Monthly Archives: March 2015

Study Series in John's Gospel

Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in His Cross and Exaltation (II)

Study Series: The Gospel of John

Larger Context: Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in His Cross and Exaltation (12:20-13:35) (Part Two)

This Study:
A New Commandment (13:31-35)
The Announcement of His Hour (12:20-36)
Scripture Fulfilled (12:37-50)

A New Commandment (12:20-13:35)

Murray McLellan

A New Commandment (13:31-35)

V. 31-32 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.

The waiting is over. The hour has come – the moment of supreme, divine disclosure.

The greatest moment of displayed glory will come in the shame of the cross (see Isa. 49:3 and its surrounding context). God’s splendor is seen in the perfect obedience of the Son’s sacrifice. Both Jesus and the Father are glorified in this incredible event.

If God glorifies His Son in the cross event, God will most certainly glorify Him in His exaltation – giving Him the name that is above every name. Jesus will come again in that glory. In that day will you look upon Him as one you have spurned?

Every genuine disciple is concerned for the glory of God.

V. 33-35 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus prepares His disciples for His departure and begins to layout what He expects of them while He is away. The command to love one another is such a simple command and yet, oh so profound. The depth of this standard of love demands supernatural enabling. The newness of the command is brought out in the “as I have love you.” Jesus brings us to the fullest expression – the fulfillment of the law! (This reflects the relationship of love that exists between Father and Son).

Is our love evident? Can you put “I” in place of “love in 1 Cor. 13? Jesus can! How we need to find ourselves praying, “O Lord Jesus, teach me to love others as You love.”

If the church existed in that kind of love – selfless, sacrificial, forgiving, etc. we would absolutely overwhelm the world. Instead, too often there are factions, people gossip, backbite, talk too much, and criticize … while the people of the world gaze on. Real love is costly. It is humble, forgiving, quick to repent, and strives to make things right.

I believe that this new commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us is our New Covenant foundation. (“as I have loved you” – justification as illustrated by the footwashing. Compare Romans. Chapters 1-11 speak of all that we have as a result of Christ loving us. Chapter 12 and following bring on the “therefore” – the practical response. In Ephesians, chapters 1-3 unfold Christ’s great love and all we have as a result. Chapters 4-6 extends the call to walk worthy of such a high calling. In other words to “love one another as [Jesus has] loved you.”) If our Lord and Master has washed our feet (i.e. cleansed us, served us, and forgiven us), how much more ought we to love one another?

What makes this commandment new? The call to love was given before. I believe the newness is the connection with the cross …”as I have loved you.” The New Covenant provides the new heart to motivate obedience. Where do we go for the example of love? We go to the cross, where Jesus laid down His life freely for His people.

Compare John 13:7 with 1 John 3:16-18, 4:10-11, to see what John “knew” after the resurrection. We see clearly in John’s first epistle that John came to realize what Jesus meant in John 13.

This must be the foundation of all we do. “The love of Christ constrains me,” Paul said – not guilt or tradition or fear (2 Cor. 5:14; Rom. 5:5). If we are not motivated by the love of Christ, it is legalism. The New Covenant ushers forth a new commandment! The world is watching. What do they see – bickering with one another, judging one another? We know we have different preferences and ideas, and that we don’t see every jot and tittle the same. We have disagreements, but we must love one another and find out a way to work out differences, and be longsuffering and forebearing. We are all aware of church splits … and the world watches on.

To follow our King’s command takes commitment and effort as constrained by the love of Christ. The law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) is our N.C. law, not O.C. wineskin. Jesus and the New Covenant and the new commandment is our starting point. The event that saves us also commands us how to live! We are motivated by grace and love, not guilt or fear or intimidation. The love of Jesus poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is what keeps us together and keeps us going. A New Covenant servant is secure in the fact that God accepts him in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Thus, the other person’s response is not the issue.

Too often we get caught up in the other’s response and attitude etc. Behold Jesus with Judas. It is nice to have our love returned, but is that our motive? If it is not, then why are we so upset when our reaching out and serving is not received or appreciated as we think it should be? Is our focus the result or loving one another as Christ has loved us? Or are we self-motivated – we want a friend; we want to be liked, we want to be stroked? But if I love like Jesus, I’ll be vulnerable and open to be hurt … just like Jesus. Are we committed to love one another, or do we walk away when difficulties arise … and they will arise. (God is committed to us! See also Rom. 8.) There seems to be very little commitment in North American Christianity (Luke 12:35-40, 43). Temptation, sin, and evil, are our common enemies. My brother is not my enemy. If we could only combine our efforts to defeat evil. Our brother needs to know we are with him and for him and that his burden is our burden.

Pride hinders our fulfilling the law of Christ (pride is that sin rooted in the devil himself). It is of all sins most subtle and deceiving and difficult to subdue. It is so insidious and cunning that it can persuade us to think we are something when we are nothing. Pride evaluates itself by comparison with others (2 Cor. 10:12). Do you think you are a little better Christian than most? Is your attitude such that you view that there are sins and failings and attitudes in this fellowship that require far more attention than yours? Do we spend more time wary of and examining our own motives, as opposed to wondering about another’s motives or sincerity – for typically we have plenty of weaknesses and temptations and secret sins and failings.

Christ’s N.C. command to us should compel us to ask: “Are my actions genuinely influenced by Christ’s love?” If our response to such questions as above, immediately cause us to think about how they apply to others, it should tells us something about ourselves. Are we really testing our own actions or somebody else’s actions? Are we evaluating ourselves against the standard of Christ or are we comparing ourselves to others? Jesus Christ is our standard. In light of Christ’s majesty and glory, our sin shows up in all its true vileness and shame. If we would only remember this when someone criticizes us about one of our faults or failures, we would realize they have not seen the half of it. And when we feel constrained to offer a word of criticism, to a brother, we would likely be more careful and few in words if we saw Jesus at our side and looking into our eyes and heart. This Jesus who is Lord of all and could have rightly commanded His disciples to fall down before Him in fearful worship … but no, the King of kings took a towel and girded Himself and began to wash the disciple’s feet.

Wonder of wonders! The King takes the position of a lowly servant, and He wants them and us to see that loving servanthood is foundational in His kingdom. This is the way of blessedness; compelled by the love of Christ (as I have loved you), not legalism which goes hand in hand with pride and erases love. That’s why the Lord’s table is an “often” event. It takes us to the cross – the “as I have loved you” – which provides sufficient incentive for our kingdom duty to love one another. And this love is the mark of the reality of the Christian faith to the world – not apologetics or elaborate programs, but genuine and discernable love between believers. Without love all else is in vain (1 Cor. 13).

A New Covenant = a new law. A genuine love of Christ cannot be separated by a genuine desire to obey His commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-3).

C. The Announcement of His Hour (12:20-36)

V. 20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.

The arrival of the Greeks seeking Jesus serves as a signal that the “hour” was at hand.

V. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

At the very time the leaders of Israel sought to kill Him, the Greeks desired to see Him. Jesus was about to be the Savior of the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Of old it had been said, “and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations” (Hag. 2:7). It seems it was more than an idle curiosity which prompted these Greeks, for if it was only a physical sight of Him which they desired, that could have been accomplished as He passed in and out of the temple or along the street of Jerusalem, without them interviewing Philip. It was a personal and intimate acquaintance with Him that their souls craved. The form in which they stated their request was prophetically significant. It was not, “We desire to witness one of his mighty works,” but “We wish to see Jesus.”

V. 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

When Christ had sent forth the Twelve on their first preaching tour, He expressly commanded them, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.” Furthermore, the disciples had heard Him say to the Canaanite woman, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Most probably it was because these definite statements were in Philip’s mind that he now sought out Andrew and asked his advice.

V. 23-24 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

I love Jesus’ response. There must be a New Covenant established to bring in the Greeks! Apart from His sacrificial death, Jesus could do nothing for these Greeks. An earthly Messiah would do nothing for them at all.

This is the first time, the Lord declared that His “hour” had come. At Cana He had said to His mother, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), and about the middle of His public ministry we read, “No one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30). But here He announced that His hour had arrived; the hour when He, as Son of Man, would be “glorified.” This could be a double reference. The context could refer to the time when the Son of man would be glorified by receiving the worship of the Gentiles. But most certainly, linking this verse with the one that immediately follows, it is equally clear that He referred to His approaching death. To His followers, the cross appears as the lowest depths of humiliation, but the Savior regarded it (also) as His glorification. John 13:30, 31 brings this out: “Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night. So [or therefore], when he had gone out, Jesus said, Now the Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” The two things are intimately related: salvation could not come to the Gentiles except through His death.

If the Lord Jesus is to be to others the “resurrection” and the “life”, we now learn what this involved for Him. He would be glorified by being the firstborn among many brethren. But how? Through death: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). Life could not come to us but through His death. Every seed sown in the ground to produce a harvest is a testimony to the cross-work of Jesus Christ.

These “Greeks” pointed in the direction of those other “sheep” which the Good Shepherd must also bring. It is also significant to note that just as Gentiles (the magi from the East) had sought Him soon after His birth, so now these “Greeks” came to Him shortly before His death.

V. 25- 27 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

He who thinks more of this life that now is, than the life which is to come, shall lose his soul. Jesus’ disciples must give up their Jewish ideas of temporal rewards. They need to see that the kingdom is spiritual. Jesus’ sheep are content to lose much in this life, in order to gain the glory of the life to come. They seek the glory and honor of God.

This is the prelude to Gethsemane. It reveals to us something of Christ’s inward sufferings. His anguish was extreme; His heart was “troubled” – in horror and grief. Why was this? The insults and sufferings which He was to receive at the hands of men? The wounding of His heel by the Serpent? No, I believe it was the prospect of being “made a curse for us,” of suffering the righteous wrath of a sin-hating God. “What shall I say?” He asks, not “What shall I choose?” There was no wavering in purpose, or indecision of will. Though His holy nature shrank from being “made sin,” it only marked His perfections to ask that such a cup might pass from Him. Nevertheless, He bowed, unhesitatingly, to the Father’s will, saying, “But for this purpose I came to this hour.” The bitter cup was accepted.

V. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

The heavenly Father, who had been glorifying His name throughout the ministry of His dear Son, will glorify it again in the death and exaltation of Jesus – giving Him the name that is above every name!

V. 29-30 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Three times the Father spoke audibly to the Son: at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of His Messianic career, and in each case it was in view of His death. At the Jordan Christ went down, symbolically, into the place of death in the waters of baptism; on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah had talked with Him “of his [lit.] ‘exodus’” (Luke 9:31); and here, Christ had just announced that His “hour” was at hand.

The hardness of the unbelieving heart is always ready to explain away the clearest evidence of truth.

V. 31-32 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Many thought, when Jesus was crucified, they were passing judgment on Jesus. However, the cross was passing judgment on them – in their rejection of God in the rejection of His Son. Also, the judgment of His ‘seed’ occurred on the cross. The cross also brought about the defeat of Satan.

Jesus’ being lifted up could refer to both the cross and His exaltation, which are definitely connected. Jesus’ death was the pathway to His glorification; in fact, an integral part of it.

It is the One who has been “lifted up” (above this earth) that now draws all – elect Gentiles as well as Jews – unto Himself. That is why the translators have put “peoples” – not “people” referring to every person (i.e. people groups), referring to all without distinction, not all without exception. The preceding context has eliminated the latter option, as Jesus says this is a time of distinguishing those who love their loves from those who hate their lives. Thus, the “all” plainly refers to all of God’s elect. The scope of the word “all” here is the same as in John 6:45 – “And they shall be all taught of God.” It is the same “all” that the Father has given to Christ (John 6:37).

The promise, ‘I will draw all to Myself’ describes that our Lord after His crucifixion would draw men of all nations and tribes and tongues to Himself – to believe in Him and be His disciples. Once crucified, He would become a great center of attraction, and draw to Himself; releasing from the Devil’s usurped power; vast multitudes of all peoples, to be His servants and followers. Up to this time all the world had blindly hastened after Satan and followed him. After Christ’s crucifixion great numbers would turn away from the power of Satan and become Christians. The New Covenant era is the time of belief.

V. 33-36 This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

Those in darkness cannot comprehend the Scriptures. They could not see the need for a dying Messiah. I sure do!

Scripture Fulfilled (12:37-50)

V. 37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,

“They” seems to refer to the nation at large. Some after the resurrection were confused. How could Jesus be the Messiah when most of the Jews rejected Him? The Christian answer to this is that this unbelief is actually necessary as a fulfillment of Scripture.

V. 38-40 That the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”

The widespread unbelief and blindness in the present day ought not to surprise us. It is just one of the evidences of the total corruption of fallen man. It seems that sometimes we only feebly grasp and believe the heart’s wretched deceitfulness. Let us read our Bibles

more attentively, and search their contents more carefully. Even when Christ performed incredible miracles and preached the good news, there were large numbers of His hearers who remained completely unmoved.

We believe it had been better to render it thus: “They believed not, consequently the saying of Isaiah was fulfilled.” God does not have to put forth any power to cause any sinner not to believe: if He leaves him to himself, he never will believe.

V. 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Even as Abraham saw Jesus’ day and rejoiced, Isaiah, too, saw the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and spoke of Him. Oh, find delight reading the “gospel according to Isaiah!” We also here have the identity of the glorious Lord Isaiah beholds in Isaiah chapter 6!

V. 42-50 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

This final narrative presents us with a brief but comprehensive view of all the Lord had taught and done during the course of His public ministry, and of the effects which His discourses and miracles had produced on the great body of His countrymen.

The closing section of John 12 forms an epilogue to that chapter of our Lord’s life which had just been brought to a close in John 12:36. Four vital truths which had occupied a prominent place in Christ’s oral ministry are here singled out: His appeal to the Father which sent Him (John 12:44, 45, 49); Himself the Light of the world (John 12:46); the danger of unbelief (John 12:47-49); and the end of faith (John 12:50). The result is clear that the guilt of unbelief rested inexcusably upon Israel. They’d rather commit murder than admit themselves wrong.

~ Murray

About Murray McLellan
Murray is the lead church planter and Bible teacher at Grace Fellowship Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his wife Cheryl have labored in the Gospel for many years despite the many discouragements along the way. Our brother is associated with “InDepth Studies”, the Acts 29 network of church planters, and more recently the uniquely Canadian C2C church planting network. In new covenant circles Murray is a long time contributor to new covenant thought and discussion.
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A Study Series in First Peter with Dr Steve Orr

The Saved Sinners (Part Two)

Dr Steve OrrReview

We’re going to continue where we left off and continue on to the end of the chapter. Let us continue to consider what Peter had to say about the effect of Christ’s suffering for us as His people. As a reminder, Initially, I was going to do so under three headings beginning with “R” so I was going to say that we have the three “Rs” in these verses but they’re not “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic”. Then I thought of a fourth point beginning “R” so now we have the four “Rs”! They are REVITALISATION, RECOVERY, RESCUE and RELATIONSHIP. In my previous post we considered the first two of the four. With this post we are going to consider Rescue and Relationship.

Our Passage

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21-25 NASB)

In our passage we see that the RECOVERY comes about because there has been a:

RESCUE

Peter continues in verse 25 by saying: “For you were straying like sheep”. Once again, we see something of the state we were in before we came to Christ. We were “were straying like sheep”. That is what every human being is like by nature. They’ve gone astray. Now, I’ve often been out walking in the countryside and lost my way. I’ve gone astray. However, I’ve always managed to work things out and get back on track. Notice that Peter didn’t simply say that we were straying. He specifically said that we “were straying like sheep”. If you’ve seen the “Shaun the sheep” movie you’ll know that the sheep in that film are very intelligent and resourceful. That’s part of the humour because that’s not what sheep are really like. Usually sheep are depicted as being rather foolish and helpless. That is because that is what sheep are really like. So, when sheep are astray they are lost and in danger and they don’t have the ability or resourcefulness to get themselves back on track. So Peter wasn’t saying that we were astray but able to sort it out. No, he was saying that we were helplessly lost and in serious danger. We needed to be rescued.

Peter’s statement “For you were straying like sheep” is, like so many others in this passage, clearly based on Isaiah 53. We read in Isaiah 53v6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him he iniquity of us all”. That not only tells us that we were straying like sheep. It also tells us why we were straying like sheep. It’s not like when I’ve accidentally got lost in the countryside. It’s because “we have turned—every one—to his own way”. We were astray wilfully. We were astray because we were determined to deliberately go our own way. And, notice the emphasis there on “every one”. There are no exceptions. All human beings are naturally astray. It’s a depressing and seemingly helpless situation.

The only way for a sheep to no longer be astray is for it to be rescued and be returned to its shepherd. Thankfully Peter continues by saying: “but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. Sometimes the word “but” can be a real downer. It can introduce a spanner in the works or a fly in the ointment but here it introduces wonderfully good news. It’s saying that if you are a believer in Christ, although you “were straying like sheep” that’s no longer the case because you “have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.

Clearly, by “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” Peter means Jesus. Remember that Jesus said of Himself in John 10v11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. Then, in verse 14 of the same chapter He said: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me”. So, believers are no longer astray because they have come to Christ as their Shepherd.

Now, that word “returned” could be a bit misleading.

If you go to a railway station and buy a return ticket it allows you to go somewhere and then travel back to your starting point. So, saying that you “have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” could give the impression that Peter was saying that you started with “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”, strayed from Him and have now come back to Him. However, the Greek word that has been translated here as “returned”, epistrepho, is usually translated as “turned”. Let me just give you a few examples of the same Greek word being used.

Firstly, let’s read Acts 9v35: “And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord”. We find something in similar in Acts 11v21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord”. In both examples people who had never previously known the Lord turned to Him. It was a turning not a returning.

Next, let’s read Acts 14v14-15: “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them”. In that context, Paul and Barnabas were exhorting the people of Lystra to turn away from their false gods and to turn to the true God. In 1 Thessalonians 1v9 Paul tells us that that is exactly what the Thessalonian believers had done. He said: “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”. You see, they hadn’t returned to God. Previously they’d been following idols but they’d now turned to God from those idols.

So Peter was saying that his readers were no longer “straying like sheep” because they had turned to Jesus as their “Shepherd and Overseer”.

How had that come about?

In saying “but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” you could get the impression that that it is something that we do for ourselves. The reality is that it’s something that Jesus our Shepherd does for us. Continuing in John 10 we read in verse 16 that 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”. You see, it’s not that lost sheep seek for their shepherd. Rather, Jesus as the Shepherd brings lost sheep to Himself so that they are no longer astray. We see the same sort of picture presented in Jesus’ words in Luke 15v3-7 where we read: “So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”.

You see, it’s Jesus who takes the initiative. He seeks the lost sheep. He finds the lost sheep. He brings the lost sheep to Himself. He rescues lost sheep.

But, how does being rescued in this way bring about the Recovery and Revitalisation that we’ve already considered? It does so because it leads to a:

RELATIONSHIP

You see, Peter doesn’t speak in terms of us simply having been rescued. It’s not just that we’re now out of danger and no longer astray. It’s not like having been rescued by a Mountain Rescue Team. They would come and find you, get you down safely, check you over and send you on your way. But, you see, we’ve been rescued by turning to the person who is our rescuer. He’s described as “the Shepherd and Overseer”. That says something about Him and what He does but notice that Peter doesn’t stop there. He describes Him as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.

How are we to understand “your souls”? Well, the Greek word is psyche and it can be used in different ways. Sometimes it’s used to refer to the spiritual part of our being in contrast with our physical bodies. Paul often uses it in a negative way to denote the natural fallen self in contrast with the new being renewed by the Holy Spirit. However, Peter consistently uses it to simply refer to the whole being. So the idea here is that we’ve come to Jesus as “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our whole beings. He’s “the Shepherd and Overseer” of all that we are. So, we’ve come into that relationship with Him. He’s not just someone who’s rescued us. He’s become our Shepherd and He’s become our Overseer. It’s because He’s rescued us and brought us into that relationship that we have recovery and revitalisation. It all comes from Him and by being brought into a relationship with Him as our “Shepherd and Overseer”.

Now, when you read “Shepherd and Overseer” it sounds as though Peter has two different roles in mind but I think that he is actually using two different terms to depict the same role. One term, “Shepherd”, comes from a Jewish background and the other term, “Overseer”, comes from a pagan background. The Old Testament often speaks of God’s people being His flock and Him being their Shepherd and a Shepherd is one who provides leadership, care, provision and protection.

The word translated as “Overseer” could also be translated as guardian or superintendent. As with a shepherd, it carries a sense of authority combined with care.

So, in these verses Peter has recognised that the natural man is alive to sin, sick and straying. But, through faith in Christ, we have received new life, our sickness has been healed and we’ve been rescued. That all comes about through being brought into a relationship with Jesus as “the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls”. What that means is depicted beautifully in Psalm 23 so we’ll read that in closing:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

~ Steve

 

About Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!
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