1 Samuel 17: 40
Luke 10: 33-35
John 15.13-16, 26-27
These scriptures speak of the Lord Jesus either typically or directly. I would seek help by the Holy Spirit to speak about the Lord Jesus as a Shepherd, and as a Neighbour, and as a Friend. He is all these three things, and many more. The scripture presents things in such a way that we can take account of the Lord Jesus in a particular way; that is, we can think of Him for instance as a Shepherd. It might be said that we should begin by speaking of Him as a Saviour. In one sense that is right, because that is where our conscious spiritual history begins, when we come to know the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. But what I have found, and I think others here would confirm it too, is that the Lord Jesus began to look after me a long time before I thought about Him. When I was still thinking of things like cars, football, lots of other things, He was looking after me. He was arranging things in my life, things I did not understand. And yet you look back and you see that His hand was there, like the one we read of this afternoon, Jacob. He said “ the God that shepherded me all my life long”, Gen 48: 15. You might have said to Jacob, ‘Well, what about Padan-Aram, what about the time you cheated your brother?’; other things could be said about his early life. But Jacob looked back and he could see that God was watching him at every step; not to find fault but with a view to his blessing.
Now that is how I would like to present the Lord Jesus to you, as a Shepherd. We read about David. I just read that one verse out of this well known account, because what I want to bring out briefly is the fact that He is a Shepherd at all times. You might say that David was going into a very serious battle. Well, he was, he was going to fight Goliath, no ordinary enemy. We must understand that the opposition that the Lord Jesus met on our behalf was no light matter. The enemy He met was an awful one, a dreadful one. So here David was going down to meet Goliath, going down into the valley of terebinths. Now Goliath was big. If he came in at that door at the back of the hall, he would have had to bend his head away down to get in under the lintel. He was a giant, very, very formidable. He was armoured, he had a helmet of bronze, a spear, the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. If that giant had struck you once, it would have meant instant death.
Now, I am not just telling you an interesting story. I want you to understand the opposition that the Lord Jesus met when he had to do with Satan at the time of Golgotha, and at the cross. He met a dreadful foe, an apparently unbeatable foe. Jesus met him alone. Those friends He had taken with Him, the disciples, had come and had done well. He had disposed of them in the garden: He had said to some ‘You wait there’; He had taken three of them on, and said ‘You wait there’, and He watched them. They were not all that far; Luke’s gospel says that they were “about a stone’s throw”, chap 22: 41. I say reverently, they could see that Jesus was under awful pressure, that His sweat was as great drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. I want to convey to you that what Jesus did for you and me was real, and it cost Him much.
Another has said in ministry, that when Satan came to meet the Lord in Gethsemane and afterwards, he ventured everything he had. He did not want any mistakes; he did not want this opportunity to pass. What did Satan have? Well, he had the Pharisees for a start, they were fully with him. There was the crowd, they supported him. Eventually he had Pilate; he managed to turn him from his sense of duty and service. There were others, but his master stroke: he had Judas as well, one of the Lord’s own friends and fellows. Satan had all that, and he brought it all to bear on the Lord. And last of all, he came himself; that is Satan. It says that: “then entered Satan into Judas”, John 13: 27. I am speaking of what happened when Jesus, our Saviour, faced up to the whole question of sin and of sins that lay ahead of Him. He knew what that meant. He had seen it amongst men; He had seen the ravages of sin. And much more than that, He knew God’s wrath, He knew God’s hatred of sin, One who was “of purer eyes than to behold evil”, Hab 1: 13. The Lord Jesus was carrying all that, when He met Satan first in Gethsemane. A wonderful thing to think of. He anticipated there what the sufferings of death and the judgment of sin meant. There is a great lesson book in that. He accepted all from the hand of His Father. A remarkable thing. In fact, Mr Darby goes so far as to say that the Lord Jesus went out from Gethsemane perfectly calm, vol 25 p301. The whole thing had been put to the test, and then He said, “not my will, but thine be done”, Luke 22: 42. That is the Saviour we are speaking of, a Man who has been tested to the utmost, a perfect Man.
His perfection shone out when he was supposed to be under trial, during that night when He was under pressure. It speaks of an officer abusing Him; they gave Him blows on the face. Remember when the apostle Paul, great man that he was, was under pressure, and one of the soldiers struck him. Just for a moment, he lost his spirit, and said “God will strike thee, whited wall!”, Acts 23: 3. But when the Lord Jesus was smitten unjustly, he did not turn away in fear. No, He stood there like a Man, and He said “If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me”, John 18: 23. That was a perfect answer from a perfect Man under pressure. Now that is the Saviour whom we know, that is the Saviour whom we trust.
What about David in that connection? I read about him because David went through in type a similar experience with Goliath, with all the dread which that involved, and eventually overcame him. The point I want to carry forward is this, that David had his shepherd’s bag with him. He never forgot the sheep. You might have said to David, ‘that will be an encumbrance if you are going into battle - leave the bag behind’. But not David, he took it with him. And so did the Lord. I do not mean literally, He did not carry a bag, but what He did carry was His love. He carried His own in His heart when He went through it all. Remember the time when Peter failed Him so badly. Peter was hopelessly overwhelmed, as I would have been. Peter denied Him, with oaths and curses. He was as far down as he could go. It says of the Lord Jesus that he “turning round, looked at Peter”, Luke 22: 61. That was the Shepherd - He had not forgotten to be a Shepherd. It says that “Peter, going forth without, wept bitterly”. You see, it was like the lamb in the paw of the lion, but the Lord rescued him, the Lord turned round and looked at him. What did His look convey? ‘You are wrong again, Peter’? No, I think rather that it conveyed that He had not forgotten him. He was still thinking of him, on account of what He had told him earlier. He had prayed for him that his faith would not fail, Luke 22: 32. That was the Shepherd thinking for His sheep.
Later on, He spoke to His mother from the cross. I do not want to enter into sentimental detail, but the Lord was hanging on the cross, with all the weight of His body on his hands and His feet, hanging on the nails. From that position, He looked at His mother and said to her, indicating John, “Behold thy son”, and said to John “Behold thy mother”, John 19: 26, 27. I am saying that because it brings out that the Lord is never too pressed, or too busy, to care for His own, to think about them. And not as we do, a kind of a hasty arrangement; His mother was placed in the very best place possible. She was put, as it were, into the family of John. He said to John, “Behold thy mother” and to Mary He said, “Behold thy son”. That was the Shepherd, caring for His own. That is the Person we present to you, Christ.
In Luke’s gospel chapter 10, we have the Neighbour. We only read a little part of this, we know it so well. This comes a little closer. You might say this man who had fallen among thieves was helpless. They beat him, and took anything of value that he had, and left him. Sometimes the Lord has to make things difficult for us before we come to realise how much we need Him. This man was lying in the road; it looks as though he had lain there for some time. Two others at least had passed, and had had a look and had gone on. He was not able to help himself. Then this person came. I wonder what the man thought. Lying there, he would be sore, maybe half conscious. He would hear the steps, I suppose he would see the shadow, then this person would lean over him and have a look. I am quite sure he spoke to him; he would touch him. What I am trying to get at is this, that the time comes in our lives when we have to do with the Lord Jesus at close quarters. The man went right up to him there; he would touch him, he must have done; maybe moved him a bit to take account of his wounds. There comes a time in our lives when the Lord Jesus has to do with us in this way. One of the ways you will find out is this, that when you hear scriptures that you have heard many times, suddenly they take on a keener edge. They make you feel ‘That is for me!’. It is not new; you have heard it many times, but something begins to touch your conscience, to touch your heart.
That is the Neighbour that I am speaking about, having to do with you, laying hands on you. Think of what this man must have felt. I do not want to be imaginative, but he would be sore, he would be smarting, his wounds would be hurting. You know how it is, when you even graze yourself. What does the Samaritan do? No lectures, he just poured in oil. That must have been tremendous - what a relief! He poured in the oil and the wine, and bound up his wounds. That is what the Saviour will do. Do you not feel you need Him? Maybe everybody here has a link with the Lord Jesus - maybe. I trust it is so. But if you have not, come to Him it is time you came. He is looking for you, He is looking after you, He is caring for you, He is close, and He wants to help.
The first thing the Lord Jesus does is to come alongside you, wherever you are, whatever you have got involved in. I am not lecturing from a great height of superiority. We have all been young, and we have all done some foolish things in our time. But the Lord Jesus knows about them, and He is not reproaching. Do you know that? He is just looking to bless. We began with the hymn:
“Come unto Me,” yes, God Himself says, Come!
Well, the Samaritan came up to this man, and dealt with his immediate needs. I have often been struck by this “having put him on his own beast”. Have you ever tried to lift someone who is completely inert, who cannot help themselves? It is very difficult. The Samaritan did that, he lifted him and put him on his own beast and took him to the inn. If you commit yourself to the Lord Jesus, He will deal with you, He will meet your immediate troubles, He will bring in healing, He will bring in help, He will carry you. Think of this wounded man sitting on the beast, with the Samaritan walking beside him. What would he be thinking then? He would be beginning to think, ‘What sort of man is this? He has done all these things for me, a person I never knew, and put me on his own beast, and he is walking’. Is that not a Saviour who is worth knowing? Surely! He “took him to the inn and took care of him”. You could write volumes about that, “and took care of him”. You look at everyone’s face in this hall, you could write about every one “and took care of him”. That is me, that is you, that is every single one of us from the youngest to the oldest: “and took care of him”.
Well, here he is, he took two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, “and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou shalt expend more, I will render to thee on my coming back”. Two denarii - many interpretations have been given as to what that might be. I like to think of them as faith and hope. But anyway, whatever the interpretation might be, what the Samaritan says is, “whatsoever thou shalt expend more”. You might say, ‘If I try to commit myself to the Lord Jesus, what will happen then? How will I get on? I am not up to it’. That is the thing that hinders many, ‘I am not up to it. I would fail’. This is the answer. You are in a place of safety, with someone who has taken care of you, and at the back of all that lies, “whatsoever thou shalt expend more”. What about next week? and the week after? There is still more. God’s giving is very full and very free. You may depend on it, as Jacob said, “the God that shepherded me all my life long”. Jacob was speaking as a man who had discovered experimentally just how much God had by way of resource.
In John’s gospel the Lord Jesus speaks of His own as friends. I know that this is special; He was speaking to the twelve. But I think that we can apply it to ourselves. What the Lord Jesus says in the gospel is that He will take on the liabilities. That is the negative side, and many, sadly, are content with that. Their sins are forgiven - let me not take it away from them that they can put their head on the pillow at night, without a qualm. But there is more than that. What God wants, in Christ, is not only persons who are relieved of their sins. He looks for companionship. When God planted the garden in Eden, He put the best He had in it, “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food” and He put man in it, Gen 2: 8, 9. What then? It says that He came down “in the cool of the day”, chap 3: 8. He was looking for company. God looks for persons that He can keep company with, persons who are made fit. Christianity is a very real thing. I used to think of it, as a boy, as something like a museum, with a lot of interesting things to look at and talk about, that usually belonged to old people, or those who had gone before. Christianity is not like that at all! Christianity is a living system. Christianity does not preach dead heroes. It preaches a living Saviour - remember that. We preach a living Saviour.
Well, when the Lord Jesus was here, He spoke of His disciples in this dignified way, “I call you no longer bondmen ... but I have called you friends”. What I wanted to touch on was what He said, “all things which I have heard of my Father I have made known to you”. The Lord Jesus will bring us in to the greatest things. You may say, ‘Surely forgiveness of sins is sufficient?’ But it is by no means all that the gospel offers. The Lord would bring us into His own sphere of things, into His own links with the Father. He tells us the secrets. We used to sing:
Yea, He has told us the wonderful secrets,
Father of glory, once hidden from man.
What are these secrets? One of them would be that we who are flesh and blood, are saved and redeemed, blessed with sonship, an eternal, indestructible link with God Himself. It is a very dignified thing to which the Lord would bring us.
Well, these are some things to explore. I cannot set out all that the Lord Jesus would bring us into, as He has our confidence, and we His. So He says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and have set you that ye should go and that ye should bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide”. I know that this was said to the disciples, but I believe it includes us too, and remember this, that what we are engaged with in Christianity is eternal. People talk about life-changing decisions. A man may take a decision about a career, or marriage, or whatever. What about making a decision that will affect you for eternity? That is what Christianity is engaged with; it is something that is eternal.
Just a word about the Holy Spirit. “When the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes forth from the Father, he shall bear witness concerning me”. We have said already, and it is a very real thing, that we might fear failure, ‘I am not up to it’ and so on. What I would say from experience is that I have proved that the Holy Spirit is a present help, and is One to whom we can appeal at any time. In good times we can give thanks, and in bad times we can appeal to Him. We do get into trouble, every one of us does at some time or another. I know what I am talking about, to my shame: I should have known better. That is the time when we need God most. The Lord says through the psalmist, “call upon me in the day of trouble”, Ps 50: 15. Do not be afraid to come to God, to call on Him at any time, because as John said in his epistle, “your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake”, 1 John 2: 12. That is what God is thinking, He is thinking about the fact that Jesus has taken away your sins and He always has a ready ear for you.
I trust these things will be for our encouragement, and that everyone here has, or will have, a living hope in the Lord Jesus as Saviour, for His Name’s sake.
10th May 2009