In a very familiar NT passage, Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 10:14). We often take this for granted, without realizing the implicit claim to deity. After all, who is our Shepherd? See Psalm 23 for the answer! Moreover, there had been a specific prediction some six centuries prior that the Good Shepherd would visit Israel, address the disarray, rebuke its leaders and upbraid the people, and represent God's true cause of righteousness. Shall we turn our thoughts to a most colorful OT prophecy? It may not be a familiar passage, yet Jesus' allusions to it in John 10 surely did not pass unnoticed.
(I will leave it to you to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 34, in case you are not familiar with it. We will look at only a few excerpts at this time.)
15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. 23 I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them -- I, the LORD, have spoken.
And what do we see?
* David, the ancient and illustrious shepherd of Israel, will once again be their shepherd. Note: David died around 970 BC, some four centuries earlier. Was God planning to resurrect David, or bring back his spirit? This is not the way the Lord operates. Rather, David is used as a metaphor for God's saving action in the Messiah.
* And yet the shepherd is also the Lord God himself!
* See also Psalm 23, 28, 80; Isaiah 40:11.
How do we reconcile the two? How can the shepherd be both David and Deity? No sooner than we ask the question do we begin to see the answer:
* Jesus Christ is the descendant of David (Matthew 1:1, 22:45).
* Jesus Christ is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14; Titus 2:13 etc).
This understanding makes sense of Ezekiel 34 and affords us an illuminated understanding of John 10. Jesus is "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20) because he is God in the flesh.
Next we will look at our fourth in a series of four prophecies of the Messiah. We will study the short book of Malachi, yet another rich source of Messianic prophecy. Come back -- and, if you appreciate the website, please tell your friends.
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