"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." (Colossians 1:15)
"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:3)
This lesson teaches that when God has been visible to people in the Old and New Testaments, it was God the Son, the timeless second person of the Trinity.
Consider. Although the Father is unseen, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the visible expression of God throughout the Old and New Testaments.
1. No one has seen the Father except Jesus Christ, God's Son.
In John 6:46, Jesus said, "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father."
2. The Son was with God from the beginning and was God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
3. In the Old Testament, when God visibly appeared to people it was God the Son.
In the Old Testament, when God visibly appeared to people it was God the Son, the timeless, pre-incarnate second person of the trinity. Consider the following examples from scripture. Note where the One appearing is interchangably called the "Angel of the Lord," "Lord," and "God."
Hagar -- Genesis 16:7-13
Abraham -- Genesis 17:1-22, Genesis 18:1-33
Moses -- Exodus 3:1-6, 13-15 (burning bush, John 8:58), Exodus 13:17-22 (pillars of cloud and fire), Exodus 33:9-11 (face to face), Exodus 33:17-23 (Moses sees the Lord's back)
Gideon -- Judges 6:11-24
Manoah and his wife (Sampson's parents) -- Judges 13:2-24
Elijah -- 1 Kings 19:9-18 (the Lord speaks with Elijah)
4. In the New Testament, God the Son was visible as a man, fully God and fully human.
He became flesh ("Incarnation"). "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1).
He was fully God and fully human. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority" (Colossians 2:8-10, italics added).
He was and is the visible image of God. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15).
Helps Word-studies tells us, "Image then exactly reflects its source (what it directly corresponds to). For example, Christ is the very image, (supreme expression) of the Godhead (see 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15)" (Ref. 1).
Jesus said to Philip, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9)
He was seen, heard, and touched by mankind. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— (2) and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (1 John 1:1-2, italics added).
He was and is the exact representation (character) of God. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (3) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:1-3, italics added).
The Greek word translated as exact representation in Hebrews 1:3 is charaktér (Ref. 2). Christ exactly represents and reflects the character of God because he is God.
Let us be thankful that we have a God who has visibly revealed himself to us in his Son, Jesus Christ. Out of God's great love for us, Jesus the Son of God, fully God and fully human, gave his life as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Let us listen to him that we may understand God's character. Let us believe in him that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).
Apply. Believe in (put your faith in, put your confidence in) the Lord Jesus Christ, who was and is the visible expression of God to mankind.
"But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.' 'You have said so,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" (Matthew 26:63-64 NIV)
This article presents the eyewitness testimonies and Bible verse references that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
If you are searching to know who Jesus Christ is, consider these eyewitness accounts.
If you are a follower of religions or religious philosophies that teach that Jesus Christ was just a great moral teacher or a great prophet, but not the divine Son of God, then consider the truth of these testimonies.
All of the scripture references below are from the New American Standard Bible translation on the Bible Gateway website (Ref. 1).
Testimony of God the Father at Jesus' Baptism
Mark 1:9-11 - "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; (11) and a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" Also see Matthew 3:13-17 and Luke 3:21-22).
Testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus' Baptism
John 1:32-34 - "John testified saying, 'I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. (33) I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, "He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit." (34) I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.'"
Testimony of God the Father at Jesus' Transfiguration
Mark 9:2-7 - "Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; (3) and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. (4) Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. (5) Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' (6) For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. (7) Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, 'This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!'" Also see Matthew 17:1-5 and Luke 9:28-35.
Testimony of the Apostle Peter about Jesus' Transfiguration
2 Peter 1:16-18 - "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (17) For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'-- (18) and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."
Explanation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Luke 1:30-35 - "The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. (31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.' (34) Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?' (35) The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.'"
Testimony of Jesus' Disciples in the Boat
Matthew 14:22-33 - "Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. (23) After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. (24) But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. (25) And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. (26) When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out in fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.' (28) Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' (29) And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (30) But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' (31) Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?' (32) When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. (33) And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'You are certainly God’s Son!'"
Testimony of Jesus at His Trial
Luke 22:66-71 - "When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, (67) 'If You are the Christ, tell us.' But He said to them, 'If I tell you, you will not believe; (68) and if I ask a question, you will not answer. (69) But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.' (70) And they all said, 'Are You the Son of God, then?' And He said to them, 'Yes, I am.' (71) Then they said, 'What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.'"
Testimony of the Roman Centurion and Soldiers Upon Jesus' Death
Mark 15:39 - "When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God!'"
Matthew 27:54 - "Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'"
It's really simple. Either you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or you don't believe it. If you believe Jesus was just a great teacher, or a great prophet, but not the Son of God, then you are calling the witnesses and Jesus himself liars - in which case, his being a "great teacher" is not an option. Once you do believe that Jesus is who he says he is, then the great truths of the Bible will fall into place for you, and your life will be changed for the better - eternally.
Believe in (put your faith in, trust in, put your confidence in) Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Believe that Jesus is who he said he is. Believe the eyewitness accounts that Jesus is the Son of God.
For Additional Reading
"When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things." (Mark 6:34, underline added)
This lesson explains Jesus' attribute of compassion towards people – multitudes and individuals. Jesus not only sympathizes with people, but also acts to alleviate their distress.
Consider. As Jesus' followers, we, too, should show compassion to people, including those outside the faith community.
Definition of Compassion. Before we dive into the scriptures, let's take a look at the meaning of the word, compassion.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines compassion as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it" (Ref. 1). Note the combination of sympathetic awareness of other's distress coupled with action to do something to help them.
In the New Testament, the words, feel compassion, literally mean "to have the bowels yearn" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 2). In the New Testament time of Jesus' ministry, people thought that our "nobler entrails" (such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys) were the seat of our affections (Ref. 2).
Jesus Feels Compassion for the Multitudes. The scriptures tell us that when Jesus saw the multitudes of people coming to him he felt compassion for them. Why? Jesus was moved with compassion for them because he saw them "as sheep without a shepherd." Mark 6:34 tells us, "When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things." Matthew 9:36 is similar, and tells us, "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd."
Jesus felt compassion for the crowds coming to him because they were a flock that had no protection, no "pasture," no spiritual teaching or guidance, and were in a distressing, painful condition (Ref. 3). They were uncared-for souls, outside of the synagogues of their time. They were weary and hopeless without the Guide and Shepherd who alone can lead them in the way (Ref. 4).
Likewise today, Jesus feels compassion for people who are outside of the faith community, who do not know him as their Good Shepherd, and who are suffering through spiritual misery (John 10:1, 9, 11; Ref. 5). People need to know the compassion of Jesus Christ for them, to have their needs met, and to come to Jesus as their Good Shepherd. That's where we as Jesus' followers can help them.
Jesus Shows Us Specific Ways To Act with Compassion Towards Groups of People. The gospel writers give us examples of how Jesus acted when he was moved with compassion for the multitudes. We, as Jesus' followers, can and should do the same.
He welcomed them - "But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing" (Luke 9:11).
He fed them - "And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, 'I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way'" (Matthew 15:32). "And He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. (37) And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full" (Matthew 15:36-37).
He healed the sick - "When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14).
He taught them many things - "When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34).
Jesus Feels Compassion for Individuals. The following accounts describe the compassion Jesus felt for specific people, and the action he took to heal or comfort them.
Jesus touches and cleanses a man from leprosy - "And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, 'If You are willing, You can make me clean.' (41) Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' (42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed" (Mark 1:40-42).
Jesus touches and provides sight to blind men - "And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' (31) The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!' (32) And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' (33) They said to Him, 'Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.' (34) Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him" (Matthew 20:30-34).
Jesus comforts a grieving mother - "Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. (12) Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. (13) When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, 'Do not weep.' (14) And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise!' (15) The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother" (Luke 7:11-15).
Summary - Main Principles in this Lesson.
1. Compassion not only includes feeling sympathy for people, but also a desire to take action to alleviate their distress.
2. Jesus modeled compassion for us - in his interaction with crowds of distressed people and with individuals in need. Often, the people Jesus helped were outside of the "faith community" of Jesus' day.
3. Jesus showed his compassion for people by his actions. Specifically:
Apply. As a follower of Jesus, what are ways that you will show the compassion of Jesus to others through your actions?
"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." (Psalm 32:1-2)
"Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness." -- Treasury of David (Ref. 1)
This article teaches the seriousness of transgression, sin, and iniquity from Psalm 32:1-2 as well as the blessedness of forgiveness through the atonement of Christ.
Consider. True happiness comes not from the world, nor through "self help," but from God's forgiveness of our sins through the atonement of Christ.
The Blessedness of Forgiveness
Psalm 32:1 begins with an exclamation in the form of an interjection. The opening phrase could be translated "Oh! How blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven!" (Ref. 2) The Hebrew word for blessed is esher, which is a forceful interjection that means "How happy!" (Ref. 3) David is so joyful that he repeats the exclamation, "Oh! How blessed," again in verse 2. "Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalm 32:2). Note that true happiness of forgiveness comes from God, not from man.
The word for "man" in Psalm 32:2 is adam, which means mankind, including men, women, and children (Ref. 4).
The Threefold Picture of Sin
Psalm 32:1-2 employs three words for sin -- "transgression," "sin," and "iniquity." All three are serious. These words describe the compass of sin and its foulness (Ref. 2). Let's take them in the order described by David, the psalmist.
Transgression. Psalm 32:1 says "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven." The Hebrew word for transgression means rebellion (Ref. 5). We commit a transgression against God when we know, or our conscience knows, what God's law teaches, and we go ahead and do the deed anyway.
Sin. The Hebrew word for sin written in Psalm 32:1, chataah, means great sin. Chataah occurs only eight times in the Old Testament (Ref. 6, Genesis 20:1-9; Exodus 32:1-4, 19-21).
A similar Hebrew word for sin, chata, occurs more than 200 times in the Old Testament and means do wrong, commit a mistake, or miss the mark or goal (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Ref. 7, Exodus 20:18-20, Psalm 4:4).
Iniquity. The Hebrew word for iniquity is avon, which means moral evil (Ref. 8). "'Iniquity' is defined as being wicked or immoral in nature or character. Primarily, it indicates 'not an action, but the character of an action,' and is so distinguished from 'sin'" (Ref. 9). We commit iniquity when we not only rebel against God and miss the mark, but also waver or diverge from the straight path manifest in God's law (Ref. 2).
The Threefold Picture of Forgiveness
Psalm 32 verses one and two describe three aspects of forgiveness - "forgiven," "covered," and "not counted (not imputed)." Let's take each aspect in the order presented.
Forgiven. Psalm 32:1 begins, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven ..." When God forgives our sins, he lifts them up and carries them away. The Hebrew word for forgiven means to lift, carry away, and bear (Ref. 10).
In the Old Testament, on the annual day of atonement, the scapegoat (literally, goat of removal) carried away the sins of the people into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:7-10, Leviticus 16:29-30, Ref. 11). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is the one who takes away our sin (John 1:29). Jesus Christ takes away our sin not just annually but once and for all time (Hebrews 9:11-12). "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
Covered. "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalm 32:1, italics added). The Hebrew word for cover means to hide or conceal (Ref. 12). For the believer in Christ, God hides our sin, covers it with a merciful veil, so it no longer comes into his view as evidence against us (Ref. 2). Christ's atonement is the covering for our sin (Ref. 2).
Not Counted (Not Imputed). Psalm 32 verse 2 in the English Standard Version (ESV) begins, "Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity ..." The Hebrew word for count means impute, charge, or reckon (Ref. 13). Even though our iniquity (moral evil) has been ugly, when we believe in and trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he does not impute to us (charge us for, take into account, or reckon) that iniquity (Ref. 13).
How Do We Receive The Blessedness of Forgiveness?
The blessedness of forgiveness can be known only through the atonement of Christ.
Isaiah 53:5 - "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed."
1 Peter 1:18-19 - " ... knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."
1 John 2:2 - "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
We receive forgiveness by acknowledging our sin and confessing our sin to God.
Psalm 32:5 - "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' And You forgave the iniquity of my sin."
1 John 1:8-9 - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
True happiness (blessedness) comes only through the forgiveness and removal of our sin by Christ, not from anything the world provides.
Apply. Do you want to receive the blessedness of forgiveness for your sins? Acknowledge your sins, and confess your sins to Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9). He will lift away the guilt and pain of your sin and will heal you. You will receive the true happiness of knowing by faith that you are pardoned forever by Christ.
"Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them'" (Luke 15:1-2)
Jesus receives people outside the faith community, treats them with tenderness, and calls them to repentance and faith in God who loves them.
First, some definitions. Who were these people in Luke 15:1-2?
Tax Collectors. Tax collectors were people who collected various taxes for the Romans who occupied Palestine. They often charged much more than they should to make themselves rich (Ref. 1). The Jewish people despised the tax collectors and considered any Jew a traitor who was a tax collector for the Romans. Jesus called Matthew (Levi), a tax collector, to be his disciple (Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27-28).
Sinners. The synoptic gospel writers often lumped together "tax collectors" and "sinners" (Matthew 9:10-11, Mark 2:15-16, Luke 5:30, Luke 15:1). The Pharisees shunned both tax collectors and people that the Pharisees deemed "sinners," including:
1) People who lived blatantly in contradiction to the law - such as murderers, robbers, and prostitutes (Luke 7:37, Matthew 21:31, Ref. 2 below).
2) "The people of the land" (am ha-aretz) who did not observe the Pharisees' strict interpretation of the law (Matthew 23:1-5, Ref. 3). This category included almost everybody, so many "sinners" were in the daily company of Jesus (Matthew 11:18-19, Mark 2:15, Luke 15:1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3).
Pharisees. The Pharisees were a Jewish religious sect. "Pharisee" is derived from the Aramaic term, peras ("to divide and separate"). Hence, a Pharisee was someone "separated from sin" (Ref. 4). The Pharisees separated themselves from the great mass of the populace—the "people of the land" (am ha-aretz)—by their "strict adherence to the minutia of their legal tradition" (Ref. 5).
The Pharisees believed the deception that they earned merit before God based on religious works (Luke 18:10-13, Ref. 5). In contrast, true believers in Christ recognize "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Pharisees appeared in the gospels as the chief antagonists of Jesus (Matthew 19:3, Matthew 22:15, Mark 8:11-12, Ref. 5).
The Pharisees largely were members of the middle class—businessmen, merchants, and tradesmen of their day (Ref. 5). In legal matters, the Pharisees had recourse to the professionals in the law, the scribes (described below).
Scribes. The scribes were educated teachers and authorities in the Mosaic law (Ref. 6). In Jesus' day, the scribes were legal professionals who drafted documents such as contracts for marriage, loans, or sale of land (Ref. 7). The scribes questioned Jesus' authority, "By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?" (Mark 11:28). The scribes participated with the Pharisees in criticizing Jesus and his disciples (Mark 7:5-8). Jesus pronounced multiple woes against the practices of the scribes and Pharisees (interesting reading, Matthew 23:13-36).
What are the main principles in Luke 15:1-2?
God Draws Sinners to Jesus. Luke 15:1 is remarkable because not only does Jesus seek people who are lost (Luke 19:10), but also that God draws people who are sinners to seek Jesus. Luke, the gospel writer, says, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him" (Luke 15:1).
At the time of the event that Luke describes in Luke 15:1-2, Jesus was in the last months of his earthly ministry (Ref. 8 below). Many people whom the Pharisees shunned as sinners recognized their need for Jesus and came to him. These were people through home and family associations or through their occupations or immoral living were looked upon with disfavor by the Pharisees and scribes. Often they were indifferent or had little to do with their more religious and orthodox countrymen. "The religious people, Pharisees in heart, despised them and looked on them as hopelessly lost" (Ref. 9).
No one spoke to these people like Jesus. To these people who were "outside of the synagogues" of their time Jesus brought hope. Jesus spoke to them with tenderness. Sinners came to Jesus as their Great Physician to find healing for their spiritual, emotional, and physical ailments. Jesus did not overlook their sin, but called these people to repentance (Luke 5:29-32, Mark 1:14-15).
Jesus Receives Sinners - Then and Now. Luke 15:2 tells us, "And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.'" The Pharisees, the religious establishment of Jesus' day, were indignant that Jesus associated with people outside the synagogue community who did not keep the rules the Pharisees believed necessary for merit with God. In contrast, Jesus deliberately showed people the true nature of God. He reached out in kindness to people outside the religious establishment. He treated them with tenderness, and he called them to repentance and faith in God who loves them. Jesus does the same today.
The Pharisees accused Jesus of receiving sinners. That was (and is) a true accusation. Jesus does receive sinners - then and now. The Greek work for receive means actively look for, expectantly wait, and warmly receive (Ref. 10). Jesus is like the excellent example of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The father expectantly waited for his son to return to him. When the prodigal son returned, the son repented of his sin, and the father received him with great joy.
Jesus expectantly waits to receive you.
Apply. Come to Jesus. He will warmly receive you. Come to Jesus. He will heal you of your spiritual, emotional, and physical sickness. Jesus will forgive your sin and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
(refer to "Story Planner")
2. A Theological Word Book of the Bible, Alan Richardson, Editor, MacMillan Publishing Company, 1978
8. Key to the Tree of Jesus' Life and Harmony of the Gospels, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Fourth Improved Edition, B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Company, Inc., 1964
"How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave ninety and nine, and go into the mountains, and seek that which is gone astray?" (Matthew 18:12 1599 Geneva Bible)
This article describes the scripture allusions for verse 2 of the children's hymn, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us." In verse 2 the hymn teaches us that Jesus befriends us, guards our way, keeps watch over us, defends us from sin, and seeks us when we go astray.
In the first article in this series, Ref. 1, we learned about the background for the hymn text author, Dorothy A. Thrupp, and the hymn tune composer, William B. Bradbury. We also discussed the Biblical truths in verse 1 - that Jesus is our great Shepherd who leads us, cares for us, feeds us, and protects us. Jesus has redeemed us ("bought us"), and we belong to him (Ref. 1).
Consider. At what time or times in your life did Jesus seek you when you had gone astray? In what ways does Jesus guard you and defend you from sin?
Verse 2 for "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"
"We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray."
-- Dorothy A. Thrupp (1779-1847, Ref. 2)
To see the lyric sheet for all four verses of "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" on one page, click here. The lyrics are provided by Timeless Truths (Ref. 3).
The Bible verses cited below are linked to the BibleGateway.com website and are quoted from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless noted otherwise (Ref. 4).
Scripture Allusions - Verse 2
"We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way"
This first line in verse 2 declares that we belong to Jesus, that he befriends us, and then asks Jesus to guard our way.
We are Thine. We now belong to Jesus because he has redeemed us. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus about "our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:13-14 NASB). This phrase, "We are Thine," continues the theme of redemption that the author stated at the end of verse 1 (Ref. 1, Ref. 3).
Thou dost befriend us. Not only has Jesus given his life in the past to show us that he is our friend (John 15:13), he also loves us and treats us with close personal affection now in the present (Ref. 5). Jesus told his disciples, and he tells us who believe in him and follow him now, "I have called you friends" (John 15:15). Because Jesus is our Friend and we are his friend we love him and we keep his commandments (John 14:15, John 15:14).
Be the Guardian of our way. In this phrase, we ask Jesus to be our spiritual "guard rails" and keep us on the right path. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13, Ref. 6).
"Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray."
The three phrases in this line continue the image of the good Shepherd and what he does to protect his flock, his sheep. All three phrases are in prayer-like language.
Keep Thy flock. In the phrase, "keep Thy flock," we ask Jesus, our Shepherd, to guard and protect us with personal interest and vigilance (Ref. 7). We learn the meaning of "keep" from a famous verse about the birth of the Savior. "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). The Greek word in Luke 2:8 for keeping means guarding, protecting, and exercising unbroken vigilance (Ref. 7).
From sin defend us. Jesus defends us from sin through the word of God and the Holy Spirit whom he has sent to indwell those who believe in Christ. Jesus said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:16). David described the importance of memorizing and remembering scripture so he could apply it to guard himself from sin (Psalm 119:9-11). Jesus remembered and quoted scripture to defend himself from the devil when the devil tempted him (Matthew 4:1-11). The Apostle Paul instructed believers about the importance of the word of God coupled with truth and faith to "extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Seek us when we go astray. When we go astray (off course), Jesus will come looking for us. Jesus said, "How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave ninety and nine, and go into the mountains, and seek that which is gone astray?" (Matthew 18:12 1599 Geneva Bible). The Greek word for astray (used twice in this verse) means "get off-course; to deviate from the correct path (circuit, course), roaming into error, wandering; (passive) be misled" (Ref. 8). Note the interesting parallel in Genesis when the Lord God came walking in the garden seeking Adam and Eve after they had sinned (Genesis 3:8-9).
"Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray." (Phrase repeated)
The hymn text reminds us to pray in child-like trust to our Savior who protects us, defends us, and seeks us when we go astray. The request to God, "Hear my prayer," is common in the Psalms. David prayed, "O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth" (Psalm 54:2). "Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy!" (Psalm 143:1).
John the disciple of Jesus wrote to believers in Christ, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us" (1 John 5:13-14, italics added).
Listen and Sing Along
Click on this YouTube link - Solo piano meditation on the hymn "Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us" with sing-along lyrics. Recorded by Rick Betts - March, 2011.
Thank you, Jesus, for seeking us and finding us when we have gone astray. Thank you, Good Shepherd, for leading us and guarding us in the way that leads to eternal life (John 10:27-28).
Image Source: Ref. 1
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:1-3)
"I am the good shepherd." (John 10:11, 14)
This article describes the author background and then the scripture allusions for verse 1 of the hymn, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us." This article is the first in a series on this theologically-rich children's hymn. Reference 2 describes the scripture allusions in verse 2 of "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us."
Hymn Text Author
Researchers do not know for sure the circumstances about how the text for "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" was written; however, researchers attribute this beloved hymn of the Christian faith to Englishwoman Dorothy Ann Thrupp (1779-1847) (Ref. 3, Ref. 4). Miss Thrupp is "particularly remembered as a writer of hymns for children" (Ref. 4). "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" first appeared unsigned (unattributed) in her collection, Hymns for the Young, in 1836 (Ref. 4). Ms. Thrupp wrote this hymn for teaching young children the message of a "caring Christ who loves all his children" (Ref. 3).
Hymn Tune Composer
William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868) was an American musician who composed the tune in 1859 most often associated with "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" (Ref. 3, Ref. 5 below, Ref. 6). He named the tune "Bradbury" after himself (Ref. 3, Ref. 5). Mr. Bradbury "modified the original words meant for children and broadened the meaning to include all the congregation" (Ref. 3).
Mr. Bradbury also composed the tunes to many popular hymns including "Jesus Loves Me," "He Leadeth Me," and "My Hope is Built" (Ref. 6). In addition to being an excellent musician and composer, Mr. Bradbury served as a music educator, choir leader, organist, and was a devoted reader of the Bible (Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
All of the Bible verses below are linked to the BibleGateway.com website (Ref. 9). The verses below are quoted from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless noted otherwise.
To see the lyric sheet for all four verses of "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" on one page, click here. The lyrics are provided by Timeless Truths (Ref. 10).
Scripture Allusions - Verse 1
The first verse of this great hymn teaches children that Christ is our great Shepherd who leads us, cares for us, feeds us, and protects us. The verse also explains that Christ has redeemed us and that we are his possession.
"Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care"
The Lord is our Shepherd who leads us and cares for us.
Psalm 23:1-3 -- "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. (3) He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
Psalm 23:5 -- "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) -- "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
John 10:11 -- "I am the good shepherd." (also John 10:14)
"In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare."
The Lord feeds us in pleasant pastures and protects us.
Ezekiel 34:14 (KJV) -- "I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel."
A fold was a walled in, hedged, or fenced place for keeping and protecting sheep or other livestock (Ref. 11, Numbers 32:24 KJV). Jesus referred to such a sheepfold in John 10:1 (KJV). "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber." Jesus not only is the means of access to the fold; he also is the Shepherd who protects the sheep in the fold with his own body at the door. "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9, Ref. 12).
"Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are." (Phrase repeated)
The phrase, "Thou hast bought us, Thine we are," explains to children the meaning of redemption. HELPS Word-studies defines redeem as "to release (set free) by paying the full ransom"; (figuratively) to restore "something back, into the possession of its rightful owner" (Ref. 13). Christ has purchased us and now we are his possession.
Titus 2:13-14 (italics added) -- " ... waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."
1 Peter 1:18-19 (KJV) -- "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
Listen and Sing Along
Click on this YouTube link - Solo piano meditation on the hymn "Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us" with sing-along lyrics. Recorded by Rick Betts - March, 2011.
Thank you, Jesus, for being my Savior and Shepherd. Thank you for leading me and for all the ways that you care for me.
5. The United Methodist Hymnal, The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989
10. Reference 10 begins next line
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)
"Trust and confidence in the Lord is the best antidote against fears" -- John Gill (1697-1771) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
Consider. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate yourself for trusting in God when you are afraid?
Biblical Background. David wrote Psalm 56 during one of the lowest points in his life. Saul, the king of Israel, was determined to kill David (1 Samuel 20:30-33). Even though Jonathan, Saul's son, and David were close friends, Jonathan advised David to flee from Saul (1 Samuel 20:41-42). David came to Nob to Ahimelech, the priest (1 Samuel 21:1). David lied to Ahimelech about the purpose of his visit (1 Samuel 21:2). David received from Ahimelech consecrated bread and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:6, 1 Samuel 21:9). David arose and "fled that day from Saul" to Achish king of Gath, a city in Philistine territory (1 Samuel 21:10, Ref. 3).
Gath was the home town of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4). David had killed Goliath in battle (1 Samuel 17:41-49). David now had the sword of Goliath with him. The servants of Achish knew of David's reputation. "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, 'Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands'?" (1 Samuel 21:11). The scripture says "David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath" (1 Samuel 21:12). David then "disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely" (1 Samuel 21:13).
When I Am Afraid, I Will Put My Trust in You. Despite David's fear and troubled emotional state, David makes an astounding declaration about trusting in God when he was afraid. "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4). David repeats his declaration of trust in Psalm 56:11, "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid." Note the subtle change in tense from "I will put my trust" in verse 3 to "I have put my trust" in verse 11.
David openly admitted his human emotion of fear, of being afraid.
David, despite his imperfect life and his fear, provides us an example to follow when we are afraid. David states that when he is afraid (literally "in the day," or occasion, of his fear) that he will put his trust (confidence) in the Lord (Psalm 56:3, Ref. 4, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
David frequently wrote in the Psalms about trusting in God. I suggest you will find encouragement and strength when you read these verses. Refer to "Bible Verses About Trusting in God" (Ref. 7).
David recognized that the remedy, the antidote, for fear is to trust in God. Despite his imperfections, David put his confidence in God and in God's care. Will you do the same?
Apply. If you are afraid today, pray to God. Ask God to take away your fear. Ask God to strengthen you and to help you put your complete trust in him. Thank him for his work in you to deliver you from your fear and for taking care of your concerns. Keep on trusting in God.
Suggested Listening. Listen to Alan Jackson's Official Music Video, "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (Live)."
For More Reading on This Topic. For more scriptures that help to counter fear and anxiety, check these resources:
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
This lesson explains God's promise to be the refuge, strength, and help of his people (Psalm 46:1).
Consider. Do you need God's help and strength for what you are facing today? How can you better experience God's protection as your refuge?
God is Our Refuge. The Bible tells us that God is our place of safety and protection from danger and distress. A refuge is a place where we go, and while we are inside, we are protected because our refuge surrounds us as our defense. David writes, "For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy" (Psalm 61:3). Solomon writes, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). David tells us from his own experience, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them" (Psalm 34:7, italics added).
The Bible provides several clear images for God as our refuge - a tower that we run into (Psalm 61:3, Proverbs 18:10), our shelter from the storm (Isaiah 25:4), our rock and fortress (Psalm 18:2), our shield (Psalm 28:7), and our hiding place (Psalm 32:7).
God is Our Strength. Note that Psalm 46:1 does not just say "God is strong" (which he is). This scripture verse says that God is our strength. We who are God's people can receive, experience, and apply God's strength to face our enemies such as worry, fear, discouragement, and opposition. God gives us the strength to accomplish the work he gives us to do in the face of these enemies.
The Apostle Paul knew that God was his strength. Paul wrote during his imprisonment, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). God provides strength to the believer to accomplish what God gives the believer faith to do (1 John 5:4). As believers, we need God's strength when we encounter resistance and trials. God provides us that strength.
Hymn composer Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) writes, "Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without him I would fall" (Ref. 1). David writes, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him" (Psalm 28:7).
God is a Very Present (Proven) Help in Trouble. The word for help means aid, assistance (Ref. 2, Ref. 3). The word translated as present means proven to be (Ref. 4), that is, God is proven to be our help in trouble. The word very means exceedingly, emphasizing that this statement is true (Ref. 5, Ref. 6). Because God is proven to be our help in trouble, we have nothing to fear (Psalm 46:2).
David writes, "For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy" (Psalm 63:7). The writer of Hebrews states, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).
Summary. Let's review the main principles in this lesson.
1. God is our "go to" place for refuge, safety, and protection from danger. God surrounds us as our defense.
2. God is our source of strength to face our enemies and to do the work he gives us to do.
3. God is proven to be our help in trouble, and we have nothing to fear, repeat, we have nothing to fear.
Apply. Take time now to pray. Thank God for being your refuge - your protection, your place of safety. Ask God to give you strength and faith to face your enemies and to do the work that God has given you to do. Thank God that because of him you have nothing to fear.
Listen to/Watch Video. "A Mighty Fortress" sung by HeartSong - Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio, USA.
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's." (2 Chronicles 20:15)
This article presents five steps to deal with our personal crises - steps that are scriptural, methodical, and effective. All of us at times either have faced or will face personal crises. Circumstances like this strike at the core of our being – physical, spiritual, and emotional. The Bible is a great comfort to us any time, but especially during difficult times - such as the times we are going through now.
Step 1: Recall God's Promises
The first place to turn to is to the Bible. Get your attention off of your problem and on to God. Read and meditate upon God’s promises. This step has a vastly therapeutic effect.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (Psalm 46:1-3)
For your encouragement, I have included links to 26 additional "promises passages" from God's word. You may see all of these verses written out in just one click here (Ref. 1 - "Bible Verses for Times of Crisis").
Additional promises: Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 16:8; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 34:4; Psalm 34:7; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 56:3-4; Psalm 68:19-20; Psalm 91:1-6; Psalm 103:1-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 26:3-4; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 11:28; John 14:27; Romans 8:28; Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 6:19; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Revelation 21:4.
Read your Bible regularly, not just when you have a crisis. Memorize scripture verses. That way, when a crisis arises, you can immediately draw upon familiar, comforting words of scripture, and you will be well-equipped to deal with difficult situations when they occur (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Step 2: Put Your Trust in God through Prayer
Prayer is an open conversation with God. Even a short prayer, "Help me," is long enough. Talk with God and ask him to take care of your problem. Trust God to act (Proverbs 3:5-6). Ask God to take care of your problem according to God's will, not your own (1 John 5:14-15). Trust that God is in control of the situation.
Step 3: Solicit Prayer Support from other Christians
Other Christians can bring you much encouragement by praying with you or for you. Share your need or concern with Christian friends, and ask for their prayers. When you are "down," others can pray from strength and lift you up. "Plug in" with one or more small groups of Christians, for example, a Bible study or prayer group, or a fellowship group. Small groups can provide you tremendous personal support (Matthew 18:19-20; Galatians 6:2; James 5:16).
Step 4: Believe that God Will Act
Keep the faith. Remember that you have prayed. Keep on praying. Don’t give up. Feed your faith, not your doubts. Whichever one you feed will grow (Luke 18:1-8; Mark 9:21-24; Psalm 37:5; Hebrews 11:1). God will do what he promises.
Step 5: Testify Publicly to the Results that God Provides
Tell others how God answered your prayers. By this, you will encourage other people. Jesus expects you to “go public” with your testimony about his work in your life – that God may be glorified (Matthew 10:32; Mark 5:18-20; Psalm 66:16, 1 Peter 3:15).
Praise God that God's word never passes away (Matthew 24:35)! We can always count on God to help us through difficult times. God's promises are true and everlasting.
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