BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday March 2, 2014
(Coping with insecurity in troubled times by following the GOOD SHEPHERD)
In the Greek, the word used for “thief” is “kleptes” (klep-tace), and it describes “one who takes by stealth or by covert means”. By contrast, the Greek word used for “robber” is “lestes” (lace-tace), and it describes “one who takes by force”. In John chapter 10, verse 1, the thief, that JESUS is alluding to, could be any of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of that day, who took by subtle and unsuspecting methods. The robber, that JESUS makes mention of, can be likened to any of the Romans, who took, or stole from the Israelites by imposing their will, authority, and power upon them. It was those kinds of leaderships that JESUS sought to expose and put an end to forever. And it was certainly not the kind of leadership that HE intended for HIS new upcoming Christian Church.
Perhaps there is no more endearing image of JESUS in all of Scripture, than the one HE presents of HIMSELF as the “Good Shepherd” in John chapter 10. The imagery of the Good Shepherd is forever woven in the minds and hearts of all who believe in CHRIST JESUS. The Bible is rife with passages that use the analogy of the loving Shepherd as a provider and protector of that which he oversees. He is one who risks his life to seek and save, even that one straying sheep, who may have separated itself from his beloved flock.
The leaders of the Christian church must also be likened to the good Shepherd, and the members of their congregation, can be likened to the flock. It is the duty of the pastor to spiritually lead, and feed his flock with the nourishing food of the word of GOD. He must, do so, willingly and eagerly, without constraints, not for the love of money, nor, for the power that he has obtained, due to his position. He must lead by example, and his behavior must paint a picture of the patience and love of GOD, our LORD and SAVIOR, through JESUS CHRIST.
In the Latin Vulgate, the word Jerome uses for “Pastor” is “Shepherd” in Ephesians 4:11. It describes the function of one in such a position in the church. It is the duty of each member of the flock, to come into a personal relationship with the SHEPHERD, because of their continued need for HIS love, guidance, and protection. They should always be able to discern HIS voice from all other voices, and also be able to distinguish that which is representative of HIS work.
The only way, to achieve that kind of relationship with GOD, is by familiarizing oneself with the SHEPHERD, JESUS CHRIST. One can thereby, ultimately realize the purpose for which he has came into the fold (church), and that is, of course, to serve and obey GOD. GOD’s voice can only be heard, through a leader who has patterned his life after the examples of service that were shown to us by JESUS CHRIST during HIS three-year ministry.
JESUS’ impeccable standards will manifest themselves through anyone who represents HIS cause. There is no way to mistaken HIS unique and lofty standards for those of any “false representatives” that may have came down the pike, either before, or since HIS time. One only needs to know JESUS the SHEPHERD, WHO is the real deal, in order to discern the fakes, who misrepresent.
Just as every good shepherd knows his sheep, every good sheep should come to know his shepherd’s voice. Such knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, in many cases. It can also be the difference between danger and safety, starvation and nourishment, or even, shelter and homelessness.
To be alone in this world, and have no hope of anything beyond this world, is a frightening thought. We as Christians, no longer have to entertain, or envision that thought. And so, we should be forever thankful to our “GOOD SHEPHERD”, our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, for making the wonderful gift of Eternal Life in GOD’s own glorious presence, a reality, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha.
In John 10:22-42, the apostle John gives an account of the last public confrontation of JESUS with the hostile Jews at Jerusalem. It occurs during the Jewish festival of “Hanukkah”, an eight-day feast, which is held in December, and commemorates the re-consecration of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C., after it had been desecrated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 B.C.
To the Jews, the feast was a reminder of their last great victory over their enemies, the Assyrians. During the Macabean Revolt, led by Judas Macabeus, the Jews recaptured the city of Jerusalem and held it until the great Roman general Pompey recaptured it and brought it under Roman control in 63 B.C., successfully ending the 100-plus year reign of the Hasmonean Dynasty of the Macabees family.
As JESUS was walking through the section of the temple, known as Solomon’s Porch one day, HE was approached and surrounded by a group of Jewish religious leaders, who demanded for HIM to plainly tell them if HE was the MESSIAH. Apparently JESUS’ enigmatic sayings had troubled them greatly in the two months since they had last encountered HIM at the Feast of the Tabernacles. JESUS replied that HE had already told them, and also shown them, through HIS miracles, and, that they don’t believe HIM because they are not a part of HIS flock. HE tells them that, if they were a part of HIS flock they would understand HIM, and follow HIM, and no one would be able to pull them away from HIM. Eternal life would be theirs simply because, they believe on HIM, and, because HE and the FATHER are one.
Angered by JESUS’ comments, the Jewish leaders picked up stones and readied themselves to kill HIM. JESUS asked them, “For which good deed are you stoning ME? The Jews replied that they were going to stone HIM, because HE claimed to be GOD. When JESUS said that HE and the FATHER are one, HE was not affirming that HE and GOD was the same person, but rather, HE was saying that HE and GOD have the closest possible unity of purpose.
After a few more minutes of debate, JESUS whisked HIMSELF away from the angry crowd and went across the Jordan River and dwelled near the place where John the Baptist had once baptized. And many followed HIM and came to believe on HIM in that place.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander