Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Good Shepherd

I suppose on the night of the crucifixion of Jesus, Pontius Pilate went to bed thinking that he had handled rightly the problem of Jesus which the Jewish authorities dumped in his lap.  He had signed the order for His death and now it was over.  The Jewish status quo was also likely well pleased.  They had been instrumental in having Jesus executed.  He was dead.  No more problems with Him.  And the Roman soldiers who did the dirty work of putting Jesus on the cross no doubt ended the day knowing that Jesus was gone forever.  Their brutality and mean spirited-ness had made His dying as difficult as they could make it.
But, none of them should have been taking any credit for what happened that day.  At any moment Jesus could have changed the outcome of that afternoon.  Changing the outcome of that afternoon had been a possibility for Jesus since those moments in the wilderness after His baptism by John the Baptist.  Along the way to Jerusalem there had been other moments when He heard the voice of the evil one either in His heart or in the counsel of those well meaning disciples who followed Him.  For Jesus the cross was not something forced upon Him by others, but something He chose for others.
In he 10th chapter of John we find what is known as the Good Shepherd chapter.  There is that place in that section of scripture where we hear Jesus saying, "I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep."  (John 10:11)  A little later in that same section, we hear Him speaking about His life as He says, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. (John 10:18)  What He did on the cross was not thrust upon Him by those who thought they had the upper hand.  He became the "lamb led to the slaughter...He did not open His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7)  by choice.  It was a choice made out of love for each one of us.

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