Why on earth would Jesus give up His awesome gig in Heaven with God the Father and come to live among us as a man? He gives us a hint in John 10. He came to be a gateway, a path, an opening. He came to lead His people to “good pastures” where they will find a “rich and satisfying life.”
Over and over, throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, the image of the shepherd appears. Abraham was a shepherd. So was Moses. So was David. It is to the humble shepherds, quietly keeping watch over their flocks at night, to whom the angel of God reveals the Good News of the birth of Jesus. Jesus is called the Lamb of God. In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep to go in search of a single sheep who strayed—and rejoices over the rescue of that one lost sheep. After His death and resurrection, Jesus tells Peter his task on earth would be to “feed my lambs.”
Chances are you’ve never run across a shepherd—but in Jesus’ day, shepherds were common and shepherding was essential work. To our modern minds, the comparison of the Son of God to a lowly, uneducated shepherd is astonishing. Sheep aren't very bright, and they require constant tending. They have to be led to water, food, and shelter. Without a vigilant shepherd, they are easy prey for the native bears, wolves, and mountain lions that roamed the countryside. The shepherd places himself between those threats and the creatures he protects! Jesus takes that to the next level: He declares Himself to be the “good shepherd” willing to sacrifice His own life for His sheep. Imagine the Almighty giving it all up for the weak and vulnerable! But he does not stop there. In this text we find a nugget of truth that goes way beyond salvation.
Jesus does not just say that he came to provide a way for His sheep to survive and avoid the predators of life. Look at John 10:10: “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!” The word Jesus uses, perissós, means over and above, superabundant, distinguished, excellent, better—so completely over-the-top as to seem wasteful! Jesus is painting a picture of Himself as the abundant provider and diligent protector of our lives.
David praises God in Psalm 23, saying, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. He takes me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That's where he restores and revives my life.”
Jesus did not come so we could get to Heaven some day. He came to give us access to His “luxurious love.” He came so that we might “experience life, freedom, and satisfaction” in every area of our lives! In other words, he is opening up the way for us to begin experiencing the benefits of Heaven right now.
Jimmy Witcher appears this Tuesday on LIFE Today. This is an excerpt from Kingdom Come: Living In Heaven On Earth by Jimmy Witcher. Copyright ©2019 Trinity Fellowship Church. Published by Trinity Fellowship Church. Used by permission.