My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be,
CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD (Part II)
Just as sheep–those who are innocent, pure, guileless, meek, and helpless animals–are in need of guidance, and protection from wolves and other threats. Sheep that depend completely on the shepherd very much like the souls of the faithful which are subject to the evil snares of the Adversary and ruler of the age. We read in Ephesians 6:12 the following warning: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS AGE, against spiritual HOSTS of wickedness in the heavenly places." Also, "Be sober, be vigilant; because YOUR ADVERSARY the devil walks about like a roaring lion, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR" (1 Peter 5:8).
The evil ‘dragon’ (Revelation 20:2) will through deception, blasphemies, heresies, and the other wicked influences of the secular world, worldly enticements, and temptations will attempt to poison the human soul, obstruct salvation of those in need of a protector and a true protector, and above all, the One, True Divine Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Saint Theophylact writes: "The Lord tells us that the devil CATCHETH his soul by CONFUSING HIM WITH SINFUL SUGGESTIONS. That NOETIC WOLF acts like a thief who "STEALS" his victim by instilling evil thoughts (logismoi) in him, "KILLS" by smothering his conscience in order to gain his assent, and "DESTROY" BY PROMPTINGS WICKED DEEDS. When an EVIL THOUGHT (LOGISMOS) assails a man, HIS SOUL HAS BEEN STOLEN; WHEN HE GIVES HIS ASSENT TO IT, HE HAS BEEN SLAIN; WHEN HE COMMITS THE EVIL DEED, HE HAS BEEN DESTROYED. This is the meaning of "The thief cometh not, but FOR TO STEAL, AND TO KILL AND TO DESTROY." The Lord does just the opposite: He GIVES US DIVINE LIFE; HE ILLUMINES OUR MINDS WITH GOOD THOUGHTS; HE SANCTIFIES OUR BODIES WITH GOOD DEEDS. AND HE BESTOWS SOMETHING ‘MORE’: THE POWER TO BENEFIT OTHERS BY THE GRACE OF TEACHING, AND AS THE REWARD FOR SO DOING–THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Truly He is the Good Shepherd and NOT a hireling, as were the rulers of the Jews. They cared nothing for the people and sought only to steal their wages. Their one desire was to amass filthy lucre."
I am the Good Shepherd said our Savior and God Jesus Christ, and with that revealed the distinctive attribute of a True Shepherd, willing to sacrifice His life out of love for His sheep. Our Lord very clearly indicates indeed, that through His voluntary redemptive death will give His life on the Life-giving Cross for THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND": "Greater love has no one than this THAN TO LAY DOWN ONE’S LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS" (John 15:13).
Saint Theophylact states: "To show that BELIEVERS ALONE ARE WORTHY TO BE KNOWN BY GOD, and that UNBELIEVERS CANNOT BE HIS SHEEP, the Lord states clearly, "I KNOW MY OWN, AND AN KNOWN BY MINE." Confirming this, the Holy Apostle writes "The Lord knoweth Me, even so, know I the Father, I know the Father as clearly as He knows Me." Jesus states repeatedly, "I lay down My life for the sheep," to show that He is not a deceiver. When He said: I AM THE LIGHT AND LIFE," senseless men may well have imagined He was boasting. But His words, "I die willingly." are not those of a braggart. They reveal His solicitous care for His FOLLOWERS and His willingness to die even, for those who would stone Him."
(vs. 17-21) : "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father."
Saint Theophylact says: "I , the Master of death, have authority over My Own death." This is what is meant by the statement, "I have power to lay… down My life." Of course, we also lay down our own lives, but not in the sense the Lord does. For as He says, "Unless I allow it, no one can take My life." We cannot claim the same thing, because we may be killed by others against our will. Unless Christ had first given His assent, He would never have suffered; therefore, He is not subject to death accept as He chooses."
"I know Mine and Mine know Me." To our Lord Christ, all are known and nothing is hidden. He knows He knows the inner man, the moral disposition of everyone, and the various threats and dangers of His "sheep," that is, of those who truly believe in Him, the faith in their hearts, their sincere convictions, and their genuine convictions in their souls for their Redeemer.
The faithful sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow when He calls them by name and leads them out. And when He leads them out, He goes before them, and the obedient sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George