JESUS CHRIST: OUR SHEPHERD AND OUR KING
(A biblical reflection on the SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING – Sunday, 23 November 2014
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17; Psalms: Psalm 23:1-3,5-6; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
“When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee a stranger and welcome Thee, or naked and clothe Thee? And when did we see Thee sick or in prison and visit Thee? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will say to those at His left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to Thee? Then He will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 RSV)
What does a shepherd have in common with a king? Very little, it would seem. One is a poor, solitary country herdsman, and the other a powerful national ruler. These occupations come together, however, in two of the greatest figures in the Bible. First, there is David, the humble shepherd who was plucked from his sheepfold and anointed to rule as king over Israel. Then, there is Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, who called Himself “the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
Before we celebrate Jesus as the sovereign King enthroned at the right hand of the Father. We also look forward to His further glorification after the Last Judgment. At that time, people from every nation under heaven will acknowledge His sovereignty and rejoice in His power. Jesus’ Kingdom has no end! The whole world will be silent before Him and His judgments. He is the magnificent, unequivocal king of glory and ruler of all creation!
Yet even in His role as king, Jesus tends His flock as a shepherd (Matthew 25:32). This is just what God promised ages earlier: “I Myself will be the shepherd of My sheep” (Ezekiel 34:15). Jesus, our compassionate shepherd king, does not want to see His sheep left unattended or in need. He Himself wants to bind up our wounds and lead us gently to His home.
Jesus’ roles as a king ruling with great authority and a shepherd filled with gentle compassion are not contradictions or mutually exclusive. They are one and the same thing! Jesus is King precisely because He rules with compassion. It is His very compassion and mercy that make Him King and ruler of all creation. There is no other who compares to Him, and no other who deserves our worship. Given these characteristics of Christ the King, what else can we do but bow down before Him? What else can we do but let Him lead us with His rod and His staff? Let us gratefully declare with David, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I adore You as my King! I am thankful that You protect me, care for me, and hear me when I call You. Grant me Your goodness and mercy all the days of my life. May I dwell with You in Your Kingdom forever! Amen.
Bandung, West Java, 21 November 2014
A Christian Pilgrim