Jesus, the Recycler looks at how Jesus takes people who would be thrown away by the world and were considered worthless by society, and recycles them to be worthwhile and useful in God's Kingdom.
In John 10 Jesus compares us to sheep and he speaks of the religious leaders of his day as hirelings who will run away at the first sign of trouble. The good shepherd is not like that at all, however. Instead of running away, the shepherd will die to protect the sheep. The hired hand doesn’t care about the sheep, only about himself, but the good shepherd is different. He knows the sheep by name and they recognize him and his voice.
Of course, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. He knows us and cares for us. He was willing to and, in fact, did lay down his life for us. He didn’t throw himself between us and a bear, but in dying for our sins on the cross he did come between us and the roaring lion who is trying to devour us.
Jesus even says that this sacrifice of laying down his life is a reason his Father loves him. Of course, his life would not be laid down permanently because he would take his life back in the resurrection. He also explained that no one was taking it from him. If it had been taken from him by force it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice.
The final thing Jesus told his Jewish listeners was that they were not his only sheep. He explained that he had other sheep that were not part of the nation that had been God’s people. We can be grateful that through Jesus both Jews and Gentiles are able to be part of the same flock of sheep and that we don’t have to depend on hirelings. We must still watch for false shepherds and religious leaders who try to lead us away from our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone lead you away from the shepherd who died for you.
Did you follow the hoopla over our governor’s race in Georgia and the circus that seems to always be Florida politics? I, for one, am glad that whatever state I live in and whatever human gets elected to that state’s highest office; as a Christian, Jesus is my governor and no one can ever vote him out of that position.
In Psalm 22:28, the Psalmist describes the Lord as the governor among the nations. Some translations say ruler over the nations or something similar. Of course governors of the past were not like our American governors. In those days the king would appoint the governor, the people didn’t vote for one. The governor didn’t have a legislature or even a judiciary to balance his power. The king would give his authority to the governor to rule.
In the case of Jesus, the Father appointed him and told of it beforehand. In Isaiah the prophecy of the child to be born included the phrase, “the government shall be on his shoulders”. In other words, he was given the right to rule over the people. He will be our governor until he gives that authority up to the Father at the end of time. No one can take it from him. No one can vote him out.
Frequently in our country and in others as well, governors and other officials are caught up in scandals and guilty of corruption. Isn’t it comforting to know that our governor is perfect and we don’t need to ever be ashamed of him. Let’s strive to live in such a way that he doesn’t have reason to be ashamed of us either.
In Christian Love
Did you brave the stores on Black Friday to get deals for gifts? Have you done all your gift shopping? Are there some people for whom it is difficult to buy the right gift? Do you wonder if the gifts will be appreciated? Giving gifts has been a part of human cultures for millennia. I guess the first gift given was not a good one (Eve gave Adam the fruit) and we have been trying to do better ever since. But seriously, God is a giver and since we are created in his image it is natural that we want to give as well.
We know God is the greatest gift-giver because he gave his only son for us, according to John 3:16. Other passages tell us about the things God has given us as well, and as God’s Son, Jesus is also a giver. Ephesians 4:7-8 tells us about Christ’s gifts, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,’When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’” When Jesus rose from the grave he gave us gifts. Those gifts are available to all mankind and we need to be letting everyone know so they can receive their gifts from Jesus.
In addition to grace that is mentioned in verse 7, what are some of the gifts mentioned in verse 8 where he paraphrases Psalm 68:18? He gave us hope that we could overcome death because he rose again. He gave us freedom from the fear of death that has such a powerful hold on humanity. He gave us confidence that God’s promises are trustworthy. He gave us a pattern to imitate in baptism as a way to show that we are freed from sin. There are more gifts he gave through his loving sacrifice and his conquering the enemy of death. We need to be thankful for all these gifts and share them with others.
What gifts that Christ gave are you most thankful for? What gifts have you overlooked? Let’s show our appreciation to Christ by living our lives for him every day and giving him our devotion in return.
Jesus uses this phrase 4 times in the book of Revelation to describe himself, 1:11,17; 2:8; 22:13. It is combined with other phrases like “Alpha and Omega” and “the beginning and the end” as well as two times mentioning that he had been dead but was now alive. This last may have reference to him being the first fruits of the resurrection in addition to the idea of beginning and end. Of course all of these symbolic descriptions point to his deity and his position of being before time was created and existing after time as we know it ends, in other words being eternal.
You probably knew this phrase was associated with Jesus and maybe that it was used in Revelation, but did you know that the Lord uses this same description of himself in the Old Testament? Employing a similar phrase to explain the actions of a king is used 9 times in the Chronicles. The image of first and last is used throughout the Bible for other reasons as well, like when Jesus says “the first shall be last” and he fulfilled this idea in a sense as well by being first (God) and becoming the least or last by dying a criminals death on the cross.
In Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 the Lord proclaims to Israel that he is the first and he is the last. It is no accident that Jesus pulls this same moniker from the book of Isaiah and applies it to himself in Revelation to let his people know that he is the same God that Isaiah prophesied for. And of course the idea of him being first in the sense of being before all things and first in the since of being greatest are taught other places also.
Will you put your trust in and serve the one who was before the world existed and who will remain after all is said and done?
Articles from our bulletin. Mostly written by James Pasley, our preacher and Sunday's Sermons.