Impossible acrostic

In this world, some things cannot possibly be.
Moses couldn’t possibly have parted the Red Sea,
Peter could never have preached with authority
Or walked upon the Lake of Galilee,
Slaves to sin could not possibly be set free,
Sarah couldn’t have experienced maternity,
Israel couldn’t be redeemed from captivity,
Bartimaeus couldn’t possibly ever see,
Love couldn’t have changed the course of history.
Everything, with Jesus, is a possibility

During December, I’ve been joining in with Tearfund’s daily emails, “Bless the Peacemakers”. These messages are prayer requests for their partners working in conflict-ravaged parts of the world. Some of the situations are so bad as to be almost beyond human endurance. You see instances of war, gangs, vendettas, trauma, community strife; and you wonder how anyone can make a difference. The prayer requests, though, are supported by evidence of how Tearfund projects are succeeding against the odds because partners step out, not in their own strength, but in God’s. As Jesus told his disciples, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27, Matthew 19:26)

This acrostic was written after I had visited the Isle of Cumbrae (a favourite haunt). It’s an unlikely place to find a cathedral, but the Cathedral of the Isles is small-but-perfectly-formed. It has had a chequered history since its construction in 1849 and at times it seemed impossible that the cathedral and its college could remain open. As I wandered round the grounds, I marvelled at how it had remained a place of worship, a centre for residential retreat and venue for classical music; recently, its woodland has been restored and a maze created. This had at times seemed impossible. Sadly, the residential college has once again suspended its activities but perhaps God will answer prayer and find a new way forward for it.

Across the road stands the island’s new church and church hall, opened in 2019. A decade ago it seemed impossible for a small island community to leave behind their Victorian church and build a modern one. But there it stands, testimony to God’s promise.

The Bible contains many references to God purposing things that seemed impossible to people: Sarah having a son (Genesis 18:14), miraculously healing a severely epileptic boy (Mark 9:23), God restoring Jerusalem after it had been sacked by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 32:17), or a virgin bearing a child (Luke 1:37). God’s power and the obedience of a faithful person are a formidable combination. As Paul wrote to the Philippians I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Whatever difficulties we may be facing, God never expects the impossible of us. We have a God who is full of possibilities. We cling on to that knowledge when we are sad, and rejoice in it when we are happy.

(Impossible appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Objects Of God’s Love acrostic

’Orrible ’ooligans
Bad boys wiv bovver boots
Junkies, users, boozers
’Ells Angel ’eadcases
Chancers, shirkers
Trailer trash
Sex workers

’Ooray ’Enrys
Feral youth

Gamblers, wide boys
Outcasts, outsiders
Dossers, down-and-outs
Smackheads, layabouts

Losers, loners, winos
Oddballs, weirdos
Vagrants, hoboes
Everyone, in fact

I once knew a Christian who was a ‘prison visitor’; she told me how she constantly had to remind herself that all the inmates with whom she came into contact were objects of God’s love. To imagine some of the inmates as being ‘lovable’ was a big ask, and it is just as well that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). As part of a house group course I once went with fellow members into a remand prison. I felt some of the inmates were genuine bad ‘uns, but many seemed to have just had the misfortune of being born on the wrong estate. We have to remember that God loves them unconditionally and yearns for them to redirect their lives.

Being part of the ‘body of Christ’ means that we have to get on with all manner of people, like it or not. God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons (Leviticus 19:15; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). Of course, we don’t have to condone criminal acts. We don’t have to share everybody’s views or values. We don’t have to like other people’s dress sense or musical tastes. But we have to acknowledge that these outward expressions are no barrier to God’s abundant love. It’s a big ask, but we need continually to be aware of the extent of God’s love; we must be sure that our judgement isn’t just based on taste or first impressions. As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Vagabonds is a well-known Christian song by Stuart Townend (with Mark Edwards and Phil Baggaley). It starts, “Come, all you vagabonds, Come all you ‘don’t belongs’, Winners and losers,
Come, people like me….”. It’s chorus goes, “Come to the feast, There is room at the table. Come let us meet in this place. With the King of all kindness Who welcomes us in with the wonder of love and the power of grace”.

If you don’t know this song, it’s worth listening to. It makes you wonder who you will meet in heaven.

(Objects Of God’s Love appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Body of Christ acrostic

Bones, flesh, blood, sinews combine,
Organs, hormones obey God’s design,
Dispute no more about which part is best.
Young, give freely of ideals and zest

Old, your experience and wisdom share
Feast upon testimonies seasoned with prayer.

Consider you are wonderfully and fearfully made
Healed in the heart now sin’s price has been paid
Rise above doctrine, banish division
Inspire each member to strive for one vision
Suffer together, together rejoice
Tongues of prophecy tell out as one voice. 

We are the body of Christ – if one part suffers, we all suffer. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

We all have a ministry. Some people are blessed with a very public ministry and can preach powerful sermons. Some people have a healing ministry and are evidently able to promote physical and mental recovery. Some people are gifted musicians who can inspire congregations to the heights of worship. Often, though, I have seen ministry in the way a church has been cleaned and cared for, in a friend’s prayer at a time of need, in the words of welcome received at a church door, or in the home baking that accompanied a cup of tea at the end of a service. The ordinary folk who did these things had a less overt ministry, but one which I am certain has helped others on their faith journey.

Thank goodness we don’t have to be good at everything. If we’re half-decent at something God will have a role for us. We might even be called to do something completely outside our comfort zone, when God gives us strength and confidence to compensate for our inexperience and lack of preparation. I have seen outreach and blessing happen in the most unexpected ways from the most incidental of church activities undertaken behind the scenes by unnamed people. Of course, they are known to and valued by God. We are all part of the body of Christ.

Here’s a bonus acrostic that I wrote for our church magazine on the appointment of our new administrator. Did you realise that administration was a gift of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 12:28) Even if you can only file a letter, you are a key part of the Body of Christ and God needs you.

All spiritual gifts work in common accord,
Different types of service all come from one Lord:
Miracle workers may only rarely be found,
Inspirational apostles may be thin on the ground,
Not every member can be a prophet or teacher,
Interpretation of tongues requires a very rare creature,
Spirit-given messages are revealed to but a few –
Thankfully, most of us are given lesser tasks to do!
Routine gifts of the Spirit won’t set the world aflame,
Administration in particular receives scant acclaim
Though rotas and spreadsheets don’t fill up themselves.
If you find a church with orderly pigeon-holes and shelves,
Operating smoothly like a finely tuned machine
No doubt a gifted administrator toils away unseen.

(Body of Christ appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Most Excellent Way acrostic

Maturity of faith demands love that is tough
Once I thought as a child, but now that’s not enough,
Songs of praise and speaking in tongues
Turn sour if I keep records of wrongs,

Each boast and reproach is best left unsaid.
X is a cross where love suffered and bled:
Covenant love longs to reconcile
Ever willing to go the extra mile.
Love never fails, it trusts, perseveres,
Lights up the darkness, wipes away tears,
Enables the broken to revive and cope.
Now, three gifts remain – faith, hope,
Then, conquering everything, love.

Wrongs are forgotten when we rise above
Anger and envy, and let grace hold sway.
Yes – there is a most excellent way. 

“And now I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).

The Bible contains many passages which I like to call “sunlit verses”. There are some difficult teachings in the Bible which, prima facie, may seem at odds with our values and even our understanding of godliness. There are some complex passages in the Bible, where we struggle with meaning or application. But there are some passages that are simply beautiful. Yes, we can benefit from analysing them. But at times we can be content just to bask in their beauty.

1 Corinthians 13 is such a passage. Even non-believers will admit it is an inspired expression of true love. It is a thing of wonder; we are so blessed to have it in our scriptures.

It isn’t quite at the physical centre of the New Testament, but I like to think of it as a spiritual centre. Similarly, the Song of Songs isn’t quite at the middle of the Old Testament, but it seems to me like a spiritual heart. At the epicentre of God’s message to us is a timeless love story.

I’m so grateful for the imperfections of the church in Corinth. If they’d conducted themselves in an exemplary manner, Paul wouldn’t have needed to remind them about the true nature of selfless love in this passage; nor would he have had to clarify the proper way of celebrating the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11.

Through the cracks and imperfections of the church at Corinth, God’s spirit broke through and light shone. Amidst the harsh teaching and sharp correction, Paul wrote passages of beauty and poetry.

Enjoy them!

(Most Excellent Way appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Righteousness acrostic

Reckon you’re good enough? Think again!
Inside each of us dwells the mark of Cain.
God reckons righteousness to us, cancels our sin,
Helps us to conquer our struggles within.
Trying to earn salvation, being worldly wise
Ends with us being righteous in our own eyes.
Offer our bodies, then, as a living sacrifice,
Unclean vessels washed pure at great price.
Speak ill of no-one, let your faith shine,
No longer wild olives but grafts in God’s vine:
Every worldly gain we now count as loss,
Status and pride, we consider them dross,
Surrendering all at the foot of the cross.

Righteousness isn’t an easy word. Few people, whether Christian or not, would choose to call themselves “righteous”. It would sound incredibly conceited and priggish, as well as inviting a pantomime response of “oh no, you’re not!” However, the whole idea of righteousness is terribly important in the Bible.

I have mentioned before how, when I first started looking at the story of Job, I felt he had been unfairly treated. It took me a while to understand how his fault was to have been “righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1).

God needs us to be righteous – perfect, in fact – which is clearly impossible. Even St Paul who, on balance, was probably as righteous as any mortal, described himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). So, Jesus must have an alternative plan in mind when he said: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

We have a choice. We can either be righteous in our own eyes or righteous in God’s eyes. The latter is impossible in our own strength but at the same time is essential for us to have fulness of life and eternal life. It can only happen when God reckons righteousness to us (Romans 4:3), and this can only happen by God’s grace and our faith in Jesus. Thus, “God made him who had no sin to be sin (or a sin offering) for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Romans 10:2-4 shows how trying to ‘establish our own righteousness’ is futile, and that the only effective option is to submit to God’s righteousness; this principle is echoed in Philippians 3:9.

However, being perfected through faith doesn’t mean we need to stop doing right things. God takes delight when we are obedient to His laws of justice and neighbourliness, when we walk righteously and speak what is right (Isaiah 33:15). We must “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). The Old Testament law is by no means irrelevant to Christians. At the time of Jesus, many of its facets had become ritualised and unproductive, and it was not sufficient to guarantee our salvation or for us to gain God’s righteousness. However, it still fundamentally encapsulated right conduct.

As Hosea proclaimed (Hosea 10:12): Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

(Righteousness appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Anchor acrostic

Adrift, aimless, without compass or chart,
No balm for the soul, no hope in the heart.
Christ alone guarantees us safe haven,
His Father, alone, has on his hands graven
Our names – a steadfast, firm, secure,
Redemptive love bringing us safe ashore.

The nature of Jesus is so rich that we have to use many names and ideas to express his fullness. One powerful metaphor is the “anchor”.

In this life, we will experience many wonderful things. Many moments of calm and beauty. But we will also face times of difficulty. This is innate in our very nature, and in the nature of the world. At times we will feel adrift. We may feel overwhelmed. We may feel that winds and currents are against us. The idea of a boat struggling against high seas, at risk of foundering, struggling for a safe haven, is therefore a powerful metaphor with which we can identify.

An anchor is a device which keeps a boat secure and stops it going adrift when faced with storms and strong currents. In the Bible, an anchor is used to represent God and faith.

We see, dramatically, how anchors were used by the crew when Paul was on his final journey to Rome, off the shore of Malta: “Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak” (Acts 27:29). On that occasion, the physical anchors were insufficient to prevent the ship being lost. In life, we need a “spiritual anchor” to help keep us grounded; something which is steadfast and sure, to give us constancy and assurance when faced with challenges.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus not to be “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). He spoke of the church at Colosse having “stability of faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5).

So, we are promised that Jesus is both our hope and the anchor of our soul, both sure and steadfast: we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf... (Hebrews 6:19-20). In the words of Priscilla Jane Owens’ famous hymn Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll”.

(Anchor appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Cornerstone acrostic

The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes (Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:19-21; Romans 9:33).

Come all of you who set your trust
On treasure corrupted by moth and rust,
Reckoning your value by what you possess,
Needing ever more stuff as your key to success.
Examine yourself, ask what you are worth;
Riches don’t lie in the mines of the earth.
Sands may shift, but one defence holds tight –
The lamb of God, the world’s one true light
Our rock of ages, our secure foundation
Name above all names from the dawn of creation
Emmanuel, the firm hope of every nation. 

Once, in a house group meeting, we touched upon Peter being the rock on which Jesus would build his church. I thought this was quite uncontroversial until one – very well informed and mature – member took great issue with the idea of Peter, rather than Jesus, being the ‘rock’ of the church. The discussion became quite heated. Clearly, Jesus had said that Peter would be the rock on which the church would be founded (Matthew 16:18); equally, Jesus is the foundation of the church, and its true ‘rock’.

Although I felt we were becoming unnecessarily argumentative, I discovered afterwards that this was no mere play on words. Evidently there is a vein of reformed theology that challenges the interpretation of Peter as the bedrock.

Personally, I can quite easily accept the idea of Peter being the rock. Once he had learned his lesson about how easily one can deny Jesus when caught off-guard, he became the rock, the reliable friend. He became the rock on which the church would not be washed away when the storms came: unlike the house built on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). I’m fine with this, provided Jesus is the cornerstone.

Especially in ancient times, a cornerstone was the principal stone placed at a corner of a building to guide the laying of the masonry. Once it was laid, the remaining walls would be aligned correctly because the measuring line would direct them along the correct horizontal and the plumb line would guarantee the vertical. Hence, Isaiah 28:17 foretells that the ‘precious cornerstone’ would have justice as his measuring line and righteousness as his plumb line.

But as a cornerstone, Jesus is living stone (1 Peter 2:4), dwelling among His chosen people. Of course, some did not accept Jesus, for as Psalm 118:22 famously states: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Without a properly laid cornerstone a building would likely be skew and unstable. As bad as if it were built on a foundation of sand. If Peter was the rock to stabilise the infant church, then Jesus was the foundation stone giving us true direction, based on God’s justice and righteousness. I find these principles complementary, rather than contradictory.

At the time of writing I have recently returned from an Advent service at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Twice the term cornerstone appeared, as if prompting me to write this reflection. In the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel the final verse asked, “Thou Cornerstone, uniting all, restore the ruin of our fall”. The New Testament reading included: “…you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).

If we say Jesus is our cornerstone, are we willing to let him set our measuring and plumb lines?

(Cornerstone appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Faith acrostic

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen
Abraham believed God’s promise, hardly knowing what it could mean
In so doing, God reckoned him righteous, in a way no law could contravene
Through faith, that righteousness is ours, for God’s promise is evergreen
Hoping in Jesus, we are perfected and through his blood are washed clean.

I really like the opening statement about faith in Hebrews 11. Its wording varies between different versions of the Bible, though the meaning is consistent. The first verse generally reads something like: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” I particularly like words such as “substance” and “evidence” because they confirm that faith is something grounded in experience and history. It isn’t simply “blind faith”. I don’t expect proof of God, but I do need evidence.

If I were a juror, I would be presented with different kinds of evidence in order to reach my verdict: forensic evidence, witness statements, cross-examination in court, hearsay evidence, circumstantial evidence and so forth.  I would be influenced by the credibility and apparent honesty of witnesses and their consistency in answering questions and describing events (although I’d be suspicious if every last detail matched up perfectly). When I read the Bible and see the footprints of God, that’s the sort of evidence I find. That’s why I have faith – not because I’ve been scared or brainwashed into blind faith, but because I see the sort of evidence that would substantiate a decision in a court of law.

For a long time, I thought that faith was something I had arrived at rationally by looking at evidence. Nowadays, I realise that perception is necessary but not sufficient: something else is at work. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9); it will be increased if I recognise and accept this gift. Thus, as Hebrews 11:1 indicates, ‘faith’ is itself ‘evidence’.  If my faith grows stronger, that itself is evidence that God is at work in me. Especially in his letters to Timothy, Paul emphasises the importance of faithfulness, and commends Timothy’s mother and grandmother for the faith which they possessed and passed on.

Again, I have come to realise that a deepening of faith and faithfulness does not mean that faith has to be increasingly blind and unquestioning. Childlike, simple and trusting are not the same as childish, simplistic and gullible. The work of the Holy Spirit is often strongest when we find our faith challenged and tested, and when we question God. Challenges to our faith may be uncomfortable, but I have found they are the grit in the oyster that helps the pearl to grow.

A further aspect of faith which has become increasingly important to me is that it forms the basis of our righteousness. Romans 4:3 (referring to Genesis 15:6) states that “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned/credited to him as righteousness”. When I first read the book of Job, I thought he had been treated harshly and I didn’t really understand what he was supposed to have done wrong, until I began to see how he had been “righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1). Since we cannot possess true righteousness by our own power, it must be reckoned or credited to us by God. This happens by faith. For Abraham it meant faith in the message sent to him by God. For us it means faith in Jesus as Saviour. However flawed we are, faith makes us righteous in God’s eyes. (“Righteousness” can be a really uncomfortable word which makes us sound “holier than thou”, so I’ve tried to unpack it in another acrostic.)

So, to me, it matters greatly that faith is substantive and evidence-based. I’m also very reassured that the Holy Spirit helps me to have greater faith, and thereby sets me right with God.

(Faith appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Grace acrostic

Grafted in the vine, we become Yahweh’s kin
Ransomed by unmerited love, God’s spirit comes in
Absolved from guilt, we are cleansed within
Clemency, not judgement, breaks the grip of sin
Enveloped in God’s mercy, a new life can begin.

Most of my acrostics arise from an incident, occasion or bible passage. A few – such as this one – reflect on keynotes of faith.

Philip Yancey famously suggested that grace is the most truly distinctive thing about Christianity. He proposed that it’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate, yet the one thing it craves above all else. Only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world.

Christians think of God’s grace as the unmerited gift of divine favour, particularly in respect of the salvation of sinners. This initial act of salvation is followed by the role of grace in our regeneration and sanctification.

The most “amazing” thing about grace is that it is completely unmerited. Whatever we may have done in the past, God is eager to favour us with the gift of newness of life. Paul’s letters are peppered with supportive quotes, such as: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Crucially, we can’t ‘earn’ grace by good works: “At the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5–6).

Another aspect of grace which eluded me for a long time, but which appears in many commentaries, is that it is not only a quality of God’s nature but also a sign of God’s power. It is an active gift that works in us to change our capacity for obedience and service: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Grace not only prepares us for eternity, it empowers us for life.

God’s grace is such a wonderful gift that it is hardly surprising Christians want to claim its uniqueness. But increasingly I have become aware of the continuity between Old and New Testaments. Grace didn’t suddenly happen after Christ’s resurrection. Paul may be referred to as the ‘apostle of grace’, but my own understanding is that – by his careful study of the Jewish scriptures and his open-minded perception of what was happening around him – he ‘discovered’ that God’s grace was freely available to Gentiles. The new communities of believers had no need to gain salvation through adherence to ritual – faith alone enabled them graciously to be grafted into the vine.

Early in Genesis, I am fascinated by the fact that God’s attitude towards fallen creation was completely turned around by the presence of one faithful man (and his family): “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). This is the Bible’s first mention of grace, but echoes continue throughout the Old Testament, often in terms of endearment such as ‘lovingkindness’.

Throughout scripture, Israel is given the amazing choice to accept God who, through free and unlimited love, bestows Himself as Father and Saviour for ever. Their God is merciful and gracious, “Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Psalm 86:15).

When writing acrostics, I’m always constrained by the number of letters in the word. Perhaps if I could have written fifty lines rather than five, I might have got somewhere close to describing the richness of this most amazing of gifts!

(Grace appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).

Shepherd acrostic

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)

Sheep are wayward creatures, always wandering astray
Humankind is much the same, it’s in our DNA;
Ever envying, ever hankering after greener
Pastures – discontent is part of our demeanour.
Hirelings cannot save us, they’ll quickly run amok
Every time a ravening wolf threatens the flock.
Remember Jesus is The Gate, for both Gentile and Jew:
Didn’t he leave the ninety-nine, just to search for you?

In the Bible, shepherds are not always highly thought of. They were smelly and uneducated. In Goshen in Egypt, where Jacob’s descendants lived as shepherds, they were practically an underclass.

In the past, it seemed to me somewhat curious that Jesus referred to himself as a shepherd, and even as the “gate” into the sheep pen (John 10:9). The imagery of the “gate” refers to the shepherd himself actually lying across the opening to the sheepfold, preventing access to predatory animals. This must have been smelly, dirty and uncomfortable. I realise it reflects the action of a conscientious shepherd who prioritises the safety and wellbeing of his flock, but am still slightly taken aback that Jesus invited such a humble and lowly image of himself.

On the other hand, in ancient Middle Eastern culture the term “shepherd” could be used in a nobler, more metaphorical way, with a kingly association. From the early stages of the Bible, God is seen as shepherding his people, for example when Jacob refers to the one “who has been my shepherd all my life to this day” (Genesis 48:15). Not only did the shepherd provide nourishment and direction, but also (as we often see in the Psalms), safety and protection. Likewise, the Old Testament prophets foretold that punishment would await the bad shepherds of Israel and that in the future God would send a “good shepherd”.

The good shepherd has many qualities: willing to ignore his own needs to safeguard the flock; committed to finding lost sheep that have gone astray; and able to recognise his own sheep and call them by name. Equally, the sheep share distinctive characteristics: helpless, unable to find their way, and with a persistent tendency to wander. Perhaps a little harsh on us, though Isaiah suggests it can be pretty accurate (Is. 53:6).

The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd makes me think of him as the “servant king”. His claim to be Israel’s shepherd clearly points to his kingship, and being the one of whom the prophets spoke. But it is also a humble and sometimes hazardous role, a job without airs and graces, one that involved getting one’s hands dirty. It also makes sense of my own faith journey, and that of most other Christians whom I’ve heard speak. There was nothing random about becoming a Christian: someone was seeking me.

(Shepherd appears on my New Testament: Gospels page).