30 January 2007

Someone To Watch Over Me

There is a George Gerswhin song that immediately came to my recollection as I meditated on I Peter 2:25.
It may seem strange that a secular song would be the first thing to identify with a Scripture verse but it was and Bob's your uncle.
It has a very haunting and beautiful melody that perfectly underscores the longing of these words in a fallen world:

There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that she/he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me
I'm a little lamb who's lost in a wood
I know I could always be good
To one who'll watch over me

The world has a longing that we do not have. There is someone, although we have not seen him, who we know and who we love and we know he is watching over us. And our longing is in one way fulfilled and yet will be fulfilled in another way when we stand in glory.
We do not have to hope that the one we long for will watch over us. We know he does because he is our Shepherd/Pastor and our Guardian/overseer.
In vs. 25 Peter is again relating to Isaiah 53. This time it is vs. 6
Isa 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
He is our great Shepherd.
Now remember that some believe that Peter’s writing in the original context is to Jewish Christians but he is most likely writing to a mixed group and addressing Jews specifically and Gentiles specifically at certain times, from a historical point of reference.
For you were (either in Judaism or without God) while you had not yet received the gospel, as sheep going astray, from Christ the great Shepherd, and the church of believers who are his flock, and the way of righteousness in which he leads them. You were alienated from the life of God, bewildered and lost in the way of sin, Isa 53:6.
But are now returned, in your conversion to the faith, to the Shepherd; Christ the good Shepherd, Joh 10:11,14,16, who takes care of souls in the way a shepherd cares for his sheep.
And Christ is the Bishop of your souls; the superintendent, the inspector, or, as the Hebrews would phrase it, the visitor, i.e. he that with care looks to, inspects, and visits the flock. This Peter adds for the comfort (as of all believers) but particularly of slaves who are servants that even they, in such a low social status and much exposed to unjust treatment, were under the care and watchful eye of Christ.
But the application suits all who are in this fallen world who by grace come to Christ. We all have sinned and fall short of glorifying God. The returning is to the relationship that was severed since sin came into the world. This is why we speak of reconciliation.
Christ has reconciled us to God. Reconciliation does not always mean that there was a relationship to begin with. For example when talking about reconciling ethnic groups it means to bring together to establish harmony in our society.
But man did have a relationship with God before the fall in the first man Adam, and all who are Christ’s are now reconciled with God. We are restored into a relationship with God.
And in this we have a Shepherd and an overseer. We have someone who cares and watches over us. Rather than singing There's a somebody I'm longing to see - I hope that she/he turns out to be - Someone to watch over me,” we can sing with assurance - Savior like a Shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care. Jesus Savior pilot me and blessed assurance Jesus is mine.
How great is the grace of God. As we were straying far away from the fold of God it was always God’s intent to bring us into the flock of the Great Shepherd.
Some may be confused about the phrase “you have returned to the Shepherd” and believe that this was an inclination of a sinner who having decided to accept Jesus into their heart decided it was a good thing to do, but this completely contradicts what Peter has written earlier about the work of a sovereign God in the lives of those who become his people.
They have returned in the sense that they were straying and now have turned to the Christ. They are only returning as part of all mankind who is straying. The turning is because of the grace of God, which has been established earlier in the letter.
As John Gill an early Baptist pastor said “they were returned by powerful and efficacious grace: saints are passive, and not active in first conversion; they are turned, not by the power of their own free will, but by the power of God's free grace; they are returned under the illuminations and quickenings of the blessed Spirit, and through the efficacious drawings of the Father's love, unto Christ…”
This is the evidence that by His stripes we are healed, meaning of our sins in v. 24.
Our sin caused us to be straying. In one sense all of Christ’s own possession are already His sheep before they are converted. But because we have not yet heard the voice of the Shepherd as it were, we were straying. He comes and finds His own sheep. This is the reason he comes for us, because we are his and as a good shepherd he will go to find his lost sheep.
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Joh 10:27* "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
So all we like sheep have gone astray. That is one characteristic of sheep left to themselves. But we have a Shepherd and he lays down his life for his sheep and calls them unto himself and because they are his sheep they will hear and follow him.
But they only can follow him because he has laid down his life for them.
Those who are not his continue as sheep without a shepherd to their own destruction to be plundered and ravaged by thieves and robbers and wolves.
Christ is also our overseer. He attends to us to see that we are progressing as we should. How wonderful is the Spirit Covenant that gives life and all that is needed to live according to that life. How gracious that it is a life that is progressive in the now but completed for us already in Christ and that completion awaits the day of glory. And because it progresses toward that which is already complete there is no killing as with the Letter Covenant. There is full provision for ongoing forgiveness of sins as we repent because we are incurable lovers of Christ. He is working to will and to do of his good pleasure in us and he will complete that good work in us, which he alone began.
How comforting, beyond measure to know there there is someone Who Is Watching Over Me.


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