33(Micah 5,02-05) A Shepherd Among Shepherds
One baby born in straw, among curious sheep. Such a humble beginning, but one that would literally change the world. Why a barn? Why so poor? Why 4 BC, in Bethlehem?
In the book of Micah, the prophet foretold Bethlehem as the birth place of the Messiah. He said... (v. 2-3,4-5).
Micah says that Jesus came to be a shepherd to his flock. He came to take care of us. To lead us. To protect us. To save us. He came to be our shepherd.
What does that mean—that Jesus is our shepherd?
1. Jesus gives you strength.
Micah said, (v. 4) He will stand and shepherd in the strength of the Lord.
"What Christmas is all about" is that you don't have to live life in your own strength. You don't have to handle it on your own. You have help. You can turn to God for strength, and he will give it to you.
No matter what happens, we can depend on him to get us through. Our lives don't have to be characterized by failure, or bitterness, or missed opportunities. He will give you the strength to face whatever comes your way.
Christmas means you are not alone. You are not a victim of the circumstances life throws your way. You have a shepherd, and you can live in his strength.
Are you facing challenges right now that are bigger than you are? Are you in a battle that you don't have the strength to win on your own? You don't have to face it alone. God will be your strength.
In fact, trying to live your life in your own strength, without God's help, is a recipe for disaster. Isaiah says, (Isa 50:11).
Trying to live life in your own strength, according to your own light, is futile. It leads only to sorrow. Jesus came into the world to take away that futility. He came to give us strength for daily living. That's what he wants to do. Secondly, he wants to give you...
2. He gives you security.
Let's face it: We live in an insecure world. Neither certainty nor safety exist, even though we spend our lives trying to find both. We look to the government, or our employer, or our investments, or our relationships—and none of them can provide us with the security we need. The things we turn to most often simply don't have the ability to offer true security.
One simple word can change our lives forever—a word like "divorce"...or "cancer"...or "downsizing." We hear that word and suddenly the world doesn't seem so safe anymore. The fact is, we don't know what will happen tomorrow; we don't even know what will happen later today. We can't depend on the world to offer security, because it doesn't have it to give. There's only one place we can find security. Micah said, (v. 4).
Jesus offers the security of knowing that he is control, and he has the power and ability to take care of us. That's what a shepherd does, and that is what he wants to do for you. Listen to these words from Ezekiel… (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
What's he saying? He's saying "I will take care of you. You are safe with me. I will tend to you. If you're lost, I will find you. If you stray, I will bring you back. If you're injured I will strengthen you. I am your shepherd. I will take care of you."
God made this promise to us: he said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
Jesus also said,"My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)
You want security? Jesus offers it to you. That's why he came into the world...that's what Christmas is all about. He offers a kind of security the world cannot offer—security based not on things and circumstances, but based on his never-ending love for you. And his greatness, Micah says, reaches to the ends of the earth. He's saying, "There is no place you can go, or nothing that can happen, that extends beyond the power of God to take care of you."
Sheep find no safety in themselves. They can't protect themselves from the enemy, and they can't take care of themselves on their own. They need a shepherd, and so do we. We need protection from the world. We need protection from the enemy. We need protection in the midst of disaster, and only Jesus can give it to us. That's why he came: to give you security. Thirdly...
3. He gives you serenity.
Have you seen the Seinfeld where George's dad, Frank Costanza, learns the relaxation technique of saying "Serenity Now"? Frank's doctor told him every time his blood pressure starts to rise, simply say, "Serenity Now." Only, he doesn't say it, he screams it. And it doesn't work. No matter how much he bellows out "Serenity Now", he's never able to get a grip on it.
It is just a little insane to think we can find peace by shouting out "Serenity Now", and that's about how foolish some of our other attempts at finding peace are. We try to find peace of mind by drinking alcohol, or over-eating, or working, or jumping from relationship to relationship, and it simply doesn't work.
Jesus came to bring peace to all who follow him. His birth was foretold by Micah with the words, (v. 5a).
His birth was announced by the angels, who said,"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men..."(Luke 2:14)
And as Jesus was approaching death, he said to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you....Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
Jesus came into the world to give us peace. He wants to carry your burdens; he wants to lift your anxieties, he wants to take away your sins. Those things that tend to make your life miserable are the very things Jesus came to take care of. That's what he wants to do. He wants to be your shepherd. He wants to give you peace.
CONCLUSION It's humbling to admit we can't take care of ourselves, but that's exactly what we must do. In the Bible, we've been compared to sheep, and it's not exactly a flattering comparison. Sheep aren't industrious; they don't work for you. They don't protect the family; no one ever has a "guard sheep." Neither are they particularly bright; you never see a sheep in a circus act. The one thing sheep can do, by nature, is follow the shepherd. They're good at following. They're good at trusting. And that's what God wants you to do: he wants you to follow him...he wants you to trust him.