Sheep and shepherd…

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Matthew 4:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

John the Baptist was put in prison. Not good. In fact, we know that John would never leave prison alive. Here we see Jesus essentially take up John’s mantle, proclaiming as John had a message of repentance, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

We know that Jesus provided an example for his disciples to follow as they travelled with him and watched what he did. Once they had watched Jesus for some time, Jesus challenged them to go and do likewise. You can read Luke chapters 9 and 10 to better understand what I mean.

What I never noticed before is that Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, was likely imitating what John the Baptist had been doing before his arrest. Jesus was fully God, but also fully human – which means he too needed to learn things. John provided an example.

Two questions emerge for me this morning in relationship to this awareness:

  1. Who is imitating me?
  2. Who am I imitating?

Thank you Lord that we look like a sheep from the front (as we follow others) and a shepherd from the back (as they follow us). Give us grace to do both of these well. Amen.

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