By Pastor Chad
The last words of the hymnist and abolitionist, John Newton, were “I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.” Newton understood that our final destination wasn’t this world. For all who call upon the name of the Lord, our final dwelling place is in the house of the Lord. But while we linger in this land, there is no reason we can’t thrive. To thrive in the land of the dying, one must be heading toward the land of the living. Whom do we follow on such a journey?
In my message Sunday, we focused on the second part of the Good Shepherd Discourse. I noted that to get to the land of the living, we must follow one who can get us through the land of the dying. Such a journey can be arduous and fraught with danger. To ensure a safe arrival, we must follow someone who has taken that journey and survived. And, in fact, there is someone who has taken such an expedition, Jesus the Good Shepherd.
In John 10:18, Jesus says, “No one takes it [His life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Let me summarize Jesus’ statement like this: Jesus’ death and resurrection were planned, orchestrated events. Nothing that happened was outside of God’s sovereign control. Though His death happened at the hands of evil men seeking to disrupt the will of God, Jesus never lost control of the situation. His journey from life to death happened just as He wanted it to.
Jesus has journeyed from the land of the living to the land of the dying, and back again. If we are going to successfully make that journey, we must follow the Good Shepherd that calls us by name and leads us in humility and gentleness. As our Good Shepherd, He cannot lead us astray, and we are never lost in His fold. But we must be careful in our thinking here. We do not follow Jesus so He will lead us to something better than Himself. Jesus is not a means to an end. Jesus is the end. Jesus is the destination. The journey is His working in and through us to glorify and honor His name. Yes, the Good Shepherd is taking us somewhere, but our ultimate destination isn’t far.
To hear the full sermon, click here.