Monday, February 03, 2014

What the Shepherd Knows

I often linger in the symbolic world of Jesus the Good Shepherd caring for me, one of his weak and wandering lambs. This world can become for me a place to breathe deeply and rest.

John Hendryx posted a blog recently at an excerpt from J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God about the knowledge that the Good Shepherd has of His sheep. This excerpt beautifully magnifies an aspect of the Shepherd-sheep relationship, that of the Shepherd’s knowing. May we rest in the comfort of being utterly known and completely loved today.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . 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 will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:14-15; 27-30 NIV)

What matters supremely, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.

All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is not a moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.

This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort — the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates — in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. . .There is great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His son to die for me in order to realise this purpose.”

- J.I. Packer (1926- )
excerpt from: Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1973) pg. 37.

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