Israel Already Belongs to Jesus, their Shepherd

Rev. Cornelis Kant - 7 August 2018

In Ezekiel 34 the prophet speaks about the wrong shepherds of Israel in his days: “Woe to you shepherds of Israel (…) you have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost (…) My flock was scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”

Then the Lord God promises He will gather Himself his own people back to their own land. He will be doing this by establishing a new shepherd over them:

“I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel (…) I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them. He will tend them and be their shepherd (…) The nations will no longer plunder them.”

Centuries later Jesus calls Himself in John 10 ‘the Good Shepherd’. Undoubtedly He is thinking about the words of Ezekiel because Jesus is also placing the Good Shepherd contrary to the bad shepherds.“The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” Jesus speaks about the same problems as Ezekiel did: mismanagement, the flock being scattered and becoming a prey to wild animals.

But then the climax is coming: what is the difference between Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the bad shepherds? The difference is the ownership. Ezekiel already spoke about the Lord who is calling the flock “My flock”. And now Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep.” And about the wrong shepherds, He says: “The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” So Jesus Himself is not only the established new shepherd, but He is also the owner of the flock.

It is obvious that He speaks about Israel at first, the Jewish people, His people. Jesus, Himself as the owner of the Jewish people, is also the anointed one who one day will be bringing back His own people to their own land. We are blessed in this present time to be witnesses of this process that started over a hundred years ago. We are used to applying to ourselves Jesus’ remarks about sheep who scatter away from the flock when we might scatter away from Jesus and His church. We all know the beautiful images of the Good Shepherd bringing a sheep back upon His shoulders. That is good. Jesus is also our Good Shepherd. But it is good to be reminded that He speaks firstly about His own people, the Jewish people, the people of Israel.

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