The picture I get of Jesus as I read Psalm 23 (and the Gospels) is one of a brave shepherd who leads a suffering people through dark valleys, securing people with love so they can do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Yahweh (Micah 6:8). I hope this picture of the Suffering Shepherd both comforts you amidst challenges and confronts you to be a better leader.
When you do usually hear Psalm 23? Most often you will hear it recited as part of a funeral, emphasizing God’s presence and ongoing care of the one who has died. You would be hard pressed to find Psalm 23 in a wedding! But it’s nevertheless unfortunate that Psalm 23 gets relegated primarily to funerals because it really is a Psalm for everyday life. We need Yahweh not only as we transition from this earth, we need him as a Kingly Shepherd every day.
King Jesus not only demands our total commitment, he provides a place of rest for the weary. This commitment to have Jesus rule my life begins with and is sustained by taking refuge in this good and powerful king.
Psalm 2 is the only place in the Old Testament where God’s Messiah, God’s king and God’s Son are all spoken of in one place. Christians cannot help but think of Jesus when they read this Psalm. All the other kings must answer to this one true king (Psalm 2:6), God’s own son (Psalm 2:7), the anointed (Psalm 2:2). Psalm 2 paints a picture of a king who expects his followers to daily submit their little kingdoms under his lordship.
Knowing that you aren’t the messiah of your company, your ministry, your family or your community is a good thing! John modeled and Patrick lived what all followers of Jesus should aspire to be: humble servants who know that the only joy in life is found by submitting to Jesus, our humble Lord.
Our leadership may call us to confront some kind of system, power or authority in order to do what’s best for the people and organizations we serve.
Yesterday, we reflected on how John got his nickname, the Baptizer. Today, we will see another name for John—a witness. John the Baptizer’s ministry is clearly given as a “witness” to the light so that “all might believe” in the Logos, the Word, who is Jesus Christ (1:7). Now, the word “witness” is an important word in John’s gospel, showing up 14 times compared to only three in the Synoptics… John being described as a witness informs modern Christians how we should we be identified as well.
I’ll be calling John the Baptist, John the Baptizer because there were no Baptists or Presbyterians or Pentecostals back in the first century! John got his name because he was known to live fully for the Lord, spending his life baptizing people into God’s family. John got his nickname from what people saw. If someone could observe you all day, what could your nickname be? Grumpy Glen? Caffeine Carol? Netflix Nate? Drama Dan?
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we read about the mother of the yet-to-be-born Jesus, rushing from her hometown to stay with her relative Elizabeth. Mary could have been rushing out of obedience to the angel who informed her of the incredible mission of carrying the Messiah. Or Mary could have been fleeing her small hometown out of fear of reprisal from family, friends, and neighbors who would certainly judge her in the coming months for being pregnant and unwed. But I’d like to think that Mary’s haste was primarily out of love.
I am constantly working on finding tools and exercises that help me become more self-aware. John Calvin argues in his Institutes that you can’t really know God if you don’t know yourself, and that you cannot know yourself without knowing God. I see my pursuit of self-awareness as part of my growing relationship to the God who created, called, and redeemed me… As we begin 2019, let’s commit to growing in our knowledge of self and knowledge of God in our daily work.