13. Rejecting the Good Shepherd
The greatest tragedy possible is to reject Christ, the Good Shepherd.
“1 Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars! 2 Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled! 3 The sound of the wail of the shepherds, for their glory is ruined! The sound of the roar of the lions, for the thicket of the Jordan is ruined! 4 Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. 5 Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.” 7 So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. 8 In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9 So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” 10 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11 So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. 14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. 15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. 17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!” – Zechariah 11:1-17
I. A Picture: Destruction of the Land vv 1-3
II. A Drama: The Good Shepherd & the People Who Reject Him vv 4-17
III. A Warning: Do Not Reject the Good Shepherd v 12
Quick Thought: Treasuring Christ & Don’t Waste Your Life
While sorting through the book supply at the UCC office this week, I came across a book that we read as a church many years ago called “Don’t Waste Your Life,” by John Piper (Crossway 2003), which is a book about a theme of today’s sermon: Treasuring Christ above all.
We should avoid not a wounded life, says John Piper, but a wasted life. “Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy. Imagine reaching the end of your life and realising you had wasted it. (p 10)” Piper illustrates with a story:
“In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles. No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. ―Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it (Mark 8:35) (pp 45-46).”
I agree with Piper that you will discover more of the worth of Christ and the joy of serving him, the more you risk for him and the more you give for him. We cling to the baubles of this world. We cannot quite lay hold of the treasure of Christ with both hands because we still cling to the things of this world. Let go of whatever is in your hand and take hold of the glory of Christ. Piper again:
“What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering. All the riches of the glory of God in Christ are on that road. All the sweetest fellowship with Jesus is there. All the treasures of assurance. All the ecstasies of joy. All the clearest sightings of eternity. All the noblest camaraderie. All the humblest affections. All the most tender acts of forgiving kindness. All the deepest discoveries of God’s Word. All the most earnest prayers. They are all on the Calvary road where Jesus walks with his people. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. On this road, and this road alone, life is Christ and death is gain. Life on every other road is wasted. (p 76)”
After washing the feet of his disciples and commending his humble service as a model for all believers, Jesus says: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17)