THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST (LESSON 3)
All this month we've been talking about what it means to have Christ as Lord in your life. And if Christ is your Lord, you should let Him lead you and take care of you, right?
Well, tonight we are going to focus on another way to think of Christ as Lord. In the Bible, Christ is often referred to as "The Good Shepherd." And what does a good shepherd do? He takes care of and leads his flock. King David wrote what is probably one of the most well-known Psalms in the Bible, and it talks about this very thing. It is Psalm 23, and it begins "The Lord is my shepherd." Well, we are going to discuss what it means to have the Lord as your shepherd, and we will see why we are referred to as sheep.
Throughout the Bible the image of the shepherd is very important. The shepherd represents one who loves and cares for his flock. A good shepherd would feed the flock, take care of the weak and sick, search for the lost, guide his sheep with love and discipline, gather and protect the sheep even to the point of sacrificing his own life. And that's exactly what Christ did and continues to do for us. But, unfortunately, like sheep we don't always do what we are supposed to do.
And isn't it interesting that Christ's followers are referred to as sheep and not some other animal? We are not called eagles or lions or horses. It is probably because we have a lot in common with sheep. What are some of the similarities? Sheep are stubborn creatures who will get themselves into ridiculous situations and need to be rescued, similar to people.
And sheep have a mob mentality. If one sheep is startled and runs off a cliff, most of the herd will follow right behind it. (Similar to the way people do things just because everybody else is doing it.)
And sheep have nasty habits. They will drink filthy muddy water even when there is fresh clean water nearby. We humans are similar to sheep in this way because sometimes we put things in our body that we know are bad for us, but we do it anyway. So, see, we have a lot in common with our furry little friends after all.
So how is your relationship with Christ as your Lord and shepherd? Are you letting Christ be your shepherd and guide you, or are you running around like a lost sheep, doing whatever you want to do and getting into all kinds of trouble? Are you following the true Shepherd or some impostor instead of the Lord?
Well, let's read what Christ said about being our Shepherd. John 10:7-10 reads, "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
When Christ says, "I am the door of the sheep," he means that he wants to block anything from coming in and harming you, and he also wants to protect you from going out into the world and harming yourself. Sometimes we think that Christ is trying to block us from having fun, but he is trying to protect you from all of the things in this world that want to destroy you.
* But some of us will go out of our way to stray from God's protection. Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." God tries to keep us safe, but we try to sneak past Him. Fortunately for us, God will do whatever it takes to keep His flock safe. He will sometimes even take drastic measures to keep us from harming ourselves. For example, sometimes certain things happen in our lives, and we think "Why me?" We feel as though God is punishing us. But later we see that God was just trying to keep us close.
If a shepherd has a sheep that is always straying and getting into trouble, sometimes what the shepherd will do is break two of the sheep's legs. Then the shepherd would set the bones and carry the lamb on his shoulders. It would take about five to eight weeks for the sheep's bones to heal, and in that time, the lamb would grow closer to the shepherd. Once the sheep was well, he wouldn't want to stray anymore because of the bond that developed between him and his master.
Maybe something traumatic has happened in your life because this is God's way of breaking your legs. Perhaps you were grazing in an area that was making you sick (smoking marijuana), or maybe you were in the habit of drinking bad water (alcohol), or maybe you were spending time with wolves in sheep's clothing (people who were going to lead you to your destruction), so God had to take drastic measures to stop you in your tracks. So instead of asking, "Why did this happen to me?" Use that time and circumstance to ask, "God, are you trying to make me be still and rest in your strength and grow close to you?"
Stop following the wolves of the world and instead let your Lord carry and lead you. Again, what is the Lord going to have to do to you to get your attention? Don't you know that nobody loves you like Christ? Those people who you are letting lead you astray don't care about your soul. Let's read what Christ had to say about this. John 10:11-14, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
Christ gave his life for His flock, yet oftentimes we follow those who turn on us or desert us the first chance they get. No one will ever care for you as much as Christ does, and for that reason you should let him be Lord in your life.
So is the Lord truly your shepherd? Let's look at a couple of ways that you can tell if the Lord is your shepherd. If the Lord is your shepherd, you listen to what he tells you to do and you obey. John 10:27-28, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (Give the example of a baby knowing its mother and not going to strangers.)
And there are other ways that we show that we belong to the Lord. As believers, we are to be set apart. There should be something about the way you carry yourself and your lifestyle that tells the world that you are one of Christ's own. Did you know that a shepherd would use a large killing knife to carve his own distinct ear mark into one of his sheep's ears? He would catch the sheep, lay her ear on a wooden block, and then notch the ear deeply with the razor sharp edge of the knife. This way even at a distance it was easy to determine whom the sheep belonged to. Do you have Christ's mark on you, or do you look just like the crowd? If you blend in too easily with the people of this world, perhaps the Lord is not truly your Shepherd.
Now, in conclusion, here are a few words for you lost sheep: Sometimes we think that we have gone too far, that God wouldn't even want someone like us. We feel as though we've really blown it now. But don't ever let Satan fill your head with those thoughts. In Luke 15:4-7, Christ said, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
Lost sheep, don't you know that Jesus is looking for you? If you know of your sinful condition, you have already taken an important step. Now, it is up to you to be willing to turn from you sins and turn towards God. And there will be a celebration in heaven for you on that day. But if you believe that you are an "okay" person, someone who does not need to change, you will die in your sins and there can be no joy in heaven over you.
No matter how far you have strayed, Jesus is still willing to take you in, put you on His shoulders, and count you as one of His. If you have been lost months or years, He is waiting to show you the way. Ezekiel 34:11-13,16 reads, "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land. I will seek which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that was sick."
How many of you have been hanging out in some dark places? The Lord is waiting to bring you to the light. How many of you have been lost and don't know who you are? The Lord wants to show you the way. How many of you have been driven out by even your own families or have had people try to break your spirit? The Lord is saying I will adopt you as My child. I'll fill you with My spirit.
But hold on. There is a warning at the end of that verse: "But I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment." If you are self-righteous and believe that you don't need Jesus as your Lord and Savior (or as your Shepherd,) He warns that the day will come when you will see how weak you really are.
Friends, we are all like sheep following something or someone. Make a choice this day whom you are going to follow as your Lord and Shepherd!