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.
Throughout John’s gospel, distinctive “I am” statements point toward Jesus’ divinity, centrality, and authority. In John 8:12-20, for example, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” What does this mean?
Before moving on from the command in Genesis 1:28 to be fruitful, I’d like to examine how Jesus uses this language in John 15. There, fruitfulness serves, not in its literal sense, but as a metaphor for a life that is productive for God and his kingdom. According to Jesus, we who believe in him are to “bear much fruit and become [his] disciples” (John 1:8). When we do this, God the Father is glorified.
How do we bear much fruit for the Lord?
Today is Maundy Thursday according to many strands of Christian tradition. Growing up in a non-liturgical Christian culture, I thought people were calling this day “Monday Thursday,” the silliness of which confirmed my bias against liturgical versions of Christianity. Later, I learned that folks weren’t saying “Monday Thursday” but rather “Maundy Thursday.” Of course, this didn’t help much because I didn’t know the word “Maundy.” Finally, in my twenties, I took a course on church order at Fuller Seminary, where I finally learned the meaning of “Maundy.”