I AM: The Good Shepherd

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Have you ever bargained with God? You know the spiel— “God, please, if You just heal my child I’ll do ANYTHING. I swear. I’ll move to Africa. I’ll forgive my mom. I’ll forgive my husband! I’ll even still tell people about You, the one who gave me a child who’s sick all the time!”

Sound familiar? I think we’ve all been there.

Did you know that Jesus even did a little bargaining with God of His own?

On this particular Thursday night after dinner, Jesus and His disciples left the upper room and walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was late. The disciples were full from their Last Supper together. Soon they were sleeping while Jesus had gone to pray.

No one will ever know the agony-filled moments Jesus spent praying. He had full knowledge of His torturous death that was ahead. He knew He did not deserve to be murdered. He ached over the approaching separation from His Father.

But there was no escape for the One who came to do His Father’s will.

And so, while He made His request to God that the “cup” pass from Him—that God find some other way to rescue His people, He finished His prayer with surrender, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). No more bargaining; He was ready to become “the Lamb that was slain” before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Just weeks earlier, Jesus declared, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). He knew that His followers understood what cruel shepherds were like. So He added, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). He had foretold the crucifixion now come.

The way to Easter, to resurrection, to victory, comes by following the example of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, in surrender to the will of the Father. We may not want to follow Him to the place of surrender, but we will never experience the power of God in our lives any other way.

So, today on Maundy Thursday, ponder surrender. Ask yourself if your heart is completely His. No bargaining. No, “I’ll do this for you, God, if You do this for me.” No negotiating with the eternal King of kings.

Don’t tune out the Spirit speaking. Don’t ignore the somber tone of today. Embrace the call of God to follow Jesus into the Garden and, there, bow before Him to do His will.

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