Sabbath, February 16, 2013

“‘He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.’ Christ is both the door and the shepherd. He enters in by Himself. It is through His own sacrifice that He becomes the shepherd of the sheep. ‘To Him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 478.

Prophecies concerning the divine Shepherd

1. How does Jesus present Himself? What is His mission?

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

“Christ, the great example for all ministers, likens Himself to a shepherd. ‘I am the good shepherd,’ He declares; ‘the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ ‘I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.’ John 10:11, 14, 15.” –Gospel Workers, p. 181.

“‘Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.’ That is, My Father has so loved you, that He even loves Me more for giving My life to redeem you. In becoming your substitute and surety, by surrendering My life, by taking your liabilities, your transgressions, I am endeared to My Father.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 483, 484.

2. Who prophesied in the Old Testament about the divine Shepherd?

Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

“This figure the prophet Isaiah had applied to the Messiah’s mission, in the comforting words,… ‘He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom.’ Isaiah 40:9-11. David had sung, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ Psalm 23:1. And the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel had declared: ‘I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them.’ ‘I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.’ ‘And I will make with them a covenant of peace.’ ‘And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen;… but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.’ Ezekiel 34:23, 16, 25, 28.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 476, 477.

The Shepherd and Door of the sheepfold

3. How does Jesus, the divine Shepherd, explain that He is also the door to the fold?

John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

“Christ is the door to the fold of God. Through this door all His children, from the earliest times, have found entrance. In Jesus, as shown in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelation of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to His disciples, and in the miracles wrought for the sons of men, they have beheld ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29), and through Him they are brought within the fold of His grace. Many have come presenting other objects for the faith of the world; ceremonies and systems have been devised by which men hope to receive justification and peace with God, and thus find entrance to His fold. But the only door is Christ, and all who have interposed something to take the place of Christ, all who have tried to enter the fold in some other way, are thieves and robbers.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 477, 478.

4. Is it encouraging to know that Jesus Christ knows His flock?

Ezekiel 34:31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

Isaiah 49:16, first part Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;…

“As an earthly shepherd knows his sheep, so does the divine Shepherd know His flock that are scattered throughout the world. ‘Ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.’ Jesus says, ‘I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.’ ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.’ Ezekiel 34:31; Isaiah 43:1; 49:16.

“Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 479.

The Shepherd’s concern

5. If we go astray, what will the divine Shepherd do?

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an 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?

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

“But in the parable of the lost sheep, Christ teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us. ‘There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way.’ Romans 3:11, 12. We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent….

“The sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. It must be sought for by the shepherd, for it cannot find its way back. So with the soul that has wandered away from God; he is as helpless as the lost sheep, and unless divine love had come to his rescue he could never find his way to God…. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep…. At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found….” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 189, 187, 188.

6. Just as the shepherd who finds his lost sheep utters a joyful cry, what happens in heaven when a lost soul is found?

Luke 15:7 I say to 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. 

“‘Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Luke 15:6. So when a wanderer is found by the Great Shepherd of the sheep, heavenly angels respond to the Shepherd’s note of joy. When the lost is found, heaven and earth unite in thanksgiving and rejoicing. ‘Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.’ Luke 15:7.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 339.

Looking for the lost sheep

7. The purpose of Jesus is to gather His flock. Are we ready to labor with Him to look for other sheep as well–for the lost and those who have strayed? What message can we give them?

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 

Isaiah 56:8 The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

“How many of the wandering ones have you, reader, sought for and brought back to the fold? When you turn from those who seem unpromising and unattractive, do you realize that you are neglecting the souls for whom Christ is seeking? At the very time when you turn from them, they may be in the greatest need of your compassion. In every assembly for worship, there are souls longing for rest and peace. They may appear to be living careless lives, but they are not insensible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Many among them might be won for Christ.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 191.

“If Christ left the ninety and nine, that He might seek and save the one lost sheep, can we be justified in doing less? Is not a neglect to work even as Christ worked, to sacrifice as He sacrificed, a betrayal of sacred trusts, an insult to God?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 22.

For meditation

“Are you, who have this example before you, cooperating with Him who is seeking to save the lost? Are you co-laborers with Christ? Can you not for His sake endure suffering, sacrifice, and trial? There is opportunity for doing good to the souls of the youth and the erring. If you see one whose words or attitude shows that he is separated from God, do not blame him. It is not your work to condemn him, but come close to his side to give him help. Consider the humility of Christ, and His meekness and lowliness, and work as He worked, with a heart full of sanctified tenderness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 125.

For personal study

“Let us remember that Jesus knows us individually and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows the wants of each of His creatures and reads the hidden, unspoken grief of every heart. If one of the little ones for whom He died is injured, He sees it and calls the offender to account. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He cares for His feeble, sickly, wandering sheep. He knows them all by name. The distress of every sheep and every lamb of His flock touches His heart of sympathizing love, and the cry for aid reaches His ear.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 345.

“Thank God, He has presented to our imagination no picture of a sorrowful shepherd returning without the sheep. The parable does not speak of failure but of success and joy in the recovery. Here is the divine guarantee that not even one of the straying sheep of God’s fold is overlooked, not one is left unsuccored. Every one that will submit to be ransomed, Christ will rescue from the pit of corruption and from the briers of sin.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 188.