Readings for November 26, 2017
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Bible scholars reveal that, by some counts, there are more than 350 prophesies in the Old Testament pointing to and fulfilled by Jesus. In any annotated bible, I can follow the scriptural passages back and forth from the New Testament to the Old Testament pointing to the fulfillment of the law and prophets in Christ’s teachings. I find it fascinating, like following a treasure map, chasing one note to another until it works its way back to the original passage I was reading. While admitting that almost certainly betrays my nerdy tendencies, there is a sometimes overlooked symbiosis that points to the truth of Jesus’ reign as King.
In a modern world, it can be easy to scoff at the notion of a monarchy. The idea that a person by birthright is fit to be king or queen seems, at best, antiquated. Additionally, oligarchy has often shown itself in history as self-seeking glory and unfettered control wrested in a powerful few. Yet, I know that God’s ways are not my ways and I cannot lean on my own understanding but must believe His Word. In Ezekiel’s prophesy, the familiar verses in Psalm 23 and in Jesus’ words transcribed in Matthew’s Gospel, God equates His Kingship not in terms of an all-powerful and controlling despot, but in the humble service of an all-knowing, all-caring shepherd. I am shepherded by an all-in God. Rather than remaining on His throne and leaving the day-to-day work to others, God tells Ezekiel, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” In loving, first person references, God tells us He intends to look after, find, bring back, heal, and ultimately judge us, His sheep.
Jesus indicates his own fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophesy, indicating he will “sit upon his throne” as shepherd and judge. Yet, unlike the notion of an autocratic monarch, my service to Jesus is measured by the means in which I serve “one of these least.” Jesus’ glory is revealed in my love of others. So that, as Paul writes, “God may be all in all,” I am called to serve others in His name. If I recognize and acknowledge that God is holy, then I must follow His command of holiness, all of which point to the just treatment of my neighbor (Leviticus 19).
Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets. He reigns as King of the Universe and shepherd of God’s people. As my shepherd, “there is nothing I shall want.” He leads me, provides rest for me, refreshes my soul, guides me onto the right path, sets a table before me … and asks me to do the same for others. In trusting the fulfillment of this promise, I will follow his example and reflect his love. And in praise and thanksgiving, I will rejoice in my Lord and King forever!