An Easter Benediction

Thursday: The Resurrected Shepherd: Hebrews 13:20-21

Hebrews 13:20-21 In this week’s lessons, we look at the great benediction toward the end of Hebrews, as we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Resurrected Shepherd

That brings us to the next part, which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is mentioned as a second ground for the petition. It’s part of the covenant because the Father committed Himself to do that with Jesus before the incarnation. It’s part of His eternal agreement with the Son, but it’s more than that. Certainly the way it’s presented here in this great benediction shows that it is a demonstration of the power of God in accomplishing our salvation. The resurrection is proof that He’s done it. It’s a firm foundation for saving faith.

When we think of the resurrection of Christ, it’s customary for us to think of it in terms of proving our own resurrection. And, of course, it does this. Jesus told His disciples in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for them, and that when He comes again He will receive them to Himself. He said that He is the resurrection and the life, and that because He lives so shall we also live. So when Jesus was raised from the dead, we look to that and we say, “Hallelujah!” It’s a proof that we’re going to rise from the dead, too, and spend eternity with God, if we rise through faith in Him. It’s a proof of all that and much more besides.

But what’s being talked about here is the resurrection being proof of the power of God, which is able to equip and empower His saints to please God. That’s a great encouragement because if the same power that God exercised in raising Jesus Christ from the dead is to be exercised in you that you might please God, then you will certainly please God. You might wonder how you can please God like this because trying to live the Christian life can be difficult. Humanly speaking, the resurrection of Christ wasn’t only difficult; it was impossible. But God did it by His mighty power. And God will do the same thing with you.

The third item he talks about here is the shepherding work of Christ. There are three great passages in the New Testament that talk about Jesus Christ as our Shepherd. The first is in the mouth of our Lord Himself in John 10 He’s, where He speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd. Why the Good Shepherd? Because He said the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. He’s talking about His own death. But a false shepherd runs away to protect himself when his life is threatened while caring for the sheep.

There’s also 1 Peter 5:4, where Jesus is called the “Chief Shepherd.” He’s chief because in this paragraph Peter is writing about the duties of elders. He’s saying that the duty of the elders is to be shepherd over the flock that God has entrusted to them. It’s a duty of pastors and elders in the church to take responsibility for the people that are a part of that particular fellowship. But, he says, when you do that, you have to remember that you don’t do it as tyrants over the flock because you yourself are responsible to the Chief Shepherd, which is Jesus Christ.

The last of these three passages is this benediction itself, where Jesus is called the “great Shepherd.” Why is Jesus called this? Because He has triumphed over death, and now He lives to guide, nourish, and protect the flock, which the Father has given Him. Jesus said of that flock, “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).

Isn’t that interesting? We put these three together, and we have three ministries of Christ—the ministry of Christ as our Priest, dying in our place; the ministry of Christ as our King, risen from the dead to rule over His people; and a minister of Christ as our Shepherd, who cares for us day by day. It has to do with the past, and it has to do with the present. And as we’re going to see, it has to do with the future as well—and all because of Jesus Christ and the power of God the Father working in Him and in His people.

Now that brings us to the request itself. In the petition we see why the resurrection is mentioned, because what this benediction is asking God to do is, number one, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and secondly, to work in you what is pleasing to Him. Those two requests are similar, but they’re not exactly the same. When we’re told that God is to work in us to do His will, that refers to the revealed will of God in Scripture—that is, the moral law and the things that flow from it. That’s what Christians are to do. And if Christians are not doing that, they’re not Christians. Because the power of God that is at work in them—that has raised Jesus Christ from the dead, that has regenerated them and brought them to faith—will work in them to obey the laws God commands in His Word.

Study Questions
  1. How does Jesus’ resurrection prove our own resurrection?
  2. What is the practical significance of God’s power being demonstrated in Jesus’ resurrection?
  3. List and describe the three ministries of Christ seen in the three passages that speak of Him being our Shepherd.

Application: How do you experience the reality that Jesus is your Shepherd?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “The Easter Sermon of Jesus Christ.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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