew up on farms with livestock, including sheep, do not hold a shepherd perspective – rather a farmer as caretaker of the livestock on the farm. Therefore – I am shifting the metaphor from a Shepherd to a Captain…. Jesus also shifts the metaphor in John 10 from a shepherd to the gate.
Edward Smith died on April 15, 1912 along with 1523 others…. He was the captain of the RMS Titanic and he went down with the ship. Lee Joon Seok did not die on April 16, 2014, but his ship sank and 269 others perished. He was the captain of the South Korean Ferry, he abandoned ship, he left the gate wide open and an enemy come in to destroy, I am afraid we may no longer trust our captains…. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….. The Lord is my captain, I shall not drift.
We are in the fourth week since Easter and the journey has been about walking down the Path of Life. What does it look like to live in a post-resurrection world? Thus far we have seen that God Delivers – Forgiveness, Faith, Grace & Mercy, and His People Declare – Confession, Obedience, Submission & Celebration. This week it is not about the what, rather it is about the how.
Recent history shows us that captains of airplanes can simply disappear, captains of sheriff departments can let us down, captains of buses can fall asleep. How is it that you will have the courage to ever be directed by another captain…? The point of this is that you can’t… May the Lord be your captain! Only in that place shall you fear no evil and have no want or need. Yet fact is that the text this week paints and even more challenging picture than simply not having a captain of this world. Having the Lord as you Captain, is not about getting out of difficult and/or suffering situations, rather it is an awareness that while your Captain is at the helm, difficult and suffering situations will take place in your life. When the Lord is your captain you are on the path of righteousness for his name’s sake, and you shall live to righteousness because your captain bore your sins in his body. The Lord is the gate by which we enter into the Path of Life.
So– As the captain goes, so go the ship, and while the saying is that the “Captain goes down with the ship”, the real sense is that, the ship is following the Captain, down into the depths of death. With Christ this is also so, in order that we might return with Him in life. The Biblical image as the suffering of the sheep is throughout the Scriptures; further that Jesus is both the Shepherd (as above) and suffers as a sheep. (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29, Romans 3:24-25, 1 Cor. 5:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Rev. 5:12) The implications of this are TREMENDOUS – Jesus as your captain, suffered unjustly – He did not sin or deserve to suffer, but he did so to bear the sins of the world. You by submitting to Jesus as your captain are called to do good and suffer for it. No – this is not masochistic or twisted– it is not a call to enjoy and seek to increase your sufferings, rather it is a call to answer evil with good, (Pr. 31:12, Romans 12:21, 3 John 1:11) it is a call to live your lives in such a way that other s will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. ( Matt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12) Faith is found in the reality, that your good deeds may evoke unjust suffering and condemnation from those who do not praise your Father in heaven and yet you are still willing to walk in obedience. This is the journey of your captain, and yet he did not defile himself with his words while others cursed him, he did not defend or retaliate with his mouth while others condemned him. Rather he entrusted himself to the Father who judges justly.
Therefore: The Path of Life is a bed of roses only if you remember it is filled with thorns. There is to be suffering in this world and on the path of life. (Acts 9:14-16, Romans 5:1-5, Phil. 3:8-14, James 1:2-4, 2 Tim 1:12, 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:10-11) (if you disagree with you, we may share different view on “end times”) Our journey and our Shepherd are not for the purpose to remove suffering rather the redemption of suffering. PAUSE – remember there is suffering as a consequence of your sinful choices. But that not all suffering is caused by sin. The consequence to suffer as a result of sin is not unjust suffering, when you sin and suffer – this is just. (This is not the focus of this post) Unjust sufferings (intrusion) are found in the journey of Grace – this teaching leads us to the submission of our hearts. If you are trying to remove all suffering from your life, you are living in the realm of understanding of faith and obedience. As you progress down the path of life, you encounter suffering in the midst of grace and submission. In this, when your conscience is focused on God, you will hear his voice and your life will be marked and filled with deeper understandings of grace, which does not seek to remove suffering rather again is finds it redeemed. This now begins to move you to the realm of celebration and being thankful for the mercy that God extends.
Foundational to this thinking:
- Testing & Trials are for Promotion not Punishment
- Repentance nullifies the power of sin
- God loves you! And His love is the source of all Power to Overcome.
- Our control is an illusion – (therefore you cannot end suffering)
The Jesus is the shepherd who is our provider and protector, by him we enter life and we receive it abundantly. This abundance is not the removal of hardship and pain, rather it is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy – and the life offered by the thief is often promised as one without hardship and pain. Are the eyes of your heart open to suffering for the sake of the Gospel…. ? If so then Jesus is your Lord, Shepherd and Captain.
I find the path of life demonstrated in Acts 2:42-47… both what God is delivering and how the people are declaring… do you?