Grow Deep: I AM Edition, Week 5

Week 5 – March 14-20

I AM the Good Shepherd …

“I AM the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” - John 10:11

Years ago my husband and I did a children’s message on Good Shepherd Sunday. For that message, I made up a story about a wayward little lamb who was nurtured and loved by a good shepherd. (I told the story; my husband played the part of the wayward lamb!) The little sheep knew the shepherd and recognized his voice. Still, he felt different from the other sheep; he was unhappy! So he wandered off to find greener pastures. When it got dark, he realized he was lost. Alone and separated from the shepherd, he could only cower in fear and hope that the shepherd would rescue him.

Sadly, it was an easy story to write --- all I had to do was describe my own life as a sheep! Yes, I am a sheep. And like the lamb in my story, I have a Good Shepherd who loves me and knows me. I know Him and recognize His voice but sometimes I don’t listen … sometimes I don’t like what I hear … sometimes I don’t want to go where He is leading. My sinful pride and willful thinking convince me that I know what is best, and I wander away. Then, with dogged determination, I try to make my own plan a reality … sometimes without even realizing it. Eventually, though, I do come to the realization that I have strayed. Exhausted and distanced from my Good Shepherd, I am easy prey for the adversary. I can become vulnerable to feelings of fear and doubt. Why would the Good Shepherd choose to love me? Why would He even want to rescue me!

But the truth is, He has already rescued me! I belong to Him; He bought and paid for me with His own life. He knows me intimately. He knows my tendency to stray, but He loves me anyway. Satan condemns; Jesus gently, persistently stands before me and encourages me to follow. He intercedes to the Father on my behalf every moment of every day.

Wayward? Absolutely! Lost? No! I belong to the Good Shepherd!

 

Wednesday, March 14

Read: John 10:11-18

Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd and gives us a word picture of how a Good Shepherd nurtures and cares for His sheep. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and His sheep know Him. He lays down His life for the sheep out of His love for them … not because He is forced to.

Reflect: What are some things you know about the relationship of sheep and shepherds? How do those things apply to our relationship with Jesus as our Good Shepherd? How is our relationship with Jesus the same/different from His relationship with His Father?

For the Family: Jesus knows you, owns you, loves you and died for you. How do you listen for His voice?

 

Thursday, March 15

Read: Psalm 23

In this beautiful Psalm, King David describes God as a Shepherd who is faithful, who loves His sheep and protects them from evil. Though evil abounds in this world, David is confident that God’s blessings will overflow just as food and beverage overflow at a banquet. He is confident that God’s mercy and goodness will be there for him all the days of his life.

Memorize: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” (vv.1-2) After memorizing verses 1-2, you are encouraged to memorize the entire Psalm.

Reflect: Read this Psalm again. What is the most comforting thought for you when you read this Psalm? How does God promise He will provide for you? Thank God for His care and comfort.

For the Family: David, the writer of this Psalm, uses a job that was common in Bible times to describe God. What is it? Think about the job of a shepherd. Make a list of the things that a good shepherd does for his sheep that are mentioned in Psalm 23 (i.e., leads them to water, comforts them, protects them and more). Say a prayer with your family, thanking God for being your Good Shepherd.

Alternate Family Focus on Psalm 23: For each day of the rest of the week, choose one or two of the things you listed today and talk together about how God does those same things for us. He is our Good Shepherd!

 

Friday, March 16

Read: John 18:28-32

Jesus is bound and taken from Caiaphas’ house to the palace of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, for trial and sentencing. The Jewish leaders are there but remain outside because it is Passover, and they do not want to be made “unclean.” Pilate asks them what accusation they are bringing against Jesus. They do not answer that question but tell Pilate, instead, that Jesus must die. A sentence of death had to come from the Roman authority.

Reflect: Jesus communicates the will of His Father by everything that He does or says. How did He communicate His Father’s will in these verses? How is He both Sheep and Shepherd? 

For the Family: The Jewish leaders care more about the rules than they care about Jesus’ life. Why do you think they felt that way? Did they believe that Jesus was their Good Shepherd? Do you?

 

Saturday, March 17

Read: Matthew 27:3-10

Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. After Jesus is condemned, Judas realizes the sin of his betrayal. In his remorse and despair, Judas throws the silver down into the temple and goes out and hangs himself.

Reflect: Have you ever betrayed another person by violating a confidence? Caused pain and hurt to another? How did you feel when you realized what you had done? Why is Jesus the only path that leads to complete restoration?

For the Family: Judas was one of Jesus’ friends, but he “betrayed” Jesus for money. What does it mean to betray someone? Can you think of any reason why Judas would do such a thing? What does Jesus want you to do when you sin against Him and hurt another person?

 

Sunday, March 18

Read: Luke 23:1-16

In his writing about the trial of Jesus, Luke is clear about the innocence of Jesus, the guilt of the Jewish leaders who wanted Him crucified and the lack of courage on the part of Pilate. In these verses, the Jewish leaders accuse Jesus of threats against the Roman Empire; Pilate sends Jesus to Herod; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate for sentencing. Though Pilate does not find Jesus guilty of any crime, he gives in to the demands of the crowd to crucify Him.

Reflect: Jesus does not respond to the accusations against Him. Why not? Why do think He is sometimes silent in our lives? How is He actively leading us as a Good Shepherd when He seems to be silent?

For the Family: Pontius Pilate realized that Jesus was not guilty of any crimes. Even though he knew it was wrong, he sentenced Jesus to die anyway. Have you ever done anything that you knew was wrong? How did it make you feel? Did you ask for forgiveness?

 

Monday, March 19

Read: Mark 15:6-15

Pilate wishes to please the crowd who is shouting for the release of Barabbas and for the crucifixion of Jesus. He releases Barabbas, has Jesus scourged and then hands Him over to be crucified.

Reflect: How are we like Barabbas? How are we like Pilate? We are the ones who deserve the death sentence; it is only by God’s amazing grace that we have been set free. Thank God for that freedom.

For the Family: Pilate was not strong. The crowd was shouting for him to do what they wanted him to do. Even though Jesus was the One who was innocent, the crowd shouted for Barabbas, who was guilty of committing a crime, to go free instead. Have you ever done anything just because your friends wanted you to do it? How did it turn out?

 

Tuesday, March 20

Read: Isaiah 49:1-7

These verses describe the work of God’s servant Son, the Messiah. Jesus is sent by God to reveal God’s glory and to bring salvation to the world. Jesus was rejected by most at His first coming, but He will be worshipped by all at His second coming.

Reflect: Identify words or phrases that describe the Son and the work that His Father has for Him to do. How do those words or phrases describe Jesus as a Good Shepherd who leads us? How do they describe Him as a servant?

For the Family: What do you think about when you hear the word leader? When you hear the word servant? This Scripture passage describes Jesus as a servant and a leader. Discuss with your family the ways He is both a servant and a leader.