Posted by Mark Erickson
Jesus’ public ministry lasted about 3 years, and you can read about it in the New Testament Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Together these writers paint a beautiful picture of who Jesus is and what he accomplished. Of the 89 chapters that make up these 4 books, 28 of them are about the final few days before Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and death. Jesus didn’t just enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and march straight to the cross. In those days in between, he confronted corruption, healed the blind and the sick, taught people about the Kingdom of God, washed feet, and hosted a meal for his band of messy friends.
Jesus was always about his mission, always about knowinging and serving the Father, and was always about love. Though he knew that an episode of tremendous suffering was ahead of him, he never waivered in what he was there to do. Jesus reminds us of who he is and what he was about in John 10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:10-15
Jesus speaks of and demonstrates the truest love. The love of Jesus is not abstract or some pie-in-the-sky ideal. When it comes to Jesus, we see that love serves, love washes feet, love sacrifices, love forgives, love embraces the hurting, love restores, and love welcomes people to the table of grace. Jesus has laid down his life for us, and he invites us to be a different kind of people because of it.
Henri Nouwen was a Dutch priest who frequently asked himself the questions listed below whenever he contemplated the love God demonstrates for people through Jesus:
-Did I offer peace and hope today?
-Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
-Did I say words of healing?
-Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
-Did I forgive?
-Did I love?
These are the real questions
May we be people that have received the love of Jesus in such a way that we reflect it to those around us. Jesus purposefully disadvantaged himself for the advantage of others – he invites us to do the same. In responding to that invitation, we begin to learn about the “life to the full” that Jesus speaks about in John 10:10
Application/Discussion: When we reflect on Jesus laying down his life for us as the Good Shepherd, what impact does that have on our emotions, thoughts, and actions? If we are called to love people in the same way that Jesus loves us, what does that look like?
Bullet Prayer for the day: God, as I consider Holy Week and the radical lengths you went through to demonstrate your love for me, please help me respond in a way that pleases you and reflects that love to those around me. Give me eyes to see those around me who need your love and make me a vessel of it.