Keith Hunt - A Shepherd looks at the GOOD SHEPHERD - Page Twelve   Restitution of All Things

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A Shepherd looks at the GOOD SHEPHERD #12

One flock - One shepherd

                A Shepherd looks at the GOOD SHEPHERD  #12


As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father: and I lay
down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not
of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my
voice; and there shall be one fold(flock), and one shepherd (Jhon
10:15-16).



     THIS IS AN appropriate point at which to pause for a moment
in studying this parable. Always it is important to keep in mind
a clear picture of the setting in which our Lord made His
statements.
     A young man was born blind. His eyesight was restored by
Christ and then he discovered who his benefactor was. In his
incredible gratitude the healed man rejoiced not only in
new-found physical sight, but also in new-found spiritual sight.
He actually saw Jesus as his great deliverer, his Savior, his
Redeemer.
     Though he had been excommunicated and cut off from any
further association with the religious leaders, this was only a
small loss - for he had found the Christ. He had come to know Him
who could give great meaning and direction to his previously
derelict life. In humble awe he believed. And with touching
appreciation he worshiped Jesus, bowing down before Him in glad
submission.
     This act of obeisance scandalized and horrified the Jews.
They were infuriated even further when the Master made it clear
that it was in fact they, who thought they saw and knew and
understood spiritual realities, who were blind. The accusation
enraged them. Like a pack of bloodhounds closing in on their
prey, they encircled Him, bent on His destruction. Their blood
boiled. Their eyes blazed with hate.
     This next statement Jesus makes - "As the Father knoweth me,
even so know I the Father" - was outrageous enough that they
charged Him with being utterly insane, if not possessed of a
demon.
     Of course, it was proof positive of their own self-delusion.
They stood confronted by the One who was the light of the world
but whose presence only accentuated their own dreadful darkness.

     They were encountering heaven's royalty in disguise. Yet
they rejected God's anointed Prince of Peace with impassioned
pride. He who stood encircled by them came from God, knew God,
was very God, but they were totally blind to His being.
In just a few more moments they would pick up rocks from the
ground ready to break His bones and dash out His brains. If they
could not still Him with spiritual arguments, they could slay Him
with stones. Men forever try to silence God, but He does not go
away that easily. He always has the last word.
     It was not within man's power, nor will it ever be, to do
away with God. If His life was to be put on the line, it would be
at the time of His own choosing and in the manner of His own
choice. No man would deprive Him of this honor or privilege.
Jesus later made this clear to His would-be assassins.
     What so enraged them was His claim to divinity. "I know the
Father. The Father knows me." There was nothing vague or tenuous
about this intimate relationship. It was not a knowing of hearsay
or second-hand acquaintance. It was in truth a knowing of the
most profound, personal sort. It implied the interaction of
coequals, the unequivocal unity of total oneness. Jesus, in His
final statement to His foes on this important occasion, said, "I
and my Father are one!"
     This straightforward claim to deity completely undid His
audience. And it has been the stone over which uncounted millions
have stumbled since.
     Unless we grasp the profound and enormous implications of
this claim of Christ to being known and knowing God, all the
other remarks made later will have no relevance. I say this in
sincerity to remind the reader that our Lord was not just a good
man; He was also the great God in human guise. His claims to a
special knowledge and relationship with His Father were
recognized by the Jews as outright insistence on His personal
deity.
     Not only were they unwilling to accept Him as such, but the
same has been true for most men during the past twenty centuries.
If we are to "see," if we are to "understand," we must face the
formidable fact that this One was none other than God. He was
the God of the Godhead who knew from before the creation of
planet earth what plans were made to preserve and restore human
beings to a proper relationship with Himself.
     He was the God who would have to identify Himself with men
in their darkness and dilemma of despair and deception. He would
have to interpose His own pure and impeccable life on their
behalf, as a substitute for their grievous sins that incurred the
judgment of a righteous God. He who knew no sin, of necessity had
to be made sin with our wrongdoings, in order that we might be
made right with His amazing righteousness.
     Only as He Himself, in His own person, exhausted and
absorbed the penalty for our wrongs in His death, could we be
acquitted and set free. This freedom to be His, to follow Him, to
become the people He intended, must of necessity be bought for us
at an appalling price.
     The price paid was His own life. It was His righteous,
sublime life poured out as a supreme propitiation for our pride,
perverseness, and pollution. This satisfied the awful abhorrence
of a selfless God for our selfish sins, but also delivered us
from death, alienation, and the despair of our dreadful dilemma.
Like the young man born blind, only a tiny handful of human
beings have ever seen or grasped this truth.
     In his simplicity and sincerity he had allowed the great
Shepherd of his soul to enter the fold of his young life. He had
allowed Him to take control. He had allowed the Good Shepherd to
claim him as His own.
     The cost to him, too, had been great to come into the care
of Christ. His contemporaries had cut him off from the synagogue.
They had ostracized him from their company. They had heaped scorn
and abuse upon him. He had done no wrong. His only misconduct was
to come into Christ's care, to become one of His flock.
     The flock of God has never been very large.

     Our Lord made it clear few would come into His care.
Most of us are sheep who turn to our own way and go astray. Yet
scattered across the world are those who are His.

     Down the long avenues of human history the Good Shepherd has
been out among us, gathering up those who would come. With
enormous compassion and great tenderness He looked at the young
man whose sight had just been restored. "Other sheep I have,
which are not of this fold." All over the earth there are other
lives, individual sheepfolds, scattered like so many sheep
astray, whose intimate folds He is eager to enter. This young
man's life was but one tiny fold out of uncounted thousands which
in their sum total would make up His final flock.

     It is important to recognize the difference between a flock
and a fold. The shepherd is said to have only one flock. This
flock is the sum total of all the sheep which belong to him. But
almost always his flock is distributed widely, especially if he
is a wealthy owner, among many folds across the country. Put
another way, we can say that one sheepman's flock is made up of
many different folds. The modern rendering of John 10:16 is much
more accurate than the King James version which confuses the
reader by stating "There shall be one fold," rather than, "There
shall be one flock," which is correct and clear.

     When we lived among the Masai people of East Africa it
impressed me how one livestock owner would have his animals
scattered in small groups all across the countryside. One very
wealthy man whom I came to know quite well actually owned more
than 10,000 head of stock. But these were not all cared for in
one place. They were distributed in little clusters here and
there, scattered widely among many kraals. Yet, the sum total of
them all comprised his one unit, one herd, one flock under one
owner.
     It will help the reader to understand this concept if we
look at modern farming practices on the prairies. During pioneer
days it was common for each individual family to own and operate
its own homestead. These small holdings of land comprised either
a quarter (160 acres) or half (320 acres) section of land, a full
section being one square mile or 640 acres.
     With the advent of power equipment and expensive machinery
most farmers found they needed more land to justify the
investment made in expensive tractors, plows, drills, and
combines. The upshot was that the more prosperous and efficient
farmers began to buy up random quarter or half sections their
neighbors might sell them.
     The final result has been that today one man's farm may well
include numerous pieces of land scattered all across the country
at random. Yet he refers to them in total as "my farm."
     I knew of one wealthy grain grower who owned seventeen
different quarter sections. Separately, each was a unit of its
own. Collectively they comprised his one farm. The same is true
with sheepmen. All their folds together become their one flock
under one owner.

     Looking now at Christ's flock, we see clearly that it is
composed of many different lives (little folds) scattered at
random all across the earth. He is ever active and at work
bringing men and women into His care and under His control. He
gathers them up from the far-flung corners of the world. He has
been energetically engaged in this enterprise since the beginning
of human history.
     A magnificent and splendid overview of Christ's achievements
through the centuries is painted for us by John in the Book of
Revelation. Under the unction and inspiration of God's own
gracious Spirit he writes glowingly this great song.

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because
you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth" (5:9-10, NIV).

     And so the eyes of our spiritual understanding are opened to
see our Good Shepherd, relentlessly, tirelessly, eagerly calling
to Himself those chosen ones who will respond to His voice and
come to His call. He brings them in from every tribe, every
language, every race, every nation. His majestic voice has rung
out over all the earth. In unmistakable sounds He calls out to
any who will come. With enormous compassion He cries out to men
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest."

     None other has ever extended to wayward wanderers such a
winsome, warm invitation. But most men spurn it. They turn
instead each to their own perverse path that leads into peril and
ultimately to perdition.
     Yet from out of earth's milling masses a small flock is
being faithfully formed. We find members of that flock scattered
here and there. By no means are they confined to any one church,
denomination, or sect. Rather, they are distributed widely, and
spread rather thinly through a multitude of groups and gatherings
of diverse doctrines.
     It has been my great privilege through the years of my long
life to have rich fellowship with other Christians all over the
world. My travels have taken me to some forty different
countries. The places where I met other people who knew Christ as
their Good Shepherd would take a whole book to describe fully. I
have stood solemnized in some of the most impressive cathedrals
ever erected by man and there sensed and known that others of His
flock were with me in the care of Christ. By the same measure I
have sat in tiny mud huts in Africa and grass thatch houses in
southeast Asia where the Good Shepherd had also gathered up some
of His sheep.
     You see, the ultimate criteria is not the church, the creed,
the form of communion, or even the cherished and contested claims
to special spiritual insight which determine a person's position.
It is simply this: "Do they or do they not hear Christ's voice?"
He Himself said emphatically, "Other sheep I have. Them also I
must bring. They shall hear My voice."
     To hear Christ's voice, as was pointed out in a previous
chapter, means three essential things.

1) I recognize it is God who calls me to Himself. He graciously
invites me to come under His care, to benefit from His management
of my life, to accept His provision for me.

2) I respond to His overtures by taking Him seriously. I alert
myself to act. I open my life to Him so He may in truth and
reality enter to share it with me.

3) I then run to do whatever He wishes. I cooperate with His
desires. I regularly do His will. Thus I enter fully into the
greatness of His life, grateful for His care.

     This is to "hear" Christ's call and to respond.

     Any man or woman who does this belongs to Him, is a member
of His flock, a sheep of His pasture. Our Lord has them here and
there in ten thousand times ten thousand tiny folds, each
flourishing under His infinite love.

                          .......................


To be continued

NOTE:

Jesus said of His flock that they were the SALT of the earth,
sprinkled here and there; also that they would be a city upon a
hill top, a light in a dark room, to give light. He said His
flock would do the good works of God that people would see them
and glorify God in heaven. Christ also said that His flock were
the VERY LITTLE flock (as it is in the Greek). But to this flock,
it was the good pleasure of God to give them the Kingdom.

Jesus also said MANY were and are being CALLED, but FEW chosen.
Many hear the Gospel. Many read from and study from this Website,
my host server of this Website gives me the number of people
going to this Website each and every day. Being called to read
the teachings of God is one thing, being CHOSEN to accept the
truths of God and have a working and walking relationship with
the Father and with Christ Jesus, is another thing, is another
ball-game entirely.

I pray that YOU, whoever you are, whereever you are on this
earth, will move forward to be one of the CHOSEN, that the word
and truths of the Lord will touch the strings of you heart, and
that you will be a VERY SON OR DAUGHTER  of the Most High.

For further edification on the subject of being called and chosen
I have written a study which is called "Called and Chosen -
When?" If you have not studied it, please do. The Father is
working still today, to bring many into His family. You need to
know the basics of HOW He is doing so.

Keith Hunt

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