Jesus is Shockingly Confrontational

confrontational

My favorite Biblical view of Jesus is as the Good Shepherd. I think this view of Jesus is less popular and less understood in current western culture due to the fact that more people live in cities and have never had to care for livestock. Shepherds are by nature confrontational and rough people because the sheep they are responsible for have no ability to fend for themselves. The Shepherd must fight for them. David as a youth used his experience as a shepherd to appeal to King Saul for an opportunity to fight Goliath the champion warrior of the opposing army.

33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:33-37 ESV

Jesus like David is a shepherd that will fight for His flock. He does not flee from danger or from the enemy.

 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, John 10:11-14 ESV

Jesus has a powerful love for His sheep because He is the owner not a temporary caregiver, and as owner of the sheep he knows them all. Jesus boldly went to the Cross the source of pain, death, and evil that impact our lives so that He Himself could restore His flock of sheep.

There is one other aspect of being Shepherd we must look at. That is to know that as sheep He is our master. Our role is to go where he leads, and follow His commands. The Shepherd knows where the green fields are at. He knows where the wolf treads. Why then do we obstinately try to forge our own way moving away from the green field and toward the wolf? Jesus demands that we give up our own ambitions. This is a shocking idea to western culture that views self as equal to God able to forge a path and do anything we put our minds to do.

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 ESV

The passions and desires of this life in many cases are selfishness and seeking pleasure at the expense of others. Jesus will confront this in His sheep just as surely as he has confronted the wolf.

20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:20-22 ESV

Jesus shot an arrow right in the heart of an upstanding moral young man who wanted validation that the life he lived was worthy of God. Jesus confronted the man right where this man kept his desires. Money in this case was the one place this man would not follow God and Jesus confronted the root issue.

 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:24-30 ESV

Here Jesus speaking to the self-righteous, religious pillars of the community he confronted them with a terrible truth about their history. God sent prophets to people who were not of Israel to heal and to be comforted because God saw how selfish and evil the people of Israel had become. This confrontation was such an insult that they intended to kill Jesus right then at that moment.

I read another story of Christ being confrontational this week with the release of movie Unbroken the story of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was a POW in the hands of the Japanese and after he returned home he spent his time thinking of ways to return and kill his main captor. In the book that recounts his life Zamperni tells us that this anger and hate consumed him and it impacted his relationship with family. Years later Zamperini wrote a letter to his captor…

As a result of my prisoner of war experience under your unwarranted and unreasonable punishment, my post-war life became a nightmare. . . . But thanks to a confrontation with God through the evangelist Billy Graham, I committed my life to Christ. Love replaced the hate I had for you. (396–397)

I am amazed to see his word “confrontation” right here. Christ confronted Zamperini and asked him to put away the passions of the flesh. This hate melted into forgiveness and Zamperini placed himself at the mercy and grace of the Good Shepherd. Christ confronts us all asking each of us to surrender to a life in service to Him. If you are His sheep then listen to his confrontational voice, repent of your rebellion, and submit to the mercy and grace of the one who is willing and able to give us life lived in love

The Lord is my Shepherd

I love Psalm 23. It is one of my favorites because God has shown me how to live life through this psalm. It is a Psalm about allowing Jesus to be the leader. The opening verse acknowledges His leadership and then states that “I shall not want”.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1 ESV

I shall not want. Well that very statement is the exact opposite of who I am, the culture I live in, and how I live my daily life. I want an awful lot of stuff. I want many things and I have plans to secure the things I want. I even look to Jesus for help to secure the things I want. Jesus however made an interesting point to the disciples one day when they were at the temple and got a good view of the treasury where people were bringing their gifts to God.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 ESV

She gave out of her poverty and put everything she had into the offering. Have I ever given all that I have? Monetarily no. I have given monetarily I would even say I have given a fair amount monetarily, but what I have given has been out of abundance. God has blessed the work of my hands so out of abundance I give. Have I ever given, my life, my being, all on the line to Jesus? Jesus said this woman gave all that she had to live on. She had nothing left to give. I suspect that those coins were all that she had left save the cloths on her back. She put herself totally at the mercy and grace of God. In the back of my mind when I give up some part of myself, I have an alternate plan. I rationalize that if it all falls apart I might go to plan b or plan c. This woman had nothing left to fall back on. She was at the complete mercy of her savior at that moment when she let go of the coins. Could I dare to allow myself to be at His mercy by letting go of the life I want to live?

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23 ESV

Yes I can dare to put everything on the line for Jesus. He wants to be the Shepherd in my life, but I need to trust him and turn everything over to him. Francis Chan in his book Forgotten God challenges the contemporary, nominal Christianity that many of us try to live. You know the Christianity where we try to add Jesus in, like a good luck charm, or better yet a god that will give us our heart’s desire in the here and now. Chan wrote “Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.”

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 ESV

Do you hear Jesus calling? Has he spoken to you? There is no plan B or plan C. The widow understood who would provide to for her. Do you understand? Have you yielded to the only name under heaven which can save, the name of Jesus? Jesus is here now speaking to you. Rebellious slaves to sin look up. God the Creator of the universe has taken your shame away. Submit to Him. He will accept you, listen to His voice your shepherd is calling and he has the only plan for you.