April 19 I Friday
2 Samuel 6-8
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” —John 10:11
The game of Jenga consists of trying to poke out wooden blocks from a layered tower with three blocks per layer. Whenever a block is poked out, it is placed on top, making the tower taller and the lower levels more precarious. The game lasts until someone knocks the tower over. But what does Jenga have to do with Good Friday? What tower toppled when Jesus was nailed to the cross?
For centuries, the Jews had stacked law upon law and tradition upon tradition to build a towering theology. Theology looks for patterns and connections between passages of Scripture in an attempt to understand who God is and how to live rightly before Him. One pattern the Jews observed was the many “I AM” statements scattered throughout the Old Testament. For example, God says through the prophet Ezekiel, “As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after My sheep” (Ezekiel 34:12). It was a sign of presumptuous pride for anyone other than God to call themselves Israel’s shepherd because this was claiming equality with God.
But then along comes Jesus, a carpenter from the disreputable town of Nazareth, who totally upsets the theology of the Jewish leaders. After healing a man born blind, Jesus announces, “I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know me…and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). Jesus was making an absolute monotheistic statement, a truth claim only God could make because only God is the shepherd of His people. Jesus was definitively claiming, “I am that shepherd Ezekiel talked about. I am God in your midst.”
When Jesus made these and other “I AM” claims, it horrified the Jewish leaders. With every miracle He did and each truth claim He made, it was like taking another block out of their theological tower, and it all came to a head on Good Friday. The Jewish leaders simply could not believe that Jesus was the light of the world, the bread of life, the Truth, the resurrection and the life—that He was God—so they had Him crucified.
Unlike theology, the cross of Christ is no fragile tower of wooden blocks. Jesus did not just claim to be the good shepherd; He was so convinced of the truth that His death, burial and resurrection were the means by which we could be reconciled to God that He laid down His life because of it! That is what we remember on Good Friday—not a theology, but that Christ is our Good Shepherd, the great I AM, who willingly gave His life for us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd who laid down Your life for me. Thank You that no theology can contain You and that our faith is rooted in You.