Friday, December 24, 2010

Sheep and Shepherds

The last line of the Venite (Psalm 95) says that we are "the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand." I don't know about you, but I tend to think of a pasture as a place for sheep, not for people. I've been pondering on the oddness of "people of His pasture" for a few months. I think Pastor accidentally answered it for me during last Sunday's Bible class.

We were studying Luke 2. The shepherds heard from the angels. They went to Bethlehem to see this thing which had come to pass. And they blabbed it all over the place! They told! They couldn't hold in the joy of the news that the Messiah had come to save sinners! "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

But the Apostle John not only points out Jesus, the Lamb; he also is the one who records Jesus' discourse on the Good Shepherd. Jesus is both the Lamb and the Good Shepherd. Our pastors are shepherds, but they are also Jesus' lambs. Same for us: "I am Jesus' little lamb; ever glad at heart I am...." Still, we (like the shepherds) tell our children and our friends and our neighbors about the Good Shepherd. If Jesus is both Lamb and Shepherd, we who are joined to Him would also be both lambs and shepherds.

And maybe that explains the line in the Venite.

Like shepherds who have heard the angel's preaching, let us go now even unto Bethlehem (the House of Bread) and sing the [tweaked] Easter hymn:
Then let us feast this [Christmas] day
on Christ, the bread of heaven.
The Word of grace has purged away
the old and evil leaven.
Christ our Lord our souls will feed;
He is our meat and drink indeed.
Faith lives upon no other. Alleluia!

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