Saturday, November 5, 2016

"For a more tender and true Shepherd cannot be found."

Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me….and I lay down My life for the sheep…. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
John 10: 7, 14, 27-28

There’s a peace here in the green valley;
Along the edge of the brook I lay down.
You’ve led me here to rest my soul, so weary;
For a more tender and true Shepherd cannot be found.

Over mountains and along steep, rocky crags,
I hear Your voice, and love is the sound,
Saying, “Stay near, my child, I’ll lead the way”;
For a more tender and true Shepherd cannot be found.

Though clouds descend and I can’t see;
And valleys of deep darkness are all that surround;
It’s then that You lift and gently carry me;
For a more tender and true Shepherd cannot be found.

The radiant evening sky is dusted with stars;
Nighttime isn’t dark, with jewels all around.
Your love shines forth, comforting my anxious heart;
For a more tender and true Shepherd cannot be found.

It is morning. The dew lies heavy on the upland wolds; the fresh morning breeze is airing the fevered world; the sun's pavilion glows with gorgeous colors, as he prepares to emerge on his daily pilgrimage; and the shepherds stand knocking at the barred gates of the fold, calling to the porter to let them have their flocks. When the door opens, each calls to His own sheep, and leads them forth, and they follow him to pastures green and waters still. They would flee from a strange voice; but they know their shepherds.
     In the hubbub the voice of the true Shepherd is undetected or unheeded, except by a few. But these hear its soft gentle tones, and obey, and follow; and to do so is certain evidence that they are His own. The desire to hear and follow Jesus proves that you are His sheep.
     Again, It is noon. The downs are baking in the scorching glare, and every stone burns like fire; but in that oppressive hour the shepherd remembers a little green glen, where a tranquil lake reflects the azure sky, or a brooklet babbles musically over the pebbles. The grass is green and the boulders cast black shadows. Perhaps an old fold is there, with open doorway, so that the sheep may go in for shelter or out for pasture, till the shadows begin to climb stealthily up the hills.  Thus our Beloved makes His flock rest at noon. He is the secret place of the Most High, in whom our life is hidden. We can get pasture, abundant life, and salvation only by the Lord Jesus.
Lastly, It is evening. The sun is setting, the air is becoming chill, the valleys are deep in gloom. The shepherd hastens downward with his flock to the fold. They are descending together the last dark gorge, densely shadowed by foliage. Suddenly the ominous snarl and scream tell that a wolf has sprung from the thicket, and seized on one of the hindmost ewes or tender lambs; and then the shepherd rushes to the rear, prepared to lay down his life, if needs be, to save. And who can view the struggle which ensues between the shepherd and the wolf, without being reminded of the fourfold allusion of our Lord to the fact that He was about to lay down his life for the sheep.
Good does not mean benevolent and kind; but genuine and true. And its significance is pointed by the contrast with the thief and the hireling; by which it appears that the Good Shepherd is One who is imbued with the true spirit of His work, and is an enthusiast in it, not for pay or reward, but by the compulsion of the noble instincts of His soul.
      Robbers may turn shepherds, climbing the walls of the fold, or swooping down on the flock and driving it off…. But their purpose is for the flesh and fleece, to kill and to destroy. They have no more the true shepherd's heart than a bandit has a soldier's or a pirate a sailor's. Such were the thieves and robbers who came before the Good Shepherd, stealing from God His glory, from men their souls and goods.
What a contrast was the Savior, who expected no reward but hatred and a crown of thorns, a cross and a borrowed tomb, and whose supreme object was to give life, and to give it more abundantly--abundant as the flowers of May; exhaustless as the perennial fountains of His own being; infinite as the nature of God!
Why has He loved us thus? We cannot tell. It is a mystery which will forever baffle us; but love knows no reason, no law. Surely the Son of God might have discovered, or made, beings more worthy of His attachment. But it was not to be so. He has loved us with the greatest love of all, the love that recks not the cost of life; and there is nothing now of good which He will withhold from His own, His loved, His chosen and purchased flock.
"I know Mine own, and mine own know Me; even as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father."
And it is just in this way, with a Divine, comprehensive, and perfect knowledge, that the Lord Jesus knows each of us. He is of a quick understanding to take in our past, with its sad and bitter failures, and our present with its unrealized longings. He knows our downsitting and uprising; our motives so often misunderstood; our anxieties, which cast their shadows over our lives; our dread; our hopes and fears. He intermeddles with the bitterness of our hearts, known only to us and Him. He scrutinizes each guest as it enters, and needs no census to tell Him the inmates of our hearts. "There is not a word on our tongue, but Thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether." It is very blessed to be known thus; so that we do not need to assume a disguise, or enter into labored explanations. He cannot be surprised, or taken unawares by anything we may tell Him.
“I give unto the eternal life, and they shall never perish.” When once that life has come to indwell the believer’s heart it must remain. Christ's sheep shall never perish. They may wander far from Him, lose all joy and comfort, fall under the rebuke of men, and seem to be living under a cloud; but, if they are really His, His honor is pledged to seek them out in the cloudy and dark day, and bring them back to Himself. His body cannot be dismembered; He cannot forfeit that which it has cost Him so much to purchase.
You may be a very lame and timid and worthless sheep; but you were purchased by the Shepherd’s blood, because He loved you so. There is not a wild beast in all hell that He has not vanquished and put beneath His feet; there is no fear, therefore, of His ability, as there in none of His love. He will deliver you from the lion and the bear, and bring you in triumph to the fold, with all the rest.
And so at last we shall be folded with all the flock beside in those sweet pasture lands, in which the Lamb leads His flock unto living fountains of water, and God wipes away all tears from our eyes.


The Gospel of John

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