Sunday, 12 January 2014

We have a strong Saviour

Jesus told a parable in Luke 15:1-7 about a shepherd and a lost sheep that he went to look for until he found it. When he did, he carried it home. In the description of the shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders we have a picture of the Christian life. From the moment Jesus extends his arms and lifts us on to his shoulders, which occurs at conversion, he does not let us go until he takes us to heaven. There are many dangers ahead of each believer and if it were not for the presence of the strong Saviour these dangers would overpower us. These dangers include indwelling sin, worldliness, Satanic opposition and death itself. How thankful we should be that our Saviour is mighty to save.

In the posture of the sheep lying on the shoulders of the shepherd we have an illustration of faith in Christ. The whole weight of the sheep was on the shepherd’s shoulders. Similarly, faith leans the entire weight of one’s soul on Christ for salvation. Now, the comfort of faith will depend on what the saved sinner looks at. If the sheep was to look down from the shepherd’s shoulders at the rough road or at the wild animals, then it would sense fear. But if it looked at the strong shoulders of the shepherd, saw the ease with which he travelled along the road, and saw the dread he brought to its enemies, then its faith would be strengthened. In both situations the sheep was secure, but in the second he had the comfort and confidence that comes from looking to Christ.

Similarly, if the sheep was to listen to the shepherd rather than listen to the noise of its enemies, it would hear what would further strengthen faith, for he would hear the rejoicing of the Saviour. The Saviour’s joy began before he came into the world (his delights were with the sons of men), but he also expresses it to the sheep as he carries it along each step of the way. The sheep is not a heavy burden on his shoulders, he is delighted to carry it. Jesus expresses his pleasure to his people continually, telling them of how beautiful he sees them to be, of how glad he is that he can protect them, but often we do not hear his voice because we are listening to other voices.

In a real sense, the Christian life is lying on Christ’s shoulders, listening to his joyful voice expressing his delight in his people.

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