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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Glorious Word of the Gospel

"I Am the good Shepherd.  The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11; cf. 10:15)
In the Greek text the Word is υπέρ.  The word υπέρ means, "in place of", "in ones stead", or "on the behalf of".  This word is clearly brought out by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21 where he says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin υπέρ (on our behalf)".  Jesus stood in our place as suffered the wrath of God as if He had lived our life.  The other half of this glorious truth is that He not only took our place, but that he imputed His righteousness into our account.  Jesus was treated as we deserve to be treated and we are treated as if we lived His life.  The theologians call this double imputation.  It is here that believing humanity finds all its hope for this life and the life to come.

Now back to John 10:11.  This great verse tells us four important things in regards to the gospel.  First, Jesus tells us who He is.  He says, εγώ ειμί (I AM) the good shepherd.  Second, Jesus tells us what He does.  He τίθημι (to take off or give up) His life.  Psalm 49:7 says, "Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit".  This is why we need a God/man to redeem us.  Humanity by itself would not be enough.  Third, Jesus reveals the glorious truth of the gospel when He says, "υπέρ of the sheep" (on behalf of the sheep).  Lastly, we are confronted with the doctrine of election.  The good Shepherd knows His sheep.  His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him.  Notice that the good Shepherd does not lay down his life for the goats, but only for the sheep.  He is omniscient and knows perfectly who belongs to Him.

What is a man to do with a verse like this?  He should readily and with humility confess that Jesus is the good Shepherd, that He believes Jesus has died in his place, and that he desires to follow the Shepherd for the rest of his life.  After all, that is the response of sheep.

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