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Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus has been using important symbols from Israel’s history and Scriptures (shepherd, bread, water, light). Jesus now uses some of the most powerful images in Jewish culture to talk about himself: “I am the true vine….” The vineyard was one of Israel’s most prized historic symbols of its nationhood and inheritance.
Perhaps this is what Jesus was doing when he stated “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him”. The bond between God the Father and Jesus the Son was so strong that people could identify the characteristics of God by following and watching Jesus. Our Savior was showing us the best way to honor God the Father and all fathers.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I talked about Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life, and the implications of this truth in my personal life and in the lives of all leaders. Verse 33 comes after Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life. It precedes the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead and is followed by John 11:35, which is famously the shortest verse in the bible: “Jesus wept.” These two verses hint that Jesus was not overcome with grief over the death of Lazarus (whom he knew he was going to bring back to life), but rather deeply grieved over the state of humanity. There is so much pain and heartache in this world and Jesus is grieving that his resurrection life is not yet fully realized in the creation that he so lovingly made. Jesus will give a glimpse of his glory to come in the raising of Lazarus, yet here he weeps because death still reigns until he comes again to eradicate it in full.
John 11 highlights two contrasting themes of life and death, where Jesus is seen as the master of both. Ironically, the raising of Lazarus brought a death sentence on Jesus’ life (11:53) and on Lazarus’ life as well (12:10). But right in the midst of these words of death, Jesus offers life. Two thousand years after Jesus said these words, his resurrection life continues to pour into peoples’ lives.
In yesterday’s devotion I highlighted the world’s need for a shepherd and the opportunity God has given us to provide shepherd-like leadership amidst all kinds of crises. Today I want to emphasize our own personal need for the Good Shepherd, especially as we seek to meet the needs around us.
In my previous posts on the leadership of Jesus, I’ve been asking about the significance of Jesus calling himself “the light of the world” and “the bread of life.” Today we’ll look at Jesus calling himself, “the good shepherd.” To a hungry world, Jesus says “I am the bread you are really hungry for.” To a dark world Jesus says “I am the light that will show you the way.” To a lost world Jesus says “I am the shepherd you need.”
In yesterday’s post I highlighted how Jesus surprised his hearers by saying, “I am the bread.” The Jews of his day were looking for a Messiah who could bring manna like Moses. Jesus did offer literal bread from a supernatural source when he multiplied the loaves and fish. But what he offered most of all was himself. He was the manna from heaven. He was the bread.
Jesus is not only “the bread” but also and specifically the “the bread of life.”
When Jesus says, “I am the bread,” he is confirming their hopes that he is the Messiah while challenging them to understand that he is something much more than a problem solver. Instead of saying, “I will give you bread,” he says, “I am the bread.” For those who are seeking something from Jesus, he offers himself instead.
One of the most common mistakes we as leaders can make is wanting the gifts of the Giver more than the Giver of the gifts.
In many Christian traditions, foot-washing ceremonies provide a way for brothers and sisters in Christ to express their deep commitment to and care for each other. Foot washing can feel almost sacramental for those who give and receive it.
In yesterday’s devotion, I suggested that the candles lit in the temple from the annual Feast of Tabernacles was the backdrop to Jesus claiming, “I am the light of the world.” In fact, because he probably said this on the last day of the festival, Jesus was creating an even more vivid contrast than it appears at first glance.
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