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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

Shepherd Obedience

In verse 14 Jesus says that he is the good shepherd. In verse 15 he says that he lays down his life for the sheep. In verse 16 he says that the sheep form one flock and that flock has one shepherd – that’s him.

And in verse 17 he tells us that the reason his Father loves him is because he lays down his life – and takes it up again.

Jesus is in perfect fellowship with his Father because, in laying down his life for people who are like sheep-gone-astray, he is acting in harmony with his Father’s design and his Father’s desire for the sheep.

Jesus confirms it in verse 18 when he tells us that the authority he has to lay his life down and take it up again was his Father’s plan. He received the command from the Father to lay it down and to take it up again.

The design of Jesus and the design of the Father are one design. And that design is motivated by one and the same love – their love for the sheep.

Now Jesus wants us – who are his sheep – to know that it was his love for us that motivated him to lay down his life for us. And this he tells us plainly in verse 18. He doesn’t want us to think of his self-sacrifice as a begrudged sacrifice, or as a coerced sacrifice. If he did lay down his life reluctantly or under compulsion then it would not be out of love.

No, according to Jesus, no one took his life from him. That means Judasdidn’t take his life from him. It means, the soldiers didn’t take his life from him, or Pilate, or the Jewish mob. If Jesus had designed to call a halt to proceedings at any moment he could have done. He didn’t have problems evading blood-thirsty mobs when his time hadn’t yet come. But when his time had come nothing but love constrained him to fulfill his Father’s command.

But, it’s not just that no one takes his life from him. It is that he lays it down of his own accord.

There, is the love of the cross.

Jesus we might say, went gladly to the cross. Yes, with horror. Yes, with dread. But gladly. It was for the joy that was set before him that he endured the cross.

In his mind’s eye he saw the glory of a worshipping, rejoicing, happy flock ahead of time, and he went to the cross of his own accord for that flock. He endured the shame and the pain for the joy that was set before him – namely the joy of drawing a flock into the bosom of his Father and basking with him for all eternity in the glorious songs of the ransomed sheep.

The love the Father has for Jesus is that he lay down his life of his own accord to bring his chosen sheep into his presence, forever, to ring out loud the praises of God forever and ever.


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