“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I received of my Father.” (Jn. 10:17-18)
It’s hard for us to imagine choosing suffering.
Who chooses to hurt? Who signs up for pain? Cancer, miscarriage, barrenness, the humiliation of job loss, strained and broken relationships, rebellious children, betrayal, misunderstandings that just don’t seem to go away, disappointment, death of our parents, a spouse, a child, not to mention the painful consequences and shame of any number of our own mistakes and failures.
Even the sturdiest of Christians often find themselves saying something like this: I wouldn’t have chosen this path, but I can see God’s grace in it. I wouldn’t have told the story this way, but I can see how the glory of God has shone through. How many of you have said something like that?
But Jesus is saying something different than that. Jesus is not saying that a series of unfortunate events will befall Him but God His Father will work them out for good. Jesus is not saying that. We know that God does in fact work all things out for good. God is working all things out for good. But Jesus is not passive in that work. Jesus is not merely being acted upon. Jesus doesn’t just have things happening to Him. Jesus is not a victim of circumstances. Jesus is not a victim of bad luck. Jesus is not even the victim of the plotting of evil men.
Jesus says that no one can take His life from Him. Jesus is not a victim. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus did not come to feed the sheep and somehow He got caught in the middle of a wolf attack. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. That’s not a possibility, not a potential hazard, that’s the plan. That’s what the Good Shepherd does. That’s what the Good Shepherd is for. That’s how you know He’s the Good Shepherd because He gives His life for the sheep. Continue Reading…