Breakthrough

How are your expectations limiting God? It can be hard to believe God for a breakthrough when our faith is stuck in the routine of life. I need breakthrough faith!

One Word –

34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work. Leviticus 23:34-36

Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 21, 22, 23; Mark 14

Big Idea –

I always thought there were only seven annual feasts, but it turns out that God has more in store for us. Shemini Atzeret or “the Eighth Day Assembly” immediately follows the seventh and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

So I have been studying this for my book The Jesus We Never Knew, and I’m fascinated by what I’m discovering. First, let’s just say the LORD is breaking barriers to make all things new. Put simply, Tabernacles is the seventh and final feast; it is held in the seventh month for seven days. The number of the sacrifices offered each of the seven days individually and collectively (even down to the ephahs of flower) are all dividable by seven.

Now think back to creation. God established the week as seven days. On the seventh day God had finished all His work and set this day apart as a Sabbath rest. So the number seven has to do not only with a Sabbath rest, but it also symbolizes completion. It characterizes being finished or done and as such it is finite – it can be counted.

But then comes the Eighth Day. Eight breaks the boundaries and barriers of seven. Eight represents eternity – the symbol for eternity is an eight on its side. So eight pictures an abundance, more than can be counted – immeasurable. It’s like the Beatles’ song “Eight Days a Week;” this love could not be confined to only seven days – it was bigger, stronger.

Eight also represents a new beginning. The eighth day of a week is actually the first day of a new week; the week has in a sense been recreated or made new.

And so in short as I think about this today, I want to believe God for more -to see the LORD breakthrough the barriers I’v set up in my mind. I’m confident that the LORD can exceed my expectations, doing more than I can ask hope or imagine. How will God do this? According to the power of His Holy Spirit within us. (See – Eph. 3:20-21)

I’m ready for the Eighth Day!

Exemplify –

I need to let my faith grow with a greater anticipation of the good things – things beyond measure that the LORD has planned for me, my family and our church.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank You for the hidden secrets of Your word that you make known to us if we are just willing to stop and seek You. Holy Spirit continue to build my faith to believe for more!


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

It Depends

What does it mean for anything to depend upon something else? Is it contingent upon a choice or outcome? Or is it a dependence that fully relies upon the other, so much so that independence is impossible.

One Word –

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:40

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 39, 40; Matthew 22; Mark 12

Big Idea –

Let’s take a moment to put what is happening within its larger context of the LORD’s appointed times – specifically Passover. Jesus has made what we refer to as His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Riding the colt into the city amid the shouts of “Hosanna!,” Jesus fulfills the shadow picture the Jews had rehearsed for centuries. As our High Priest, Jesus comes into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb.

After the lamb was selected and brought into Jerusalem, it would be brought into the Temple for inspection by the religious leaders. This was to insure that the lamb was perfect without any spot or defect. Matthew 21:23 tells us that Jesus was in the Temple being challenged by the religious leaders and teaching the people in parables. Each time Jesus answered their questions the people marveled at His insight. Finally, they stopped asking Him anymore questions (Mat. 22:46). The inspection of God’s Passover Lamb had concluded; Jesus was perfect. In the end on the morning of the Passover, Pilot would speak the very same words spoken by the High Priest “I find no fault in Him”(Jn. 19:6 KJV).

Now, lets look at the inspection of Jesus regarding the Law. I particularly like how Matthew sets this up. Since the Sadducees were silenced and unable to find fault in Jesus’ response to their question, the Pharisees – experts in the Law – got together to ask Jesus the perfect question. Remember, their intention was for Jesus to show negligence in His words so they would have a reason to accuse Him. So one of them stood and asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law” (v.36)?

We are familiar with Jesus’ response. The greatest commandment is that we love the LORD our God completely, and the second is like it; we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus then says, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

What does it mean that all the Law and Prophets “depend” upon these two commandments?  From the Greek kremannymi, often translated in modern English versions “depend,” is also translated as “based on.” The idea is that all the Law and Prophets are summed up in these two commandments. Thus we often think that if we love God and our neighbor that’s all we need to do because we have obeyed all God’s commandments.

I think there is a better way of understanding what Jesus is saying. Kremannymi literally means hang (as is the KJV translation). It is the same word used in Acts 5:30 describing how Jesus was killed by “hanging him on a tree.” When understood in this way, Jesus is telling us that everything in the Law and Prophets hang upon these two commandments.

This is a subtle but significant difference in how to understand what Jesus is saying. Rather than being a summation of the commandments fulfilling them all, they are the ‘poles’ upon which everything else written hangs. Without these two greatest commandments all the Law and Prophets fall to the ground broken and  meaningless. Thus the these two commandments support or hold up the rest. Put simply, all the Law and the Prophets cannot stand independently because everything written has no meaning if it is separated from the two greatest commandments.

This helps me begin to make sense of commandments and things in the Old Testament that I though were meaningless or had no application for our lives today. All the Law and Prophets explain or show me how to obey the two greatest commandments. I have no way to knowing how to live a holy life (or God’s expectations of me) until I see that the purpose of what was written down in the Law and Prophets is to teach me how to love God and my neighbor.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m saying we need to obey the commandments to earn salvation. No, we are saved by grace through faith, it is God’s gift to us. But being saved and knowing God’s immeasurable love for me, I want to respond with loving obedience to Jesus who is my LORD and Savior.

Therefore, one of the simplest ways to begin to understand how everything hangs upon the two greatest commandments is by looking at the Ten Commandments. These are not just random religious and moral laws. Rather they hang or depend upon the greatest commandments teaching me how to love God and my neighbor. The first five commandments hang upon or explain the greatest commandment: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37). The last five commandments hang upon or explain the second: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v.39).

By the way, in Mark 12 a Pharisee or “scribe” replied to Jesus’ answer saying, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (vv. 32-33). When Jesus saw that this one had answered wisely He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34). Some believe this may have been the young Saul of Tarsus who was being trained as a Pharisee by Gamaliel.

Exemplify –

I believe all scripture, including the Old Testament, is given to train or teach us how to live righteously through obedience to the greatest commandments. Therefore I want continually allow the Holy Spirit to teach me obedience in spirit and truth to everything that hangs upon those two simple but of utmost significance of commandments.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, forgive me for the ways in which I have disregarded Your Word by not understanding how the Holy Spirit wanted to use it to teach me how to live a holy and righteous life. I confess some things are still difficult for me to understand. But rather than try to figure everything out, empower me to live in obedience to those commandments I do understand. I want to fully express my love to You and my neighbor, so help me to properly hang Your word upon these greatest of commandments through obedience.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Preparation of Joy!

Often our religious preparation in the coming weeks can be solemn. Could it be God wants us to make it a season of overflowing joy?

One Word –

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:9-10

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 33, 34, 35; Mark 11

Big Idea –

We are only about six weeks from celebrating the Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. In these appointed times of the LORD we celebrate our Messiah Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

The day described here in Mark 11 was the 10th of Nisan. God had told Moses to instruct the people of Israel to select a lamb on this day, to bring it into their homes, to inspect it and on the evening of the 14th to sacrifice it as their Passover Lamb (see: Ex. 12:1-6). Since that first Passover in Egypt, Israel had continued to remember God’s miracle of deliverance selecting a lamb on the 10th day in preparation of the LORD’S Passover.

Following the dedication of Solomon’s Temple and the prophetic rehearsals written by King David, the celebration of the Passover was well established as an annual routine all Jews were familiar with. Being one of the three pilgrim or foot feasts, Jerusalem was swelling with crowds of people coming in preparation of this festive time. Anticipation in the city was growing as on this 10th day the High Priest made his annual journey to Bethlehem to select the lamb that would be sacrificed for the nation. Late in the day he would return riding on a colt carrying the lamb into the city. Other priests and levites would welcome him waving palm branches crying out “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” As their cry was heard worshippers would come out of their homes filling the streets; they too would likewise begin waving palm branches joining in the festive song “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Yet this year Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt before the annual parade welcoming the return of High Priest with the lamb. This also helps explain why the religious leaders were so upset; the attention and celebration was upon Jesus’ arrival into the city instead of the High Priest still on his way back from Bethlehem. What had been rehearsed for centuries was now being fulfilled perfectly.

I don’t think Jesus had instructed anyone to begin crying out “Hosanna!” Instead, I believe that in the same way the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Spirit began moving upon the hearts of the disciples and they began crying out as they had done all their lives, but now in fulfillment of Jesus’ coming as God’s Passover Lamb. And as they did people along the road and in their homes heard the cry and joined the procession shouting out all the louder, “Hosanna!”

It’s amazing all that David saw prophetically that was rehearsed each year at the LORD’s appointed times. HOSANNA means “save us now!” For centuries the people had called out to the LORD for His salvation, and now Jesus, seated on the colt as our High Priest, came into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb, not only in answer to their cry for salvation, but also the salvation of all who would believe.

And so next Wednesday many orthodox Catholics and Christians will begin the season of lent in preparation for Easter. Our traditional celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are engrained within many of us as something we have done all our lives. I know how hard it can be to let go of these things.

Yet I believe the LORD is awakening His Church again to His appointed times. That just as the disciples saw the perfect fulfillment of these seasons in Jesus, so we too will so see the final fulfillment of the LORD’S appointed times.So whether you get an ashen cross placed on your forehead next week, or however you prepare yourself for the season before us, let me encourage you to as the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s times and seasons. And above all let us make this a season of overflowing joy for all God has accomplished through Jesus and will bring to fulfillment in His time!

A broken clock is right at least twice a day, but God’s eternal clock is still running right on time through His appointed times. May we hear the Spirit call us to join the cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” Soon we too shall see Him return, this time seated on a white horse with a banner “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

Exemplify –

As the season of preparation for the LORD’S appointed times begins, I desire for the Holy Spirit to continue to teach me the truth about Jesus and enable me to live each day with overflowing joy for all the LORD has done for us.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I thank You for coming as God’s Passover Lamb, that You loved me enough to not only die in my place, but to make me alive by the power of Your Spirit living in me. I pray that in the days and weeks to come that You will continue to enlighten my mind to Your truth; give me understanding through Your Word. And help me to lovingly make You known through Your appointed times in meaningful and relevant ways to others.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

What Time is It?

How often do we find ourselves impatiently in a hurry? Jesus understood the Father’s perfect timing.

One Word –

Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.  – John 7:6

Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 48, 49, 50; John 7

Big Idea –

I’m reminded of Solomon’s wisdom, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1). Too often we are like Jesus’ brothers; we live for the moment making anytime the right time. But not Jesus. He was aware of the Father’s time and everything was done according to the God’s timetable – not a moment too soon and never late.

Jesus’ statement that His time has not yet come, I think carries a dual meaning, specifically in light of the LORD’S appointed times. First, John points out that Jesus went about the Galilee, but would not go into Judea because the Jews were looking for a way to kill him (Jn. 7:1). The Feast of Tabernacles was not the appointed time for Christ’s death. The time for Jesus to lay down His life as the lamb of God would come in about six months at Passover. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits with His death, burial and resurrection.

Yet Jesus is also speaking prophetically about the Feast of Tabernacles as the culmination of our salvation to dwell or tabernacle forever with Jesus was and still is to come. We are looking forward to Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the fall feasts of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles with the Second Coming, final judgement and establishment of His eternal kingdom.

Jesus’ brother’s did not understand why it was not His time. All too often many of us are likewise unaware of the LORD’s timing in our lives.

Exemplify –

Each day I need to try to have a greater awareness of the LORD timing in my life and not be in a hurry to make things happen when I want. And in turn I also need to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to teach me to be prepared for Christ’s second coming at the LORD’s appointed time.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank you for showing me the example of living according to the Father’s perfect timetable. Holy Spirit help me to not be impatient but to wait upon God’s perfect time in my life. LORD I also thank you for awakening me to the awareness of Your appointed times: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day. Holy Spirit continue to teach me how to celebrate these seasons in a way that honors You as my LORD and helps me to be prepared for the culmination of our Salvation at Christ’s coming again perfectly fulfilling Your appointed times.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Our Wedding Ring

When you’re engaged or head over heals in love with your husband or wife, would you throw away your wedding ring? Of course not; it’s a treasure we protect and keep safe. As the Bride of Christ, has Jesus given us such a sign of our covenant with Him?

Read: Job 25, 26, 27; Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 3

One Word

For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8)

Big Idea

I need to take a moment and set the stage for what is happening here, not just from the immediate context, but the context of the gospels. This account of the Pharisees confronting Jesus because his disciples were breaking the law by plucking heads grain to eat on the Sabbath is recorded here in Matthew 12:1-8 as well as in Mark 2:23-38 and Luke 6:1-5. Each of these accounts are also followed by Jesus healing of a man with a withered hand likewise on a Sabbath, which the Pharisees viewed as being unlawful for Jesus to do.

In each Jesus responds to the Pharisees with the example of David eating the bread of the presence, which was unlawful to do. Matthew also includes how the priests minister in the temple on the Sabbath but remain guiltless. Mark includes Jesus’s statement that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27). Each then conclude with Jesus’ statement “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Now before I go any further, let me state that I believe Jesus is the LORD of the Sabbath. Not only is He LORD of this day we commonly refer to as Saturday, but He is also LORD of Sunday through Friday. Jesus is either LORD of all, or He is not lord at all. (Perhaps you’ve noticed that I always refer to Jesus as LORD – all caps – for He is Yehovah, One with the Father and the Spirit, God Almighty.) Why this disclaimer that Jesus is LORD of the Sabbath? Because country to what most bible commentaries tell us, I don’t think Jesus is establishing His claim as LORD of the Sabbath here.

You see that’s why I took the time to establish the big picture of what happened on this particular Sabbath (although only Matthew’s gospel seems to indicate that the incident in the grain fields and the healing of the man’s withered hand were on the same Sabbath –  Luke says it was another Sabbath, and Mark seems to agree). The primary point of what happened here and on other Sabbaths was Jesus correcting the misguided teaching and legalism of the Pharisees.

The religious leaders not only criticized Jesus for what they saw as breaking the law of the Sabbath, but they constantly conspiring  to find a way to kill Him (Mat. 12:14). Here is a brief list of other times the religious leaders were attacking in regard to the Sabbath:

  • Jesus healed a cripple man telling him to take up his mat and walk, but the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath (Jn. 5:16).
  • Jesus healed a man born blind but the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” and went on to say Jesus was “a sinner” (Jn. 9:16, 24).
  • Jesus healed a woman who had been bound for eighteen years, but “the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day'” (Lk. 13:14)

And that’s what is missing in response to Jesus statement, “the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath;” no rebuke or attack is made against Jesus for this in any of the accounts. Why would the religious leaders who were quick to point out that Jesus and the disciples had broken the law milling grain in their hands to eat on the Sabbath, but they say nothing in response to what most modern commentators view as a clear claim of Jesus divinity as LORD of the Sabbath? Likewise, when Jesus is on trial prior to the crucifixion He is charged with blasphemy, as having claimed to be God, but no mention is made that He had also blasphemed by calling Himself LORD of the Sabbath. Why is this accusation missing?

I think it is because of how Jews understood the Sabbath, but we don’t. The Sabbath was understood to be the sign of the covenant with the LORD; it was like our wedding ring, a constant reminder of the vows of love and commitment made between the bride and groom. Israel and the Jews of Jesus’ day saw themselves as the bride promised to God as their husband. It’s from this common belief that New Testament writers revealed that we are the bride of Christ.

And so because the Sabbath was viewed as the sign of the covenant like a wedding ring first given to Adam (i.e. the man), the sons of the man (humanity, but specifically the Jews) were entrusted with the Sabbath. This is why Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27); it is the gift given as the sign of their covenant relationship to God. Through the Jewish marriage customs the Pharisees and Jews in general believed that the Jewish people were the lord or master of the Sabbath protecting their covenant relationship with the LORD Yehovah.

Therefore, when Jesus says, “the son of man is lord of the Sabbath” the religious leaders who challenged Him for letting the disciples pluck heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath are now silent. They don’t hear Jesus making a claim to be divine, but agree with Jesus that they are lord of the Sabbath guarding it as the sign of their covenant with God.

The Sabbath – it’s not a burden of the law, outdated and fulfilled by Christ. It’s our wedding ring.

Exemplify

As a member together of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, I want to be prepared for our wedding day when Jesus returns as our Bridegroom. One way I can do this is by recognizing the Sabbath as the day given to me by the LORD to treasure and renew the covenant relationship He has established with us through Christ.

Yes to Yield

LORD Jesus, according to Your great love You have chosen me and all who believe as Your Bride. Thank You for choosing us. Holy Spirit continue to lead me in truth and teach me the importance of the Sabbath as a sign of our covenant marriage to Christ. Give me wisdom to know how to set this day apart as holy in my life. Help me to see that it is not a burden, but an expression of love and obedience to You.


If you’re new to Living it Now check out Hearing and Doing for an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal.

Day 8 – Christ, One with the Father

Read – John 10:22-42

This the only mention of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, in the Bible. In this time of celebrating the rededication of the Temple following the Maccabean revolt, Jesus makes yet another clear declaration of His divinity, “I and the Father are one” (v. 30). The Jews (i.e. the religious leaders) wanted to stone Jesus because they thought He spoke blaspheme as a mere man claiming to be God, and regardless of the miracles Jesus performed, if He was a false prophet speaking blasphemy that’s exactly what the Law required them to do. Jesus went on to tell them that the works He had done proved that what He said was true; “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (v. 38).

They still wanted  to arrest Jesus refusing to believe, but He escaped and returned to the Jordan where John the Baptist had first baptized in water. Many who had heard Jesus at the Temple found Him there saying among themselves, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true;” as a result “many believed in him there” (vv. 41-42). The Greek word translated believed pisteuō also means commit unto, or commit to one’s trust. In other words, during the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah we see people dedicate themselves to Jesus as their Messiah.

The story began saying that during the winter Feast of Dedication Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon” (John 10:23). Let us ask the LORD to give us wisdom to understand. Just as Jesus walked through the actual Temple in Jerusalem, may we see that He now walks among us; He is the one like a son of man “in the midst of the lampstands” (Rev. 1:13). Like those along the Jordan, we too need to pisteuō, commit or dedicate ourselves afresh to Jesus as our LORD.

Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Peter said as we come to Jesus, a living stone rejected by men but precious to God that “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (2 Pt. 2:5). Likewise, as Stephen observed before He was put to death, “the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands” (Acts 7:48). I find this amazing; you and I as followers of Jesus are being built together into the LORD’S dwelling place.

And yet like Judas Maccabeus and the Jews oppressed by Antiochus in the second century BC, we too have an enemy that wants to desecrate God’s Temple. Let us heed the warnings of scripture. “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thes. 4:7 NIV); “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8).

Yet how often have I given into temptation sinning against the  LORD desecrating His temple? Like Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:15, 19).

On this final day of our season of dedication, I remember again that I too need to rededicate the LORD’S temple just like the Maccabees. Yet I cannot purify myself with good deed, or redouble my efforts to do what is right. I must call upon Jesus; He alone is able to cleanse me by His blood so I might again be a dwelling place fit for the presence of God Almighty.

LORD Jesus, I ask again today that you will come and cleanse me of my sin; keep my heart from evil and my lips from speaking lies. Holy Spirit, empower me anew  “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly in all I do and say (Mic. 6:8). Thank You, LORD that what I ask is Your desire for me, to dedicate my life to You – today and everyday.

Day 7 – Christ, The Good Shepherd

As American Christians we like to talk about our personal salvation. But what Jesus said and did is not for “you” or for “me.” Our Good Shepherd’s desire is to bring us together as “one flock.”

Read – John 10:11-21

Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. A comparison is made between the Good Shepherd and the hired hand. The Good Shepherd will lay down His life for His sheep, but the hired hand thinks only of himself and not the security of the sheep.

Sheep are defenseless. When a predator comes they will begin to run and scatter leaving the young and weak to be picked off one by one. The sheep need a shepherd who will defend them even at the risk of their own lives. We have such a Good Shepherd in Jesus who stands between us and death; He laid down His life so we might live.

Jesus goes on to say that no one takes His life. Our advisory the devil, who is described as a “roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8), will not overpower the Good Shepherd. Instead in laying down His life Jesus also has power “to take it up again” (Jn. 10:18). What looks like Jesus’ ultimate defeat is actually a strategic move to triumph over the devil’s schemes against us.

As we read Jesus’ words here, it is easy for us to focus on our Good Shepherd’s willingness to lay down His life on our behalf. This gives us reason to rejoice for we have nothing to fear. If our LORD overcame death then no matter how the enemy may come against us we too will live with Christ.

But let’s not miss the one thing impacting us as believers today. Most listening to Him that day did not understand the full implications of what it meant for Jesus to lay down His life as the Good Shepherd, and if we are not careful we will miss it too. Jesus said, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (Jn. 10:16).

I find it interesting that among the Jews listening to Jesus that day John points out that they were divided (see vv. 19-21). Some rejected Jesus and what He said believing Him to be demon possessed and  out of His mind. But others reasoned a demon could not open the eyes of a blind man, so perhaps there was something to what Jesus said. Will we take the time to ponder His word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all that His words mean for us?

As believers today most of us are beneficiaries of the work of the Good Shepherd for we who were once outsiders have now been included. The Gentiles or non-Jews are the sheep not of this fold who would hear Jesus voice (i.e. His Words) and would be brought into His flock. In this way, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  The Jews believed their Messiah would rescue their people, but Jesus made it clear that He did not lay down His life for only the Jews, but for everyone who would believe in Him that they might all be united as one in Him.

When we look at our communities do we see the “one flock” Jesus spoke of, or is His church like the Jews that day – divided by His words? Even within the local church we attend is there unity and peace among members or is there discord? If we are truly members of His flock, and if we hear His voice then can we hear our Good Shepherd calling us back to unity together as one flock?

In this season of dedication let us dedicate ourselves to unity within the body of Christ. Rather than sowing seeds of conflict and dissension through gossip and bitter words against one another; let’s learn the language of love. Let’s strive to follow Paul’s instruction to the church at Ephesus, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:3-6).

LORD Jesus, forgive us for being slow to hear Your Voice; forgive us for our petty disagreements and being quick to divide Your flock. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to work together for unity.